The offbeat wedding crasher: the story of how I showed up at a reader's wedding

By on Aug. 26th Photos by Carly Bish Photography
Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (21)

This picture will make sense later. Photos by Carly Bish Photography, unless otherwise noted.

As those of you who follow Offbeat Bride on Facebook already know, this weekend I crashed a reader's wedding (and live-updated the whole thing as I got progressively more inebriated). This is the story of how it all went down, with the added bonus of gorgeous photos and awesome details from Liz and Mark's wedding in Port Angeles, WA.

How did this happen?

Back in May, after a reading at the Salon of Shame, this couple came up to me afterwards and the woman was like, "Uh, are you the same Ariel as Offbeat Bride Ariel?"

I was all, "Oh! Yes! I am!"

And she was all, "OMG I read your book, I totally loved it, it totally helped us form the vision for our wedding this summer. We're having it in my parents' yard out on the Olympic Peninsula, and we're both architects and we decided to totally re-landscape the property to bend it to our creative vision and we're doing a ring warming and we found some of our vendors like our photographer Carly BishThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them on your website and it's all because of Offbeat Bride!"

I was starting to get all blushy, but once the bride started going on about the plans for the wedding, I got over the flattery and blurted out, "OMG, that sounds amazing! I'm totally coming to your wedding!"

"Oh uh," the bride said. "We, uh, the guestlist is, uh…" and I was all "No no, I know: I'm not actually fishing for an invite, but it sounds awesome!"

It was a super sweet moment and made me feel all glowy and happy and life went on. I'm not even sure that I got their names? They were just nice people who said hi.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago, when I'm squatting/coworking at the office of Shindig EventsThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them. Kelli mentions that she's coordinating this backyard wedding coming up in a couple weeks, and that the couple has totally been down in the dirt recrafting the family yard to be their perfect wedding venue and I'm all, "Wait, wait. I think I met these people! Are these the the hot architects?!"

And KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them was all, "Liz and Mark, yeah. They found me in the Offbeat Bride Vendor guide."

"I totally want to go that wedding," I said. "I told them I was going to crash it!"

"Don't crash it, bitch," KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them said. "You could be my assistant and shit."

"Oh innnnnteresting," I thought. Then I got busy and forgot about it.

Fast forward to Friday night. KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them texts me a picture of some flowers, explaining she's in Port Angeles prepping for Liz and Mark's wedding. Saturdays are typically my full-time family day, but on a stoned whim, I asked my husband if I could bail on him and our son for 24 hours to crash a reader wedding… And he said yes. (Thanks, Andreas.)

Less than 24 hours before the wedding, it was officially on.

Now, out of respect for Mark and Liz, I insisted that KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them ask them first. I know from experience that there's almost always a guest or two who don't show up (spoiler alert: I sat next to Carly in a seat marked for someone named "Fran") but I didn't want to add stress (even good stress) to an already stressful wedding day. I don't know… if I walked into my wedding ceremony and glanced out at my loved ones, and there was some rando blogger I'd met once lurking in the back row, I might be excited or I might just be baffled and confounded and like "WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK." No one needs more "WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK" on their wedding day.

So while I wasn't invited, I did have last-minute permission.

How I earned my keep

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (15)

Technically, I also wasn't a real wedding crasher because I worked my tail off. Upon arrival, KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them immediately put me to work on glamorous tasks like re-scattering rose petals that had been blown off their path by the wind (…which was still blowing. It was very Sisyphean chic, darlings.) and then scooping up dog poop that had gotten smeared into the grass under the tent next to the dining tables. It was gross, but even grosser would have been guests stepping in it and then tracking it onto the dance floor. HORK!

I also slipped programs into chair-backs, and later I bussed tables, walked around with a basket full of blankets for cold guests, set the table for Liz & Mark's private meal, schlepped some catering stuff around, and folded up and took away about a million chairs at the end of the night while completely inebriated.

