Maryska & Chris' lanterns, lights, and top hats wedding

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Photos by Jack Herzberg Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Maryska, Academic Librarian

Her offbeat partner: Chris, Programmer

Date and location of wedding: Julian Smith Casino on Lake Olmstead, Augusta, GA — November 12, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When we started planning our wedding we knew we wanted to make it as geeky and unique as we are but we couldn't settle on a theme.

We decided to simply include the wedding traditions we liked (cake and dancing), take out the things we weren't crazy about (bouquet toss, cake smashing, and over-emphasis on formality), and add in elements that we thought would be fun.

This included a handmade silver dress instead of white, lots of lights and lanterns, and top hats!

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In the end, the Tolkien influence was accidental. We had an open bar and couldn't resist naming it "The Green Dragon" after the bar in Hobbiton, complete with a dragon plaque. I originally wanted to walk in to "The Imperial March," but my friends who offered to arrange and play the processional and recessional music (Ascauga Horn Quartet), just couldn't make it work well with four french horns (it sounded more like the Imperial polka!).

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It hit me that "Concerning Hobbits" would be a great piece. My talented friend, Katie, was able to arrange it for three french horns and a violin (which she also plays). I don't know if I'll ever be able to hear this piece without tearing up a bit.

The Celtic band that we had already hired, The Knock Climb, happened to fit beautifully into our Hobbiton-esque wedding, too. There were definitely some distinctly non-Tolkien elements, including a rousing "So say we all!" when we were pronounced husband and wife.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was a balance of religious elements to honor our families, and non-traditional elements that reflected our more secular beliefs. We had a couple of readings (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and 1 Corinthians 13) but our handfasting was the most important moment for us. The multicolored cords represented both virtues that were important to our relationship and our solidarity with our LGBT brothers and sisters who don't yet have the right to marry in our state.

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The cords were given to our wedding party, who took turns tying them around our joined hands and telling our guests what they symbolized. In addition to our rings, we exchanged a symbol of our families. I have two teenage daughters who stood with the wedding party and carried our rings and our family gifts: a kilt pin and tartan for my family, and the groom's father's pocket knife for his family.

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Our biggest challenge:
The biggest challenge turned out to be my dress. I am a pretty experienced seamstress and wanted to make something inspired by the Oscar de la Renta dress worn by Emma Watson to the Deathly Hallows premiere in 2011, but I didn't anticipate how much tulle would be required for the skirt. I used all the tulle in Augusta (about 60 yards) then had to have my brother and best friend send me another 30 yards or so from Knoxville. Chris also drove the two hours to Atlanta and cleared out three stores there (I knew he was a keeper!). Ultimately the dress took about 40 hours and about 120 yards of tulle to create. I actually shed little bits of tulle throughout the night (it was windy and I kept stepping on it) but there was so much there you'd never notice.

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My favorite moment:
Our families are big, but scattered across the US and the UK. We could not have anticipated how our families would come together in the days before the wedding to help us finish our preparations, set up the venue, and clean up after. We felt incredibly loved.

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My funniest moment:
During our dance (which was a waltz that we had taken private lessons to learn), we drifted a bit too far towards the corner where the band was set up, and kicked over their speaker! Our second funniest moment was during the ceremony: I was so nervous that I said "I do" too early! I just followed it with an "I do, part II" and we laughed.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

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  1. LOVE the dress and the story behind it, bravo! Also, I too have teenage daughters in my wedding and it's so nice to read about a bride I can relate to on so many levels… including a big, amazing dress and goggles and top hats 😀

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    • Our officiant's outfit and goggles were a complete surprise. He mentioned that he thought he had something appropriate to wear and asked if we minded him dressing up a bit. It turned out to fit perfectly with our theme.

  2. Thank you all so much! It came together so amazingly well at the end that I kept waiting for something bad to happen, but it never did. Our family and friends were amazing and the wedding was such a great expression of Chris and I's personalities and relationship. I could not have been more perfect even with the kicked over speaker and early "I do". 🙂

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  3. Yea! It makes me so happy to see Chris and Maryska's wedding featured…Chris is one of my oldest friends and this wedding was absolutely amazing to attend! 🙂

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  4. You MADE that dress???? 'Scuse me whilst I pick my jaw up off the floor.

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    • I certainly did! All the little squares of tulle that made up the skirt were sewn on individually so it took weeks, but I think it was worth it. 🙂

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  5. You felt loved? You ARE loved! We all had such a fun time helping out and celebrating with you. Fantastic interview– way to tout marriage equality! Much love from Seattle <3

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  6. Beautiful dress!! I love that top too.. I got to ask how big of squares did you cut to sew on the skirt?? I was thinking of doing something like this to my vintage wedding dress ( the skirt is plain) for my upcoming event. Looks like everyone had a great time!

    • I used my forearm as a measurement so I'd say perhaps 1foot squares for most of it. I did realize that they had to be a bit smaller toward the waist to reduce bulk. I scaled them down gradually to about half that size at the waist.

      Other than that tulle is cheap and easy to work with but very time consuming! 🙂

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  7. The dress, the venue, the everything! So gorgeous. It sounds like it was a blast, this made me happy just reading it. Congratulations to you both. 🙂

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