Katrina & Mikhail's low-budget costumers' wedding on a pirate ship

April 15 2009 | offbeatbride
Official Wedding Picture
Photos by Audrey Burke, friend of the couple
The Offbeat Bride: Katrina, Video and Event Production Specialist

Her Offbeat Partner: Mikhail, Freelance Photographer

Location & date of wedding: St. Louis Renaissance Faire Park, St. Louis, MO — July 19, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding cost us about $500 for about 60 people, but that's not all! We had our fairy tale dream wedding that really was like a fairy tale — complete with a couple fairies, some knights in shining… kimono, music from fantasy games and movies, a sermon about love in Klingon, costumed guests, a cake inspired by Lothlorien, food inspired by the Redwall books, and, of course, a big wooden pirate ship!

Beautiful Bride
The bride's AMAZING dress and her DIY flowers
Did I mention it was all DIY? I made the flowers, the food (with a lot of help from family), the decorations, and most of the wedding party's outfits (mine, Mikhail's, the bridesmaids', and the best man's).

Even my very conservative grandma dressed in a Star Fleet uniform, and who wouldn't when Arwen is playing the keyboard and a Jedi is walking his daughter down the aisle?

All of the guests had a great time, and told us it was truly unforgettable… is that always a good thing?

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was keeping it from being like the geek weddings that become the butt of Internet jokes. Also, my grandma worried that I would destroy the sacredness of the rite (yes, I'm Lutheran) by wearing costumes.

I think the first and best way to keep it down-to-earth (in a good way) is to remember that it's YOU and not your CHARACTER getting married. I'm used to cosplaying at conventions with my glasses off, my hair under a wig, and my face covered with makeup. I decided not to do any of those things with this wedding. I spent a lot of time on the outfits to keep them from looking like the store-bought costumes so many people wear for Halloween. That kept the wedding looking more like a trip to some fairy realm rather than an early Halloween party.

We kept the wedding heartfelt and religious. We chose to have a Lutheran pastor officiate and structured the service in a familiar, traditional way, albeit with quite a few un-traditional touches, like the Japanese san san kudo ceremony instead of a unity candle.

The wedding party on a pirate ship.
The wedding party on a pirate ship.

My favorite moment: I'm sure I'll remember the entire thing forever (obviously), but the most beautiful and wonderful moment was when we read our vows. We had written them in secret from each other and rolled them up on parchment scrolls. Both of us were crying by the end of them because they were so sweet. I liked the idea of having the scrolls handed to us by our maid of honor and best man like proclamations of some sort. It had a certain Medieval romance that made the whole thing more beautiful.

The Lord of the Rings inspired wedding cake.
The Lord of the Rings inspired wedding cake.
My advice for other offbeat brides: Think about some of the things others don't know about you as a couple. I think some of our choices were expected (like the costumes, which were inevitable for two costume hobbyists), but others gave people a glimpse of who we are together, like the food selection that reflects the books we introduced each other to (also, our wedding date, 7/19, combines the most important numbers from our two favorite fantasy series: Harry Potter and The Dark Tower, which we introduced each other to during our first year together).

The Kiss

Also, if you're doing a theme wedding, come up with something loose. Don't force your guests to get involved in your theme. A lot of our guests didn't wear costumes, and we were fine with that. Others we didn't even expect to wear costumes, wore them. You'll be surprised who will go along with your offbeat ideas!

Speaking of which, people LOVE to help with offbeat weddings. Honest! We just got word out about what we were doing, and suddenly everyone wanted to be a part of it. We got the ceremony and reception areas for free thanks to the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire and the Knights of Columbus. Our photographer came all the way from Kentucky to take our pictures for gas money just because she wanted to see it. Tell people about it, and you may just make some new friends.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I thought I was the only person in the world who wanted wedding food based on the Redwall series!!!!!! Oh PLEASE tell me more about it!

  2. I loved reading this. It's very encouraging to hear about friends and family being supportive of whatever you want your wedding to be. And your dress is just beautiful! Congratulations.

