Sarah & Todd's 1930's, travel-themed, wine box wedding

September 13 | offbeatbride

Garden Arch

The offbeat bride: Sarah, Public Admin Student, Speech Coach, and Tutor (and OBT member)

Her offbeat partner: Todd, business student and future pastor

Location & date of wedding: Southport Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN and Valle Vista, Greenwood, IN — July 10, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: At first, our wedding raised a few eyebrows with our conservative friends and family. But most people ended up loving the religious non-traditional ceremony. We only incorporated what we felt was important which meant changing some traditional things. 45842_710963895902_41117178_39726441_2881089_n

We walked down the aisle together as equals. There was no giving away. We had everyone affirm their support in our decision. We tried to keep a modern-vintage theme with pillboxes and fedoras. The dresses were short, so the girls wore black leggings. Yes, leggings at a wedding.

Travel was another element of the wedding. Our friends live coast-to-coast: Washington, New Jersey, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and more. We handmade travel themed invites. Then after signing a compass book, guests marked where they came from and where they wanted to travel on a poster-sized world map. We also had a kit car made by friends which added to the vintage travel theme.

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Tell us about your ceremony: Our piano player played "Til Kingdom Come" by Coldplay and "Close Your Eyes" by Christophe Beck. Buffy was my all-time favorite TV show, "Close Your Eyes" had to be included. We recessed out to "Lucky" by Jason Mraz. Each song held special meaning to us. The music captured our joy and our past. 33492_710965722242_41117178_39726499_7755802_n

Each mom read a passage. His mother took a classic, 1 Corinthians 13. My mom read Colossians 3:12-17, which we felt held an important lesson for relationships: forgive, be humble, and give thanks.

One of my favorite parts of the ceremony, was the wine. Instead of a unity candle, we did a wine lock box ceremony. We sealed love letters and a bottle of wine into a box. Our officiant was thrilled to use the "making of wine" as a metaphor for marriage. I LOVED getting to hammer nails in the middle of the ceremony.

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Hammering nails into the 'unity' wine box.

The ring blessing was also super important to us. The rings were passed around in suitcase boxes I made myself. The ushers passed them around as the ceremony went on. Each person said a prayer or blessing over the ring. By the time the rings reached us, they had been blessed by every person in the room. We will carry those blessings with us, for the rest of our lives.

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Guestbook map

My favorite moment: The most meaningful part actually occurred before the ceremony. Ten minutes before the ceremony, Todd, Greg (our pastor) and I stole away to a small room near the chapel for a small, personal communion. Our faith is central to who we are and having those ten minutes to quietly prayer and celebrate communion was especially important to us. The rest of the day was so fast paced, but communion let us relax right before we said "I do." 40397_710963277142_41117178_39726403_1043234_n

Also, we have a woman in our family with Down Syndrome. Although technically of no blood relation, we call her my aunt. I was so happy to be able to include her even in the smallest way. At the rehearsal she became overwhelmed with emotion and started crying. She is so tender hearted. We haven't seen each other since I went off to college. She walked down the aisle in the processional with one of my good friends. It made me happy to include her, and it made her day.

Our biggest challenge: Finding a balance between what we wanted and what we could afford. We paid for the wedding ourselves, and that's tough for anyone let alone two college students. There were so many details I wanted to add, but couldn't afford. Luckily, his parents chipped in with flowers, but it still ended up costing us nearly $8,000 including the honeymoon. And while that's far lower than the "average" cost.
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We made the most of our cash in several ways. First, we found a reception site that didn't charge a room rental fee. They only charged for catering per person which was reasonable (about $20/person). That saved us thousands. Second, we shopped sales EARLY. We splurged in areas we thought important (like the wine box) and Craigslisted the rest. Third, we had an early wedding. The ceremony took place at Eleven A.M. and the reception hall was booked till Five. The earlier time period gave us a lower rate per person.
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My funniest moment: I couldn't get the ring on! He broke his ring finger playing football in highschool PE and his knuckle is a lot knobbier on that finger. When it came time to put on his ring, it got stuck. All the guests including myself ended up laughing so hard. We eventually got it on, but it took work. It certainly lifted the mood.

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Struggling to get the ring on.

Shortly after being announced as Mr. and Mrs. Todd and Sarah Rainey, Todd celebratorily flung his fedora into the guests on a whim.

My advice for offbeat brides: We planned our wedding in a year and a half with school, forensics tournaments, tutoring, and coaching in between. It was challenging. We settled on a travel theme early on. That was SO helpful and made planning much easier. We both wanted to travel to Japan for our honeymoon, but paying for the wedding ourselves left us with a tight budget. So we channeled our desire to travel (to Japan and elsewhere) into our wedding. So pick a theme and avoid changing it if possible unless you have the time to replan!

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'Passports' or wedding programs!

Also, my advice to offbeat-lite brides in particular… we aren't known as an offbeat couple, so people didn't expect an offbeat wedding. Incorporating even a few offbeat changes in a traditional ceremony required a lot of explaining for the family to understand. If you're doing something different, be sure to give guests a heads up. (We had our officiant explain the ring warming and the wine box in the ceremony.)

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The most important thing I learned was to share with my husband. We both shared equally in wedding planning activities, and we learned that rigid divisions of labor weren't going to work out. The flexibility and openness that we now have, came from honest discussions with each other about family expectations and personal goals.

Care to share any vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk โ€” show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Stunning!!! Congratulations to you both! I must say, your makeup is flawless. I know that might be a weird thing to point out, but it's so dramatic in an understated way. You really look beautiful!

