Ailecia & Max's magical punk rock wedding in the woods

By on Feb 7th Photos by Chelsea Donoho
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Photos by Chelsea Donoho

The Offbeat Bride: Ailecia, Photographer

Her offbeat partner: Max, Baker

Date and location of wedding: Communal land in Lawrence, KS — July 27, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I was determined not to be a stressed-out bride. Rather than having a full day/night's worth of scheduled activities, we organized a long day of outside fun, with a little wedding thrown in the middle. The day started with a long window of time for guests to casually arrive and start eating and playing tabletop games and yard games. To save a little cash, we provided BBQ and kegs and asked our guests to bring potluck items or booze for the bar in lieu of gifts. We arrived in casual clothes, like we asked our guests to wear, and then changed into our wedding outfits closer to the ceremony.

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Our decorations were minimal because the land was so beautiful in mid-summer with greenery all around. We strung up Christmas lights and lit citronella candles, old candles, and tea lights in jars for lighting. For centerpieces we made burlap and ribbon squares to go under thrift store glass bowls and baskets of fruit — each table had a different collection of fruit. The pops of color were perfect for decorations and the fruit provided guests with lots of snacking options.

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For signage, I dumpstered a bunch of bulletin boards from behind a closing internet cafe, and covered them with wrapping paper; we used these to put up notes around the land warning of snakes and other things to be on the lookout for in certain areas. This signage was also an attempt to be more eco-conscious and helped us avoid printing out programs.

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Our guestbook was a drawing made by a close friend. We provided ink pads for guests to add their finger print and signature. We wanted to make sure our wedding was kid-friendly, so we had a lot of activities for little and big kids alike, from the trampoline to the kids' tent and coloring table, and a photo booth with a backdrop made of hand-torn strips of fabric that fit our color palette.

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After the ceremony, our friends' band, Monzie Leo and the Big Sky, performed with their punk-infused hillbilly-styled music. We picked Monzie because they are our friends and also because their music would be accessible for all our guests. After the band, our friend DJed so we could all dance.

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Towards the end of the night, we all moved down the campfire where we enjoyed a Tibetan singing bowl demonstration, and then hosted an open mic campfire-side punk rock sing-a-long while s'mores fixings were passed around in lieu of the traditional wedding cake. Our friends passed the guitar around and sang songs.

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To be nice to our hosts late at night, we moved the party to the after hours location, where we enjoyed playing in the salt water swimming pool with poolside DJ action to keep everyone entertained and dancing. And as if that weren't enough, no fewer than a dozen out-of-town friends crashed on mattresses and sleeping pads all around our house and we finished off the night with a giant sleepover. I was happy to pull off a wedding with no first dances, cake cutting, or other wedding rituals that force a schedule onto everyone.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We wanted our ceremony to be fun and heartfelt. We started with everyone dancing down the aisle to Rihanna's "You Da One" with lyrics like "You da one that I think about all day." Our Wiccan friend, a wise woman I respect immensely, officiated our wedding ceremony.

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We each read our vows to each other causing the other to both laugh and cry. Though we never bothered to touch base while writing the vows, we were surprised at all the similarities, specifically regarding our TV watching incompatibility. Ha. At the end of the ceremony, our officiant invited the crowd to spray us with water guns in a celebration of fun and friendship as we walked back down the aisle to Karen O and the Kids' track, "All is Love."

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Our biggest challenge:
We decided to get married on communal land that some hippies bought and built on in the early 1970s. They host an annual May Day party, so the Maypole was on site and ended up in some of our wedding photos. The downside to doing an event outside of a traditional venue is in the extra costs of chair, table, and porta potty rentals. I am also now the proud owner of 20 citronella candles and eight torches that we'll use at our outdoor parties for years to come. But the extra costs made me think twice about suggesting that other folks go this DIY route. Still, I think the costs were much less than a traditional wedding venue. And in terms of beauty and originality, it was the perfect spot for our wedding and fit our outdoor magic punk rock wedding in the woods vibe we were going for.

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My funniest moment:
We've all seen those funny wedding photo moments, and so it became a joke among our friends before the wedding, that Max and Ailecia, "the cat couple," should be photobombed by a cat. And sure enough, right in the middle of formal portraits with the wedding party, we got cat bombed! One of my favorite photos is of the bridesmaids leaning down to pet the cat. I hear the cat also came down the aisle with me, but I don't think we got a picture of it.

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I also really enjoyed being sprayed with waterguns as we walked back up the aisle. This was one of the most joyous parts of the day. Our idea was that water guns would cool us down, as we expected 100+ temperatures, but instead we ended up with a nice 80 degree day, so the water guns were more about fun than function.

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My favorite moment:
The most meaningful parts of the day for me were the times spent getting ready with my closest girl friends, having my father escort me down the aisle in his cute little bow tie, and hearing Max's vows for the first time. Walking down the aisle with my father was one of the most memorable parts of the day for me. I was wearing big platform heels, so we walked slowly, giving me time to smile and look at all of the love around me. I remember the faces of my friends and know that they care as much for my happiness as my family does. This is one of those unforgettable moments of feeling all the love in the world.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — click here for more photos from this wedding!

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