Erica & Sean's peaceful and elegant guests-included elopement

April 15 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Aqueela Chadmon
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Photos by Aqueela Chadmon

The Offbeat Bride: Erica, aspiring Doula and non-profit worker extraordinaire

Her offbeat partner: Sean, musician and tour booking wizard

Date and location of wedding: 1812 Hitching Post, Harmony, North Carolina — December 6, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

Our wedding was a quiet labor of love for us. We had floated back and forth between having a much larger scale wedding, to ultimately deciding that simply wasn't us, and was not in the financial cards for us anyway. Plus, I had a real reluctance to having a big shindig since this is my second marriage, and while that was a complete courthouse wedding, I really didn't want to be on display for a lot of people (even ones I love).

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When we were planning on something bigger, my motivation was mainly for Sean; this is his first marriage, so I thought he would want to do it up a bit. Turns out he really wasn't worried about that, so we decided to go really small and intimate. Honestly, we would have rather it have been a real elopement, but we were trying our best to also include family and friends. As it turns out due to a lot of factors, our 25 person guest list ended up being 11 people. We had a bitter pill to swallow about that in a lot of ways, but the day was still beautiful and full of us.

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Tell us about the ceremony:

One of my favorite things about our wedding was that we completely wrote the ceremony ourselves from start to finish (with some help from the internet). We spent a couple of hours one Saturday night looking up ideas for how a ceremony should flow and what was important to us to include within it. It showed me even more how awesome it was that we had found one another, because we quickly realized that we had the same desires and wants for how we wanted it to go.

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One thing that was important to us was to have a Pablo Neruda reading; Sean had given me an anthology of his work early in our relationship, and his work kept being a mainstay within our lives. We ultimately choose Sonnet XVII. I loved the whole ceremony, but my favorite part was the vows we chose to say to each other when we exchanged rings:

With this ring, I give you my promise
that from this day forward
I will give you all my love,
and you shall not walk alone.
I have no greater gift to give.
As your love is my anchor,
and your trust is my strength,
May my heart be your shelter
and my arms be your home.
As this ring has no end or beginning,
so shall my love for you be.
As I place it on your finger,
I give you all that I am,
and all that I shall become.

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Tell us about your reception:

We chose to not have a formal reception. Our wonderful venue allowed for an hour and a half after the ceremony to mingle with coffee and tea, which was such a fun time to casually greet and hug everyone, without feeling overwhelmed. We played the entire first album by You + Me, and it was the most perfect soundtrack to that time.

That evening we invited everyone to meet us for dinner at our favorite local Indian restaurant. Sean and I are both passionate Indian food lovers, so it just made sense that we would celebrate one of the most important days of our lives with food we adore. We had about 20 people at dinner (some people were unable to attend the ceremony, but came for dinner), and it was a casual, fun time. A bunch of our guest had actually never had Indian food, and some fans were made that night!

There was a gap of a few hours in between the ceremony and dinner, and it was nice for us to have that time to breathe and let everything sink in. The venue was about an hour from our apartment, and riding back with my now-husband and my son was so peaceful and right.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Any other advice for Offbeat Bride readers?

I feel like my biggest challenge was to really stand up firmly for what we wanted. We are so happy with how it turned out, but ultimately it would have worked out differently if we were more firm in our personal desires.

For advice, I would say throw your preconceived notions of what you think you want out the window. I am an undercover hippie at heart, and everyone (myself included) assumed that I would have a flowy, bohemian-style dress, flowers in my hair, and no shoes. I was stunned when I fell in love with my more traditional dress that was basically everything I didn't think I wanted.

I also learned that people really are often willing to help you out and be there for you in any way they can. One of my co-workers who does photography on the side did our photos, and a friend of both Sean and I insisted on providing my wedding eye makeup for me.

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My absolute favorite moment was after we were pronounced husband and wife, my eight-year-old son ran up to his new stepdad, and they had a special moment of tears and I love yous. That made my life.

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  1. Erica looks absolutely stunning. I've never met her but have met Sean when he's traveled to Memphis and he's such a cool guy. There is so much purity in their relationship, and you can tell how much they truly love and "get" each other. I love how intimate their big day was. Congrats guys!

    4 agree
  2. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! And omg that picture of Sean and your son??? My eyeballs are sweating… =)

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  3. Congratulations 🙂 Your wedding is inspiring to me. My fiance and I are still trying to find the right balance between our desire for a small ceremony and including friends.

    2 agree
  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I can relate on the magically shrinking guest list. Life happens to everyone, but sometimes you just wanna say, "good grief!"

    2 agree
  5. Oh my gosh I absolutely loved this! Everything from the day seems like it translated into the writing and is so encouraging to others of us who wish to go this route. Thank you for sharing

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