Offbeat partner: Rae
Offbeat partner: Kirby
Date and location of wedding: Public garden in Taylor, Michigan — August 4, 2018
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: I decided early on I wanted to be a mystical fairy goddess for the wedding. We are both nerds, so there were many "easter eggs" hidden in parts of our wedding for people to find, from "game over" music at the end of the night to messages hidden in binary code on our save-the-dates.
Both of us were raised Catholic and have many religious family members, but as people who no longer affiliate with religion we eliminated that component from the wedding in favor of a more pagan, fantasy flavor that included a handfasting ceremony, an oak arch under a pair of fir trees, lots of crystals, an oathing stone, and many more precisely chosen details that gestured towards ethereal and whimsical magic.
We are both feminists, so it was also very important to leave behind the more traditional, patriarchal, gender-specific parts of American weddings. We walked down the aisle together, had mixed-gender bridal parties and opted not to do dances with opposite-sex parents. I was definitely not wearing a traditionally white dress. Choosing small businesses and incorporating DIY elements was similarly important. Many of our vendors were small, women-owned businesses. We outsourced as little as we could and had family members contribute where they had skills; woodworkers made benches and arches, seamtresses made the linens, a friend with florist training helped us do our own flowers. We basically took the traditional wedding, broke it down to a shell, and rebuilt it with a pagan fantasy flavor.
Tell us about the ceremony:
The ceremony was quick and painless. We threw out the usual religious format and basically worked with our officiant (a friend!) to build it from scratch. We walked down the aisle to a musician friend's rendition of music from one of our favorite video games. We stood under an arch setup made by his parents, covered in logs and moss gathered from our yards over the previous months, and decorated with crystals and fairy figurines and gold leaf (I love gold).
We began with a hilarious rendition of how the officiant met us in order to set the tone that this was not going to be a mushy gushy ceremony (which is not my style). We had three readings that were meaningful to the both of us and also (subtly) set the tone that this was non-traditional: excerpts from the Obergefell v. Hodges supreme court ruling, the speech before the final boss of the game UNDERTALE, and the poem "where the sidewalk ends."
When we did our vows, we turned them into an oathing stone ceremony: we handed out small river stones as people sat down, and while we took our vows on a large stone we had found in my parents' backyard, we had everyone else hold their stone and cast wishes for us into theirs. They then signed the stones after the ceremony and they served as our guestbook. We finished with a handfasting that bound us together, and exited to the Star Wars Throne Room theme with these bright ribbons dangling off of our newly tied hands.
Tell us about the reception:
The reception was supposed to just be a big party, and it was. I was adamant from the beginning that the food would be barbecue, and food ended up being one of the only things we fully outsourced. We put one of my crafty aunts in charge of a s'mores bar by the bonfire. We made our own lawn games to match the mystical/whimsical theming. We DIYed a photo booth with tons of costume material we'd collected over the years. We decorated with handmade linens, curly willow branches we collected from another aunt's house, fairy lights, crystals, and ivy, and lots of porcelain from garage sales stuffed with moss to get that mystical Alice in Wonderland vibe.
Cocktail hour featured two signature cocktails named after our cats that were great hits. We love games and nature, so favors were seed packets and decks of cards. The whimsical garden party continued through the cake cutting, which was a cute naked cake made by my mom and decorated by me; I am picky about cakes and I ONLY like my mom's banana cake. That was another early decision and a way to personalize something.
After the first dance, though, the vibe went straight to party. The playlist was super cultivated to hit all our favorites, from musical theatre to the Lonely Island to the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald (it was a Michigan wedding after all) the DJ was amazing, as were our bartenders, and we danced until I had to be carried out because I was so tired. And then everybody hit up the hotel suite for an afterparty.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
The delight for me was all in the details and all came from our willingness to go off-script. Rules are made to be broken! I didn't listen to anyone when they said I couldn't do my own flowers. I used the people around me and their skills in order to round out my vendors/decorative team. Part of what I loved about this wedding was that everything was a little DIY. It wasn't super polished because it wasn't supposed to be, and that was okay! So, my advice is to not overlook the details, because that's what set our wedding apart.
In terms of challenges, the biggest one was managing time, because we had a short time between deciding to get married and the wedding itself, and because I wanted to do everything myself. So delegating tasks was really important. That just came down to organizing lists, assigning jobs, and making phone calls with people: when are the cornhole boards going to be done? Great. When can you get them here so I can paint them? When are we doing a trial-run of the cake? How are we going to transport the arch? Free afternoon? Let's go to thrift stores and garage sales and look for old porcelain to decorate with. We made these processes into fun outings/afternoons for everyone who could get together at any given time, which made them less about work and more about hanging out.