Rachael & Josh's Victorian Gothic Woodland Wedding!

The offbeat bride: Rachael, DJ/Producer
Her offbeat partner: Josh, IT Guy/Producer

Location & date of wedding: Forest (ceremony) and a haunted 1920's Log Mansion called Gold Mountain Manor (reception) – Big Bear, CA on September 26th, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: I knew I wanted my wedding to be a little… dark. I didn't want a full on black and red gothic wedding. I wanted it to look like you were attending a wedding in Victorian times, but not happy bubblegum Main Street at Disneyland Victorian. A little darker, like a haunted mansion!

So my dress was pretty Victorian-looking with a hint of the dark side: a black sash, big black flower and black tulle underneath, along with a black birdcage veil. The groom dressed in an outfit heavily inspired by Victor from Tim Burton's corpse bride.

I wanted the wedding party in more drab colors… grays and browns and navys and my maid of honor (or as we called her my most honorable iron maiden) wore a tiny top hat she made.

The ceremony was in the forest, and the reception was held at a beautiful 1920's almost completely original log manor. It's a B&B now so we rented out the whole place for the weekend and us and our close friends stayed there. The ceremony was short & sweet; we wrote most of it ourselves taking bits and pieces from writings we liked. Instead of a 'unity candle' or whatever, we planted a tree right at the spot we got married.

After the ceremony we took a few pictures and the guests went back to the manor for cocktail hour where we served up a signature cocktail and played 20's music (maybe we could beckon Bessie the ghost to join the party?) The reception was held on the one acre outdoor space at the manor. I brought lots of stuff from home to decorate, and bought some stuff online as well.

The florist I hired did an amazing job, as she brought the linens, chairs, tables, and awesome candelabras all the way from where we live (Orange County) to where the wedding was (up a mountain in Big Bear). We had black and white striped linens, with a black overlay.. and haunted mansion-looking floral centerpieces in black urns.

Our favors were 'trees in a box'. Each guest got a box with a little seed in it and I tried to choose trees that were native to the Big Bear area. We put a sticker on the box that had our name along with one of several cool quotes I found about the woods. My favorite was "I turned to the woods, where I was better known" by Mark Twain.

There were also lots of branches and ravens… chandeliers, lanterns and flickering candles. We even had light-up scary eyes we put here and there in the bushes. Even though we were pretty much in the forest, we rented trees from the local nursery and had them put in between tables to give people an even more 'I'm sitting in the forest' vibe.

Even the speeches given at the wedding were 'offbeat'! My groom is originally from Chicago, and his best man still lives there. So he gave his speech dressed up as a 'superfan' from SNL…there were many references to Ditka and bratwurst! My best friend and I never really like to be all mushy… so instead of giving a speech, she did an interpretive dance and had two boys hold up sticks with butterflies on strings around her.. while she moved to "Mad World" by Gary Jules, which was hilarious!

All in all, it was super fun, and turned out exactly how I had wanted! Too bad it goes by so fast!

Our biggest challenge: My biggest challenge was creating my vision. I knew how I wanted people to 'feel' at my wedding… the vibe I wanted.. but actually finding the right things to create that vibe was difficult!

My favorite moment: No way I can pick a favorite moment! The whole night was so fun & memorable!

My offbeat advice: Try to find pictures that inspire you, it will definitely help you wrap your head around what it is you are trying to do. Get pictures of houses, runway shows, clips from movies… this will help you think of colors, textures, etc.

Enough talk — show me that dark and luscious wedding porn: Click the photo below to see amazing shots of Rachael and Josh's amazing Gothic Victorian Woodsy Wedding!

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  1. Love it, and I know what you mean about creating the vision in your head- it is hard to put it all together and hope it creates the mood you're after.

  2. This wedding is the BEST. I saw the photos in the ning community a bit ago, and was absolutely blown away. And am still blown away! It's so cohesive and gorgeous and somber and fun.

  3. AWESOME SETUP!!!!!! I LOVE THE IDEA, and bravo for having it outside!!!! I am having a day of the dead wedding this saturday the 1st of nov, and it is outside as well. YIKES!

  4. I love this wedding. This is the most unique wedding I have seen yet! Way to go. It's looks like you all had a great time.

  5. Beautiful! Congrats. Reminds me of our wedding.. it was kind of a Victorian Goth thing and I wore an ivory dress with black birdcage 😛 Yay!

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