Andreas & Ariel's island hippie/raver forest freak-fest (10th anniversary flashback!)

On August 7th 2004, 10 years ago today, I married my husband Andreas. It was the wedding that ultimately kicked off the whole weird world that is Offbeat Bride. I wrote a book about the wedding. I launched a website about the book, and now here we are. To celebrate, I figured I'd fill out a wedding profile myself. If these pics make you curious, you can get the Offbeat Bride book on Amazon for like 50 cents.
 

Andreas  and Ariel wedding, August 2004
Photos by Amrita Huja and wedding guests

The Offbeat Bride: Ariel, then-copywriter (now publisher)

Her offbeat partner: Andreas, then-audio engineer (now yoga teacher)

Date and location of wedding: Bainbridge Island, WA — 08/07/2004

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Neither of us had really attended that many weddings before we started planning our own, and so mostly we crafted it around the kinds of events we most enjoyed attending… music festivals, dance parties, and camp-outs.

We were lucky enough to have access to my mom's 10 acres of wooded property on Bainbridge Island (which is a half-hour ferry ride from Seattle) so we had the perfect weekend camp-out venue and place to host an all-night reception. My mom calls the property Sacred Groves, and uses it as a sort of eco-retreat/hippie event space anyway, so it was a pretty easy fit for our wedding.

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While Sacred Groves was great for the weekend and the reception, we knew we wanted something a little bit more fancy for the ceremony itself… again, we lucked out! Just up the one-lane dirt road from Sacred Groves there's a lovely B&B called Holly Lane Gardens. It has more standard amenities like flush toilets (instead of humanure at my mom's) and rooms for extended family who didn't want to camp. It was the perfect spot for our ceremony and dinner.

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These two spaces in order, we essentially organized a weekend-long camp-out reunion with all our weirdo friends from across the country. Sure, there was a wedding Saturday afternoon… but really the event was about a weekend-long camp-out.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
I grew up being forced to attend a lot of hippie ceremonies, and am generally allergic to any sort of religious practice, so we kept the ceremony short, sweet, and straightforward. Our goal was to involve family members as much as possible: My godmother officiated, my father-in-law rang in the ceremony, my father did a reading, my mother-in-law was our ring bearer, and my mother sang our recessional.

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If you want, you can read the full script here.

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Since the ceremony was so short, we felt comfortable doing picnic seating on blankets for most guests, with a line of mismatched plastic chairs for older family members.

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Our biggest challenge:
Since our reception was essentially an all-night forest rave, we had a LOT of concerns about making sure the neighbors were well-informed and on-board with the noise and disruption. The "neighborhood" I grew up is a one-lane dirt road… a road that was going to be clogged with traffic all weekend, and filled with the sounds of music and guests all Saturday night.

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I sent letters to every single neighbor on the lane, introducing myself to those who'd moved in after I left for college, sharing the schedule for the weekend, explaining we'd do our best to minimize the traffic impact, and apologizing in advance for the loud music Saturday night. I tried to anticipate every way in which the event would be a hassle for neighbors, and begged them for their patience with us.

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The neighbors immediately south of my mom were totally on-board, and even volunteered their field as a parking lot! But my mom's neighbor to the north was notoriously prickly. (Let's be honest: it's not always easy to live next to a pair of weird hippie lesbians who run an eco-retreat.) The neighbor had reported my mother to the city numerous times for building code violations, and I was terrified he was going to call the cops on our wedding night.

The day before our wedding, Andreas walked over to personally introduce himself and check in with the neighbor. I don't know what Andreas did, but somehow he completely charmed the guy. No cops were called, despite loud thumpy music going until 5am!

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My favorite moment:
I'm not an especially sentimental person, so there were no flowing tears or OMG THIS IS IT moments. Honestly, the anxiety of coordinating a weekend-long camp-out for about 100 people was pretty overwhelming. That said, Andreas and I shared some quiet time before the ceremony, sitting hidden in a little grove of trees behind the altar space we'd created in the B&B's garden.

We sat together freaking out whispering, amped and excited out of our minds, listening to the burble of our guests talking, taking selfies and just being stoked.

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Then we heard the phenomenal voice of our friend Tania, who started the ceremony with an a capella rendition of "At Last" that you could literally hear echoing off the hillsides around the space, and we were like OH SHIT HERE WE GO!

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After our ceremony, we took some more quiet time. Inspired by the Jewish tradition of Yichud, we exited the ceremony and just the two of us walked down the lane and through the woods toward the property where I'd grown up.

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Our friend who photographed the wedding snuck behind us sniffling to herself, but mostly it was just me and Dre being like "HOLY FUCK WE DID IT" and holding hands and giggling to ourselves. We'd been very intentional about carving out some quiet time during the excitement of the afternoon, and I'm so glad we did because those are some of my keenest memories of the day.

