The offbeat bride: Kirsten, geeky academic, sometime prof, and office drone (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Dustin, tech zombie, artist, and apprentice tattooist
Date and location of wedding: Canada — June 10, 2011
What made our wedding offbeat: First, it was a small wedding. Dustin wanted to elope but I couldn't imagine getting married without my friends and family there, so we kept the guest list small (about 30 people actually made it). The wedding was way more fun for both of us that way because we never felt overwhelmed by all the people and everyone there was someone who loves us.
I grew up playing with my mum's old dresses from the 1950s, so for my wedding, I wanted a custom red swing dress (after I started reading Offbeat Bride and realized that was okay). The groom wore a bowling shirt, dress pants, and Harley boots. He later slipped on his bandana to keep his hair in check.
Our favourite food for celebrations comes from restaurants that deliver, so there was no question about it. We had pizza, Greek riblets, Greek wings, spanakopita, potato wedges, souvlaki, and salads. For dessert, we had pies made by a friend's mom, traditional English wedding cake made by my mom, cheesecake, and mousse cake.
We wanted to have custom Jones' Soda, but couldn't afford the shipping. So we bought packs of soda at the grocery store and made our own custom labels with Dustin's art. I added pretty “Drink Me” labels that one of my bridesmaids helped colour.
I love bright colours, so we threw the idea of wedding colours out the window and had mismatched tablecloths, which I made using bright fabric I bought on sale that I can now use for other fun projects. We used rainbow-hued lanterns and gerbera daisies in lots of colours. We had record bowls and candy centerpieces (with all our faves).
As dancing has never been part of our relationship, we decided to have a reception that felt more like an informal dinner party. There was lots of time for conversation, some Rockband, and a whole lot of playing with costumes for the photo booth. My friends and I used to play dress-up when we were growing up, so it was a blast goofing around with costume bits and pieces. My dad and his fiancée brought a ton of hats and other odds and ends, and our photographer supplied a few other things.
Our cake toppers were my first real experiment with crafting with Sculpey and represented the two of us. I had a blast making them.
One of my friends is a professional violinist. As a gift, he played before the ceremony and during the document signing. What did he play? Geeky music! Video game themes, the love theme from The Princess Bride, and more. We left it mostly up to him and he did a fantastic job.
Tell us about the ceremony: We officiated most of the wedding ourselves as neither of us is particularly religious and we felt that the commitment was ours to shape and narrate. I wrote it with some consulting from Dustin. I'd been writing lectures so this didn't feel all that different, except it was about us. Happily, the room at the art gallery that we were in had enough space that we could have the ceremony at one end and the reception at the other, which made everything so easy.
We also included a ring warming with the help of Steggy the ring dinosaur, a gift Dustin had given me a year or so before because I love stegosauruses.
An anniversary box was another tradition we chose to include. My mum bought the wine, as she's always taught me about the importance of good food and drink for binding people together. My dad helped us by introducing the tradition and starting the nails for us to “seal” the box (although the nails didn't actually seal anything as we couldn't have gotten them through the edges).
We had three readings that suited us very well: Sonnet 115 by William Shakespeare, which is about the fact that love grows over time and it should; a quote from the movie Stardust of Yvainne discussing the human ability to love, something that impressed us both and from a movie we both enjoy; and A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton, which not only had dinosaurs but also seemed to describe us very well. We actually used that as our guestbook which gave our guests a chance to read it again later.
Dustin and I both wrote our own vows. I read mine because I stink at memorizing things like that and knew I'd get a bit choked up and forget something. Dustin memorized his and I got kinda choked up during them too.
To do the legal stuff, we hired a marriage commissioner who I'd only met three days before the wedding, and Dustin had never met. She was fantastic and did a lovely job of our ring exchange despite only knowing us a short time.
Our biggest challenge: The biggest challenge was dealing with expectations. While everyone seemed pretty on-board with our plan, we did eventually start running into issues of what “must” be done. I finally had to learn that if I didn't have a really good reason for fighting against something that I was going to have to go with it. In the end it all worked out just fine and on the day of the wedding I wasn't thinking about any of that. All the things that were important to us happened, and that's what mattered.
