Amanda & Alex's silly DIY barbecue wedding

June 28 |  
Photos by: Aaron Spicer
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Photos by Aaron Spicer

The Offbeat Bride: Amanda, customer service rep (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Alex, temp extraordinaire

Date and location of wedding: Public park/war memorial in Richmond, Virginia — April 6, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We both don't really like the spotlight, so we kept it small, about 65 people, and tried our best to blend our common interests. Alex is a hardcore band nerd and I'm a bookworm who doesn't know how to play a kazoo properly, but we share a love of science fiction, games, music, and all things ridiculous. With a modest budget, we had a wedding that had something for everyone: board games, frisbee, a photo booth, dancing, booze, and lots and lots of BBQ.

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We DIYed most of our wedding including our guestbook, centerpieces, bridesmaids' bouquets, signs, desserts, programs, our photo booth, and music. It was challenging and took a lot of extra planning, but with a wonderful support system of family, friends, and lots of spreadsheets, it went off without (much) of a hitch!

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Tell us about the ceremony: Our outdoor ceremony was traditionally structured, but the content was anything but. I walked down the aisle with my dad to the acoustic version of "Hysteric" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and met Alex, our officiant (a non-ordained friend who introduced us), and our wedding party at the end. Alex and the wedding party walked down to the end credit song from Star Trek: First Contact (a beautiful song from our favorite Star Trek movie).

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I'm atheist and he's agnostic at best, so a typical ceremony was not in the cards. I'm Irish in heritage and his family came from Wales and Scotland, so I really wanted to incorporate our heritage in our wedding rather than our (lack of) faith. So after tons of research, we decided to have a handfasting and based it off a hodgepodge of things we found on the internet.

I read the lyrics of "The Two of Us" by the Mr. T Experience. Alex read "Love" by Roy Croft. We wanted to emphasize our love and friendship as well as our view of each other as equal partners, and I think both of those readings did the trick.

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Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was our budget. My parents were gracious enough to fund the wedding, but it was not an unlimited money tree. We had some specific (and apparently expensive) things we really wanted, so we decided to get those and DIY the rest. I have never been crafty, so the idea that we would be making signs, centerpieces, and felt flowers was extremely daunting at the time. But given a lot of time, research, mulligans, and patience, we got through it.

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We were scared that some of our families would disapprove of our choices to not have a religious wedding, or for including some off-the-wall things like a card dragon, beer coozy favors, and snarky programs. But if anyone judged us for it we didn't know or frankly care by the end. We got through it the way we do life, with rock solid support of each other.

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My favorite moment: At the end of the night, after most people went home, it was just us and our friends. Most of our buddies went to West Virginia University with us, and if you don't know anything about WVU, we sing "Take Me Home, Country Road" by John Denver at the end of every home game we win. It is a song celebrating the beauty of the Virginias were Alex and I grew up, went to school, and still live.

I put that as the last song of our reception playlist and we had a huge circle of people with their arms around each other singing. I've done it dozens of times at games, but this time there was a magic about it (it may have also been the PBR…) which cemented in that moment in time. I couldn't ask for a better end to the night, my arms around my love and all of my amazing friends who helped us through the roller coaster of wedding planning.

Unfortunately, Alex's mother and brother could not be at our wedding because they passed while Alex was in high school. We wanted to honor their memory, so on top of having a memorial table for them we asked Alex's sister to dance with him in place of his mom at the mother/son dance. Alex's sister said some words before they danced to "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper. It was so touching, and I was glad they found a way to remember their mom and show their love for each other at the same time.

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My funniest moment: Two of my best friends from high school (one of them my maid of honor) have a tradition of dancing to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. At the request of my maid of honor, I put the song in our reception playlist. When the song came on, they cleared the dance floor and had an EPIC partner dance to the song. Everyone loved it and it was great to get the attention off me and Alex for a bit.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? We had a few crazy emergencies at the last minute, even though we planned everything to the T, but we rolled with them thanks to the fantastic support of Alex and our friends and family. Attitude is everything, and you control the tone of the day. If you tell yourself you're going to be an insane ball of stress, then you definitely will be. My best advice to other brides is the hardest thing to do: relax.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. LOVE THIS. It's like all the love jumps out of the photos at you. I especially love the bit with the Velveteen Rabbit, the memory table, the card box… the whole equal-partners and handfasting and GAH! First wedding porn I've teared up at. Love love LOVE it.

