Sacha & Christopher's Alcohol-Free Garden Party Wedding

August 17 2009 | offbeatbride

The Offbeat Bride: Sacha – English Instructor & Musician

Her Offbeat Partner: Christopher – Librarian & Musician

Location & date of wedding: In a garden and Florida Room in Winter Park, FL — June 19, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: We had to get married outside, even though it was Florida… in June… during hurricane season. We grew up in South Florida and spent a lot of time fishing and birdwatching together, so on our wedding day, we wanted to be surrounded by the scrappy Florida foliage we both love. After two weeks of storms, the rain let up, and we got our sunny wedding day wish.

Everyone kept telling us that "there's no time for the bride and groom to talk to anyone during a wedding" and that it's essentially "a four-hour party." We said, "That's crazy!" So we decided to trade wild party fun for a more intimate garden party with family and very close friends. We skipped the alcohol and stocked our bar with a variety of sparkling waters, soda, and "sweet tea," all served by a licensed bartender! We had two cakes, one of the standard three-tier fondant variety, the other a Jamaican wedding cake (homemade fruit cake soaked for months in a ton of rum!) which was made for us by a wonderful aunt.

And rather than make a show of a first dance, something we don't ordinarily do anyway, we decided to go with what we knew, and performed a "first song" instead. As Christopher said, "This is how we dance…"

At the end of the night, instead of running off in a flurry of birdseed, we decided to close the place down, mingling with the last of our guests as they left for the night.

Fortune teller program.

Our biggest challenge: Having a dry wedding definitely brought with it a load of commentary from the peanut gallery. Our intention was to enjoy family and friends with a natural effervescence of happiness rather than alcohol-induced beer goggle love. We hadn't anticipated that we would be thought of as teetotalers -– that wasn't the kind of vintage we were going for!

Our bartender was amazing, and it made us feel a little better to hear that he thought it was actually a relief to have an alcohol-free bar. It was low-stress, and it's not like he'd have to cut anyone off of the pamplemousse rose Perrier!

But the heat was intoxicating and we all had a nice glow, so even if it wasn't the kind of tipsy they were looking for, everyone was still in good spirits! Now if only they'd realized that three slices of our Jamaican wedding cake would have brought on a fairly decent buzz!

The bride & her father walking down the aisle.

My favorite moment: Our after-dinner toasts were my favorite part of the wedding. Since we told our bridal party (and many of our guests) up front that we expected no formalities or official attendants' duties of any kind, we were surprised when they stood to give toasts. From my sister's nod to Garfield's birthday, my father's "two wings of one bird" metaphor, the best man's comparison of our relationship to a well-kept fretboard, and my brother-in-law invoking "the force," the toasts were a veritable feast of words. We even had a complimentary "Mazel tov!"

My advice to other brides: "Let it go!" Let these words start to ring in your head as your wedding day approaches. While it's fun to plan out your wedding down to type of toilet paper you'll have in the guest bathrooms (have you seen Koji Suzuki's toilet paper novella?) and hope that you'll have the will power to starve yourself into a dress size that you haven't had in your closet in ten years — in reality, you can't micromanage everything and still enjoy yourself on your wedding day. So plan what you can and be yourself, but don't stress over things that end up beyond your control.

If you end up not having enough time to play even one full song out of the four hours of music you spent days compiling, or a few of your wilder guests make a beer run at your alcohol-free wedding and then drink in the parking lot, or you forget your origami programs and embossed photograph table decorations at home… halfway across the state (yes, all of this happened), let it go! Only fix what you reasonably have time for. After that, let it go, and just enjoy your day anyway!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!:

  1. Oh my gosh. Please. Tell me where you got your dress. I almost cried when I saw it- it is exactly what I'm looking for. I can't believe it. I might start crying again, it's too perfect!

    And your wedding, attitude, decor, everything, was beyond lovely! Congratulations!!!

  2. Very nice wedding!! I love the brides wedding gown, is it from davidsbridal ?? I love the idea that you had some guest use the old typewriter to write notes or hand write notes that is very cool. Everyone seem to be enjoying themselves as well. Congrats to you !!

  3. PS. I'm glad you shared your wedding because when I get into planning (long engagement) I know I'll have a fight for an alcohol free party.
    "Let it go" is killer advice I plan on keeping it in mind.

    • LOL!

      We had Chicken Marsala too…

      However, I'm not sure that the chicken or the cake (or both!) would have been enough to get anyone soused!

      – Sacha

  4. you are an inspiration! we are also getting married… outside… in florida… in june… (up in jacksonville, though for many of the same outdoorsy reasons. we <3 the scrappy foliage!) and y'all definitely make me feel more at ease!

  5. My brother's wedding was dry and, thankfully, our families are not big drinkers so nobody gave them much hassle (the bride's family are strict Baptists; our family are just not that into alcohol). I'm always amazed that people think they are owed alcohol at a wedding.

    It's certainly a lot more sensible in the Florida heat! (I'm in SE Texas; we have the same weather issues this time of year as y'all do.)

    • Hi Cassandra,

      The inside of ours had headers for each "fortune" that foretold what the night would hold (i.e. Wedding Ceremony, Music, Dinner Menu…) and it also had the headers Groom's Parents and Bride's Parents. Then, we put the corresponding content under each of the flaps. Some of our guests had no idea what fortune tellers were, but it was fun to watch the ones who knew show everyone else how they worked.

      (just a little tip: give yourself A LOT of time to fold them and then put them in a briefcase that you handcuff to yourself until the day of the wedding…okay, maybe you won't need to do that, but that advice would have helped me! luckily, I had a wonderful bridesmaid and maid of honor who helped recreate them on the day of the wedding!)

      – Sacha

  6. Congratulations on sticking to your alcohol free wedding plan! Hubby & I didn't drink on our wedding day either (not that I usually drink much anyway). We just used sparkling apple juice in the pics.
    As for let it go…well everyone in the Flickr group's seen my poor patched up cake by now so I agree! Not much you can do!

    Thanks for sharing and congratulations.

    Kell (Boo)

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.