Offbeat partner: Kristie
Offbeat partner: Max
Date and location of wedding: Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum in Knoxville, TN — April 15, 016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
It was far from the wedding of our dreams, but due to struggle after struggle during the year and a half we were engaged, and three date changes, we ended up having a wedding that cost less than $2,000 on a Friday morning in April, and everyone just went out to eat afterward.
I wore a navy blue bridesmaid dress from David's Bridal that I got for around $200, Max wore a suit that he already owned, and we only had eight guests. We had no music and no videographer. We actually rented a video camera from the university Max was attending at the time, set it up in the back, pushed record, and let it go until someone remembered to turn it off, about seven minutes after our ceremony ended.
Tell us about the ceremony:
I wrote our ceremony myself, with the help of a book (The Wedding Ceremony Planner by Rev. Judith Johnson) and we wrote our own vows. We included a rose ceremony to include the support and blessing of our closest relatives, and a handwashing ceremony, which we loved doing. I wanted our ceremony and vows to focus less on the story of our past, and more on our direction for the future, and our love for one another, so I was very selective with the wording of our ceremony.
A good friend of Max's got ordained online (and then called the county clerk's office ahead of time to double-check that it would be legal, at my request) and officiated our wedding for us. We decided to forgo the tradition of the giving away of the bride, and had both parents walk up the aisle with each of us. Max flipped back the blusher on my veil just because he really wanted to, there was no real symbolic purpose for that for us. There was no music whatsoever through the whole thing, we had neither the time nor the money to rent equipment so we just went without. Everything worked out fine regardless.
Our kickass photographer did an amazing job with what we gave her, and was wonderful enough to change our date for us and even decrease what she was charging us, since we moved from having a larger wedding to an elopement. She even walked us through exactly what to do during our ceremony, and how to cut our cake, since neither of us knew how to do it.
Tell us about your reception:
Everyone went out to eat after our ceremony at a Brazilian steakhouse. They cut our cake and served it for us, and I sent all of the leftovers home with our officiant for him and his roommates (also friends of ours) in to-go boxes I DIYed myself. We mostly chatted about family memories, and everyone checked out my wedding band: a family heirloom that belonged to Max's paternal grandmother, and, just coincidentally, almost perfectly matched the engagement ring that Max bought for me.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Everything about our wedding was a challenge, it seemed. Right after getting my ring, Max's sister announced her engagement, so we waited two months to announce ours. Everyone got upset that we wanted to get married in December, and pressured us until we changed our date. I had constant wedding envy since her wedding budget was WAY bigger than mine, and she was not only getting way more money from parents, but way more help and support in the form of people going out of their way to make her wedding dreams come true. Since I didn't get any of that, and everything I wanted seemed to be open for debate, ridiculous, and unimportant, I ended up getting so angry that we decided to elope. Being the sentimental softy that I am, however, we did end up caving and inviting our parents and grandparents to the wedding.
The event coordinator of the venue allowed us to use it for free, since we weren't using any of their equipment or staff and would only be there for a couple of hours. When I got there (after getting lost in transit from the salon to our venue and crying off most of my makeup), the event coordinator found me and lectured me about lying to them about how many people would be there. I was confused and overwhelmed and embarrassed, until Max stepped in — apparently a large family was having photos taken, and she thought they were with us.
I worry I'll always mourn the wedding we lost, but, we got married in the end. I've learned to stand up for myself more, and that weddings are hard.