This week we're celebrating the tea-length, the mini, and the cocktail — that's right, it's short dress week! We're showcasing brides who dare to bare their gams in shorter dresses.
The Offbeat Bride: Wendy, Offbeat Bride Member
Her offbeat partner: Colin, Associate Team Leader at Whole Foods Market
Date and location of wedding: The Country School at the Lakewood Heritage Center, Lakewood, CO — July 6, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: When Colin and I got engaged, I knew immediately we weren't going the traditional route. We set the date before we chose a venue so that my best friend could fly in from New Zealand, where she is living. We picked venues on their availability for that date, not the other way around. I also knew that I wanted a dress that was re-wearable and inexpensive. I found a dress on ModCloth that worked really well, and then changed my mind about six months into the planning process because ModCloth restocked a dress in that I had loved when I was dress shopping, but had initially been unavailable in my size. The second dress was much more flattering, although I am keeping both dresses for future use.
Our first date involved going to a bookstore, and we're both voracious readers, so it seemed appropriate to have a literary-themed wedding. It was a lot of fun getting to pick and choose details that fit the theme. We were on a tight budget so we wound up thrifting what we could, and buying cheaply what we couldn't find used. I wound up abandoning most of the DIY projects, but Colin took on making all of our vase fillers: all 250 paper roses, and 100 paper hearts glued onto skewers.
Instead of a guest book, our friend designed a card where people could write notes and recommend books to us. I printed them out on card stock at home and found a large book-shaped box in which to store them. All of the cards are now in a pretty notebook that we keep in our home library, within easy reach for next time we go to the bookstore. An artistic friend made our cake toppers with some leftover craft supplies from making the vase flowers.
We chose a restored two-room school house as our venue, and it had fourteen blackboards mounted into the walls of both rooms. We chose some quotes on love, hope, and partnership from our favorite works of literature to be written on them — although we cheated and wrote the “Mawwage” speech from The Princess Bride on the big teacher's chalkboard in the main classroom. We figured it was a movie about a book that then became novelized — close enough, right?
We skipped a lot of traditions. We had neither musicians nor DJs, and I made playlists to play on my iPod and rented speakers from Craigslist. We couldn't afford to serve a full meal, so yet another friend and her little sister baked three of our four cakes. We had finger food from Whole Foods (where my husband works) and multiple plates of cookies. Neither of us drink alcohol, so we served lemonade and iced tea, plus berries and flavored syrups so people could mix and match their beverages. We had an afternoon ceremony and the reception broke up a little before 6:00 p.m. in the evening.
We didn't start out with a color theme but eventually we decided that various shades of blue and cream were what we were drawn to. I wanted to keep a vintage look to my attire, so I paired my vintage-inspired ModCloth dress with some simple slingback pumps (that I exchanged for flats for the reception) and pearl jewelry I borrowed or thrifted. Yet another good friend made the petticoat, and we intentionally made it long so it would peek out from under the dress.
Colin injected a little geekiness into his groom gear. I love the look of bow ties, so he capitulated and chose a polka-dotted one he really liked through Amazon. I also surprised him with an embroidered pocket square, with a line from Doctor Who. In dark blue embroidered thread, it reads “Together. Or not at all.”
My maid of honor made my veil and transported it all the way from Wellington in her carry-on luggage. We discussed over Skype what I wanted and I sent her a few links, but I didn't actually see the veil until the day before the wedding. Another important piece to me was the ring that I used for the ceremony. It is an heirloom that's been in our family for four generations, and I have always known that no matter what else happened with my wedding, I was using Grandma Ada's ring. My husband actually fell in love with a Stargate-themed ring on Etsy, and he calls me his “seventh chevron,” so we felt we had to get it.
Tell us about the ceremony:
One of my closest friends is an ordained minister and offered to marry us. Ed has a flair for the dramatic and has a voice that carries rather well in crowded space, so he was perfect for the role. I wrote our secular ceremony from scratch, cobbling together bits and pieces of sample ceremonies from the internet and then injecting our personalities into it as best as I could. It was a bit of a struggle, but I convinced Colin and everyone else to go along with an unplugged ceremony so our guests could be fully present.
We had always loved the song “The Rainbow Connection,” and in fact the first night we met we had watched the 2011 Muppets Movie, so it was a no-brainer to use it as our processional. Our recessional was a lot harder to finalize. We actually didn't decide on it until about a week before the wedding. Colin is a huge Doctor Who fan and I'm somewhat of a Whovian myself. I found an arrangement on Youtube for “I Am the Doctor” for piano I really liked, so we used that for our recessional as a nod to other kinds of geekery in our relationship.
I had my godfather walk me down the aisle but I walked down the last few steps on my own, to signify that I was walking into this marriage of my own free will. I was supposed to receive a blessing from my mother to honor her role in my life, but once I saw Colin waiting for me, I sort of made a beeline for him and forgot all about the blessing. Fortunately, Mom was really understanding by the oversight and chalked it up to nerves on my part. We only had one attendant each, but I wanted other significant people in our lives to be as much as part of it as we could, so I had two readings. Colin's little brother Garret gave one, and my other best friend, Keith, read Mark Twain's “A Marriage.”
