Sarah & Jillian's Halloween costume-optional queer wedding

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Photos by Tristan Crane Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Sarah, Deli Associate

Her offbeat partner: Jillian, Tech Support

Date and location of wedding: Corbett Room at Elephant's, Portland, OR — October 31, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We incorporated as many things as we could from our interests: gnomes, sci-fi, our Halloween anniversary, autumn, breaking of the glass, and fandoms (Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Star Wars). Because our wedding was on Halloween, we made it costume optional.

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A lot of weddings and wedding sites focus on the bride and emphasize that it is the bride's day. We thought of it as our day and planned everything together from the very beginning. We never looked at Pinterest, but Sarah looked at Offbeat Bride every day (and still does!) for ideas.

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Because the wedding was about us being together forever, we chose to be together the night before the wedding, and we helped each other get ready before the wedding. We did not have a first look. It was more important to be there to support each other than to follow any specific traditions. Other traditions that we didn't include were having a veil or garter belt, tossing of the bouquet, or being escorted down the aisle.

We chose clothing that we can wear again. Sarah kept her bouquet, and we danced through the tables of guests together to get to our officiant. Instead of a traditional guest book, we had a crafty corner with art supplies that people could use to make a fun page for our guest notebook. Rather than a DJ, we used an iPod with a couple of playlists of songs. We had Jillian's brother be in charge of the music. Our "wedding march" was "All I Want Is You" by Tristan Prettyman.

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Sarah had always dreamed of getting married in a gazebo, but since our wedding was on Halloween, when it nearly always rains in our state, we thought we'd better find something indoors. We looked at several venues and decided on the Corbett Room in Elephant's Deli. It wasn't shaped like a gazebo, but it felt elegant with the beautiful Juliet windows and a great, warm environment with enough space for both the ceremony and the reception.

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We decided not to have a traditional cake topper. Instead, we placed three carved gnome couples around the cake. One of them was in a chuppah that we built using sticks from our old house and our new house (we had moved during our wedding planning) to represent the early part of our relationship and our forever home.

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We provided gluten-free and sugar-free dessert options, in addition to the cake, for our guests with dietary restrictions. We also wanted our wedding to be kid-friendly. Each child received a bucket filled with toys and candy to keep them amused and to ensure they didn't miss out on the loot from trick-or-treating.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We wrote our own wedding vows. We are both big sci-fi fans, especially of Doctor Who and Star Trek, and our wedding ceremony consisted almost entirely of references to those shows (with a bit of Star Wars thrown in for good measure). It was important to us that the actual vows be the same so that we are equally promising each other the same things.

The only non-sci-fi part of the ceremony was the breaking of the glass. Jillian's parents (one of whom is Jewish) had done that in their wedding ceremony, and they encouraged us to continue the tradition.

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Our biggest challenge:
Because Sarah's dress was low in the back, she needed a strapless bra. We initially tried to find one at one of several local stores that catered to plus-sized people. We were actually disappointed in the service we received at the local stores and ended up finding the best option at Lane Bryant.

Because we were not comfortable shopping in stores for the wedding dress, we ordered it online. It is very important to order early, as you never know what you will get. The site we ordered from was based in China, as they have a different idea of proportions. The first time we tried to order, they actually wrote back and told me to measure again as the measurements we sent weren't "normal." We had to fudge the numbers to get them to make the dress. Once the dress arrived, it didn't fit right. Fortunately, a friend recommended an excellent tailor, Bertha Pearl of Size Queen Clothing. Bertha was able to not only tailor the dress to fit correctly, she also modified the back of the dress to add straps that helped keep the sleeves up. After meeting her, we learned that she not only tailors existing clothing but she is a superb designer of plus-size clothing, including custom wedding dresses.

We had limited space in our venue, so we had to figure out how to keep the guest list reasonable. To narrow it down, we focused on choosing people who are most active in our lives.

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We also learned that when ordering a cake, you must specify everything! When we met with the cake designer, we showed her photos of similar cakes and assumed that our request for "fall maple leaves" would translate to leaves in beautiful fall colors. Instead, the leaves on our cake were light tan, or "maple-colored." Since the cake was ordered months in advance, the designer was relying solely on her notes and not on the photos she had seen when we met with her. We wish we would have been more specific in the contract about the colors. We could also have left copies of the photos rather than merely showing them on a computer.

