Julie & Trevor's mountain handfasting with drums

November 4 2014 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Shannon McQueen Photography

It's getting colder here in the Northern Hemisphere, so this week we're celebrating woodsy, outdoor weddings while we can. Get ready for majestic mountains, placid lakes, and gorgeous forests for days.

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Photos by Shannon McQueen Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Julie, PR Specialist (and Offbeat Bride member)

Her offbeat partner: Trevor, Teacher

Date and location of wedding: YMCA Estes Park and The View Restaurant, Estes Park, CO — July 26, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our wedding ceremony was a total mix of traditional and not. We designed and printed our own wedding invitations. We designed our programs, and made each table number a postcard from a photo we had taken during our travels together. We had a handfasting and ceremony that we created along with our minister, who we found through Trevor's mom's tap class. Our ceremony was completely secular, and also started with a ring warming.

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Our reception was in The View restaurant at Crag's Lodge. It was a rustic room with a great view that also had plenty of space for our family and friends and lots of dancing! We also included drums, mismatched bridesmaid dresses, and a dessert bar instead of cake.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
To start, we included drums in the ceremony. Trevor is a musician, and when trying to decide who to include as his groomsmen, he noticed that most of his best guy friends just happened to be drummers. That made it an easy criterion so he didn't feel bad about leaving anyone out. He called them his "groomsdrummers." All of them are talented musicians, except his brother-in-law who has never played an instrument and to whom we gave the cymbals. The drums played down the aisle, during the processional, and then as a drum roll leading up to the cymbals crashing during our kiss.

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As I was coming down the aisle, our friend Tom played and sang "Eyes on the Prize" by M. Ward. Trevor put that song on the very first mix CD he made me, and it was perfect for the occasion.

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We started with a ring warming for family in the first row and the wedding party. We also had two readings: "Benedicto" by Edward Abbey and "Sonnet LXIX" by Pablo Neruda. We also had a handfasting that helped us incorporate our family into the ceremony. There were seven cords representing seven agreements. A member of our immediate families each placed one cord over our hands.

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We wrote our own vows and both heard each other's for the first time at the ceremony. I think we both did an awesome job of capturing our relationship and the commitment we were making in those vows.

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We were worried the whole time it would rain on us, but it didn't start raining until we were finishing up our photos and heading to the reception.

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Our biggest challenge:
It was so challenging to balance what we wanted with what our families wanted. We (especially Trevor) tend to be more non-traditional, while my family really couldn't understand why we didn't want to do things "the way they are done."

Though it was difficult at times, the end result turned out to be a wonderful balance of what mattered most to us and what mattered most to my family. It was certainly a little traditional in some ways, but the special touches we included from ourselves were meaningful and pulled off well thanks to the balance of everyone coming together.

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One specific struggle I had was my wedding dress. I saw myself in something secondhand, not huge, not super white, and with straps. But my mom insisted on taking me to dress boutiques. After having a great time trying on dresses, I chose my wedding dress. It was strapless, white, and poofy. But, shopping with my mom and my sister made it hard to choose a dress that didn't appeal to them. Though I loved the one we chose at the time, I spent most of the time leading up to my wedding second-guessing it and wondering if I had chosen wrong. I ended up taking out some of the poofiness and adding a tan sash to it. And in the end, I loved it and so did Trevor.

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My favorite moment:
Our vows were extremely meaningful to us. We wrote them with loose guidelines: we'd start by talking about our relationship in general, our partner, and then why we wanted to get married and what we promised to do. I think we both did a great job of expressing to each other exactly what was most important about that day.

My other favorite moment was my dad's toast. He jokingly rolled out the longest piece of paper you'd ever seen, but it turned out his speech was really long. He basically told my life story and said how very proud of me he is. It was sweet.

One other moment was when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" came on by the Beatles. A spontaneous dance circle of family and friends erupted, all holding hands.

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My funniest moment:
The mother/son dance between Trevor and his mom was a Beatles medley that finished with "All You Need is Love!" The groomsdrummers all had instruments, and Trevor and his mom pulled people onto the dance floor with them. It was a great way to get the dance party started.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Beautiful photos! I was wondering how many guests you had. I'm also thinking about a ring-warming ceremony, but with the guest list possibly pushing 100, I'm not sure it would work.

  2. We had about 120 guests. We ended up just doing the ring warming with the front row (family) and the wedding party. I really wanted to do it for all guests, but time was definitely an issue.

  3. Wow – what a lovely wedding in the outdoors with such lovely scenery. There are lots of individual ideas at this wedding and they come together in a very effective way. Excellent photography too.

  4. I love the idea of having friends and loved ones place the handfasting cords over your hands. I'm thinking about doing this too. I was wondering how you did this. I'm not sure if I want to have the officiant announce this cord means this and is being placed by this person or if the person themselves will say what the cord means. I think I'm leaning toward the officiant noting what each cord means. What was your script?

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  5. Thanks for this! I am getting married in 18 days. I also wanted a second hand dress. My mom flew to where I live to take me shopping early on. It was fun, and I ended up buying a new dress. The salesperson told me it was not made in China. When I finally got the dress, guess where the tag said it was made? I had to grieve this and that I went with what my mom wanted and not what I really wanted. I also changed the dress a bit by cutting off all the train but the lace. I felt that the dress was too expensive to not wear it and buy something different. I am working on being at peace with it, remembering it is just a dress, and chalking it up to a learning experience.

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