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My funniest moment:
Oh, Jesus. The statute of limitations has probably run out at this point, so I think it's safe to say that a large number of our guests got very amusingly inebriated.

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Hits of MDMA may have distributed by members of my immediate family. People may have been having sex loudly in their tents. One corporate marketing manager friend may have turned to me on the dance floor bug-eyed and black-pupiled and exclaimed, "MY WATCH IS BROKEN. TIME HAS STOPPED." Later, she might have been making out with someone in the ferns. One of my cousins-in-law may have had a really weird psychedelic experience on the ferry back to Seattle. Dancing may have gone on until sunrise. Strange things may have happened in geodesic domes. It really was a party of epic proportions.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
This question is really weird to answer, because of course I can go all meta with it and point to the ways in which my wedding ultimately led to me developing the experiences and skills that led to me supporting my family and a small staff via the Offbeat Empire… but to keep it focused, I think the most important lesson was about the value of community and really deepened understanding of what family means.

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Our wedding was only possible because there was a huge outpouring of help and support and love and investment from our community of friends and family… we didn't have attendants, because in some ways almost every single guest chose to play some sort of a role.

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Sure, some of them were people we'd asked to help… but most folks just offered themselves up. My aunt brought flowers from her garden to put on tables. My best friend from high school baked the cake. Our LA event designer friend took on decor and day-of coordination. My old college pal decided that the basket of programs sitting on a table really needed to be carried around and distributed.

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I love that some weddings are about the couple treating their guests to a very special experience that's been prepared for everyone to indulge in… but that definitely was not our wedding. Our wedding was all about the collaborative community experience of creating something magical together over the course of the weekend. In fact, we all created something so magical that we continued to host an annual anniversary camp-out ever since! (Although we're taking our 10th anniversary off… it's hard work throwing a weekend-long party every year!)

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Where are they now?
© Carly Bish Photography, http://carlybish.com

10 years later, here we are. Lots has changed, lots has stayed exactly the same. Appropriately, Andreas and I will celebrating our 10th anniversary today by packing up our van and heading out for a music festival called Beloved, same as old days.

© Carly Bish Photography, http://carlybish.com

…Or rather, same as the old days except for now we share the dance floor with our pre-schooler. And maybe we dance a little slower, and a little closer together.
 

Massive huge thanks to Carly Bish for taking these 10th anniversary photos of us with approximately 15 minutes' notice.

  1. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY !

    your wedding, your writing, and the way you share are truly inspiring
    wishing you another 10, 20, or forever of happy years together.
    the anniversary photos are FANTASTIC

    22 agree
  2. Happy Anniversary! What a lovely review and update fitting of you both! Love OBB!

    5 agree
  3. That squishy nose photo at the end says it all for me. Happy anniversary, guys. Thanks for getting married and starting this whole Offbeat Empire thing. Have fun at Beloved!

    22 agree
  4. You guys look so happy. I'm so thankful for having found this website even if I'm very far away from getting married. Congrats Ariel and thank you. Also, your husband's a freaking gorgeous man.

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  5. I'm so happy that we finally got your wedding profile, Ariel!! I squee'd a serious amount when I saw the post title!! Woo, yay, exclamation marks!!!!!
    Happy anniversary to both of you!

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  6. Happy anniversary!!!!!!! What a fun and beautiful wedding – love the anniversary photos at the end too!

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  7. Happy Anniversary Ariel!! Such a beautiful wedding! Thank you for sharing!

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  8. OMG I love that last photo.

    Happy Anniversary! <3

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  9. happy 10 year anniversary, the happiness on your faces is wonderful :)

    2 agree
  10. Happy anniversary! I really enjoy reading wedding profiles so it was nice to finally see yours. The last photo and paragraph got me all choked up :')

    3 agree
  11. Awwww, happy anniversary! This blog and the tribe have become such valuable resources and, probably most important, safe places for me during that long process I just finished, I can't imagine having done it without you!

    ETA: And MAN does that look like it was an amazing party!

    1 agrees
  12. Happy Anniversary! I love the story of your wedding, and I am so very glad that you decided to use your experience and share it with everyone via your book and OBB. By doing this, you've no doubt saved more than a few of us from thinking we've totally lost it on more than once occasion ;)

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  13. Thanks a lot. You guys just made me tear up at work. :)

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  14. Amazing :) You two are 500% adorbz!!! Hope you have a great time at Beloved!

    Thanks so much for everything you've built since then… the Empire has been my longest-term internet haven, because it doesn't go away, it just keeps getting better! <3

    1 agrees
  15. Congratulations! What a fun read, especially with the followup. Those anniversary pictures, my gawd!

    Side note: It is super fun to see how you and your guests were dressed 10 years ago compared to how people dress now. Hello, early-/mid-2000s!

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  16. You're even hotter in the anniversary pictures than in the wedding ones. Happy next 50 years!!