When meeting with the caterer, make sure you mention any and all dietary restrictions, and be sure they are documented. We had one dish that came out with bacon in the food, even though we thought we had been clear about wanting everything vegetarian. Fortunately, our caterer was very responsive and immediately pulled the dish once we noticed the bacon. We warned all of our vegetarian and Jewish guests about the mix-up, and our caterer refunded the cost of the dish.

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The most stressful challenge was the photos in the wine cellar. When we made the initial reservation with the venue, we happened to run into the person who ran the wine cellar on site. He told us we could have photos in the wine cellar. I mentioned this to our event coordinator, and her assistant indicated that she would let him know. On the day of the wedding, however, the wine cellar owner didn't remember talking to us, and the event coordinator said she hadn't agreed to contact him and that we should have done it. We were very upset, but our photographer told us that it would all work out because it's bad luck to upset a bride on her wedding day. Just as he predicted, the event coordinator made arrangements for us to have the photos done, but we were told we would only have 15 minutes. We felt so rushed because of the last minute panic that Sarah forgot to fasten her shoes. We wanted a couple of photos of our color-coordinated socks and shoes, but we didn't realize until we got the photos back that Sarah's shoes were undone.

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My favorite moment:
When we began planning our wedding in 2012, same-sex marriage was not legal in our state. As little as six months before our wedding, we thought we were going to have to go to Washington state to be legally married before having our ceremony in our home state of Oregon. We feel very lucky that same-sex marriage became legal in Oregon in late spring of 2014, a few months before our fall wedding. Our marriage certificate was issued by our home county, and we feel very grateful for that.

We also chose our wedding date to coincide with our five-year anniversary. We were lucky that it happened to fall on a Friday and not the middle of the week.

We sought out friends and other people we knew to be our vendors. Our photographer is a childhood friend of Jillian's, our chalkboard artist is a coworker of Sarah's, and our tailor was a friend of a friend.

My funniest moment:
Our funniest moment was when a friend's four-year old came up to us and wordlessly led both of us (one at a time) to the dance floor. The three of us then danced together in circles. It was a blast!

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
When we began planning our wedding, the first thing we decided on was having Offbeat Bride vendor Tristan CraneThey ♥ OBB; we ♥ them as our wedding photographer. He was a valuable asset on the wedding day as not just a photographer but a counselor. When Sarah started to have a panic attack, he suggested breathing exercises to help calm her down. When we realized we hadn't brought a cloth to cover the wine glass before breaking it, he told us it was okay to ask for a napkin from the venue. He reminded us that no one wants to piss of the bride on her wedding day. He also insisted that we eat before leaving for the wedding site and that we be the first ones through the buffet line after the ceremony. He warned that if we didn't eat first, we would not have a chance to eat at all, as everyone would be trying to come up to us and talk with us. He was completely correct, and Sarah never did finish her plate of wedding food.

Keep in mind that there will always be leftover food from a catered event and have a plan on what you want to do with it. We ended up with 10 grocery bags full of leftover food. We were able to send some of it with friends, but by then, many of our guests had left. We had a hard time fitting the leftovers in our refrigerator, plus we were heading out on our honeymoon soon after. We ate wedding food for most of our honeymoon because there was so much left over.

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We also wish we had written out an itinerary for the night. We had a general idea of what we wanted to do, but we didn't have any exact timelines. As a result, we forgot to toss the Adipose (a stuffed Doctor Who character we intended to toss instead of the bouquet), and we didn't tell guests to take mini-pumpkins home as wedding favors until after most people had left. As a result, we were stuck with 75 mini-pumpkins that we didn't really have space for. We also realized that while we didn't think we needed a seating chart, having one would have allowed our guests to be more comfortable. Instead, our parents ended up at different tables, and some introverted friends who would have been more comfortable together were left sitting with strangers. We didn't even consider where we were supposed to sit, but fortunately our parents saved seats for us.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:

  1. This is a great wedding. Love the Gnomes under chuppah and the assigned seats sign.

    7 agree
  2. OMG a brown wedding dress?! I love it! A much underrated colour. Beautiful wedding, congratulations!

    5 agree
  3. Can I just steal everything about this wedding?! SO adorable and amazing. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas!!

    4 agree
  4. The colors, the venue, the decor & photos all create such a perfect mood. Really beautiful wedding!

    2 agree

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