Greta & Erty's community-made Victorian-styled wedding weekend

Photos by Riley Fields Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Greta, Anthropology major (seeking wages!)

Her offbeat partner: Erty, software engineer

Date and location of wedding: Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp, Crystal Falls, MI — August 16, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Having a steampunk flair to our wedding was never really up for debate, as that was one of the main adjectives with which our friends had come to describe us. But we also wanted to honor the rustic world that had brought us together. We both attended a environmentally-based boarding school for high school, which is where we met. We wanted to get married outside, and we also knew we wanted all of our friends and family who were spread across the nation to be able to gather together and celebrate rather than it just being a blur of travel.




We searched many venues and finally found a summer camp that would house both our ceremony and our reception, as well as lodging for our family and close friends. Renting the whole camp for four days meant that most of our venue costs were covered by lodging, which also meant that we had almost 70 of our friends and family there for all the preparations.



We knew from the beginning that we didn't want all the pomp and circumstance of a more formal reception. So there were no place cards, no toasts… just celebration. The camp had a large green just down the hill from where the ceremony was. Instead of a traditional receiving line, as Erty and I greeted our guests, our parents and sisters served our guests champagne with berries, so the party could get started right away!


The green was set up with lawn games (giant Jenga, ladder golf, buck boards, etc.). Hexagon tents bookended the area with open fronts. They were set up with round tables, each with a game. There were also a popcorn machine and munchie table with whole fruit and hummus.


Homemade bars from reclaimed pallet wood served wine and local beer, as well as lemonade and iced tea. Instead of a formal dinner, "bites" (substantial appetizers) were served every half hour. In the middle of the green, fire pits surrounds by hay bales covered in dyed burlap served as s'more camps into the late night.


We had a small acoustic band playing live music for the first hours of the reception. All our friends and family who are musically-inclined had been asked to bring their instruments, and it didn't take long for them all to break them out and get the jam session started! Everything from classic jigs to video game themes were played, and they were still going strong when Erty and I headed to bed well after midnight.





Overall, it was quite simply, us. But not us, in the sense of just Erty and me. My mom always uses the phrase "chosen family" — and I will always be unspeakably grateful for how our chosen family came together to make an amazing day. Erty later joked that "we had set the bar high for our friends who wanted to get married." But he quickly followed with a grateful smile and added, "then again, not everyone has a village to help with their wedding."





Tell us about the ceremony:
Coming from two different religious backgrounds, we strove to have the ceremony be a celebratory blend of Covenant and secular practices. The service was on top of the hill, overlooking the lake and surrounded by tall, old pines.



Our family friend and ordained Covenant pastor performed the service. The ceremony started with our adventuring party processing in as they all sang "Simple Gifts" accompanied by musicians who were all our relatives and friends. Erty and I walked in to my college roommate (a vocal major) singing "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Peter, Paul and Mary. After the scripture readings, my father and his group "Hicks with Picks" (which included the pastor) sang/played "January Wedding" by The Avett Brothers. We have always felt it embodied much our of relationship over the years. We first cried and then we danced, right there at the altar.


After Pastor Jack's homily on John 1:43-51, my sister surprised us by singing a song from our childhood, "We Are a Beginning" by Sarah Masen — she and I both cried like babies!



As we exchanged rings, Jack read a passage we borrowed from another offbeat wedding:

This is the point in the ceremony where we usually talk about the wedding bands being a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But we all know that these rings do have a beginning. Rock is dug up from the earth. Metal is liquefied, molded, cooled, and polished. Something beautiful created from raw elements. Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It is the process of making something beautiful where once there was nothing at all. May the Love and faithfulness to which you have committed yourself today prove as true in the test of time as gold in fire, and my they endure until death do you part.

As we slid the rings on each other's fingers we said; "I love you, I trust you, I respect you."




Our biggest challenge:
Overall, we were very lucky that our process was relatively painless. The hardest thing was rather specific to me, and as a whole didn't really effect the larger planning process. But having my husband-to-be over a thousand miles away and with basically opposite schedules, living up to my "It's not just the bride's day" motto proved very stressful.

