Bobbie & Mario's family-centric ranch wedding

July 30 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Brynne Owen
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Photos by Brynne Owen Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Bobbie, Massage Therapist (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Mario, Chef

Date and location of wedding: Family ranch outside of Athens, TX — April 28, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our secular ceremony was officiated by a friend and held in a pasture on my family's ranch in rural East Texas as the sun was setting on what we call Flag Pole Hill. We had five different music groups perform at specific times throughout the evening, including an acoustic guitar duo playing various covers before the ceremony, a gospel choir singing both Bob Dylan and Stevie Wonder songs for our processional and recessional songs, a self-proclaimed "tropical space funk" genre band, and accompanying DJ at our reception, as well as an impromptu open mic session at our after party. Lots of music and lots of fun!

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Our reception was held in a historic Ice House, which we used as a dry hire and backdrop for our farmer's market-themed foodie reception. We served an array of small bites, things on a stick, and various finger foods along side a gourmet street taco bar catered by a local artisanal grocery store. For dessert, we had an arrangement of bite size bars, brownies, mini pies, cookies, and petit fours in lieu of a cake. We provided microbrew beers from Austin (where we met), with signature cocktails, and ,of course, some sweet tea and homemade horchata.

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We had a lounge tent set up inside as well as a photo booth and a retro cigar lounge. Everything we used was either a rental, handmade, borrowed, or biodegradable. Also, we have a lot of talented friends and family, so we enlisted them to help with their skills!

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Tell us about the ceremony: I wrote our ceremony and started with the musical choices and the lyrics therein. Mario isn't much for words, so he left this to me. "Make You Feel My Love" by Bob Dylan is very important to us, so I had a gospel choir sing it as our entire wedding party's processional.

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We had two readings. My maid of honor/aunt, read an excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams to begin the ceremony. The other reading I chose was "i carry your heart with me" by e.e. cummings. My 79-year-old grandfather read it. This is probably my favorite part of the ceremony because afterwards he said a blessing that was both respectful of our beliefs and incorporating of the other belief systems that our families share. It was so encouraging and I'm glad I asked him to do it, even though we aren't much for prayer.

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Ramirez2-59Our biggest challenge: Mario and I are an atheist interracial couple raising a child together in tandem with her biological mother. When we decided to have our wedding in my hometown in rural Texas and involve our families who do not share our belief system, we expected a few roadblocks. To our surprise, these weren't main issues throughout our planning process. The difficulty was in the details. No one said directly that they didn't agree with our marriage… but they did disagree with having fresh flowers, or with not inviting acquaintances and children, or the amount of money that went into all of these things. I heard a lot of "That's just how it is," or "You're the one that decided to have a wedding." Throw in a few cultural differences with the in-laws and you've got a handful.

It seems many people have serious emotional connections to these events and they trigger strange behavior. For example, I found some people constantly comparing their experience, or even their lives, to my own. Sometimes it was hurtful. Sometimes I was made to feel like a plus size bride somehow didn't deserve all of the pretty things she wanted. That somewhere there was some unwritten rule about silhouette or skin tone to adhere to within a wedding party. That only the religious deserved the formalities of a ceremony. That in some way, my impending marriage just didn't mean that much because of the non-traditional aspects we embrace.

In the end, the wedding was truly an expression of the happiness I felt on that day. I was glad that regardless of any hurt feelings I may have suffered or any I may have injured in the process, were tossed aside for one day to make room for a love in its many forms. Weddings aren't meant to usher in perfections in your various relations. They're meant to be an expression of you and your partner's unique type of love.

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My favorite moment: We gave special roles to almost every member of our collective immediate families. The most meaningful of these posts went to my stepdaughter as our flower girl, and to my terminally ill 14-year-old brother as our ring bearer. Blake, my brother, is a very important part of our lives and a daily reminder to enjoy whatever cards you've been dealt. He was diagnosed with a rare form of muscular dystrophy when he was 5, and since then he's been engaged in an uphill battle. We implemented several of his suggestions into the details of our wedding so he'd be more comfortable. We had him roll down the aisle with our officiant to begin the ceremony and start the ring warming.

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Our baby girl Izzy was meant to walk down the aisle with two junior bridesmaids, but decided to stay with me as we walked. I was actually relieved to be holding her as my parents walked on either side of me. It ended up being more of a troupe parade than a bridal walk down the aisle, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. Nearing our pronouncement, she somehow knew something big was about to happen and joined us at the front. It couldn't have been more perfect for us.

