Jenell & Joe's sassy & informal Phoenix arts district wedding

3619956617_8c008dee53The Offbeat Bride: Jenell – Interior Designer (commercial), and OBT member "Jenell"

Her Offbeat Partner: Joe – Marketing Content Writer/Editor

Location & date of wedding: The Paisley Violin Cafe, Phoenix AZ

What made our wedding offbeat: We decided to keep our wedding small, personal, and inexpensive and save some money for a really nice honeymoon in Spain (since we were paying for it ourselves and wanted a short engagement of five months). We picked an offbeat cafe/bar/restaurant in our beloved downtown neighborhood that reflected our personalities, and provided great food in a casual atmosphere.

I chose a fuchsia party dress (more fun than white), and my groom chose clothes that he would wear again. We asked four friends & family members to say something (whatever they wanted) during the ceremony. We decided against having bridesmaids/groomsmen, because it's really about us, right?

Hanging cupcakes!
Mother f-ing hanging cupcakes! Genius.

We knew that we didn't want a sit-down dinner. We also did not want to have to personally "entertain" our guests with a traditional cake cutting, bouquet toss, etc. We wanted the guests (which were 75 of our family members and closest friends) to mingle, help themselves to food & drink, walk around & sit inside or out. I asked a friend to make cupcakes, and another to create the display. She and her husband decided to suspend them. Instead of a dance, we provided other entertainment such as a loose "photobooth" area with costume props, a fire for making s'mores, and projected photos of us while an ipod played favorite songs we had collected for months. We also borrowed another bride's idea for a questionaire, in lieu of a traditional guest book.

Our biggest challenge: One challenge was trying to keep the wedding small, while in our own city. I imagine that this is much easier with a destination wedding. In our situation, we needed to keep it small because of the venue size, because we really wanted it to feel intimate and to be able to spend time with all of our guests. Joe has a very big Italian family who all live in Phoenix. And we both have a lot of friends, close co-workers, and acquaintances here. Thankfully, we had no pressure from our parents to invite anyone that we didn't want there… possibly because of our age and that this was both of our second marriages.

Funky "photobooth" fun.

Regarding family, we decided to invite only aunts, uncles & first cousins. Choosing between friends was much more difficult, but we just tried to invite those people that we know will be our friends for a long time to come, and not be too sentimental about past friends not currently a part of our lives. We also set up 2 other parties after the wedding. One week after the wedding, Joe's mom threw a party at her house for all of his extended family members. The following week, we had a party at our house for our friends.

For the most part, everyone was very understanding but unfortunately, I think a couple of people had their feelings hurt.

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My favorite moment: Honesty, I think it was the elated moment during the reception when I realized that "we did it." We had pulled off our wedding, accomplished everything that we wanted from it, and our guests were really enjoying themselves.

Not sure what I love more -- his face or her fascinator.

I'm sure that my husband's moment would be more beautiful and sentimental than mine, but after all of the planning, a friend's discouraging remarks at non-traditional ideas, the nervousness during the ceremony, and heart-felt desire to see everything go well, I was overjoyed at the realization that our offbeat wedding had worked. Truly, I loved every minute of our wedding, but it was at that point that I felt I could relax and everything would take care of itself.

A really funny moment, however, occurred during the ceremony. We were outside on the patio of The Paisley in downtown Phoenix, and during the middle of the ceremony, a truck drives by playing mariachi music LOUD. He slows down at the corner, and my husband and our pastor sort of do a little dance for the seconds until he's past. Completely in character for the both of them, it cracked everyone up.

Repurposed glass jar luminaires.
Repurposed glass jar luminaires.

My advice for other offbeat brides: Consider alternate wedding locations, and feel free to be creative with it. The venues that target wedding events usually cost a fortune and are sometimes kind of cheesy. We saved a fortune by choosing this offbeat cafe that has a lot of its own personality. We had our wedding on a Sunday evening, when they are normally closed so we had the place to ourselves. They didn't charge us any rental fees, gave us great pricing for the food, and let us bring in anything we wanted.

We thought a lot about the kind of experience we wanted to create for our guests. We really love our 1940's apartment downtown, and the adjacent neighborhood that supports a small art community and locally-owned businesses. The Phoenix area is overrun by characterless developer-driven suburbs, and we wanted to expose our guests to something different, something special to us. Many of our friends and family members remarked about what a cool place it was, and what a fun, and comfortable wedding we had.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!:

  1. Wow! Such a fun wedding. I love the photobooth idea. It's becoming such a popular thing in Canada too! Great dress and the bouquet is phenominal!

