Rach & Matty's family union meets serendipitous venue wedding #Real Weddings: Midwest US#couples of color#fall weddings#minnesota#mismatched-bridesmaids#short dress#wedding dress with sleeves February 26 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride Photos by photographer friends of the couple The Offbeat Bride: Rach Her offbeat partner: Matty Date and location of wedding: Panola Valley Garden, Scandia, MN and Rafters, Stillwater, MN — September 27, 2014 Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Being engaged for over two years, we had time to save up. I wanted to go elope to Vegas, but Matty wanted the traditional wedding, but then set expectations that he didn't want traditional vows. For decor, over the course of two and a half years, we saved every kind of jar that came through the house for centerpieces. Since we were engaged at the beginning of 2011 and our son was born towards the end of 2011, we had a lot of jars. Baby food jars, spaghetti jars, salsa jars, pickle jars, Mason jars, etc. I also got ideas from local consignment shops and thrift stores. One thrift store I went to somehow managed to create AMAZING decorations with tomato cages. I had tomato cages, so I copied the idea! I also do not like flowers, so when I met a lady at the Twin Cities bridal show who made and sold brooch bouquets, she showed me how to make them. I ended up saving enough jewelry to make bouquets for myself and all my bridesmaids. We let the bridesmaids pick out their own outfits. It was a blessing when I found out that my sister-in-law was pregnant. She could feel confident knowing she wasn't pressured to fit a certain dress. My best friend of 30 years recommended Panola Valley for our venue. There were no decorations needed at all, so the very next day, I booked it, two years before our date. Competition for venues is fierce nowadays. I also searched high and low for a reception venue. I remember having fail after fail and not feeling the vibe of any of the tours. We went to go sulk and have a beer at Rafters in Stillwater, and BOOM! This place was gorgeous. Tell us about the ceremony: The ceremony was extremely special to me, especially the script for the wedding. I scoured over Offbeat Bride to give me readings and ideas because there were so many from which to choose. Ultimately we chose Robert Fulghum's "Union" for before the vows. After that we read our vows: I, Matt, take you, Rachel, as my best friend and teammate. I promise to laugh with you and not at you, cry with you, learn with you and grow with you. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart. I promise to support your dreams and to respect our differences. I promise to love you deeply and root for you loudly; I'll be right by your side, and you'll never walk alone. May my heart be your shelter and my arms be your home. Here were our ring vows: "Rach, I give you this ring as my promise to accept your imperfections and recognize your beauty. I give you this ring as a token of my love, with all that I have and all that I am." I followed with, "Matty, Because this ring has no end, it signifies the infinity of true love; my outward showing of my inward commitment to you. I give you this ring as a token of my love, with all that I have and all that I am." We then had a second reading while holding hands, "Blessings of the Hands." Our biggest challenge: My dad was extremely sick. I was holding back tears and trying to smile throughout the day even though my heart was very much hurting since he had to leave after walking me down the aisle. But with the help of the understanding DJ, we came up with an alternative dance instead of the parent dances we had planned. Instead, everyone get into a huge circle around us, as we started dancing, and then we got to pull each guest in to join us. It got everyone involved and dancing! My favorite moment: I loved our unity ceremony. I have a daughter from a previous relationship, and we now had our son together, who was two at the time of our wedding. We did not want to mess with sand or candles so we decided to place a necklace and ring on our daughter, and everyone gave our son "knucks," or fist bumps, and that was that. My funniest moment: The funniest moment of the ceremony was when we were running behind on our photos, and I end up running through the venue, dodging guests and trying to hide in the bridal boutique so I wouldn't be seen. I heard someone yell, "RUNAWAY BRIDE!" Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? Bride's gown: Sienna Cole — Lisa, the "gown magician" was extremely easy to work with, extremely understanding, and would place her input where it was needed Officiant: via Thumbtack Bridesmaid's dresses: ModCloth Other fashion: Nordstrom Rack Enough talk — show me the wedding porn! 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