Amanda & Alex's silly DIY barbecue wedding

By on Jun 28th 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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Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!