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My funniest moment: We held an after-party a honky-tonk-themed event center across the street from the warehouse where our reception was held, which is also next door to our home. Mario and I took a moment to relax and change into something less formal, and as we walked out our door and turned to the right, we saw a group of our close friends and members of our wedding party gathered on the smoking porch. They'd taken the oversized helium balloons and inhaled its contents to produce the most ridiculous rendition of "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show I'd ever heard. Directly behind them one of my bridesmaids was blowing a whistle that was hanging around her neck while pouring whiskey shots from the bottle into willing participants mouths while shouting "We're in TJ! Drink like we're in TJ!" despite the fact that we weren't anywhere near Tijuana.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I thought I was prepared for the Wedding Industrial Complex, but it took me by storm. I didn't check out some vendors thoroughly enough, and I wasn't prepared with proper budgeting before meeting with them. Arm yourself with knowledge! I wish I had brought organized questions on paper to all of my meetings. The emotions of the wedding event are enough to throw anybody off their game, but remember there is life after.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Looks like a wonderful day, love the cowboy boots! Sums up my favourite aspect of this site – getting to see real couples with real smiles on their faces 🙂

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  2. I loved this! So personal and heartfelt and BEAUTIFUL!! Congratulations. 🙂

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  3. That is one deeply pretty wedding. You are also, might I add, one hella hot bride. YOWZA.

    And what a beautiful little girl!!

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  4. I love the look of the doors, and the ribbons! The bridesmaids' dresses are adorable.

    I think it's wonderful that the bride's brother was able to be the ring bearer.

    Congrats to you both!

  5. "Weddings aren't meant to usher in perfections in your various relations. They're meant to be an expression of you and your partner's unique type of love."

    This is so wise. Thanks!

  6. Well done. Your wedding looks like there was a lot of love around, and you and your husband look so happy. I liked that you didn't let those hurtful things that some people said ruin your day. Way to be mature, and let the love just guide you to where you need to be.

    And oh my gosh, IZZY IS FANTASTIC!!!!!

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  7. Bobbie! Your wedding was absolutely stunning (all of it) but I have a practical question about your particularly stunning hair. I want to wear fresh flowers in my hair (and something close to the same size/volume as yours) but I'm not entirely sure how to get them in there, and how to make them stay. Could you please tell me how you did that? I'd be so grateful!
    I also wanted to tell you how much I admire the respect you have for the beliefs of others, while still honouring your own – that's a gift.

    • Ellyn,
      Thank you! I have always loved the idea of flowers in the hair, so it was a must do for me. The thing is… it didn't work out all that well. I hired a florist to do my arrangements and asked them to create a sort of crown with flowers on one side. When it arrived it looked more like a crown of thorns with some botanicals. So we scrapped it for the small arrangement and simply bobby pinned like crazy. I would be prepared for a little wiggle room in mind when you go for the arrangement, but if you keep it small you can't go wrong.

  8. This wedding just looks so lovely! Everyone has a great big smile and it radiates happiness. The bride's dress is FAB FAB FAB. I love it and I want one! Best wishes for the future.

  9. I actually teared up reading this and looking at your photos. So incredibly beautiful. You made me look forward to my wedding again (instead of dreading it, decision fatigue!)

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    • Jess,
      Don't lose heart! One of my biggest regrets is letting the little things (even though they are absolutely not little AT ALL) get me down. In retrospect, I wish I would've followed my gut more. If something just won't fall into place, leave it alone and come back to it. Trust yourself and know that everything will FEEL perfect on your wedding day, regardless of the images in your head. Best of luck!

  10. Your arbor is exactly what I have been dreaming of! Do you have any tips on how to pull it off? Or any other photos of it?

    • Leah,
      We were lucky enough to have a talented family friend make this for us. He cut down a few small trees, stripped the leaves, and screwed it all together. There are four larger posts, four branches creating a frame at the top, "bracket" branches at the four corners, as well as branches near the middle and bottom of either end to hold the posts together. It is rather heavy, so I'd keep that in mind if you need to build it yourself and it needed to be transported by trailer. I don't have much more information than that, and since I'm not a carpenter myself I'm afraid I can't lend much guidance. Remember that the wood frame itself can as dressed up or dressed down as you need it to be so that may make it easier to chose the wood. The strips of fabric and floral sprays/curly willow branches were simply zip tied on and removed immediately, because we repurposed everything from the ceremony to the reception.

      The fact that we live in the country and have a ranch with power tools at our disposal made this project possible and cost effective. It now lives in our backyard.

      • Thanks for the speedy reply! I have an existing arbor, I was more interested in the flowers and stuff! It is amazing!! Did you have a florist do the sprays and then you zip tied them yourself? Or did you do it all?

  11. And also, how early on in the day did you attach the flower? i am worried about them wilting in the sun! (also in texas, over here in the Austin area!)

    • Oh! I had a florist create and attach the floral sprays. Our wedding was at 5:30 in the evening and I'm not sure what time she applied them, but I know she used quite a bit of moss and curly willow branches for volume because they do not wilt and for the sprays she attached tiny water carriers to the ends of the flowers that kept it all wilt-free. I'm sure you can find those online!

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