Initially, however, I stayed very much out of the way. KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them kept me busy before the ceremony, and honestly I really didn't want to get in the way of family and friends enjoying themselves, nor did I want to distract Liz and Mark from doing their first look and just getting ready for, oh you know, their wedding day. Plus, I was shy. I mean, I know I play a gregarious wedding blogger on the internet, but showing up to a stranger's wedding is socially awkward, people! Helping KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them and laying low felt both respectful and appropriate.

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (5)

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (6)

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (10)

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (9)

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (7)

When it was time for the ceremony, I arranged myself quietly in the very back row. If any of the legit guests noticed the random woman in the rainbow cardi crying to herself through the entire ceremony, no one said anything.

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (14)

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (13)

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (16)

Wedding details I need to gush about

I want to let Liz and Mark share their own wedding story when they submit their profile, but there were a couple extra amazing things that stood out that I wanted to blurt out…

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (3)

Ok first, how smart is it that the investment that would have gone into paying to rent a venue instead went into lasting property improvements on Liz's family land? THIS IS BRILLIANT. It's an amazing way to spread out the resources that could go into a one-day event… turning that expense into a lasting investment in a shared family asset. I'm sorry to get all economics-y, but this really is a brilliant use of wedding budget.

Granted, not everyone's family land is on a bluff overlooking the Straight of Juan de Fuca with Canada floating in the distance, nor are we all architects who have the skills and experience to do something like this, but if you compare spending $X on a venue to even hiring someone for $X to fix up family property? I think you see where I'm going with this.

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (1)

Now can we talk about this cake?

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (4)

Coincidentally, the first time I really noticed this style of cake was on another wedding that Carly BishThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them shot, A sunny picnic wedding with lawn games and love, which lots of you will probably remember because it's the wedding that basically made Pinterest crap its collective rustic-chic panties.

I knew these so-called "naked cakes" were pretty (5 bagillion pins can't be wrong!), but what I didn't realize was that they are FUCKING DELICIOUS because they ditch the part of a cake that I'm the least interested in: the cloying slime and/or crust of sugar known as "icing." This particular cake was vanilla cake with macerated strawberries and Bavarian cream, made by Michael Wall of Raindrop Desserts.

When I saw Liz and Mark's cake, my only thought was this:

And I did. Liz herself commented on Facebook that naked cakes are "controversial" (oh, weddings… where icing is a controversy!), but the proof is in the pudding: the entire cake was eaten. Quickly. I bussed tables, and there were no half-eaten piles of sugar left on those plates. Everyone ate EVERYTHING. I could not stop talking about the cake:

Then what happened?

Mark + Liz by Carly Bish (22)

Basically then things went about how the should at a wedding: I got all kinds of wasted and danced my ass off in the ways I usually do, which is heads-down raver style with probably too much arm waving and hopping around. Unlike most weddings, however, there was someone in a Yeti suit on the dance floor, too. I never did get the story on that. I also learned some awesome new dance moves with my new BFF Corey, a groomsman who spent most of the night dancing in heels:

Photo by John the DJ from

Photo by John the DJ from

After making a sloppy ass of myself on the dance floor for a couple hours, I was pulled away by KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them who asked me to help bus tables and fold up chairs (note the photo at the top of this post, with Kelli yelling at me to stop fraternizing with the bride and groom and get back to fucking work, bitch!). I totally did my duty… with one exception, when I snuck off for one last dance floor moment with Liz and Mark:

The aftermath

Of course the next morning was a little rough. I crashed with KelliThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them at her hotel in Port Angeles, and despite the sunshine, things were gritty over breakfast…

It was completely worth the hangover, naturally.

I'm sure Liz and Mark will submit a full profile with all the details once they get all their photos back from Carly BishThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them. You guys are going to to freak out over the decor and the heart that went into the ceremony. I want to let Liz and Mark share it themselves. Maybe they'll even explain the Yeti sighting, and you guys are going to love how one of the groomsmen delivered his reading.

As for whether I'll crashing weddings in the future? Who knows. I will say that I had a freaking blast — I laughed, I cried, I picked up dog poop, I danced, I inhaled cake, I got drunk, and I got sandwiched. Happy sigh… Really, it was the stuff of wedding blogger fantasies. Congratulations, Liz and Mark!

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides: