Jennifer & Dustin’s Potluck BBQ Extravaganza wedding

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The offbeat bride: Jennifer, Web Developer
Her offbeat partner: Dustin, Phlebotomist

Location & date of wedding: Newt Hollow picnic site in Briones Regional Park, Orinda, CA — May 2, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Dustin and I met in high school, when I was dating his best friend. Later, I got married and he was dating MY best friend. We lost touch for about ten years (during which time my ex-best friend married my ex-husband), and then one day I found him on myspace. We started emailing, then dating, and finally moved in together. Twenty years after we first met, we finally got engaged.

When I got laid off, our original winery-caterer-family-only ceremony got changed to a potluck BBQ in the park free-for-all. We got a bubble machine, coloring books & crayons, and hula hoops for the kids. (Well, the hula hoops were really for me, but the kids got to use them too). We got a keg from a great friend who's a microbrewer. Instead of gifts, we asked people to bring food, and we ended up with a feast!

Our children walked us up the aisle, and our officiant wore a peace t-shirt under his sport coat. Dustin wore a kilt (he's Scottish), and I wore the traditional white dress.

We did a sand ceremony to celebrate combining our two families together.

Oh, and I made mini cupcakes (about 300) instead of having a cake. Four different flavors, four different icings, all done in the two days before the wedding.

And now I'm married to my ex-best friend's ex-boyfriend, and my ex-boyfriend's best friend!

Our biggest challenge: Rain! We scheduled our California wedding for the first weekend in May and we had an unusual (for the season) storm come through. Since the wedding and reception were entirely outdoors, this was a problem. We solved it by borrowing a bunch of pop-up tent/canopy things from friends to cover the food, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. It ended up “blessing” our ceremony (resulting in family coming to hold umbrellas over us during the ceremony!) and then it stopped raining for several hours, giving us plenty of time to party!

My favorite moment: The sand ceremony was lovely, kissing my husband for the first time was magical, but my favorite memory is of me hula hooping in my dress! There's even video of it. 🙂

My advice for offbeat brides: Relax as much as possible on the big day. Accept that you just can't control some things, and give in gracefully when things don't happen according to your vision. Remember that this is really about celebrating your union with your partner, not about food or flowers or how you're dressed or what the weather is like. If you're relaxed and happy, everyone will have a great time and remember it as a beautiful wedding, no matter what went wrong.

Comments on Jennifer & Dustin’s Potluck BBQ Extravaganza wedding

  1. Lovely! I think the rain made everything look more magical. I love how a quick rain shower makes everything look when it comes through! Even though you didn’t get the catered winery wedding it sounds like you had a great wedding you’ll always remember.

    And great colors in the tartan! Is it your husband’s clan tartan? If so, you really lucked out! My husband’s tartan is bright red and green so we went with a Christmas wedding, lol! Good thing we love the holidays!

  2. Yes, that is my husband’s clan tartan. We actually had to special order it from the weaver in Scotland, because it’s not a widely-available pattern. We were thrilled when we got it (he was afraid it was going to be some horrible orange monstrosity or something) and I ended up knitting a wedding shawl in the same green/blue colors.

    • I love your wedding! So fun and relaxed and beautiful!!! The cupcakes look like little works of art! I love your story as well. Somethings are just meant to be!!! Congrats!

  3. OMG, I am planning on having my wedding at Newt Hollow next summer! These wedding pictures give me confidence that I can hope for a green, lush space instead of a brown, dry one that I’m fearing.

    Thanks, Jennifer, for sharing!

  4. I loved your wedding so pretty!! even though it rained,(a Hawaiian culture) if it rained on your wedding day it means blessing and good luck on your marriage. I loved your shawl its beautiful and got a kick out of seeing your viedo of you doing the hula hoops…I used to do that way back when… Congrats to your marriage!!!

  5. Looks amazing and very special. Congratulations!

    How did you include the kids in the sand ceremony? We were thinking of doing a salt ceremony, and I was wondering about how to include his daughters.

    • I did some Internet searches for “wedding sand ceremony” and found one that we liked the sound of. I think it may have been on about.com, but I’m not sure. It said something about the sands blending together like the individuals into a family, and how you can’t separate the sand out later, just like you can’t stop being a family. I can find the actual text if you’re interested. Then I bought multiple colors of sand and some small glass bottles from a local craft store to hold the individual colors, and a larger glass jar to hold all of them together. During the ceremony, all four of us poured in our individual bottles of sand to the large container. I actually have video of it up on youtube (see videos uploaded by user “snarkmeister99”).

  6. Jennifer,

    My fiancée and I have been together for almost 7 yrs now and we are finally getting married this October. We are having an outdoor Picnic Style wedding/reception and we would like people to bring a covered dish or dessert instead of gifts.

    I am getting ready to send out my invites but am having a problem with how to ask everyone to bring a dish instead of a gift.

    How did you let everyone know?

  7. Hi! My fiance and I are looking at having a wedding at Newt Hollow in 2017! I wanted to ask you, since you obviously had a wedding there, did you have any issues with poison oak? When we visited the other day it seemed like there was quite a bit encroaching on the site. And also, were you able to play music loudly enough without amplification that you were able to dance and hear it etc. without trouble?

    Thank you!!!

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