The offbeat bride: Sarah, Mechanical Engineer (and OBT Member)

Her offbeat partner: Andy, soon-to-be-employed as a Materials Engineer

Location & date of wedding: Fitzhaven Estate, Lake Tahoe, CA — July 12, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: We had a pretty big budget thanks to Andy's parents, but had our hearts set on the stunning venue, the caterers, and the cake.

The rest of the wedding was hand-crafted, like the birdcage veil and other hairpieces. In addition the centerpieces were made by my mom and aunt using beads that had been passed down from my grandmother.

Andy and I decided that we wanted a secular and inclusive ceremony, which was mostly comprised of inspiring and romantic readings by our friends and family. Andy and I walked down the aisle arm-in-arm and had mixed-gender attendants. The “homily” was lifted directly from the Massachusetts supreme court ruling that was the first in the country to legalize same-sex marriage.

After that, we just ate and danced till they kicked us out! It was amazingly casual and everyone had a great time.

Our biggest challenge: The biggest challenge was to get everything done in time. We planned most of the wedding from our home base in Texas, but flew in several days early to do the finishing touches. Unfortunately, our friends all flew in early too. We were busy driving friends and family from the airport and only realized a few days before the wedding that we hadn't made a dance playlist or made a seating chart, among other things. Luckily we could rely on our friends and family to step up and take care of a bunch of the last-minute details – one friend steamed my wedding dress on the morning of the wedding, then proceeded to iron 5 button-up shirts for the groom and other attendants!

My favorite moment: After the ceremony, Andy and I disappeared for a quiet moment alone, followed by a private session in the woods with the photographer. We were all giggly and goofy and the energy was very intense. Some of the best pictures from the whole evening came from that session. It was incredible just to be there with Andy and connect with him without the other guests around. It helped that Courtney, our photographer, was so warm and it seemed natural to be in front of the camera.

Hand-crafted centerpieces with family heirloom beads

My advice for offbeat brides: Plan and communicate your plans well in advance, but on the day of the wedding, try to go with the flow! I had thought that I didn't want to do all those stuffy patriarchal traditions like the father-daughter dance, but at one point in the evening it seemed really natural for my dad and I to have a private moment together on the dance floor. It really was a special moment, moreso because it wasn't exactly planned.

Another example: since we didn't have a DJ a few of my friends messed around with our crafted-at-the-last-minute playlist, but generally it lead to better songs over-all!

One final piece of advice following from “my favorite moment” – plan for your best pictures to happen right after the ceremony. All the posed photos we took before the ceremony look a little strained as we were still in planning mode, people were late, etc. But after the ceremony everyone looked a lot more relaxed and engaged with the photographer. Since we didn't care much about the posed photos this worked out well for us, but brides who want extra-nice posed portraits should consider doing them after the ceremony.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photographer: My photographer was the amazing Courtney Wilson who was really friendly and didn't seem phased at all by the off-beat elements. All our guests raved about her!
  • Catering and cake: D'lish Catering the Indian/Mediterranean buffet was delicious, and they took care of all the rentals and staffing as well.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Comments on Sarah & Andy’s casual, secular, feminist, ceremony and dance party

  1. Hey! I love your comment about how much better the post-ceremony photos were v/s pre-ceremony. The rationale for doing so is to save time post-ceremony so that the guests and wedding party can get to eating. Would you suggest an extended cocktail hour instead of pre-ceremony photos?

  2. Congratulations!

    I love your advice about doing photos after the ceremony, I was a bridesmaid for my BF who did just this. The pictures were great after the ceremony!
    I would suggest having something for you guests to do while your taking pictures.

  3. Beautiful wedding, best wishes for your marriage.

    I am curious as to which portion of the MA supreme court ruling you included in your ceremony? My fiance and I want to include something in our ceremony about our feelings on marriage equity, but are having trouble finding something that sounds/feels right.

  4. Thanks for the comments! We did our posed photos before-hand so that we could hang out during the cocktail hour – since I didn’t care much about them, it wasn’t a big deal. I don’t know what we would have done if we’d really cared! Perhaps some party games for the other guests?

    I finally got around to posting our ceremony online. Y’all should be able to read it on Google Docs. Perhaps the legal language is a bit stuffy, but our officiant has such a nice speaking voice, I don’t think anyone noticed!

  5. Oh I’m so excited to see another Tahoe bride! I’m getting married on the CA side of Tahoe this coming Friday the 13th! Lake Tahoe is my very favorite place in the whole world. And we are having a part of the MA ruling as well. I am SO happy that Judge Walker overturned Prop 8 and I just hope he enters judgment by the time we get married so that everyone in CA has the same rights my fiance and I have.

  6. LOVE. How pure, uncontrived, and sweet. I love the simplicity and relaxed attitude! Also, love the incorporation of pro-same-sex marriage into a straight wedding. We did that at our civil wedding, and plan to do so at our ceremony as well! Congrats!

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