Asha & Jay's family game day BBQ 'n' beer wedding

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Photos by Jennifer Davis (second ceremony) and Tribesmaid Sabrina and her husband (first ceremony)

The Offbeat Bride: Asha (Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Jay

Date and location of wedding: Coomber Hall, Herndon, Virginia — 10/20/2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our goal was to have a small family wedding in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia), knowing that the majority of our family and friends live 6-12 hours away. We knew we wanted a wedding that celebrated not just us, but allowed our families a chance to spend meaningful time with each other. That meant trying to create a home away from home so that everyone could get to know each other. So we decided to focus on creating a space that would foster creating a community.

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We rented an absolutely gorgeous dairy barn that was converted into a performing arts center that still had acres of pasture in the back. We hung our favorite family photos in the windows, making sure we had up at least one photo of each person invited and took instant Polaroids of everyone that attended to hang up as well. We opted to serve BBQ and only served beers that were from our respective states or where we lived. We focused on playing games instead of dancing to increase opportunities for people to get to know each other. Our limited wedding party, kids included, were told to wear whatever they had as long as it was black or white.

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Kids were pretty much allowed to be free-range during the wedding, and watching them run around kept things fairly stress-free for us, although some of the flower girls and I did get into trouble for sneaking cupcakes before the wedding started! I think I walked down the aisle with a chocolate cupcake stain on the bottom of my dress, but everyone was happy!

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We walked down the aisle to "Nothing Can Change This Love" by Sam Cooke, which is our song. The rest of the wedding party walked down the aisle "Can't Help Falling In Love," covered by the Vitamin String Quartet.

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We also had a salt ceremony in our morning festivities that was created by me using various sources I found online and through Offbeat Bride and we wrote our own vows. Our ceremony was written by us in a way that I hope communicated our belief that our marriage was a choice: a choice of two people to support each other come what may. We selected our readings from Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières and Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12.

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Our biggest challenge:
Our wedding guest list went from 25 people to roughly 100 people. DIY projects for 25 are fairly easy, but 100? Whew. Stretching our $5,000 budget to include an additional 75 people meant taking a hard look at what was important for us to include in our wedding day. Some of things I really wanted didn't make the cut, like the bouncy house. We had to make some substitutions (chain BBQ restaurant vs. family-owned BBQ joint) and compromises (a small morning wedding for me and a larger ceremony for everyone), but in the end we were both really happy with how things turned out.

Beyond the fairly typical budget and guest list issues, we also had to deal with finding a replacement officiant after our family pastor cancelled on us a week before the wedding. We ended up officially getting married in our morning ceremony and had a dear friend serve as officiant for our afternoon ceremony. While it was super stressful at the time and created some family tensions, ultimately the only casualty was the wedding program I designed. I'm pretty sure people figured out what was going on during our wedding without it.

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My favorite moment:
Walking down the aisle with each other. As a hardcore daddy's girl, it was hard for me to let go of the idea of him walking down the aisle, but it was important to me that it was clear to everyone that Jay and I were in this together, from the beginning. Being beside each other literally every step of the way was a big comfort to both of us, and served as a reminder why we were having the wedding in the first place.

I also loved having all of our family and friends there. I feel incredibly lucky that my grandmother, the only grandparent the either Jay and I have left alive, was able to attend. Knowing that she was there and happy meant the world to me.

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My funniest moment:
The kids! I think allowing them the freedom to attend and be themselves may have been the best stress reliever for me. One of my baby cousins decided that she would rather use the bell as a megaphone, and walked down the aisle singing into it instead of ringing it. We raced down gravel paths in our wedding clothes. Jay spent time consoling my five-year-old cousin that had to come to terms with the fact the now he really could never, ever marry me. Another informed her mother that "we were all married now," so that meant she could stay with Jay and I whenever she wanted, including our wedding night. Good times.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Our wedding relied pretty heavily on DIY, finding great sales and the kindness of strangers. We made roughly 250 origami flowers that we for decorations, I used coupons to print out photos for free, and ordered my dress online to save money. We ordered our drinks wholesale through Whole Foods, which gave us a discount, and worked with our caterer to get BBQ dreams within our budget.

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Thanks to Offbeat Bride, I not only got a lot of great ideas that we incorporated into the wedding, but an awesome photographer (thanks again, Sabrina!) that allowed us to stretch our small budget. We met another photographer, Jennifer Davis, who offered to cover our afternoon wedding for free as well. The manager at our wedding venue worked with us so that we could afford our dream location, and provided so much assistance it's unreal. A relative of a family friend made cupcakes. People we never met came together to help give us the wedding we wanted, and I will be forever grateful to each person that helped us create the memories we hold dear.

Also, for all those other DIY couples out there, read Recognizing when DIY projects aren't worth it. Then read it again. I learned sometimes you have to know when to let a project go.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. Love it! We are having a kid-friendly wedding, too, and I can't wait to see them on the day of! I'm glad you had all your kiddos around you, too. Congrats!

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    • Why, thank you for the high praise! Slightly unrelated, I noticed a comment from the FB page that the images weren't showing up- going through flkr to see if I did something wrong!

  2. Beautiful! Love, love this wedding! 😀 And Coomber Hall is such a fantastic place. I considered it for our wedding (we live in Reston) but my husband wanted to go further out into Purcellville. Congratulations!

  3. Those little girls are adorable! Good for you for having the wedding style that works for you both.

  4. LOVE this! What a beautiful and fun wedding. I'm definitely going to steal your game idea, while I love music not many of us are big on dancing. This looks like so much fun!

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  5. Those kids are too cute! That feather dress is really the most mind blowing part for me!

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  6. Thank you everyone! And, I totally just realized that this was up, so apologies for being late on commenting! The feathers were my absolute favorite part- I was really happy that working with Elegant Park went so well. You never know what you're going to get when you ordered online, but I was really happy. Thank you all for being a part of my wedding day (because, as far as I'm concerned, it wouldn't have happened without the 'Tribe) and posting comments.

  7. This wedding story and the photos warmed my heart and made the corners of my mouth practicly meet at the back of my head.
    Congrats you two! You looked stunning and your day looked wonderful!

  8. I almost had a heart attack when I read wedding at the "DMV" until I realized that didn't mean what I thought. Beautiful wedding, the kids added a wonderful energy.

  9. Asha,
    I looked at the website where you bought your dress. The quality, variety and prices are FANTASTIC!!! Thanks for sharing your wedding details with us…..P.S. The feathers are gorgeous!!

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