  3. Wow that is AWESOME. I love the clothes, the thought, the sweetness of the whole thing. My boyfriend and I love the ren faire but we've both decided not to do anything "theme-y" because it feels too theatrical and also done to death. But you guys took something old and made it fresh and beautiful. Love!

    Congratulations!

  4. I looked at every single picture and loved them all! Thank you for taking so much time captioning and tagging all the photos – I loved reading it all!

  5. My Redwall food… I looked through the Redwall cookbook for some idea. I would have loved to do the giant cake covered in strawberries and pretended we were mouse-sized, but instead we chose leeks and potatoes and dandelion salad. We did food from several other series (i.e. some British dishes from Harry Potter and lembas bread from LotR) as well as Japanese food (a big pile of soba noodles) and some of our odd favorites (Mikhail's being pickled okra).

  6. Very nice article you both make me so proud, I am so happy to beable to call you my daughter and son. Love to both of you. mom-judy

  7. wow! Great photos! I loved everything about it…your dress is so beautiful. If I was at all a skilled seamstress I would have made something for myself very similar to yours. Loved everything, especially grandma in costume as well!

  8. I loved your article! Of course how could we do anything without REDWALL. It reminds me of the little snacks we would make together when you were little. You are a beautiful bride and I am truly proud of you both. I knew from the beginning you would have a fantasy wedding. Our whole family is proud of you!!! Love to you both, Your Mom and David the Gnome (too).

  9. The comments from both your moms are so sweet! Good on them for being so kind and supportive. Congratulations to you both!

  10. Oh, get OUT! Seriously. There is so much brilliance here that pretty much only works because it's so obvious how sincere you guys are. Not like taking yourselves too seriously sincere, just being yourselves sincere. And sincerely in love. Awwwww…

    I love the comments from your moms, too!

    Congratulations! It's definitely inspiring, no matter what style a couple chooses to go with.

  11. I loved reading about your wedding and seeing all the pictures. I wish I could explain to my boyfriend that you don't need money to do something amazing and meaningful.

  12. I agree with Hilary: REDWALL COOKBOOK?!

    Very sweet and lovely wedding. Reminds me of my nerdy FH & myself, and all our geeky/nerdy friends. Except, with us, the nerdiness leans more towards the historical interpretation side of things. Lol.

  13. Here's the cookbook on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Redwall-Cookbook-Companion-Books/dp/0399237917 .

    All fantasy fans should have this for the awesome ideas in it and, of course, adorable pictures of mice (and other creatures) cooking. I love Redwall! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ I also love leeks, which it's tough to go a day without eating at Redwall Abbey.

    The cooking at our wedding was a combination of my grandma, my stepmom Judy, and me cooking things the night before and warming them up at their hotel room near the wedding site.

  14. By the way, guys, the dress was washable. Everything but the cape got thrown in the washing machine when I got home. πŸ™‚

  15. I love it! I have to admit, though, I was distracted from the lovely costumes by the sword! I kept squinting at the grip the groom was using, trying to figure out what school it was from…*ahem* so I'm a huge geek too. Everything about the wedding seems incredible!

    I especially like the obligatory ring photo, they're gorgeous and I loved the tags πŸ™‚

  16. Your wedding sounds like so much fun! I'm having a medieval / Renaissance / fantasy fusion wedding so I love hearing about other people going on this path! Also I'm a fellow Redwall fan! Kudos to your amazing work!

  17. Ditto on Redwall cookbook! I'm surprised at how many people know about the series, I was *obsessed* with the books as a teenager myself. What a great idea to incorporate into your wedding! I can't believe you pulled this off for $500–amazing. Congratulations!

  18. I know it's been said already, but REDWALL COOKBOOK?!?!?! Fantastic!!! And here I thought I was the only one who even remembered the series!
    You're dress, btw, is also AMAZING! Congrats!

