A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

December 28 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Sabrina Jean Wilson

We saw Lydia and Scott's lovely engagement session and now we get to see their wedding in all its fairylit glory!

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)
Photos by Sabrina Jean Wilson

The Offbeat Bride: Lydia, multidisciplinary performing artist

Her offbeat partner: Scott, software developer

Date and location of wedding: Hatcher Garden & Woodland Preserve, Spartanburg, SC — October 20, 2017

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

It was a woodsy, naturalistic fall-themed wedding with twinkling lights all around. The magpie aesthetic showcased the uniqueness of found items, like an old chandelier hanging from a tree, a tiny bicycle covered with ivy, a table made from an old tree stump. The setup followed the natural curvature of the forest, which led to an asymmetrical seating pattern and the bridal party coming in from the side.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

There were a lot of folk elements from world cultures that I admire: especially India, Greece, and Ireland. Because we had already tied the knot at the courthouse and this was our public celebration with friends and family, we really tried to focus on the comfort and happiness of our loved ones and guests. I believe in the power of dance to make a community out of strangers so the eclectic folk music and international dancing was a huge part. Also one of my life goals is to be a patron of the arts, so I worked with as many artists and craftspeople as possible. Even when I knew I could have gotten something mass-produced for cheaper, the relationships cultivated through co-creating were entirely worth it.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

We established a few values at the beginning of the process that really helped me stay sane and focus on what mattered to us:
1. God first, lift up Jesus
2. Marriage > Wedding
3. People > Things
4. Low stress! (for me and everybody)
5. This bit of wisdom came from my matron of honor: It will be 20% wrong and 80% right, so let that 20% go right from the beginning. The 80% will be enough.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

Tell us about the ceremony:

About 200 tealights led the way into the woods. The guests totally ignored our “unplugged” sign and there’s a great “bootleg” video of our ceremony!

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

My MOH arranged fresh flowers for our bouquets, and she and my brother’s family decorated the ceremony area and arbor based on an inspiration photo from Pinterest.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

Half of our bridal party was under the age of 15 — our nieces, nephews and mentees, along with our best friends of course. My youngest niece was the “Flower Kitty.” Our ring bearer bore a ring bear. My maternal aunt was the "Mistress of Ceremonies." Our siblings were seated along with our parents.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

The ceremony was Jesus-centric. Scott’s dad read a scripture passage culminating in “a threefold cord is not easily broken” and my sister read a passage about how marriage echoes the Divine Romance. We washed each other’s feet as a symbol of the sacrificial love we believe is the foundation of marriage and a picture of Jesus’ love for humankind.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

The officiant had our guests vow to support us in our marriage. He warned them that if he didn’t hear a hearty “we will” the first time, he would ask again until he got it! Luckily they nailed it with enthusiasm the first time.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

The musicians were brilliant and never stopped playing as they followed the guests all the way up the path to the reception! We had an acoustic band perform Celtic music and traditional hymns. The bridal processional was the fiddle tune “The Butterfly.”

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

Tell us about your reception:

The photo shoot was before the ceremony so we could immediately join our guests afterwards (OK, so we snuck off for a brief tete-a-tete in between!).

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

Instead of a send-off, we had a grand entrance with celebration wands handcrafted by my paternal aunt. Reception photos were captured by friends and family to save money. My artist friend designed table decorations like tiny secret gardens.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

For food: chicken pot pie, roasted root vegetables, and a fall salad with goat cheese and pumpkin seeds. A vat of warm apple wassail from Scott’s bartender friend. We had a naked carrot cake with cannoli filling, and the tables were set with compostable bamboo.

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

Scott and I love to dance so we made it our special mission to get even our most uptight relatives onto the dance floor! First the guests were spectators while they finished their dinner. Friends performed Hawaiian hulas. Our parents are both shy so we had the four of us waltz together to “The Blue Danube.” Then the Greenville International Folk Dancers came out to teach a few world dances. By the time the band came out to play their blend of Celtic, jazz, and 20th century favorites, everyone was dancing.

Favorite memories from that point forward: frolicking wildly with my sister, my father playing upright bass for a song, a member of the catering staff dancing a jig, and my six-year-old niece blessing it all with her jingly ribbon-wand like a tiny kitten fairy!

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

What was your most important lesson learned?

The 80%-20% rule was invaluable. Every time something would go wrong someone would remind me that was just part of the 20%, and I’d return to gratitude for the 80% that was going beautifully. The two biggest challenges were creating a comfortable trickle-in, trickle-out experience for busy guests traveling on a Friday night, and getting everyone dancing.

Strategies for accommodating our guests’ schedules were 1. allowing them to RSVP to ceremony, reception, or both, 2. moving the photo shoot to before the ceremony (which also allowed us to catch that gorgeous “golden hour” of sunlight!) and 3. having the climactic celebration entrance at the beginning of the reception to the party naturally taper out instead of forcing a definitive end point.

Strategies for getting guests dancing were 1. the super-delicious wassail of unknown alcoholic potency (It was actually pretty weak but the placebo effect is huge!) 2. demonstrating simple dances that looked like a ton of fun before asking anyone to dance, 3. starting the dancing at the tables rather than on the floor, 4. begging participation in the dance lesson as a special favor to the couple, and 5. rather than playing top 40 hits that tend to bring back all the junior high anxieties of “looking cool” while dancing, choosing an infectious, eclectic mix of folk and oldies equally familiar and novel to the whole crowd which inspired frolic, goodwill, and a sense of “nobody gives a damn what I look like so I’m just gonna have fun!”

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

A fairylit wedding in the woods (with flower kitty and folk dancing)

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  1. WOW! !!
    I could so feel the love at this most beautiful wedding! You definately honored our Lord and lifted Jesus up with your wonderful celebration!
    Wishing you many blessings in your journey together with Him!

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