A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown handmade by the bride

January 29 2019 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Alexsandra Wiciel
A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride
Photos by Alexsandra Wiciel

Offbeat partner: Dani

Offbeat partner: Chris

Date and location of wedding: The groom's parents' backyard for the ceremony, the bride's mom's backyard for the reception, Wells, Maine — November 4, 2017

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: There wasn’t really a theme. I’m a designer, so I just roll around in things that inspire me and see what sticks. The biggest highlight is that I made my own gown. All of it! From sketches to patternmaking to cutting and sewing. I also did our save the dates — a CD playlist inside a custom sleeve, featuring portraits of us I drew in Adventure Time style. We followed that up with marble themed invites we designed, knowing the neutral tones and moody vibes would go with everything we thought we wanted for the reception.

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

We knew we wanted things to be really classy and elegant, but we had a small budget. Since we couldn’t afford a lot of flowers, we bought a ton of Christmas lights on sale the year before and just went nuts with white twinkle lights and it worked out beautifully. Chris loves dinosaurs, so I snuck them in everywhere without telling him: large ones held our table numbers and small ones were just hidden in strange places, all painted gold.

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

Everything was super DIY, from my dress, to the ceremony benches. Because it was so DIY, we had tons of help. My father-in-law built the arch, and he, a family friend, and I built the benches. My girls and I made the boutonnières, which had special touches. My beekeeper in-laws had brass bees attached with floral glue to theirs, and for my mother, who I thought should have something non traditional, I attached flowers to a wide brass cuff the night before to match her emerald gown. We also had a food truck for maximum picnic vibe.

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A tea party wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

Tell us about the ceremony:
I walked down the aisle to “Such Great Heights” by the Postal Service. My dad passed away unexpectedly the spring before the wedding, so my uncle walked with me. Our music was off Spotify and we had a last minute replacement in the music management, and our stand-in DJ pressed pause instead of turning down the volume, resulting in a little pause sound jingle that made everyone laugh, which I needed.

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

We had a confetti girl instead of a flower girl (eco-friendly confetti for chicken and bee safety!). A long time family friend, the very first person aside from my parents and grand parents to meet me after I was born, in fact, married us in an atheist ceremony full of Star Trek references and Carl Sagan quotes under a birch arch adorned with eucalyptus garland. I made vow books for Chris and I and we read vows we had written, which made each other laugh. Instead of “you may now kiss,” it was “make it so” a la Captain Picard. As I did not take Chris’ name, our officiant announced our full names with me as “Mrs. My Full Name,” so no one would call me Mrs. His Last Name or, worse still, Mrs. His First Name.

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

Tell us about the reception:
We had an incredible food truck, Mashed, a Maine-based operation which celebrates the Maine potato. The menu is very creative, everything is served on a bed of delicious mashed potatoes, and Renee makes EVERYTHING, including garnishes like breads, pickles, and for dessert, the authentic Maine potato Needham. Yes, Mainers even eat potatoes in their desserts. Each table was adorned with a simple white tablecloth, a gold number-bearing dino, a vase or beaker of flowers, hand dyed napkins, hand written name cards, honey from Chris’ parents’ hives bottled by his mom, and needhams from Mashed in pretty little boxes assembled by my mom.

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

The vases were all salvaged from flea markets or antique shops, the beakers were a nod to Chris being a chemist, my mom and I dyed every single napkin by hand in the backyard, and I wrote all the name cards on marble print card stock to match the invitations. At the head table we included gifts we had been given: a lovely vase and a set of blown glass champagne glasses, so that the gift givers could see that we truly cherish them. My mom baked our cake herself in her boyfriend's kitchen, as we lost power at her house for several days the week of the wedding. That was truly terrifying but it did come back on just in time.

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I feel like lots of brides say this, but shit happens, so be ready. We had an enormous storm that knocked out power in 95% of the state the week of the wedding. My mom's house lost power two separate times. At this point, I was still sewing my dress and also had to move to her boyfriend's house to finish. Having a back-up house to go to and a determined bridesmaid who is also a designer and refused to see me walk down the aisle without all the closures on my dress saved my bacon. For real, shit almost went totally sideways.

