We saw a peek of this wedding's amazing mis-matched (but somehow totally matching) fashion in a Reader Photos Round-up.
Now here's the full story.

Just married and loving it

The Offbeat Bride: Elizabeth, technical writer, circuit coach, youth director (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Joshua, personal assistant, youth director, and biologist

Date and location of wedding: California Citrus State Historic Park, Riverside, CA — January 5, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: In some ways Joshua and I are very traditional people. Our faith has played an important part in our relationship, and for the past four years we've worked for our church. That said, most people expected us to have a “traditional” wedding in the church, but we both feel a special connection with the natural world. It was also important to us that the venue be somewhere in our hometown. We ended up at the California Citrus State Historic Park surrounded by orange groves, which play a significant role in our city's history.

the end of a perfect day the centerpieces

I am not a fan of being hot, so we set our date in early January (which in Southern California provided a 50/50 chance that I'd get my wish). I wanted to wear blue, so with that in mind and some inspiration from the orange groves, my Mom and I came up with the pastel wedding colors. My grandmother informed us that these were “spring” colors and wouldn't work for a winter wedding. That remark lead to the overall theme of “spring in winter.”

a friend posted this on facebook as "the Princess Bride and her Maids" the shoesssss

We had DIY invitations, groomswomen, a tree planting ceremony, a potluck instead of catering, and a DIY photo booth. It excluded assigned seating, the bouquet/garter toss, first dance (or any dancing at all), and alcohol at the reception.

under the crepe myrtle

Tell us about the ceremony: We invited our guests to celebrate spring in winter with us since “love, like a seed buried deep beneath the snow, is ever-present as the promise for hope, happiness, and new life.” The imagery of seeds and growth was spread throughout the ceremony in the readings (John 15: 1-17 and “Tree of Love” by Sandra E. McBride), and the tree planting.

happy faces tree planting ceremony

The ceremony itself was pretty short since we had the majority of the guests stand, but it was important to us that it still followed the Evangelical Lutheran Worship format. It was especially meaningful to us that our old pastor officiated since he had known Joshua and I for so long, as individuals and as a couple. He wrote a lovely sermon that fit perfectly with the casual atmosphere, but also spoke to the beauty and significance of what was happening.

the kiss

We kissed twice. Neither of us are very big on PDA and I got shy when it came time for the kiss. The first didn't last very long, so we went in for another.


Our biggest challenge: The most difficult part of the wedding planning process for us was definitely the guest list. Joshua and I have been together for almost nine years, so there are a lot of people who feel very invested in our relationship. Both sides of Joshua's family are huge (to the point where he doesn't know the names of several of his close relatives) and mine is pretty sizable too. We also have an extensive church community that has played a big role in our lives. With a venue that could only accommodate 150 people, we had a terrible time figuring out where to draw the line. In the end, we cut it down to our essentials: immediate family, close friends, and our youth group kids and their families.

Another challenge for us was the budget. As recent college graduates, we don't have a ton of money. We set a budget for ourselves of $5000 and immediately chose a venue that cost about $3000 to reserve. We did end up staying within our budget though. The key was having people who were willing to help out with some money and gifted items like our centerpieces, cake, veil, guest book, and card box.

walkin' down the aisle giving me away

My favorite moment: I really resisted the idea of being “given away,” for feminist reasons, and also because I didn't want to choose favorites between my separated parents. I asked them to put aside their differences and both walk with me. It worked out well.

Potluck!!! 2

I also loved our potluck reception. We expanded our definition of “potluck” to include anything that represented the individual who contributed it, which resulted in a gorgeous spread of different food items.

Unison Reunion: Wedding Addition

But my favorite potluck contributions were the speeches and performances that people shared. These included an impromptu performance from a group of my girlfriends that I used to sing with in high school, a tuba serenade of Jason Mraz's “I'm Yours,” a performance of “Till There Was You” on the ukulele, and some acoustic guitar renditions of “Accidentally in Love” by Counting Crows and “Your Love” by Alamid.

radiating love

I also loved wearing the dress my mother made for me. I wanted to wear blue and I have an awkward body type that's difficult to fit. My mom has sewn clothes for me since I was a little girl and I knew she could do this too. I know she felt overwhelmed and intimidated at times, but I had every confidence in her and the end result was the dress of my dreams.

the cake

My advice for Offbeat Brides: Be willing to let a lot of things go, whether because they aren't that important, or because you let someone else take care of them for you. Thanks to my fellow Offbeat Bride Tribesmaids, I was really good at remembering that the most important part of the day was getting married to the love of my life. But unfortunately there were lots of people around me who didn't believe that I would be happy if every detail wasn't perfect. I had complete faith that everything would come together though, and I was not disappointed. I prepared myself for the worst, but ended up with glorious weather and a day full of beauty and love. It wasn't perfect, but it was perfect for us.


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Comments on Elizabeth & Joshua’s “spring in winter” orange grove wedding

  1. Love your dress! And the cake, how beautiful and fun! Your bridesmaids’ dresses were fantastic also.

  2. Beautiful wedding! And I love that dress – the baby blue color and the dotted detail are both very becoming on you.


    “I really resisted the idea of being “given away,” for feminist reasons, and also because I didn’t want to choose favorites between my separated parents.”

    This has been an issue for me too, so I can totally relate.

  3. Gorgeous! I can tell you and your new husband must be wonderful people because of the many ways your friends and families stepped up to give you a beautiful wedding. Everything looks so personal, joyful, and intimate. Congratulations!

  4. It was lovely and that blue dress is unique and classic all in one. You guys look so sweet together 🙂

  5. What a lovely wedding. I really like how happy the both of you look. And the orange grove is gorgeous.

  6. Love the pictures! It looks like you had a fabulous wedding! 🙂

    One question though, you mentioned that you didn’t have any dancing at the reception. What did your guests do for entertainment? I ask because my fiance and I are thinking about skipping the dancing at the reception as well, but I’m at a slight loss as to what to do for entertainment. I want people to have fun … even if it is without busting a move. 🙂

    • Hi Melissa S.

      Thanks for the kind words about our wedding.

      As far as your question, we sort of accidentally didn’t have dancing. We had intended for our guests to dance and had prepared a DIY playlist on an iPod, but we ended up not really having much time/interest in it. Since our potluck included several performances, the “entertainment” ended up being the various potluck speeches and performances that took place while most other people were eating. If you have special people that you would like to speak at the wedding and/or who have talents that you’d like them to share with you on your wedding day, I encourage you to ask them if they will prepare something for the day. I think we had maybe 10 or less people (mostly wedding party members and parents) make speeches (which varied in length and content). Some people gave the typical speech-the MOH and Best Man, one of my bridesmaids got up and told a funny story about the first time she met Joshua, I’m pretty sure my dad went up and basically said “I love you both very much” etc. In addition to the speeches, we had 5 musical performances. This part of the potluck was definitely my favorite and was also a big hit with the rest of the guests.

      • Sounds great Elizabeth! I’ll have to start chatting with friends who might want to do some “impromptu” performances at the reception. And thank you Superman, I will definitely check out the archives on ideas for receptions without dancing. 🙂

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