Sunny & G's international mountain wedding weekend #Real Weddings: Western US#blue dress#brides in glasses#colorado#couples of color#mountain#outdoor#plus size#self-catered#self-uniting#social anxiety#wedding in the round#wedding weekend Updated Oct 12 2015 (Posted Dec 16 2013) Offbeat Editors Photos by: Britt Nielsen Photography Tribesmaids may recognize Sunny as one of our longtime Offbeat Bride Tribe moderators. She's been a part of the Tribe for over a year, and we're so excited to share her wedding. Photos by Britt Nielsen Photography The Offbeat Bride: Sunny, teacher and writer (and Tribesmaid) Her offbeat partner: G, software engineer Date and location of wedding: Rocky Mountain National Park and the YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park, CO — June 7, 2013 Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We took our first walk together in Estes Park, CO, and have hiked hundreds of miles together since. We wanted to share the beauty that sustains us with our wedding guests. Our guests traveled from three continents and seven U.S. states, and it was the first time G's Chilean family and my Minnesotan family met. We prioritized meaningful social interactions, relaxed fun in the mountains, and fabulous food. Our budget: $5000 for three days and four meals. My family made homemade smoked pulled pork, cake, cheesecake, sweets, empanadas, and enchiladas. They also made invitations, much of the décor, and served as kitchen staff throughout the weekend. They made my favorite childhood sweets, including the cream cheese mints that were present at every big event where I grew up in rural Minnesota, as well as G's favorite childhood food from Chile, empanadas de pino. We were humbled by their generosity! I did most remaining cooking in advance (including gluten-, dairy-, meat- and olive-free options). Saturday brunch and the evening picnic were done on-site, with additional volunteers from G's family. Britt Nielsen provided photography in return for travel, lodging, and a little website development help. Another friend, our nieces, and a flower girl transformed grocery store flowers into bouquets. I collected vintage glass (for candles) and plates from thrift shops and eBay. In lieu of an officiant's fee, we are making monthly donations to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a project that provides legal services to low-income transgender people and transgender people of color. Tell us about the ceremony: We decided to have an officiant even though we didn't need one in Colorado. It proved a lovely experience. Meeting with her about the ceremony was a great way to clarify and articulate our values and goals. She made it a sweet, funny, and meaningful experience, and kept us calm! Because the only permitted seating was picnic tables, we ended up with an unintentional ceremony in the round. At the end of the ceremony, we formed a complete circle. Our officiant asked people to either whisper their blessing for us or speak out loud. To my surprise, many very reserved guests spoke. We could also look around the entire circle and see every one of our guests! We included a Chilean poem that was one of our favorites long before we even met. I translated it with some help from G since I didn't like any of the existing English translations: I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, topaz, Or a piercing arrow of carnations spreading fire I love you as certain unfathomable things are loved Secretly, between shadow and soul. I love you like a plant that does not flower but carries within it, hidden, the light of those flowers And thanks to your love lives unfathomably in my body The bracing smell rising from the earth. I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you directly, without difficulty or pride, In this way I love you, because I don't know to love in any other way, Than in this form, in which I am not, nor are you, So close that your hand on my chest is my hand, So close that you close your eyes as I grow sleepy. – Sonnet 17, Pablo Neruda Our biggest challenge: G's social anxiety was a challenge. We limited the guest list to around 55, and built in restorative alone time throughout the weekend, including private vows between the ceremony and reception. We dramatically limited the number of posed photos, which can sometimes add a lot of stress to a very packed day. Instead we prioritized being fully present in every moment. A self-catered weekend has a lot of moving parts. During planning, I had to finish a book and several articles, and we moved TWICE, once just three weeks before the wedding. Related Post The electronic wedding hacks: Choosing your online wedding planning tools There are gazillions of planning tools out there, and many of them are web-based. But which ones should you pick? Tribesmaid Sunny has rounded up... Read more I used electronic planning tools to make sure we kept stress for our helpers to a minimum. I had a very detailed spreadsheet shared among all helpers with Dropbox. I imported the Offbeat Bride checklist into my Google calendar, which syncs among all my devices and to G's calendar. Pinterest and Evernote collected ideas for me and my helpers. My favorite moment: Walking the 1/4 mile to the ceremony, I heard thunder and turned my face to the sky to feel the raindrops. I'd forgotten my umbrella, and the wind was whipping my hair around my face. It was such a powerful and emotional moment. G was on one arm, my mom on the other, we were walking toward our family and friends, knowing that many more were sending their love from afar. As we walked the final steps towards our officiant, the skies opened to a bright sun that remained for the rest of the weekend. Our photographer led us on a mini-hike to a gorgeous location she scouted out, where we could share our private vows with a sweeping view of the continental divide. I really recommend a private moment to just be together and process. At the reception, while our guests were playing MINGLO, I looked around the room at everybody laughing and eating and drinking and just being happy, and it was amazing. What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned to just cut anything that became too stressful, and sticking to the budget on EVERYTHING was important. Couldn't find the time to make my favorite vegan lasagna? A Caribbean-inspired curry in the slow cooker would do just fine. Absolutely couldn't work in appointments for a custom dress? Department store dress it was. Choose the priorities that work for you, and eliminate everything else. Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? Photography: Britt Nielsen Photography Ceremony venue: Lily Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park Reception and weekend venue: YMCA of the Rockies Family Reunion Cabin Flowers: King Soopers Enough talk — show me the wedding porn! 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 Celebrate Christmas, help Syria, and win a free photo shoot from Edinburgh's Lauren McGlynn NEXT Mismatched bridesmaids all in shades of yellow and gold and awesome Show/Hide comments [ 11 ] Beautiful! What a lovely wedding and gorgeous scenery! Reply Aww, thanks! It's a huge bonus for tiny budgets: no need for decor when you live so close to that kind of beauty. Reply The whole "self-wedding" thing with no officiant needed is so fascinating to me… it's Colorado and Pennsylvania that allow that? Does anyone know if other US states do? What about internationally? Totally an interesting concept. Reply The last time I researched this, it was just Colorado and Pennsylvania. I think it's for two entirely different reasons, too: Pennsylvania's law seems to be inspired by Quaker traditions, while I think Colorado's is a result of a strong libertarian sentiment. Oh, and I think Wisconsin allows some form of this as well. Reply Beautiful! You would never know those are grocery store flowers! Congratulations. Reply We had a great flower-arranging team 🙂 It was also easier to order the wacky flowers I wanted from the grocery store than a florist. (Unfortunately it was a few weeks too early to buy directly from local farms) Reply Oh My Goodness, Sunny! What a beautiful and meaningful experience. I got teary-eyed just reading about your ability to stay in the moment. Congratulations and my best to you! Reply Your translation of the poem is beautiful! Reply This wedding is to.die.for. Seriously. Love every single bit of it. That dress! Can I have a do-over? Reply So sunny! So pretty! I loveee that poem you chose too! Reply OMG Sunny! I love all of this so much! You both look so happy and beautiful. Congrats! 🙂 Reply Join the conversation Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 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.