We have been together for almost eight years (since my freshman year of high school), and we thought of ourselves as partners in every way. So, while I understood that he couldn't have a say in everything — and not that he particularly cared about the napkin color — but not being able to thoroughly consult with him on larger matter was difficult. Mainly it made me worry that when the day finally arrived, it would feel like the bride's day and it wouldn't reflect him adequately.

In the end, our belief that communication is a foundation of a healthy relationship carried us, once again. Acknowledging the issue, checking in with each other and clarifying that our decisions were motivated by our partnership, meant that our wedding day was perfect for both of us.


My funniest moment:
We knew we were reaching the end of the ceremony, and I have to admit I was ready to get to the official introduction and glass of champagne waiting at the end of the receiving line. Suddenly, Pastor Jack (a long-time family friend who has known us both since the beginning) started talking about NPR and the show "Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me!" Erty and I gave each other an amused, yet confused look. The next thing I knew, he told everyone that he had a fill-in-the-blank limerick:

There Once was a boy they called Erty,
Who started quite young to be flirty.
To a chick at Conserve,
He built up his nerve,
And said, "Hey, Babe, I sure think you're ______



My favorite moment:
One of my most memorable portions of our wedding wasn't on our wedding day at all. It was Friday night. Erty and I had just finished writing our vows and were total balls of blubber. We walked into the chapel (which had been transformed into an over-decorated work room) to find well over a dozen people working on various projects! Some were working on putting together the flag programs, others were working on boutonnieres and flower arrangements, while the wedding party and musicians sat on the stage working on the processional song. Eventually focus degraded, and before we knew it there was an impromptu jam session with three cellos, two guitars, several drums, and I don't even remember what else. To top it off, my little brother decided to blow up the bouncy horses early and their they were adults and kids bouncing all around the chapel and jousting with pool noodles.

The whole night was a moment of calm in the middle of the storm, from planning to the culmination of all our hard work. It was a time to laugh and appreciate what it was all for and that it had brought us all together.







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Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. What a splendid steampunk wedding! You both look radiant with joy and your celebration was clearly the end product of lots of shared work and creativity. Congratulations!

    B-b-but… where's the story about the ICE CREAM HATS!? 😀

    5 agree
    • The ice cream hats were part of a rehearsal dinner surprise! Despite growing up in a little tiny town, we have a lovely little ice cream up. And I had this wacky idea to ask them if they would come to the rehearsal dinner — but Shhh! Only my parents and the groom knew it was coming — so when they pulled up as dinner was ending everyone stood up and ran for the truck! Not just the little kids but our college friends, aunts and grandparents. It was so much fun to watch everyone faces light up for a good old-fashion treat!

      3 agree
  2. I also love the ice cream photo/hats. I also love the dress she is wearing in that photo!

    3 agree
    • Thank you! I actually found that dress pretty much right after I got engaged in this cute little consignment store — I couldn't justify buying it but then my mom suggested I wear it for the rehearsal dinner! Which meant I left it in my closet for a year, but now it's one of my favorite pieces.

      3 agree
    • It actually started another silly thing, where I wore outfits all week that were in the cream/white/beige family — it was a kind of subtle celebration of the wedding week!

      1 agrees
  3. Wonderful pictures and I love reading your write up. The picture of your sister is so moving.

    It's been great inspiration for my steampunk wedding – I love your established sign!

    2 agree
    • Ha! I am sure they would appreciate that and I will be sure to pass it on.
      They probably had as much fun picking out their outfits/accessories as my husband and I did — and my mom was determined to not look anything like "A Traditional Beige Mother of the Bride"

      3 agree
  4. there is nothing I don't LOVE about this wedding! Everything is beautiful and there are sweet little touches everywhere. everyone looks SO HAPPY!
    I notice that the groom brought the bride her bouquet, which is a very, very old tradition.
    Greta, if your mom wouldn't mind telling us where her dress came from I'd like to know.

    2 agree
  5. Beautiful wedding. Beautiful people. The photographer truely captured the fun, the moments and the personalities.

    1 agrees

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