The kiss

The offbeat bride: Heather, high school Yearbook/English/Photography teacher (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Ben, Grand Canyon River Guide and part-time substitute teacher

Location & date of wedding: BeDillon's Restaurant and Cactus Garden, Casa Grande, Arizona — October 30, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: It all started when I proposed to Ben on Christmas Eve of 2009. As a public school teacher with a small salary, I knew we had to keep things small, simple, local, and DIY. Our venue is owned by my dad's best friend and it was an instinctual choice to have it there. Most people don't get married in a cactus garden!

love the light

My Uncle Steve got ordained online to marry us which made it cost-effective, but more importantly, more personal. We had only 75 guests and it was the perfect number. I DIYed a photobooth from Becca's tutorial and had a scrapbooking set-up complete with a hard-won vintage cursive typewriter for the guest book.

One of my top five faves

Our ceremony took place under a very old, huge mesquite tree in a cactus garden surrounded by over 80 varieties of cactus. We had no bridesmaids or groomsmen, and we walked down the aisle together. We had cupcakes instead of cake and did no formal “cutting” of any baked product. We also didn't have a first dance because we're both pretty shy about too much attention.

adult pinata {it was filled with mini plastic liquor bottles & chocolate liqueurs}

Tell us about the ceremony: Ben and I each took our turns with vows that we spoke in the moment. We didn't script even one word for ourselves. Only Uncle Steve had a basic script of the order of events. We asked my cousin Arianna to read a selection we comprised from Rainer Maria Rilke's “Letter's to a Young Poet.” The document she read follows below:

the super short ceremony officiated by Uncle Steve

“It is also good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation.

That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and therefore loving, for a long time ahead and far on into life, is — solitude, a heightened and deepened kind of aloneness for the person who loves.

Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person (for what would a union be of two people who are unclarified, unfinished, and still incoherent?), it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances. Only in this sense, as the task of working on themselves, may young people use the love that is given to them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must still, for a long, long time, save and gather themselves); it is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives are as yet barely large enough.

Only someone who is ready for everything, who doesn't exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will live the relationship with another person as something alive and will himself sound the depths of his own being.”

Cousin Arianna doing a reading

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was keeping the day positive and making sure my relatives and friends understood not to mention my deceased father. I wanted this day to be everything my mom had always envisioned for her daughter and only child. I also knew that my dad would be on all of our minds no matter what (especially hers) so it was, in my opinion, unnecessary to continually mention him or bring him up.

In short: I was lucky. I asked some of my closest relatives to pass on my request. They did and everyone respected our wishes.

he's funny :)

OneLovePhoto=Pure Genius

My favorite moment: The most meaningful moments included seeing my mom's face during our vows, and sharing a laugh with my husband and Uncle Steve during our very “us” ceremony. It couldn't have been any more perfect with the ribbons billowing from the huge old mesquite tree and the candles shimmering in the hanging candleholders. It was magical.

wide view of venue

down by the tracks

My funniest moment: The funniest moment was getting Ben's ring on. His ring finger was broken when he was a teenager. The bone on his knuckle is so big his ring is actually a size bigger than needed just so it can make it over the joint. I cracked a joke or two while I struggled to get it on, and everyone else laughed with us.

My advice for offbeat brides: Prioritize big-time with your budget. Ben and I are both photographers and once we sat down and rated how important things were we decided it was okay to spend more than half of our budget on our dream photographers. BEST DECISION EVER!

In the pickle

it's all in the details

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That our families fit together perfectly and having them all in on place proved how perfectly they join together.


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Comments on Heather & Ben’s intimate cactus garden wedding

  1. What a gorgeous location and you’re right, the photographs were worth the extra money. 🙂

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