The Offbeat Bride: Liv the Web Content Manager
Her offbeat partner: Dan the Radio Software Engineer
Date and location of wedding: Bill Miller's Castle, Branford, Connecticut — 10/20/2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Dan and I are very crafty people, and so a lot of the wedding was DIY. It started early in the planning process when we designed our own family crest using traditional symbolism and heraldry, and we came up with our own family words (a la Game of Thrones). We went with “Perfection is the enemy,” in the spirit of ongoing creativity and learning. The crest was used on wax stamps on our invitations, and on our programs, in which we described what all the heraldry meant.
We spent a lot of time looking for a venue with a personality to match ours, and we finally found Bill Miller's Castle. It started as a barn many decades ago, and the man who owned it just kept adding on to it until it became a little castle.
The theme sprung up from that. Stone and iron became our inspiration. The favors were geodes that just look like big rocks on the outside, but when you bust them open with a hammer there are crystals inside. The centerpieces were metal lanterns with handmade silk flower arrangements, and the escort cards were attached to antique skeleton keys.
I also have a hard stance on ethically-sourced food, so I worked very closely with the venue's caterer to come up with a mostly vegan menu. We were also really lucky to find a cake baker near the venue that offered vegan cakes. Then a friend of ours surprised us with a tiny crocheted Cthulhu groom and pink-haired unicorn bride. We happily added them to the castle on the wedding cake.
Some people were against my pink hair, but I insisted that it had been pink for years, and I felt like myself in it. That was how I wanted to feel during the wedding.
I added pops of pink to almost everything, particularly my dress. I sewed pink corset laces for the wedding dress, and added over 4000 crystals to it by hand.
We had our first dance to “Nothing Else Matters” by Metallica.
And once the reception got into full swing, we whipped out what we call “The Shenanigans Box,” which was full of blow-up toys, silly hats, funny glasses, and glow sticks.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our wedding was the first among my side of the family to be done outside the church. We wanted to stay true to our own values and not pretend to be faithful, church-going people during this really important moment in our lives just for the spectacle of others. But at the same time we respect the power of tradition, and thought it was very important to give our religious families a space to be ceremonial, and to feel comfortable with the process.
Our officiant was wonderful, and helped us find the right balance for the ceremony itself. We kept it on the longer side to give it a sense of pomp that sometimes comes with church weddings. The readings were of love poems that resonated with us. The instrumental music, provided by some talented friends, included a familiar church hymn. We worked in the sign of peace given at church when guests stand and shake hands.
Guests were seated while listening to “The Rains of Castomere,” which might be a little morbid for anyone who has read or watched Game of Thrones. But the book series is the first one Dan and I read together, and we jumped at the chance to make a nod to it. We read our own vows, and had a wine ceremony. We exited to a piano version of our song, “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service.
One of my favorite parts, though, was incorporating the Polish blessing of bread and salt. The tradition involves speaking a blessing, and feeding the couple bread dipped in salt to symbolize prosperity and taking life and hardship with a grain of salt. My side of the family is first generation Polish, and Dan's is American, so we had both our mothers come up to give the blessing. My mom said the blessing in Polish, and Dan's mom in English. The tradition is finished when you wash down the bread and salt with a shot of vodka. It doesn't get more Polish than that.
Our biggest challenge:
There were a lot of days spent searching, and more than a few sleepless nights worrying that we couldn't find a venue at the right price, with the right atmosphere, that would accommodate our food choices. Persistence, hardcore Google-fu, countless email inquiries, and driving lots of hours over various state lines finally yielded everything we were looking for.
My favorite moment:
Among some of the most meaningful moments for us was when family approached us from each side and called us “son and daughter, niece and nephew.” My grandmother, who only speaks Polish, kissed Dan and called him her grandson. The way we were welcomed to both sides of our new family was very heartwarming.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Bill Miller's Castle
- Dress: by Sophia Tolli Y21264 (embellished by the bride)
- Photographer: ohKarina Photography
- Officiant: Rev. Mark J. Larose
- Cake: A Little Imagination Cakes
- Flowers: Petals 2 Go Florist
- Aisle Runner: Original Runners
- Tapestry with our family crest: Megan Smithyman
- Custom Wax Seal stamper: Nostalgic Impressions
- Paper to make the programs: Paper Presentation
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
photography: ohKarina Photography