Melodie & Ryan's backyard barbecue meets rustic romance wedding #Real Weddings: Southern US#arkansas#barn#reception dress#red hair Updated Oct 12 2015 (Posted Jan 9 2015) Offbeat Editors Photos by: Christopher Nolan Photography Photos by Christopher Nolan Photography The Offbeat Bride: Melodie, journalism student (and Offbeat Bride member) Her offbeat partner: Ryan, restaurant manager Date and location of wedding: Royal Ridge, Royal, AR — July 17, 2014 Our offbeat wedding at a glance: "Uniquely us" definitely sums up our wedding day, and some of it was very unplanned. I wrote our ceremony except the poem Ryan read to me and his vows. We stripped a lot of traditions from the wedding, and restructured others to fit us. We went into it with a budget half of the average for the Hot Springs area and ended up coming in way under budget! Tell us about the ceremony: My favorite part was Ryan's vows. I asked him to write them beforehand, because he'd wanted to wing it, but I was worried he'd ramble (as he is apt to do). He came up with vows that made me sob even more than I already was, and I had to take a pretty long moment to recover before giving mine. His went like this: I've always complained that there aren't words to tell you how I love you, but that's okay. I don't have to depend on them. I'm going to show you, with every passing day, that I love you more than words could ever begin to describe. We've been together for two thousand, three hundred and nineteen days. In that time, we've seen each other cry, helped each other when we were sick, and been there for each other after every bad day. We've been through richer and poorer. We've been through good times and bad. I've always been afraid to speak in absolutes, but I don't mind promising any of these things to you, because we've already been through all of them. Any doubt in my life is now gone, because I have you. There is no fear in my life, because I have you. And I promise all of these things to you, because you have me. Forever and always, and until the end of eternity, you have me. Our biggest challenge: Without a doubt, the hardest thing was planning a wedding with my parents living overseas. This summer was the best time for us to get married, since it was my last real summer break before I graduate college. Unfortunately, that pushed up very close with my family's return to the US. I did most of the big stuff alone or with my mother-in-law. It caused a lot of strain between me and my mother, and it created a lot of bittersweet moments, like crying together over Skype when I'd chosen my dress (no shame, I ugly cried/snorted in the middle of a David's Bridal for a good five minutes). As we drew closer to the date, and my family returned stateside, I worked hard to have special moments and include my mother in as much as I could. We got meals together, talked a lot, and she was the only non-party member allowed in while I was getting ready. My favorite moment: With such an effort to make sure the day was true to who Ryan and I are, the week leading up to the wedding was overflowing with meaningful moments. Three of my girls live in different states than me (Idaho, New York, and Texas!) and my sister (and parents and brother) just returned to the United States after an assignment in Japan. I hadn't seen most of them in months or years. I know traveling and lodging were difficult, but they made it a priority to be there, and I got to make a full week of memories with my best friends to tide me over. Before we went to the venue to get ready, my bridesbabes, flower girl, and mother got brunch at The Pancake Shop. Everyone fussed over me, making sure I had plenty of protein and yummies, since it was going to be a long day. It was amazing to directly see how much they cared about my comfort and well-being. One other meaningful moment in our wedding was looking over the guitar that served as our guest book. Instead of just names, like we'd expected, most people had written little notes. But amidst notes, we found Ryan's grandmother had signed her name and her late husband's name. Ryan was pretty young when he passed away, but the loss remains very painful for him and seeing that signature was a sweet reminder that those we love never truly leave us. My funniest moment: When I asked Ryan out, his response was, "Yes. No, wait. Hell yes!" The "no, wait" part had made me scared he was a huge jerk, but of course he wasn't. Ryan threw it back when we did our declaration of intent, giving me an "I do, no, wait, hell yes!" that stopped my heart for a second, then made everyone in the room laugh, except the officiant (since he wasn't familiar with the story). What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I recommend a first look. Oh my gosh, do a first look. We knocked out all our family pictures, all the wedding party pictures, and a bunch of portraits beforehand. We all gathered in the groom's suite before the ceremony, and it was so nice to have Ryan there beside me. I still cried and got excited walking down the aisle toward him, and the first look let us gather ourselves together (oh, I might have been unable to walk if it was the first time I'd seen him). Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? Photography: Christopher Nolan Photography Silk flowers: Hobby Lobby Venue: Royal Ridge BBQ Catering: Smokin' In Style Cakes and cupcakes: Taste of Eden Enough talk — show me the wedding porn! PREVIOUS 21 flower wedding hairstyles: crowns, updos, and more! NEXT Flats that are intense on styling, but gentle on your feet Show/Hide comments [ 7 ] I love your cake topper. Where did you find it? Reply I honestly can't remember. I do remember finding it on Pinterest, with a link to a closed etsy seller, so I used the Google image match and found another website that sold them. 🙂 Reply That picture of him hugging you makes my heart melt. 🙂 Reply OMG how gorgeous, my wedding has a lot of the same design elements but were not getting married til this October so it was wonderful seeing everything tied together for a perfectly finished look. Thank you for sharing. BTW you look gorgeous and he looks handsome. Reply Oh my goodness, the groom's vows…so special. Reply Hello! I looove your use of tree slices and am wondering if you could perhaps provide some pointers about getting them? I have a vision to use the slices as chargers underneath our dinner plates at my wedding, but am having a heck of a time finding an economical way to obtain enough of them! 🙂 Reply Hey Emily! The slices were actually property of the venue (they had so much stuff – I couldn't believe how much I'd forgotten to do when we went in for the rehearsal, but alas, things work themselves out on wedding days). It looks like this Etsy seller has a few of them that aren't too unreasonable: https://www.etsy.com/listing/107327232/extra-large-rustic-wood-tree-slice?ref=shop_home_active_23 Reply Join the conversation Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Sign me up for your offbeat awesomeness newsletter! 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. 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