  19. What a fun read! I am glad you have shared your beautiful wedding with others. It truly was a very special day for a very special couple. I was blessed to be a part of it. May your marriage continue to be especially blessed. Love and Prayers, Grandma

  20. Allie, I couldn't tell you. I'll have to ask him when I get home. If I had to guess, I'd say it's the school the Shinsengumi were taught from because of the costume he chose (he tends to do things differently depending on what costume he's in… i.e. Goemon Ishikawa from Lupin III has a different grip/style/school).

  21. What a beautiful, heartfelt wedding! And your mother-in-law looked seriously kick-ass in her costume! I'm always amazed and in awe of sewing talent – yours is my favorite hand-sewn dress ever.

  22. What a wonderful, magical wedding. I love that the bride wore her glasses – she looks so cute!

    I have achromotopsia and I would have had to wear my DARK red glasses at our wedding, but we planned it in the evening, when my eyesight is best. Let's please have more wonderful short-sighted and vision-impaired brides and grooms!

  23. YAY! Geek wedding! I have to say, the whole thing looks absolutely lovely! All for under $500 as well?
    My own sister winced when I told her I wanted the theme from Firefly when I walk up the aisle. She doesn't even though I want to wear a celery on my lapel and a pair of blue glittery converse trainers (Doctor Who)!

  24. Great looking wedding, I can tell how much thought you put into your wedding. πŸ˜€
    So well put together.

    And now my geek:
    I am proud to say that knew about the Redwall cookbook before reading about your wedding. In fact, I meet Brian Jacques once in high school.

  25. OMG! I've been to that park for two Ren Faires! =D My sister lives nearby and we'll take the kids and everyone and make a weekend of it.

  26. You wedding looked lovely and personal to you.. the most important parts!

    For those interested in Redwall foods–

    Brian Jacques put out a cook book/children's book with recipies for everything from moles "deeper'n'ever" pie to "Strawberry fizz" The Squirrel bakes are delicious! I believe you can find it at Amazon, and it is well worth the money for it πŸ™‚

  27. I am engaged and while looking for sci fi wedding favors I came across your blog. This is great! The dress was beautiful and I like the fact that it was off the beaten path. My fiance' and I are huge sci fi fans so we are planning on doing the wedding and reception at the planetarium. Any advice to make it more sci fi yet enjoyable for my guests?

  28. I am a former cast member for the Greater St. Louis Renaissance Faire, and I must say it's always heart-warming to see our fairgrounds used for weddings. We've had several! Many couples even get married during the faire day. One couple was wed in the faerie forest, and the bride walked up to her groom by a path lined by singing faeries and elves!

    Your wedding was beautiful! It's so wonderful that you made all of those outfits! I'm a skilled sewer, and I'm squeamish at the thought of sewing just my own dress!

    Congratulations! I wish you all the best!

  29. Hi Traci!

    I love the idea of the planetarium for a wedding. Married under the stars in the geekiest way possible!

    Well, yours probably isn't costume-related, but I would do everything very night-related. I mean, you COULD go full-out Star Wars or Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica or whatever you want, or you could reign it in to mostly being about the mystique of the night sky and the possibilities of space exploration.

    If it were me planning this for a friend, I would go with a kitschy sci-fi theme and take decorations from the Soviet/US space race era. That could extend all the way to the original Star Trek in the 60s. There are cool outfit ideas in so many 60s movies. I think I'm about to run out of room for comments, but those are my ideas off the top of my head.

  30. My fiance and I are big geeks as well and this wedding just blew me away! You look beautiful! (And it makes me feel better about wearing my glasses for my upcoming wedding.)

    I love how you incorporated so many different things into it! And you make such an adorable couple! This is giving me so much inspiration!

    Congratulations!

  31. Wow what a cool wedding! I just came across this website and found your wedding, funny thing is my wedding date is July 19,2009 the same day as yours! and its not a tradtional wedding it is a Hawaiian/costumed themed wedding! I have a question to the bride ( if she gets this question? ) How long did it take you to make the costumes and your wedding gown? and werent you hot on that day? thanks and congrats to all of you!

