Heather & Johnathan's nerdy summer picnic wedding

Program and Invite
Photos by Mirrored Moments Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Heather

Her offbeat partner: Johnathan

Date and location of wedding: Blessed Sacrament Church and Matthew's Beach Park, Seattle, WA — July 7, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We mixed extremely traditional with very offbeat. Being a Roman Catholic ceremony, we got to pick from a list of options instead of designing it ourselves, but we picked those options we felt best represented us. No one in our families had been to a ceremony quite like it. The reception was the complete opposite: a simple barbecue picnic in the park. All of our favorite family functions are outdoor get-togethers with simple food, and we wanted our wedding to be the same.

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Bridesmaids

Holding the reception in a public park also meant the wedding had to be dry, which provided a simple excuse so we didn't have to explain about our familial alcoholism to everyone. Instead, we had cakes that everyone could eat, including a cake for the diabetics in the family, and a gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate cake for those with dairy and gluten allergies.

Last cake pic, I swear

The main cake was made by my roommate. There were many, many test cakes involved, and I'm pretty sure we ate cake for a solid month! The cake almost didn't come together, too. My awesome roommate had made and brought all the pieces to be assembled in the park, and forgot the dowels to hold it up! My friend Mary did an emergency run to 7-11 to get some Slurpee straws to hold it up instead.

Program and Invite

We had references to Star Trek and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on the programs. The table runners were made from comic books I got at a warehouse sale.

Table runner

Several members of my family, as well as myself and my husband are handicapped/disabled. We made sure that both the ceremony and the reception location were accessible for those with mobility limitations, and had American Sign Language interpreters and an interpreted seating section for the ceremony.

Obligatory Priest Shot

Tell us about the ceremony: John's family is Catholic, and were upset that we didn't have a full mass. Most of my family is non-Catholic, so we made sure to include lots of instructions and explanations in the program. We also had a traditional (although uncommon) wedding procession, with the bride and groom bringing up the rear together. Readings were tough to pick, as they had to be biblical, and we wanted to be as inclusive as possible. Overall, the theme was "Marriage is awesome, be excellent to one another."

Grilling

Our biggest challenge: From my perspective, it was challenging dealing with the emotional fallout from unsupportive family members. From John's perspective, it was putting the whole affair together ourselves on a shoe-string, undefined budget. We spent less than the suggested tithe to the church on the entire wedding, and made our budget as we went along.

Surprise!

FlowersThe focus quickly shifted from an impressive event, to one that felt authentic and achievable. It was a great challenge to separate the components that were truly meaningful to us and prioritize them appropriately. For example, although we wanted pretty flowers, we eventually realized we didn't really care what kind. So instead of hiring a florist, I headed down to Pike Place the day before, and picked out whichever flowers that I liked and were cheap that day. Bachelor/bachelorette parties and showers weren't really our idea of fun, so we had craft parties instead. Family proved to be an invaluable help, and gifted assistance (food, photography, etc.) instead of traditional wedding presents.

In the end, the stress of planning everything ourselves and working with such a small budget turned our wedding into a true community endeavor, resulting in a very intimate familial celebration.

Here comes the bride…and groomMy favorite moment: The procession was my favorite part. I was really uncomfortable being given away, so when I found out that the Catholic church provided another option, I was thrilled!

Basically, the parents of both the bride and the groom and the wedding party are added to the traditional pre-mass processional. They each proceed up the aisle, two by two, with the bride and groom entering last. I got to walk up the aisle, towards this huge life changing moment, holding the hand of my best friend and biggest supporter. It felt more like us than anything else we did that day.

Also, during the exchanging of the rings, John was so nervous he held out the wrong hand at first! It made the moment seem much more human.

Wedding Party

After the reception, we gathered our closest friends together and headed to Schultzy's, a local sausage and beer restaurant. John ran a basic D&D module that he had made just for the occasion, and we drank beer and nerded it up until I turned into a pumpkin and we finally called it a day.

Washington is so pretty

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. When my husband and I got married in a Catholic ceremony, we also walked with eachother down the aisle. Our wedding programs included Mass directions, too – which people were thankful for! To this day family friends confide in us that it was one of the nicest weddings they've been to, partly because it was a welcome change to "giving away the bride" and partly because it felt so friendly and true to us.

    (P.S. Your story with holding out the wrong hands, reminds me of the wedding in Anna Karenina!)

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    • It's so cool to hear of someone else who did the processional! Our wedding coordinator and the lady who ran the parish office had never seen one, and kept accidentally giving the wrong directions. Our family made such similar comments, too! They said it was fun, and very "us." No one even complained about the lack of alcohol–phew!

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  2. What a lovely looking wedding, so many smiley faces! Congrats

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  3. I love what you said about turning into a pumpkin. That was cute! Even on our wedding days we are still ourselves!

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  4. Beautiful wedding!

    If you don't mind me asking, which readings did you end up choosing? We are also doing a Catholic ceremony and picking readings that conveyed "Weddings are awesome, and be awesome to each other" was HARD!

    I love the procession. I wanted to do that but my fiance really wants to watch me come down the aisle. So instead both my parents are escorting (no giving) me down the aisle. Another fun Catholic variation!

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  5. What a beautiful day! Thank you for sharing it with us :)

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  6. Pike Place Market flowers FTW! The sweet peas are lovely.

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  7. Heather, your wedding is beautiful. I think we are soul sisters because the man and I are also total Star Wars/Dr. Who nerds (hello Dalek and Cyber Man cake topper!!!) and trying to have an offbeat, Catholic wedding.

    Myself, my family, and my fiance's family are all Catholic. My fiance and most of my friends have left the church (some very deliberately and adamantly). I will also be inviting friends who are Jewish and Hindu, along with many other types of Christians.

    I want a Catholic mass that feels authentic to me and also explains the meaning behind some of the elements to those who have left the church or are of other faiths. I want every one to be engaged and included (not checking their watch b/c masses are so long compared to secular weddings, no awkwardness around the exclusivity of communion). Despite being Catholic, attending Catholic university, and working in a Catholic school, I have never actually been to a Catholic wedding!

    Care to share the readings you chose and why, or where you got resources to write a program? (I too bristle at the idea of being "given away," though I love my father and do not want to make him sad).

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  8. Oh my goodness, so many comments! Thank you!

    This was my first Catholic wedding, too! My family isn't really involved in the church, and is rather small compared to my husband's. I'm on my phone at the moment, but when I get home tonight I'll definitely post the readings!

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  9. Beautiful Wedding and love love love love love love love the Dalek and Cyberman from Dr. Who WITH A BOWTIE TO BOOT! Thanks for sharing <3

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  10. Ooo, a dalek and cyberman as cake toppers! Brilliant!

    We're going to be doing a lot of explaining in our wedding programs, as well. Mostly because half the ceremony will be in a language that most of our guests don't speak or understand very well. It's the only part of the ceremony that I give any fks about, since I don't want anyone to feel lost during it.

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  11. I like that the wedding party's outfits go nicely together without having to totally match. Not everyone suits or likes the same clothes, so i think this is a great look. Congratulations!

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  12. I LOVE YOUR WEDDING.

    I'm struggling to do something authentic in a traditional venue, and seeing how you took something strict (a Roman Catholic ceremony!) and personalized it is really inspiring. I love the reception too. And the cake. And the geekiness. And the ASL. Everything about it. I'm bookmarking you because wow. Perfect.

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  13. Your wedding is so beautiful. It definitely shows your personalities. :) I have to know though, where did you get the Cyberman and the Dalek? I love them!

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