Melany & David's small handmade garden party wedding #Real Weddings: Western US#arch#birdcage veil#california#DIY#eco-friendly#garden#lawn games#non-floral bouquet#outdoor#photo booth#ring warming#short hair#small wedding#tattooed bride November 15 2011 | Offbeat Editors offbeatbride Photos by Michael Andrews The offbeat bride: Melany, high school teacher Her offbeat partner: David, entrepreneur Date and location of wedding: Hidden Chateau and Gardens, West Hills, CA — July 3, 2011 What made our wedding offbeat: We decided early on that we wanted to have a small intimate wedding, but I still wanted it to be what I continuously called a "real wedding" with all of the little details that I get so excited about at other weddings. We settled on a guest list of about 30 people and a small two-person wedding party that included my husband's nine-year-old nephew as his best man. I decided a year prior to the big day that I would hand make or assemble a lot of the details myself. The biggest project I took on was our doily creation for the "altar." All of the doilies were hand-sewn, as they wouldn't run through the sewing machine. Thankfully my grandmother helped me with it, or else I don't think I would have ever finished in time. We had a Polaroid photo booth which ended up being a big hit, and lawn games at the reception. We made a ladder ball set, bought a bocce ball set, and had horseshoes to play. Tell us about the ceremony: We had a friend I met at work officiate for us, a tiny best man, my best friend by my side, and our own vows. I shockingly did not cry, and my husband was weeping the whole time. It was very short, but very sweet and meaningful. We passed around our rings for a ring warming from our friends and family, which gave the ring exchange a whole new meaning. Our biggest challenge: Moving away from what weddings "have to have" was a big hurdle. I had to edit myself a lot and really focus on what matters by asking myself many questions about why it was I thought I needed something. That ended up cutting out a lot of things. My favorite moment: The ceremony itself was very special to me and a moment I will never forget between my husband and I, but one of the most meaningful moments from the whole wedding was a guest poetry reading at the start of the reception. We asked each guest to bring a poem, either original or borrowed, to the reception that they could share with us. It was so sweet to hear everyone, including the 9-year-old best man, stand up and read poems, many of which they had created themselves. My funniest moment: We did a salt covenant during the ceremony and after we poured the salt in the container, my husband grabbed it and shook it up to really make sure the grains were mixed. Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We made our own sangria the night before in our hotel room and I was worried it would be awful. But it turned out great (and very intoxicating too). What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Breathe and relax. Nothing was truly perfect, but it was the best day of my life. I could have freaked out over the centerpieces not being set up exactly how I imagined and people not picking up the program fans on their way in, but who cares! Everything will work our just fine in the end. Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? Photography: Michael Andrews Lots of Etsy! Enough talk — show me the wedding porn! This post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides: Centered Ceramics Michael Andrews Photography Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo PREVIOUS Why reality tv is missing the boat with non-traditional weddings NEXT Save the Dates in action LITERALLY with Save the Date videos Show/Hide comments [ 15 ] The couple, the smiles, the venue, the colors. If I loved this anymore I might die. 2 agree Reply Beautiful details. What kind of gorgeous bouquet is that? 1 agrees Reply I'm crazy about that bouquet. Please tell us where to get it our how to make it ourselves! 5 agree Reply I'm crazy about this bouquet too!! Love LOVE THIS!!! Any tutorial direction would be so appreciated!!! 2 agree Reply Bouquet and men's bouts were from Katie at http://www.petalandprint.com/petal. She was amazing to work with and I highly recommend her! Reply Your dress is absolutely stunning! WOW! Care to share where you got it? Your entire day looks beautiful. Congratulations! Reply thanks! I love it too! dress is from a store in fullerton, ca called the dresser. it is the brand "blue by enzoani" Reply Centerpiece adoration! 1 agrees Reply I adore this wedding! It is simply gorgeous, and is definitely an inspiration for what I want to do someday! Reply That was adorable! I am seriously in love with that altar – I mean, so many doilies! Reply Hear, hear! So many gorgeous details: the dress, the doilies, the centerpieces, the veil, bouquet, adorable bride and groom. But I especially love the idea of having a poetry reading, as I'm a poet and my man's a fiction writer… Definitely filing that away for later! Reply I absolutely love these pictures, the stone backdrop is GORGEOUS! Reply thanks everyone for all your feedback on the bouquet. Melany was so fantastic to work with and I am thrilled to see her wedding on offbeat bride! Congrats again Melany and David! Reply OMG! those photos are awesome! Reply thanks! our photographer was AMAZING and very reasonably priced. He has a fantastic photography style, was like a photo ninja (we barely noticed him during the day), and was so easy to work with. I highly recommend him for anyone who wants the photojournalistic style of photos for themselves. Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.