My favorite moment: The toasts were awesome. My bridesmaids, two friends I've known since kindergarten, gave a wonderful toast. Our groomsman, a mutual friend, gave me some very funny advice. My parents welcomed Dustin to the family and talked about how proud they are of me.
Then Dustin surprised me with an amazing toast he'd memorized in secret, sharing with everyone just how awesome he thinks I am. I was totally floored. Our photographer, who had barely heard Dustin talk previously, told me that after hearing that speech he completely understood just why we're together. We also had a few other guests who spontaneously shared some lovely sentiments.
The other moment was taking photos at the end of the night. It was nice to have some time to just come back to the two of us and play around. We'd had such an amazing night with friends and family. Not to mention that Dustin giggled every time he looked at his ring or remembered that we really were married.
My funniest moment: One of the funniest moments was during my dad's speech when he tossed his hat to celebrate the fact that during the ceremony I had said that we plan to have children one day. He's been dying for a grandchild for years so hearing me confirm that we hope to give him one made his day. He's still going to have to wait though!
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Dustin let me think that he had forgotten to bring his vows. I was past the freaking out stage of the day so I just shrugged mentally and figured he'd ad lib. In fact, he'd memorized them and surprised me on purpose.
One other thing is that we had decided to have a child-free wedding (partially due to not enough kids to make it fun for them). One of our last-minute invitees, however, brought his baby daughter. I saw her right before the ceremony and was a little nervous. She was very sweet, though, and he was great at looking after her. We ended up with some adorable photos featuring her.
I was a bit worried one of my bridesmaids wouldn't make the wedding. She was almost eight months pregnant and had been on bed rest for four months so I was worried about her health and the baby's. I was thrilled when the doctor gave her the go-ahead to come and even stand up a bit!
Maybe two months before the wedding I looked at the contract for our venue and discovered that we weren't supposed to be having homemade food! I had planned to make a cheesecake (one of my specialties) and my dad's fiancée was going to make one also. But we were able to have the traditional English cake at least.
My advice for offbeat brides: Telling people why something matters to you can make a big difference. We had reasons for our choices and expressing those reasons made a big difference, especially if it was something personal. If your wedding is true to you, then let people in on that and they'll be more able to participate and feel like they are part of what is going on.
For any vendor you're going to spend a lot of time with, make sure you like them. We lucked out as the coordinator at the venue was a girl I knew from high school. Our photographer, Chris Graham, was also amazing and it felt more like he was another guest than a stranger. My dress designer, Dean Renwick, was great to work with too. The wedding is much more fun if you like the people involved, and they'll do their best if you get along.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? If you're going to get someone to do something for you, be clear about what you want, or, if you aren't willing to compromise and give them control, do it yourself. I made the mistake of not being clear enough about what I wanted when I asked Dustin to do the art for the invitations (we're both artists but I wanted him involved).
Poor Dustin worked his tail off and produced some gorgeous art, but it wasn't what I wanted. I wasn't willing to change my design (I'd already cut and folded all the pieces and there was no way I could just “make it work”) and didn't handle it too well. He had to start over and although I thought I'd been clearer, we still needed to work on our communication. It ended up perfect but we were both pretty stressed by the end of that process. I learned my lesson, I hope! His original art was used for the soda bottles and for cards that we had on the tables for guests to take.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress and hairpiece: Dean Renwick Designs
- Hair: Flux Hair Lounge
- Groom's shirt: Bowlingshirt.com
- Bride's ring – Etsy seller McFarlandDesigns
- Groom's ring: Etsy seller 3RexesJewelry
- Food: Copper Kettle
- Pies: Sweet Slice Pies
- Flowers: Gale's Florist
- Photography: Chris Graham Photo
- Lanterns: Luna Bazaar
- Violinist: Jonathan Achtzehner
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
decor: Luna Bazaar