Meaghan & Stuart's book-loving dual wedding in California and Scotland

Updated Oct 12 2015

We've got our noses stuck in the book of love with this week's theme: bookish weddings! Turn the page — I mean, scroll down — for literature-loving fun.

Scotland wedding

The Offbeat Bride: Meaghan, newly-minted attorney

Her offbeat partner: Stuart, engineer

Date and location of wedding: Wedding and reception at Meaghan's parents' home in Rancho Cucamonga, CA; second reception at House for an Art Lover, Glasgow, Scotland, UK — May 18, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I tease Stuart that we would not be together had it not been for my love of reading. We met online, and decided to meet in person at an arts and crafts fair. Stuart's phone rang, and he took the call in the middle of our date. Fortunately for him, I always carry a book. I started reading, and didn't notice he had been on the phone for ten minutes until he came back and apologized. Without that book, I would have assumed he was blowing me off, and would have left. So a book-theme for our two wedding locations (California and Scotland) was definitely appropriate.

California wedding

California table names
California table names
California centerpiece
California centerpiece

jane-austen-topper

table-contents-menu
Scotland menu
California glossary program
California glossary program
Book details at our wedding included:

  • Our ring box was a modified book
  • I carried a book purse
  • The wedding program was called a "glossary"
  • Tables were named after authors, rather than numbered
  • Guests' seating cards were in a library card catalog drawer, and they were given a quote by an author to find their table.
  • The California centerpieces were flowers in library card catalog drawers
  • The Scotland centerpieces were flowers on top of a book
  • The favors were books that followed the table name. Guests were encouraged to trade for the books they want or, if they didn't want a book, to leave it so we could donate it to Write to Read.
  • The menu was a Table of Contents.
  • The cake was shaped like a stack of books
  • The dessert bar (lemon, berry, chocolate, vanilla) was labeled with appropriate book covers (Lemony Snicket, Huckleberry Finn, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Snow Queen).
  • I can never think of what to write in a guest book, so we put out a dictionary and asked guests to circle words they wanted us to remember during our marriage.
book-centerpiece
Scotland centerpiece
wedding-book-cake
Scotland book cake

In California, we saved money by getting married on my parents' farm-turned-vineyard. It's beautiful in May, and our wedding photos were taken on the Jacaranda-lined driveway, under the Mimosa trees, and in the vineyard I helped plant. Our ceremony was in front of my parents' house, a 1916 Arts and Crafts ranch house. The cocktail hour was in my mother's Banksia garden, and dinner and dancing overlooked the vineyard. We strung lights up between eucalyptus trees, and served wine made from our grapes.

arts-crafts-venue
Scotland arts and crafts venue

Our Scotland reception came about when we realized that a lot of Stuart's friends and family couldn't afford the time or money to come to California. We were on my first trip to Scotland when we stumbled across our venue: House for an Art Lover, a museum designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which happened to be set up for a wedding the day we visited. When we found out it was affordable, we couldn't book fast enough. We had the cocktail hour in the entrance hall, dinner in the music room (complete with built-in piano!), and a ceilidh (traditional Scottish social dancing) in the basement cafe.

groomsmen-kilts

Tell us about the ceremony:
Stuart and his brother walked in to a piano cover of The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles);" The Proclaimers were one of the first concerts he attended growing up, and we sing it together in the car. My sister walked in to "Anne's Theme," because we watched Anne of Green Gables over and over. My dad walked me in to a string cover of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," because he used to sing it when he got me up for school in the morning. Stuart and I processed out to the Royal Philharmonic's cover of "You're My Best Friend."

Each of our siblings gave a reading. My sister read Neil Gaiman's poem, "This is for you, for both of you," which I first learned of here on Offbeat Bride! Stuart's brother read "Darwin's Notes on Marriage."

California ceremony
California ceremony

We wrote our own vows:

STUART: I promise to sing to you every day about the cats, because I love how you roll your eyes and laugh at the same time.
MEAGHAN: I promise to bite my tongue when we're driving, because although we approach the road differently, I trust you completely.
STUART: I promise to root for Stanford, even though 21-3 by the second half is a boring game, because it is important to you.
MEAGHAN: I promise to argue about politics, the law, or Stanford sports, because even when you think I'm wrong, we both have fun debating it.
STUART: I promise to continue randomly grabbing and kissing your hand in restaurants.
MEAGHAN: I promise to wait until you're out of the house before watching chick flicks, because when I introduce you to a movie, a TV show, or even a book, I want it to be something we both love.
STUART: I promise to park up when you tell me to, instead of always looking for something cheaper, because I know your feet hurt and your comfort is always more important to me than my wallet.
MEAGHAN: I promise that at one point in our marriage — ONE point — you can take me camping.
STUART: I promise always to hold you close and warm your heart… and your icy toes of death.
MEAGHAN: I promise to make you my arm candy at parties, even though no one can understand you, because I love how you try to make them understand you.
STUART: I promise always to find it adorable when you chase after and try to adopt a cat or dog that you insist is lost, but clearly has an owner.
MEAGHAN: I promise to treat Netflix as ours, not just mine, and to stop deleting your cartoons when you're not looking.
STUART: I promise to wait patiently for you in bookstores, libraries, and museums. Because you are the love of my life, my best friend, and I would wait an eternity for you, anywhere.
MEAGHAN: Finally, I promise that if a madman in a blue box stops and asks me to go on an adventure to the stars, that I will insist on taking you along. Because I will never leave you behind on any adventure; you are my best friend and ideal companion.

