The Offbeat Bride: Mariesa, PR Account Executive (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Gary, VP of Development, Alabama Public Television
Location & date of wedding: City Overlook, Vulcan Park, Birmingham, AL — September 6, 2009
What made our wedding offbeat: We wanted the entire weekend to be deeply personal. It also had to be fun and it needed to be affordable for us and for our out-of-town guests.
Gary and I were in TV when we met, so we made a video invitation. We're TV geeks, so we themed each centerpiece around our favorite shows, then handmade each one complete with a synopsis of the show. We had a tv cake topper as well.
The ceremony was at the first place we take visitors when they come to town — it's the most beautiful view in Birmingham and has an observation tower to give guests something extra to experience. The reception was at our favorite restaurant, which we knew would be perfectly decorated, the food and wine fabulous, and the service impeccable.
We had flowers grown at an urban farm — fresh, local and organic — and the day before the wedding a bunch of us went and cut and arranged everything ourselves. We spent $100 total, and supported a very worthy cause. We chose every song played, including the wedding march from “Rachel Getting Married” as the processional. Gary's nephews sprinkled sand from Virginia Beach, where we met, on the “aisle.”
To include Gary's sons, and my daughter who passed away when she was a baby, we had my ring made with diamonds from my grandparents, his sons' birthstones to remind me that my commitment isn't just to Gary, and my daughter's birthstone, to remind me just how precious love is.
What were the most meaningful moments of your wedding? I didn't write my vows until the morning of the wedding. I was sitting in my kitchen with one of my best friends and when I was done I read them to her and she cried. My heart was at complete peace with what I was going to say, I knew that I had perfectly worded what I wanted him to hear, and that those words were honest and true enough to make her cry even before the ceremony.
Later, just after the “recessional” when it was just Gary and me with no one else around. I have no idea what we said to each other, but those were the most peaceful minutes of the day. And the best pictures with the most feeling came from those brief moments.
My Grandmother died a couple of years ago, and I wore her silver monogram pin on the sash on the back of my dress. The photographer called my Mother over and shot pictures of my Mom's reflection in my Gram's pin, on my dress. Normally I HATE posed photos, but that was really cool.
Looking around and realizing that a whole lot of people we loved were all in the same place at the same time and they were all there to support and to celebrate us. And they were all having a great time TOGETHER! (A lot of those who met at our wedding are still friends. I crack up when I see their conversations on FB!)
What was your biggest challenge? Exactly five weeks before the wedding, I broke my foot. Of course it had to be my right foot, so I couldn't drive. After eleven months of running around taking care of everything, I couldn't do ANYTHING myself. I had to swallow my pride and ask for a LOT of help (not at all something I'm used to doing).
We also re-prioritized and decided that whatever wasn't realistic just wasn't getting done. It was an unbelievable amount of stress piled on top of an already horrible experience, but we got through it together. And in the end, the actual wedding weekend couldn't have been more perfect.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I did have a lot of concern ahead of time because my father doesn't travel anymore. Finally I talked to some of our more tech-geek friends and they took over and set it up to webstream the whole wedding. My dad, my stepmom, my brother and his girlfriend all got to watch online. And they weren't alone. We found out we'd had more than 100 hits during the live-streaming, and a whole lot more people told us they watched it later!
Advice for other offbeat brides:
- First things first — talk with your partner about what REALLY matters. I didn't care at all about colors, he wasn't into invitations.
- Figure out where you have free reign or what you can cut out entirely because it's not important to either one of you.
- Figure out, really, what would make the experience feel the most special for you and your guests, even if you have to make something up to do it. Like our centerpieces based on TV shows — were beautiful and were such a huge expression of us, that nothing else would have felt right.
- Whatever makes you feel like your whole heart is in it, do it. Really take the time to think and talk about it a lot, and dig down into your heart and soul… this is the only chance you're going to get to make it all about you!
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