Colin and I wrote our own vows, which were fairly accurate depictions of ourselves as individuals. His vows were short, sweet, a touch traditional, and to the point. Mine were heartfelt, a little humorous, intentionally nontraditional, and long-winded. In the end, rings were exchanged and kisses were shared, and people waved around the multi-colored “YAY” flags I made. It's all a little blurry at this point, but I will always remember the unadulterated joy.
Our biggest challenge:
Like most couples planning a wedding, time and money wound up being our two biggest challenges. Colin and I both worked retail during our entire engagement, and trying to balance schedules to do any planning was hard. Finally, I put my foot down after three months and insisted that we both take one mutual day off a week to make it work. It not only helped provide structure, since we could generally schedule meetings or shopping trips for that day, but it also strengthened our relationship in general. Due to our jobs and my student loan debt, we also had a very limited budget. Fortunately, going the non-traditional route helped a lot and we figured out pretty quickly that with a little help from family and asking people to make things or give their time instead of wedding gifts was both a meaningful contribution for them and helped us stick to our budget.
I really wish I had met with my unofficial day-of-coordinator before the big day to make everything go smoothly. She'd told me she intended to help as much as possible that day, but I never asked her officially to take over. My best advice: if you have a friend who seems like they might wind up doing the day-of coordinator duties anyway, make it official and set up at least one meeting with them. That being said, she and the rest of our crew literally saved our bacon that day in a lot of ways.
One of the challenges was due to the venue itself. We could hold all of our guests in the large classroom where the ceremony was being held, but there wasn't enough space in the multi-purpose room for all the tables, chairs, and food needed for the reception. Essentially our helpers had to “flip the room” by taking out extra tables from storage and re-arranging everything so both rooms could accommodate the crowd. Since Colin and I were changing and spending a little alone time together, we weren't physically there to oversee the transition. Fortunately, between our mothers and our day-of coordinator, it went incredibly smoothly while everyone was in line at the buffet.
My favorite moment:
Our grandparents became one of the most meaningful parts of our day. We were unsure if my grandmother, who was pretty much my other parent, was going to be able to come. She turned 90 this year and is wheelchair-bound, so she required special care while traveling to our wedding from Nebraska. She worked really hard with her physical therapist at the nursing home to become strong enough for travel. My aunt and uncle drove from Denver, picked Gram up in Nebraska, and drove all the way back to Denver within two days. A family friend who is a nurse by trade offered to be Gram's private duty nurse during the entirety of the wedding.
Colin's grandfather also traveled from Ohio to be able to make the wedding. Colin's aunt and uncle flew out with him and helped take care of his during his stay in Denver. The kindness and generosity of everyone who helped our grandparents make our wedding was truly miraculous. I know it meant a lot to both of us to have them there.
We also wanted to do a memorial for our grandparents who had passed on before we got married. We turned the teacher's desk into a memorial table featuring photos of my grandfather and Colin's grandmother. When Colin's grandfather was leaving the reception, he gave me a big hug and thanked us for honoring his lovely bride. It was probably one of the few moments where I was struck speechless with emotion that day.
My funniest moment:
We had chosen “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton as one of our readings so Colin's special needs younger brother could read it during the ceremony. Garret is a born performer and really hammed it up, even if he struggled with some of the big words. We both had to fight the giggles during certain portions of it.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
[clickylink slug=”dont-ignore-this-post-wedding-advice”I already wrote one post-wedding advice piece, so I won't repeat myself much here. However, several months later, I realized why wedding planning for us got easier as the day got closer. Although we had our share of fights during the process, we also learned how to work together as a team better than we would have if we hadn't undertaken this huge project. We truly became partners during the engagement period, and it made the day itself easier.
Keep in mind that wedding planning is a real opportunity to strengthen a relationship. Knowing you're going into marriage with a strong foundation for it truly makes the stresses of your wedding day easier to bear. Check in with each other even if you're mingling at separate tables, just to make sure one partner isn't getting overwhelmed and keep each other hydrated, fed, and ensure you both have sufficient bathroom breaks.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Jason Kohut, Scenic Embrace Photography
- Bride's Dress: ModCloth
- Bride's gloves: Gloves By Jana
- Bride's Ceremony Shoes: DSW
- Bride's Reception Shoes: ModCloth
- Bride's nails: Nails City in Lakewood, CO
- Wedding Party Flowers: HBix by Artworks
- Hair and Makeup: Ulta
- Groom's Suit: Men's Warehouse
- Groom's Bow Tie: Beauties Ltd.
- Groom's ring: FANatic Creations
- Embroidered Pocket Square: Sheri Angell Creations
- Venue: The Country School
- Food: Whole Foods Market Tamarac
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!