Sara & Mark's improv-tastic, eco-friendly, wine-soaked wedding

September 24 | offbeatbride
In the grapevines
Photo by Dream Time Images

The offbeat bride: Sara, graduate student (and OBT member)

Her offbeat partner: Mark, comedy writer

Location & date of wedding: Tres Hermanas Winery, Santa Ynez, California — August 8, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Mark and I aren't particularly religious, so we asked all four of our parents, who are all still married, (sixty plus years between them!) to be our officiants. Mark wrote our beautiful ceremony, with readings from "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish," "The Odyssey," as well as a friend's original poem. Vows

All of our bridesmaids and groomsmen were siblings, and our close friends became an awesome un-bridal party. The un-bridal party tied ribbons to symbolize their good wishes on an arbor our dads made.

After the ceremony, we put on an improv show with friends that I had improvised with over the years. Mark was nice enough to MC. It was hilarious, especially with me in my dress. Ribbon Tying

Mark and I are winos so we knew we wanted to get married in wine country. We were lucky enough to find somewhere we could afford with a big lawn, which we made into a wedding wonderland. That involved creating a bunch of different Zones of Fun, including a photobooth (for which I made props), a s'mores bbq with couches, and a cigar area with armchairs.

Our website, Wedding Bells of Fire, inspired the logo we put on everything from temporary tattoos, to buttons that we gave out to guests. Music came from our ipods, which we filled with requests from the guests (an idea I stole from OBB). We had a blast!
We're married!
Our biggest challenge: Oddly enough, figuring out who to invite to the rehearsal dinner. My family is so enormous we couldn't afford to have everyone there, and Mark's is so tiny that it would have been weird not to invite them, so we ended up (after much stress) with everyone from the ceremony plus Mark's cousins. My mom was awesome enough to throw a casual bbq for my giant family, which Mark and I also went to, so it all worked out.

Table Settings
Instead of table numbers, the tables were named after their favorite comedians, like Mitch Hedberg and Woody Allen

My favorite moment: Our vows. They were so hilarious and loving that I swear half the audience was in tears (as well as me.) Here are some excerpts:

Mark: "I promise to always pretend that you came up with the idea for my tattoo, even though I'm 80% sure that I did… because you have taught me that when I'm 80% sure, I'm wrong 60% of the time. Because of math — Finally, I promise that I'm going to do everything that I can to make myself into a man good enough to be your husband. And I promise you that's impossible."

Planting
Planting a unity tree!

Mine: "How could I not have fallen in love the person who penned, "She was a young, sexy female version of Martin Landau"? — And so, I am marrying you not because you make the best key lime pie in the world, or because we both think it's reasonable to wash our dishes with Windex when we run out of soap… I am marrying you because you are my best friend, because we've managed to create a life filled with laughter, passion, creativity, silliness, and support. And a lot of wine."

Also, if I can choose a second, while dancing to one of my favorite songs ("Fight Test" by the Flaming Lips) our friends spontaneously formed a circle and then ran around us, ending in a big mushy group hug. It was awesome.
Circle of Love

My advice for offbeat brides: Life is much easier if you don't draw arbitrary lines: do your best to include everyone or no one in parts of your wedding. I couldn't have possibly had all of the ladies that should have been bridesmaids in the wedding party, so I just didn't have any beyond my sister and no feelings were hurt.

Bill Nye
They had Bill Nye the Science guy during their improv show!!!!

Ditto for the rehearsal dinner: no one from my family outside of the ceremony came, and so no one cared. Obviously, that's really hard when you are dealing with guest counts, but do your best.

Also, I highly recommend having activities other than dancing at a reception, even if you LOVE dancing like I do. Not everyone boogies, so having a cigar area/photobooth/s'mores bbq was great.

Roasting S'mores If you are having a crafty wedding, and aren't into traditional bridal showers, having an All Craft, No Games bridal shower can be perfect. That's what we did, and I had a BLAST. Plus we got a lot of our crafts done. I love my ladies.

And finally, um, in looking at the pictures we apparently spent the entire day smooching. That was great, but I kinda wish that we'd gotten a few more shots of us without our faces mashed together.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Bouquet
Beautiful blue bouquet by Princess Lasertron

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. I am so in love with so much of this. First of all, So long and thanks for all the fish is the best; any man who appreciates Douglas Adams is awesome in my book. And I am so jealous you got Bill Nye!! Are you kidding me?! I've loved science since I was a little girl (I'm a big girl scientist now) and I watched Bill Nye like it was my job!! Congrats!! And thanks for the fish(advice)!!

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  2. I want Bill Nye the Science guy at our wedding!!!!!! So super jealous!! And your vows/promises were super cute! Congratulations!!

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  3. I just contacted Princess Lasertron yesterday after seeing a post about her over on Broke-Ass Bride, and she'll be doing our flowers as well. Words cannot express how stoked I am about this!

    Your whole wedding is wonderful, and I love it. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • This is one of my favorite weddings that I have read about on here… We are still so on the fence about a lot of stuff and I swear we won't get married until I am 40 but I love reading about the way to do this stress free ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. BILL NYE.

    now that's out of my system.
    beautiful stuff, your vows were so great I got a little misty reading it.

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  5. Oh, how much fun I'm having reading this and revisiting this wedding! Sara & Mark – Your vows, along with the ceremony performed by your family, were so very beautiful, touching and humorous. You guys did a great job on everything and I'm so glad to have been a part of it!

  6. Thanks everyone! Bill Nye is an old family friend and was good enough to jump up on stage during the improv show. A year later I still wouldn't change a thing! Thanks again to miss offbeat bride herself Laura Guerrie for coordinating the crazy shindig. Also, if anyone wants our vows for help writing theirs, just email me.

  7. yea I was gonna ask if Bill was a friend. He totally went to my dentist in Seattle for years and one day as about a 7year old kid I was coming in all mopey and out the hallway from his appointment comes Bill Nye! My dad didn't know who it was so he was confused why I was punching him and acting all silent. My dentist was all non-chalant about it of course, but my 1980's kid brain was like "gahhhh-ooaahmahgoorrrsh"

    • I nearly fell on the floor laughing when I read this comment. Cause I could totally picture myself reacting the same way

  8. Oh My word I too was totally addicted to Bill Nye the science guy.
    Congrats your wedding looks like it was totally awesome and super fun.

  9. I love this, because I too had a wine country wedding, just last weekend! (In NY, though, not California.)

    I also wore colored shoes. (Purple!)

  10. Sara, I loved your wedding and it's great to read about it and remember it again. It so perfectly fit you and Mark as individuals and as a couple, and is by far the most fun I've had at a wedding. Seeing how much you both put into it of yourselves and yet how relaxed it was definitely inspired us when we planned ours. Congrats to you two again ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. How fantastic are your vows? I love how you've added in humor without going over the top. Your wedding sounds like it was SO much fun.

    • Thank you, and congrats on the birth of your adorable daughter! I still seriously love both of the bouquets you made for my wedding. They are happily in a vase in my house, making me so glad I opted for something that would last forever. Thanks again!

  12. So rad! Love the blue bouquet, the s'mores area, the humor!
    D. Adams & F. Lips FTW! ;p

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