Laura & Dave's succulents, accordions, and Paper Moon wedding

By on Jul. 22nd Photos by Sweet Darlin Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Laura, Research Coordinator

Her offbeat partner: Dave, Sociologist

Date and location of wedding: The Founders Garden, Athens, GA — June 2, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted our wedding weekend to be a meaningful reflection of our individual personalities, the love we share for each other, and the friends and families who shaped us as individuals and as a couple. Also, it was important for us to keep costs low since we were paying for most of the wedding ourselves and have other long-term financial goals. When making decisions, we would check back in with these guiding principles and make adjustments as necessary.

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succulent-centerpieces

The venue, decorations, music, and especially the ceremony were selected and/or created with intent. The venue was a garden on the University campus where we met. Many of the decorations were crafted by hand. We potted dozens of succulents. Dave worked on our save-the-dates and I made the invitations.

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With wood, foam board, some fabric, a high resolution picture of the moon, and a large scale printer, we constructed a Paper Moon-inspired photo booth for guests to enjoy during the reception. We had an accordion player during a cocktail hour, which included a version of Europe's "The Final Countdown." The whole affair was a group effort, much to the credit of our friends and family.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Without a religious tradition guiding the ceremony, we created one from scratch. Our ceremony was co-officiated by my major professor and her husband. Instead of a bridal party in the traditional sense, we each asked two friends to speak about whatever they wanted during the ceremony. Dave and I see our notions of love and marriage being shaped by those in our lives, so having our friends speak was a way of reflecting that. My friend Patrick read a poem that he wrote for the occasion. Dave's friend Bobby, a physiologist, spoke to the biological, psychological, and social definitions of love. My friend Laura read "Song of the Open Road Part 15" by Walt Whitman. And Dave's friend Nick read "Wedding Poem" by Bill Holm.

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Our vows consisted of six promises that captured our goals for marriage, the gist of which was: continuing to invest in our relationship, being responsible, celebrating our individuality, cherishing our network of friends and family, taking risks, and honoring our commitment to each other. As the ceremony concluded, we retreated back down the aisle as our friend crooned "Free Love Freeway," a song that David Brent sings in the BBC version of The Office.

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Our biggest challenge: It is easy to find ways to spend money and justify doing so. It was difficult for us to rein in those impulses and stick to our goals. When trying to strike a balance between creating a meaningful, magical experience and staying within our budget, we employed several tactics. First, we pinched pennies. Will Two-Buck Chuck suffice in lieu of France's finest Bordeaux? Instead of splurging on a DJ, can we solicit our friends and family for their favorite tunes to play on our iPad through Spotify? Yes and yes.

Another saving strategy was to keep an open mind and not be turned off if something didn't have the word "wedding" in the description. The vintage dress I wore was marketed as prom dress. Our white linen tablecloths were actually Ikea bed sheets. Getting creative was a great way for us to save.

We justified splurging on items out of which we could get a lot of mileage. Dave purchased a suit instead of renting one, which cost more up front but will serve him well throughout his career. And while we did have some freshly cut flowers, most of our centerpieces were potted succulents. Some of those plants continue to beautify our home and others were given away as gifts.

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My favorite moment: We appreciate the element of surprise when it comes to the sacred and profane aspects of our lives. Whether it's dramatically unveiling our engagement to friends and family or kicking each other out of the kitchen so as to secretly construct a heart-shaped pancake, we like surprises. During our rehearsal dinner, we revealed to our families that Dave had gotten a job in the same state as his siblings and parents. Both of our families were shocked, and ecstatic. It was a great way to kick off the weekend-long wedding celebration.

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For me, a highlight of the day was when I serenaded Dave (and our guests) with an accordion rendition of "Lovefool" by The Cardigans. And while the lyrics reek of desperation, the song was special to us because I sang it to him years before during a night of karaoke. It was a meaningful moment and a nod to how far we had come in our relationship.

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What "oOOooOooOoooOo" looks like in person

My funniest moment: The moment of our first look was pretty funny. Dave turned around, seeing me for the first time all done up, and had the craziest, most surprised look on his face. Because of his expression, I thought he was joking and putting on a show. I asked him about it in the moment and he insisted he was just excited. Several weeks later, when we received our pictures from the photographer, he too made a comment about how crazy he looked. I'm so glad out photographer captured this crazy-in-love moment.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? While planning the wedding, I came across the Offbeat Bride blog post on maintaining open expectations. I really took it to heart and, on our wedding day, others noticed — several people commented on how calm and relaxed we seemed amidst the chaos and stress of the day. Letting go of the anxiety and embracing all that the day had to offer was a great gift to ourselves.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!