    5 agree
    • I totally sent a pic of Sara to my makeup artist and said "I want this!" It is absolutely beautiful and exactly the look I had been picturing.

    • Yes, your make up looked impeccable. Could you please tell me what lipstick you wore (brand and shade)

  2. Your colors and theme are so very similar to mine and Eric's. We also got a few raised eyebrows at the mentions of some of our ideas, but I really think it will come out beautifully. Seeing that yours was fabulous helps.

  3. This is absolutely stunning. As someone who also categorizes herself as "offbeat-lite", it was wonderful to see–and I loved the fact that you used "Close Your Eyes" for your ceremony, as a HUGE fellow Buffy addict. Your veil and dress were both gorgeous as well, and I loved the light travel theme. Congratulations to both of you!

    2 agree
  4. Congratulations! I just love everything about your wedding, from the theme to the dresses, wow! It's great to see offbeat church weddings which are true to your religious beliefs and celebrate in such a unique way! I really love that you took communion right before the wedding, that's something I wish we'd thought of since we didn't include it in our ceremony. All the best to you in your marriage, I hope you get to go to Japan someday! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I hope this post stays on line forever. Well done, you two! Grand blessings! No mention of the three flavors in the wedding cake? Who has orange flavored cake at a wedding? Pretty off beat!

  6. Fabulous! ๐Ÿ™‚ Congrats on having such a perfect and true-to-who-you-both-are day! My favorite pic is the one of you laughing, putting his ring on. You look so happy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. It's official. I am having a Wine Box ceremony at my wedding, someday. I f***ing love the symbolism, and it's a little tamer than the Unity Cocktail.

    When do you guys re-open it? On a particular anniversary? Or is it like one of those "In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass" type things?

    2 agree
    • The box will be opened on one of two occasions: either a ten year wedding anniversary (in which case its celebratory!) or if the marriage gets rocky and needs to be recommitted. So yea, either "yay! we've made it ten years" or "break in case of emergency"–whichever comes first. We filled the box with new love letters, old love letters, my purity ring, old comics he'd draw for me, etc. So its a great time capsule too!

      2 agree
      • I mentioned this idea to my S.O. and he said "Sounds awesome, but let's do whiskey instead. That goes along with the 'gets better with age' thing, right?" Eh, he's not a wine guy. haha

        This is such a cool idea, I'm still geeking out. I made time capsules for myself when I was a kid, so this really speaks to me!

        1 agrees
  8. This is my all-around favorite wedding I've ever got to glimpse into. Congrats and many blessings!

  9. I'm stealing the wine box idea! I've never heard of this before but it's so beautiful, also i work in the wine industry so it seems quite fitting for us! Blessings to you both for a long and happy marriage!

  10. I love your dress! Do you mind sharing which style it is from David's Bridal? I didn't see it on the site.

  11. Beautiful wedding, and I love how you made your dress look vintage with that bolero! I hope you make it here to Japan one of these times, but you might want to wait until the yen cools down a bit–great for us expats working here and sending money back home, not so great for tourists. I recommend Miyajima (a small island near Hiroshima) as a second-honeymoon spot. It's gorgeous, and you can ferry over to Hiroshima for a day trip.

  12. I just want to say how beautiful your wedding was! Everything looks amazing. =) I am especially touched at your inclusion of your aunt. My sister is developmentally disabled and due to family drama, was unable to attend my wedding. So that tugged at my heartstrings a bit. But yes, what a wonderful wedding! Many years of happy marriage to you!

    • I don't want to speak for Sarah, but it might mean even more to hear that Mary (the adopted aunt) was the one to catch the bridal bouquet. She danced with everyone there, too. Her joy enhanced all of our own sense of fun that day.

  13. You guys pulled this off wonderfully! I SUPER love the idea of the ring blessing ceremony! I am still working on the details of our wedding, so hope you don't mind if I steal that idea. I think it's so perfect to carry around all the good wishes of your loved ones on the rings! =) Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  14. I loved seeing your wedding! As a young bride (24 on the wedding day) who is also in school, I sometimes feel like I can't pull of a sophisticated and creative wedding. Thanks for renewing my hope and excitement!

  15. I loved this. This is my favorite wedding I've seen on offbeat thus far (to be fair to other brides, I've not searched that many yet). But you're the first bride I've seen that I'm like 'yes! This is my style too!' I'm also an offbeat-lite Christian. Very happy to find this, and I wish you both the best!

  16. Lovely & original ideas. I wouldn't worry so much what family & friends think, though. Remember: It's YOUR wedding, not theirs. They get to design their own weddings, and you get to design yours. It is not your duty to hold the wedding they'd want for themselves. Sometimes parents can demand input into the wedding when they are paying for it, but you paid for it yourselves, so even less reason to worry about their opinion. & it looks like everyone enjoyed it in the end anyway!

  17. Your wedding looks fantastic! I have a question regarding your ring boxes. How did you make them? I have been looking for suitcase ring boxes for a while now and those look awesome!

    • I took a piece of cardboard and cut it so it would fit inside the miniature suitcase. I cut a slit in the center so my ring would fit. I covered it in a piece of scrap fabric and slit the fabric in the same place. I stuck the ring in, then used a piece of ribbon to slip through the ring and tie it to the cardboard/fabric base (and cover the cut in the fabric. I then plopped the cardboard/fabric into the suitcase. Let me know if that makes sense. If it doesn't make sense, I can draw up some super classy paint pics to explain.

  18. Omg, you two looked lovely! I am so jealous on your dress, it's sooooo very close to my dream dress!! Alas, the url to your dress is broken. Careto give more details to a desperate bride?

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