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    • Thank you so much! We had a blast and we are so glad we could incorporate a lot of ourselves in our wedding. A lot of guests said that it was so "us". Mission accomplished!

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  2. We used "Love" by Roy Croft for one of our readings. I love it!!

    I love the boutineers!

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    • Thank you! Miss Lasertron did a fabulous job. I cannot praise her enough.

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  3. I loved reading about your moment singing Country Roads at the end of the night. I am also a WVU alum, and it made me tear up thinking about it! There is something so special about being surrounded by friends and singing that song to commemorate the close of something. I guess I always thought I would marry a fellow WVU alum and we would be able to have this song at our wedding as well. As fate would have it, I am marrying a Marshall grad! After reading this, I think I will try to convince him to end our night this way as well. Thanks so much for sharing your story! Your wedding looks lovely and fun!

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    • Hooray for a fellow Mountaineer! Thanks for the compliments. We weren't the first of our college friends to do Country Roads at the end of weddings, but it has always been my favorite. It means so much to every person who went to WVU or has ties to West Virginia. I hope your future hubby jumps on to the tradition because it really is a beautiful thing. Congrats!

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  4. I love the Dragonball Z propel away shot! I know this has been a trend in Japan and it's great to see it cropping up in the good ole USA!

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    • It only took us 3 tries! I was so impressed with my friends! My photographer loved it too, it was an awesome shot. I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

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  5. 'Smarty Had a Party' Epic biz name that I wish I had thought of!

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    • I cannot promote them more. They were an amazing resource and they saved me a ton of money on tablecloths. We were about to spend $400 on RENTED tablecloths and I had a mental breakdown because of how expensive that was. I found their website and then purchased all my tablecloths for $150.00!! They have wonderful customer service and they filled the boxes they shipped to us with Smarties candy! Love that company!

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  6. This wedding looks so sweet and fun. Ending your wedding on a song that means so much to everyone is such an epic way to close the night. We were thinking about using "Closing Time" but it's not as epic, haha.

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    • We almost used that as well! It's an awesome song.

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  7. This is the best geeky wedding! You both made great central focuses even though it may have been overwhelming for the entire day!

    Where did you find a place to make personalized can cozies?! Those are amazing!

    I've also been working to create our own "So you're going to sit through a wedding" program. Did you create your own template or did you find or did you find one somewhere? I love the decoration you used! I was thinking to use MO Publisher.

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    • Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you! Thanks for all the compliments. We had a wonderful time at our wedding and didn't really feel overwhelmed because we had a great support system.

      Our can koozies were from http://www.customink.com/custom/custom-koozies.htm and everyone absolutely loved them! We were a little nervous about using them at first but I got nothing but huge compliments on them. They were a relatively cheap wedding favor too.

      For the program I used a Microsoft Word template. I have a lot of experience using Microsoft Office so it was a very, quick and simple solution to a potentially expensive problem. I put word searches and puzzles in them so people who got bored at our ceremony didn't have to read the same 4 paragraphs over and over.

      Good luck!

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  8. 100 different kinds of adorable! and also EFF YEAH Mr. T Experience!

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  9. Hi! Who was your officiant? We are considering handfasting too in richmond. :)
    Thank you!

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    • A good friend of ours was the officiant. She wasn't official in any capacity. We got paper married by somebody a few weeks before the ceremony so we could have our friend do it. But! Our paper wedding was amazing! If you're looking for somebody awesome we used Tamara ( http://www.noordinaryordained.com/) and she was fantastic. We contacted her in a panic and then 3 hours later she was marrying us in a park with just her, my hubs, and I.

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