  32. Hi Cynzilee (I don't know if you check these).

    It took me about a year to do all of the costumes. I worked on them in between running a convention, finishing film school, and making other costumes (namely the Poison Ivy and Riddler costumes we wore to the "bachelor party" a.k.a. going to see The Dark Knight at midnight). I probably could have done them in a month or two otherwise.

    It was amazingly hot. One of the hottest days of the year. I changed for the reception because I knew I could only stand a crinoline and corset so long.

  33. WOWEEE WOW WOW! Too cool. Honestly I'm impressed. You had MY dream wedding. πŸ™‚ I could never pull it off though. Our renfest charges up the wazoo to have a wedding there. And you have to buy THEIR food. (18 dollars per gallon of fruit punch for example).
    I love the dress and the fact that it looks like most of the guests dressed up in their own geeky fashion. From ren to star wars to star trek and beyond! Fantastic.
    LEMBAS bread! awesome.
    BTW, whoever had the idea in their comment about walking down to the Firefly theme great idea, I might steal it!

    Congrats! Hope the marriage is going as geeky as the wedding!

  34. I absolutely love your wedding! You did your wedding the way I would have if I had had anything close to that level of skill in sewing. We are trying to do something similar for our wedding, with a combination of Japanese and medieval elements with the odd bit of video games thrown in such as the FF8 ballroom dance scene as our first dance. You guys are an inspiration. I love it.

  35. your wedding is so inspiring to me. I am a DIY bride as well and I am so afraid my wedding is seeming to geeky. And like you I am making everything on my own. I live in NJ so unfortunately we have to worry about the weather. We are doing a full on LOTR theme. I am making the banners of Gondor in which Arwen held at the end of ROTK. We have a beautiful statuette that my soon to be mother in law gave us for our anniversary 2 years ago that is Arwen handing Aragorn the Evenstar (this will be our cake topper.) I am wearing the Evenstar- Arwen's crown and her cloak/cape. However I am making the cloak- and have had the crown and Evenstar for years. Actually my fiance gave them both to me as my "actual proposal" He said that the Evenstar is more meaningful than any ring and it truly is. As my grooms gift to him I am getting him the sword of Aragorn the Anduril. I am naming all the tables after all the places visited except Mordor. I am using the white tree of Gondor for my placecards- I am making a giant white tree (the symbol) and adding a few extra leaves- the leaves are going to be the placecards!!! The food and drinks are all going to be named after different foods and drink mentioned throughout Tolkien's books. Needless to say I have done all of my invitations by hand in elvish fonts and translated. I am trying to gear my wedding ceremony to be like Rivendell and the reception held in Gondor. I will also be putting up maps of Beleriand, Middle-Earth, Numenor, and Bilbo'd Hobbit map that I have made.That's all I have come up with so far. It is just so much fun. I am debating on making my cake like Bilbo's birthday cake- Its a little larger than I need- LOL

    • That sounds gorgeous, Carla Star! I love it! Originally, that's what I wanted to do, but then my husband and I decided to mix things up. I still did my dress and one of the readings I wanted plus my sister singing "Aniron".

      Oh, and OBB editors, if you're reading this, you probably should add the "nerd wedding" and "geek wedding" tags to this post because I was looking at other geek weddings and noticed this one didn't come up.

      • Tags added Katrina. Thanks for the heads up! I didn't originally add them because I wait for brides to self-identify themselves as such. Just because I take someone calling me a nerd with pride doesn't mean that others do. But reading over it I see that you DID mention that it was a geek wedding. Therefor, my bad. πŸ˜‰

        • Thanks! No problem at all. I go back and forth between liking the labels and not, especially when I see certain celebrities use them. πŸ™‚
          But I guess if anyone is a geek, I am. I run and attend conventions like crazy plus do the horribly geeky thing of dressing up as my favorite characters.

  36. Hey! I know this is several years later, but I wanted ask about your reception! Did the fair let you have the reception in their grounds? Where? My SO and I are Les Amis avec the STL fair, and while we're getting married in Florida, we're still planning the reception here, and we wondered if the fair allows it. Thanks!

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