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  17. i absolutely adore your post, ariel! and i love you for creating this magical place! i've been obsessed with offbeatbride for a long time…and, um, i'm not engaged. hell, when i discovered you, i was totally single. i was never the "plan my wedding since i was 5" type of girl, but now i'm 31, and well, i think about weddings more and more :)

    you and andreas are just as cute and adorable now, 10 years later. it's inspiring to see <3

    1 agrees
  18. Is it just me, or is Ariel's hair in the 10th anniversary pictures nearly identical to her little ribbon-veil buns in the wedding pictures? So sweet. ^_^

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  19. Awwww, I got totally choked up seeing your new pics. "Where are They Now" would be an awesome addition to several of the oldie but goodie weddings that have been showcased on OBB. Happy Anniversary! :)

    6 agree
  20. Oh boy that last little update bit made me oh-so-weepy. It's all about embracing the adventure. :)

    1 agrees
  21. *sniffle*

    Happy anniversary, you beautiful darlings!

    (Also, GIRL. Where did you get that Peggy-Olson-Fabulous dress????)

    3 agree
  22. Happy Anniversary!!! Your wedding looked awesome! Here's to many more years of marriage! And thank you for creating Offbeat Bride, it's helped me a lot with the wedding planning!

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  23. I was hoping for a pic of my hubby with his flat ironed hair. Shoot.
    Ariel, you just get hotter! xo love you guys!

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  24. happy anniversary!!! you are beautiful and your wedding story makes me wish we were friends! :-) I also wish I were headed to Beloved right about now too, but I'm 9 1/2 months pregnant. :-P

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  25. That last line has me sobbing. Many wishes for another beautiful 10 years and a beautiful love and life beyond!

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  26. Love! Love! Love! How can it be 10 years already??? I simply adore the new photos too! Love to you both! xoxo

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  27. That closeup of you with the hydrangea and the shadow over half your face — that was the first picture I ever saw of you. On somebody else's blog with a link to your old blog ( electrolicious ). And I thought to myself "Do I want to click on that link and get to know this lady? Yes. Yes, I do. If only to find out WTF is on her head."

    I think that might have been the best click I ever made.

    Congratulations, again, Ariel and Andreas!

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  28. Those light blue legwarmers — were those a pair of the "snugglies" you used to make? ( Is that what you called them? When you used to cut up old sweaters into arm/leg warmers?)

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  29. Our wedding was nothing like yours but exactly like yours in that it was all about who we are and the community of which we are a part – the extended community of our combined families from across the nation and our closest friends from throughout our lives. Thank you for this site and the inspiration to create what truly turned out to be the wedding of our dreams and memories to last a lifetime. Happy Anniversary!

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  30. You'r wedding was STUNNING…something I would do personally…Hippies, Steampunk, Lesbians, the WHOLE nine yards!!! Congratulations to you and yours. THANKS for the empire as I use it quite a bit for inspiration. I will be posting pics myself when the other half and I tie the knot next year. My very best to you!!!! :-)

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  31. Happy anniversary Ariel! This was awesome to read. You guys are a super hot couple and it's awesome to see your connection 10 years on. I am getting married in just a week (EEEEK) and I want to say thank you for this blog. I have been reading since I was "pre-engaged." I read several wedding blogs, and OBB is the least judgmental, most awesome space around. Thank you! And congrats!

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  32. This is wonderful! Thank you for creating something very special. Offbeat Bride is an incredible resource- I've come back to again and again in the year I've been engaged (wedding is less than a month away now! Yay!). It's the only wedding website I've used regularly, and I recommend it to everyone in just the same way it was recommended to me.

    And for the record, I loved the where are they now posts. They helped me remember to think of my relationship, not just a wedding!

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  33. Such a gorgeous and fun wedding!! You both look lovely. Happy Anniversary!

    I just want to say, thank you so much for creating this space for people. Although our wedding is over, I am so very proud to be a tribesmaid. I'm sure we aren't alone when we say how much OBB and now Offbeat Home has helped us. It brought me so much more confidence, even now. And it's awesome to see where it all started.

    0 agree
  34. A belated happy anniversary!!! And many many thanks for all of the ways you've shared your lives and inspired us!

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  35. And the in love looks in the where are they now shots are identical to the wedding shots! How romantic and gorgeous. Love love love

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  36. so fucking awesome, ariel! i loved seeing your wedding photos, and the "where are they now" photos too… you are both such inspirations to me, and it's so fun learning more about your story together. xoxo.

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  37. happy happy happiest of anniversaries! I love seeing the past and present…and herez to your future!!! all the best you guys!!!!!

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  38. Oh my god, you guys are so beautiful. I can't stand it. Maybe you all should come down to our shindig in Sept for your 10th anniversary. We need all the happy we can get!!
    <3 t

    0 agree

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