Marta & Dan's antique country western wedding

By on Jul. 26th Photos by Jessi Jefferson
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Photos by Jessi Jefferson

The Offbeat Bride: Marta, sweet talking customer service rep

Her offbeat partner: Dan, behavior clinician, craftsperson, and ginger bear

Date and location of wedding: Mother-in-law's property outside Richmond, IN — September 25, 2010

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Dan and I both grew up in auctions, flea markets, and workshops with antique dealer fathers, so old trumps new every time. We acquire nothing new that can be made, thrifted, or repurposed out of a love for history and desire to live simply, and our wedding was no exception! Inspirations were O Brother Where Art Thou?, Carnivale, Fried Green Tomatoes, and the traditional music we love. We pictured a party that our rural, working class ancestors would have thrown for everyone they knew.

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It was very important to us that anyone who wanted to attend could, so we simply borrowed land for parking from neighbors, thanked Dan's brother, Rick, for arranging a sweet price on BBQ from a friend, had a dessert pitch-in, rented a port-a-potty, and didn't sweat the +1s. Over 225 people turned out! We had to set out blankets and every chair on the property because there weren't enough hay bales.

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We were poor church mice, so I planned as much as I could cheaply, then begged and borrowed time from friends and family for the rest. My memaw and my friend Stephanie handed out programs and favors, my right hand lady Katy did hair and makeup, friends of Dan's family prepared food, directed parking, and set up the photo tent otherwise used for our medieval reenactment… so many people helped!

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Dan made our wedding bands as well as his gun belt, and I altered a mid-1930s pattern that belonged to my late grandmother to sew my wedding dress. We bought the flowers on clearance, and I designed all our paper products: save the dates using vintage postcards, invites with a hand-drawn map, a questionnaire based on Proust's in lieu of a guest book, and programs. We bought old-fashioned gum and china water whistles as favors in bulk. Our wedding party's gifts were their vintage dresses and new western-style dress shirts. In total we came in well under $3,000.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We didn't put a lot of stock in expectations for structure. Our 14-year-old niece was the flower girl, our nephew and godson were both ring bearers with a radio flyer wagon assisted by my sister in law, and my youngest sister walked my middle sister (who has autism) down the aisle. Dan met me at the back and we walked down together.

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My dad, also a retired preacher, welcomed all assembled. Wendy, a pastor and close friend of the family, officiated. There were many mentions of God, but we tried to choose vows that resonated with us as well. Our families are largely religious, our friends are not, Dan is Switzerland, and I've recently come out as agnostic.

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Two members of our wedding party read e.e. cummings "i carry your heart with me(i carry it in" and another two sang/played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Our guests blew their water whistles when we kissed.

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Our biggest challenge: For me, it was unnerving and uncomfortable to be "the bride" rather than the planner — to be this treasured, sequestered thing for a day. I would much rather have spent the entire time setting up out of the spotlight. Though when the wind kicked up and ALL the butcher paper runners and vases blew over an hour before people arrived, I was able to pitch in and lay star bricks on tables with everyone else.

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My favorite moments:

  • My mama helping me dress and belatedly shave my legs (not usually a priority for me) in Dan's old bedroom.
  • Looking out the kitchen window at the sheer number of people gathering, most in vintage costume, while strains of a bluegrass "Ace of Spades" cover carried and feeling absolutely floored.
  • The look in Dan's eyes when he and all his men came down the hill, sun behind them, to face the ladies for the first time since we'd all dressed.
  • Seeing my mama-in-law bawling as soon as the ceremony began.
  • Singing "Fools Rush In" to each other during our dance.
  • The amazing, relaxed wedding party photo time after the reception.
  • Finally placing our wedding topper on a leftover cake and feeding each other late that night since we never got around to it earlier!

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My funniest moment: Mama broke out three handwritten pages, front and back, of biblical inspiration during her time to speak at the ceremony, and also accidentally called Daniel "David."
Also, after our mothers and my stepmother passed us small torches to light a unity bonfire, it wouldn't go out and blew smoke all over those assembled! We had to pause for someone to stomp on it.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!



Note: Based on reader feedback, the title of this post was changed. See this post for more context.