California wedding

Our biggest challenge:
The biggest challenge for our California wedding was timing. Stuart proposed to me three months before I started law school. We knew we wouldn't be able to get married while I was still in school. I was always studying, never sure of my future schedule, and money was tight. At the same time, Stuart didn't want a long engagement. The date we finally agreed on was only one week after I graduated and two days before I started studying for the Bar exam, so I was terrified. Enter my super-organized mother and my favorite moment…

California cake
California cake

book-cake-detail

California wedding

My favorite moment:
The most meaningful moment for me wasn't during the wedding itself, it was during the planning. My mom started planning my future wedding the moment she found out she was going to have a girl. When I wanted a book-themed wedding, she wasn't too pleased.

I started sending my mom links from Offbeat Bride, to show her that a book-themed wedding could look really lovely. At first she was upset that she couldn't implement her thirty years' of planning, but decided to go along with it for my sake. Then she got really into it, coming up with ideas of her own. Calling our menu the "Table of Contents?" Totally mom. Tracking down a baker that could make a cake shaped like a stack of books? Mom. Thinking up jokes for the program? Mom.

My mother is hyper-organized, determined, and very used to taking control and having people listen. That she not only put up with my ideas, but decided to embrace them and share my excitement, means the world to me.

California ceremony

My funniest moment:
Our officiant was the Hon. Lucy H. Koh, a federal judge for the Northern District of California. I interned in her courtroom during law school and was touched that she was willing to go all the way to Rancho Cucamonga to officiate my wedding. I was also stoked — Judge Koh is brilliant, funny, and she knows us well.

At the end of the ceremony, when Judge Koh told Stuart he could kiss the bride, he gave me one long kiss and then pulled me back in for two more. Without missing a beat, Judge Koh said, "One kiss! I said you could have ONE KISS!" I loved being able to start our married lives with laughter.

kilt-dancing
Scotland reception
California reception
California reception

book-cake-cutting

What are some important lessons you learned from your wedding?

  • Have a designated person shepherding people around. Guests get lost without someone pointing them in the right direction.
  • Allow enough time to talk to everyone. We managed to do this at both our weddings, but it was tough. I never understood why weddings had a cocktail hour until I found myself at the end of the night, trying to chase down guests I hadn't thanked for coming.
  • If at all possible, buy your undergarments before your dress. It will give you a better idea of how your dress will look.
  • If you have a destination wedding, price in the cost of taking your dress and getting it ironed. It was cheaper to buy a new, lightweight dress I could iron myself than to take my California dress to Scotland.

patio-reception

Scotland vendors:

California vendors:

Both locations:

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

They ♥ OBB; we ♥ themThis post features Offbeat Vendors! Check out their vendor listing to see how they cater to Offbeat Brides:

  1. One of my favorite offbeat weddings of all times! So fun and creative and still very very elegant. And I love your dress, not to mention the groom's skirt!

  2. I'm so happy to have a reference for "Anne's Theme!" I love that movie and never thought to try to find the music. Already downloaded and cued up for an enjoyable day at work!

  3. i've been a "lurker" on offbeatbride for years now….but this wedding actually made me sign up because i love love love their personalities and wanted to express my joy for them <3. their vows? made me verklempt. i am, perhaps, a tad obsessed with this site (and i'm totally single….for now).

  4. I'm a book lover and I simply adore all the bookish details in your wedding! But most of all I love how you arranged your vows in kind of a dialogue style, those sweet promises made me all teary.

  5. I love your vows! I'm a Scottish bride with an English husband so I get your husbands issues about his accent!

  6. We're having a dual wedding in Sydney and Aberdeen, Scotland and this is so much like our own plans it's heartening to fell like we aren't the only ones planning this. I've been so stressed about it all, but after reading this I feel like a weight has been lifted. An absolutely gorgeous pair of weddings and a lovely couple that are just so inspiring for me. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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