  2. I've never commented on a wedding before although I've been following OBB since when I was planning my own wedding last year… but I felt compelled to comment after reading about this one. I loved it from the minute I saw the beautiful pink dress and all of the other different colours and I really felt that I shared a lot of the sentiments. We also wanted a relaxed, easy to plan, small wedding with a short engagement, so we opted for a destination wedding on the beach with just nine guests. It was wonderful and just what we wanted, but this is the sort of thing we would have gone for if we'd gotten married at home. The best part of my wedding day was also the "we did it" moment- for me that happened right at the end of the ceremony when the musicians started playing and someone popped open the first champagne bottle for a toast. I will never forget that wonderful feeling knowing that no matter what else happened that day we were married so it was already the best day of my life. Best wishes for married life!

  3. Oh my goodness, I'm so happy to find this post. I live in CA but am from AZ and am trying to plan a wedding in phoenix. It's hard to plan from out of town. I haven't lived there in 6 years and I've heard that the downtown arts district was on the upswing. This wedding looks perfect and mirrors many of my ideas. Keep it simple, casual, dump a lot of tradtiion and have it be fun. Have it be us. Hooray for a Phoenix wedding that's not at a golf course!!!! Or with mountains in the background. Bleh. It's nice to see the colorful party of city life. Great wedding!

  4. Phoenix is particularly egregious when it comes to upping the price by ridiculous sums when the word 'wedding' is involved. The Hotel Valley Ho, right downtown, was absurdely pricey. I love the Paisley Violin (right up there with Pita J for me), so that's such an awesome choice. What a beautiful wedding–it's been really difficult finding a venue that's pretty, inexpensive, and unique (I refuse to get married at Stonebridge, for example) here in the Valley, so my fiance and I are headed to Sedona to get married at the Tlaquepaque. This also weeds out a few of the guests on the list, too. I love the button corsages–so unique! Excellently done with a Phoenix wedding. They're very hard to pull off, but you did so exceptionally well. I'll be sure to look into your photographer since it looks like they did a great job!

  5. This wedding is adorable, the Paisley Violin is an awesome location. Congrats guys!

  6. What a beautiful wedding! Some above said that this mirrors a lot of her ideas – ladies, you are not alone! This pretty much mimics my ideal wedding, although we've not been able to find a similar venue. Nice work, beautiful pics – it looks like such a good time! Congrats 🙂

  7. Have been away from Phoenix for so many years, but I am very much debating a return for my wedding. This post made me incredibly homesick and incredibly happy – amazing to see a beautiful non-golf course wedding in my hometown. Thank you SO much for posting.

  8. this is my first time commenting on a wedding. I'm so happy for you that you were able to incorporate your own individualist ideas — that's what I'm trying to do here in NYC, and it's much harder! I love the idea of a pink dress, your gorgeous bouquet, the fantabulous cupcake holders and the questionnaire-guestbook idea. Can you point me to the blog where you got the idea from ? I think I might definitely want to do that !

    congratulations on a lovely wedding!

  9. I got to go to this wedding!!! I loved all of it. The dress, the bouquet, the cupcakes, and most of all, the relaxed atmosphere. It was wonderful. Why don't you two renew your vows soon? I'd like to attend.

  10. I loved the pics from this wedding! Such great ideas and a fabulous location. I was also a Phoenix bride and I wish I would have checked out downtown locations. Hard to find great places that are not golf resorts here…

  11. Yes, just the type of inspiration I need. I myself am looking for a dress that is not white, and wanting to spend the money on a honeymoon and not some lavish ordeal that has nothing to do with my taste. We are trying to keep it simple and your post gave me great ideas. Thank you for sharing.

    • oh yes,
      also. I am trying to do the same thing (small wedding, nice expensive honeymoon on Vietnam) how did your family react to this? I am afraid mine is going to freak out and probably disown me (add it to the list of things I will probably be disowned for…lol)

      • I am also planning a small, inexpensive wedding at a local historic pub, much to my mother's horror. As expected, some of my family and my fiance's kind of balked, but since we are paying for it ourselves, they get no say so. Like you, we'd rather have a small and intimate, simple ceremony and save up for a nice honeymoon later.

        Word of advice, CFry, it is YOUR wedding, and your family will come around. After four weeks, even my mother is now starting to come around and now wants to be involved. Stay true to what you and your fiance want, and don't let anyone's negativity or doubts get in the way. Best of luck.

  12. Awesome location and wedding! I am a Arizona native currently living in Norway. These photos make me remember all of the coolness of AZ! Love it!

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