Additionally, know who your REAL supporters are. I had a lot, but I know many people don’t have a close by support network. Do not, DO. NOT. let anyone get in your way who doesn’t have a right or a good reason to be in your way. Let the drama roll off you.

And one more: as you are working through the planning process, many people may tell you that you “must” do this thing or that thing. This is a lie straight from the pit of hell. Okay, yeah, you are obligated to keep your guests comfy and happy because they came to support you, but that’s just polite. There is literally nothing you “must” do. I was told I “must” block hotel rooms. To that I say, we are all grown ass adults, and everyone knows how to book their own hotel. I provided a list of hotels that were open in the off season, y’all know what to do with that info. You only have to do what you want. You’ve got this.

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

A backyard wedding with dinosaurs, DIY, & a gorgeous gown made by the bride

Vendors

Photographer: Alexsandra Wiciel • Catering: Mashed

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  1. I'd love to see more about your ceremony as I'm trying to write ours free of religion.

    GORGEOUS everything, btw. The moodiness is my favorite.

    • Hi Alicia! Thank you for the sweet compliments 🙂 I would love to share our non religious vows with you; I will attempt to paste them here, please feel free to steal if you read something you love! I stole a lot from others as well. Our ceremony was admittedly what some might call “aggressively atheist,” and my bridesmaids noticed that a few people looked…surprised? I think those who didn’t know us especially well expected we would do what our own parents did and go with something more standard and semi religious. We certainly are not in peoples faces about our atheism, but we wanted to be VERY clear about who we are and a wedding is a great time to make yourself known. Anyway, full text below!

      “On behalf of the (groom’s family) and (bride’s family) families, it’s my pleasure to say welcome to you all.

      We are called here today to celebrate the joining of two people who possess questioning natures. We celebrate the union of two people, of two hearts, but also of two minds making a conscious and deliberate choice to experience the great joys, and commit to the great sacrifices, of lifelong marriage.

      Danielle and Christopher don't believe there is an eternity waiting for them after this life; there is only this life. So, to give oneself in marriage for this lifetime isn't a way station on the way to some heavenly eternity- it is all there is. It is a commitment to be together until they no longer exist, until they are nowhere and nothing.

      When no edicts are handed down from the skies, and no promises from the universe are expected, each decision a person makes for his or her life bears more weight and consequence; two such people who make a decision to love one another until death have made a momentous commitment, fully of their own volition, with all the importance that an individual life can hold.

      Today we celebrate the union of two people who know fully that human life is finite, and that therefore we should waste no time in spending those precious years with those we have chosen to love. Only two people who know that life is lived here on earth, and only on earth, can fully offer each other their own eternities."

      At this time
      Christopher and Danielle have some words that they would like to share with each other.

      *our vows*

      In the words of Carl Sagan:
      "The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff. Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious… In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another. For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love. "

      Danielle and Christopher: Do you each take the other in marriage and agree to support, comfort, share truth, laugh, and respect one another today and for the rest of your days?

      ‘We do’

      Make it so.”

  2. What a gorgeous wedding! So many beautiful details. The bouquets, mum's cuff, and so much beautiful DIY. And the photos are gorgeous, I love the ones of mum and the groom while the bride is walking down the aisle. And overcoming the last-minute power cut to finish the dress and cake… wow.

    • Thank you so much! The power loss was a lot to deal with but with a good team, all things are possible 🙂 I could never have done this on my own!

  3. A beautiful inspiration. I want to make my dress myself too (I'm a costume designer and maker, so I have some experience making huge dresses) but all the homemade wedding dresses I saw were not as detailed or flattering as the storebought ones I saw. Except for this one! That dress is so damn gorgeous, it takes my breath away. It gives me confidence in my decision to make my own dress.

    • Thank you so much, Ilse! Hearing that from a fellow designer is insanely validating 😀 I can see ALL the flaws. Sounds like you have plenty of design experience so I say definitely go for it! My mom and bridesmaids (very kindly) tried to talk me out of it so I wouldn’t suffer or run the ever present risk of hating your project once you get to the end of it. I went dress shopping 3 times, at 3 locations, with 3 different sets of people. I learned a lot about what looks good on me and what details I liked, and I found some “almost” dresses, but “the” dress I had to do myself. Good luck!

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