The Offbeat Bride: April, nonprofit professional
Her offbeat partner: Chris, cartoonist and writer
Date and location of wedding: Amurica, a photo studio in Memphis, TN — July 4, 2015
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Once we discovered our venue, a local photo studio called Amurica, all the makings of a great Fourth of July Memphis wedding just fell into place. Our ultimate goal was to have an affordable wedding that we could actually enjoy. I knew that the more we clung to specific details, the more stressed out we would be as we approached the wedding date. When we visited Amurica, with its flea market decor and colorful murals, we knew we had found the perfect Memphis-style venue: laid back, fun, and more than a little weird.
It solved a lot of our decorating issues so we really didn't need to buy much or stick to a color scheme. It already had a giant American flag, an old Airstream camper-turned-photo-booth, and a million fun things to take selfies in front of. And best of all, our barbecue and beer (with paper plates and solo cups, naturally) didn't seem a bit out-of-place. My favorite elements were my dress, which was handmade by a dear friend, the beautiful dessert table my mom put together that just so happened to match the mural behind it, and everyone else's favorite: the photo booth and all of its ridiculous props.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We decided against a full processional both for ease of planning and for my fear of everyone staring at me for an awkwardly long period of time. A good friend of ours officiated and wrote his own script based on a series of excerpts from books, essays, and poems we liked. We had already been together for ten years prior to the wedding, so we wanted a ceremony that affirmed the commitments and work that we had already put into our relationship. Our vows, which I found on the internet and later discovered were from a book called Lies at the Altar, were written to be “intentional, living” vows:
To seek the truth when tempted by lies.
To stay present when I want to turn away.
To choose compassion when anger feels easier.
To embrace your needs and care about them like my own.
To give and receive comfort during hard times.
To share my heart with those you love.
To make your family people who I care about because you do.
To nurture you with honesty, joy, and passion.
To grow with you.
To be a witness to your life and invite you to be a witness to mine.
Oh, And I walked out to Queen's rendition of the Wedding March from Flash Gordon!
Tell us about your reception:
The whole wedding was really one big reception since the ceremony was so short. Our biggest hope was that everyone would have a great time, so we put a lot of non-work into making sure everything felt super casual, like a true summer cookout. We had our favorite barbecue, cupcakes, a keg of local beer, and encouraged our friends to bring wine and liquor.
Our playlist was a good mix of both of our styles and was probably the thing we spent the most “together” time on, going through songs and deciding which ones spoke to us. There were a lot of oldies pretty evenly dispersed between the decades, and we decided to put it together chronologically. This ended up creating a great flow. Someone eventually brought out fireworks even though they're illegal within the city limits (I swear I don't know the culprit!), and when the night was over we ran to our car through roman candles and clouds of smoke.
What was your most important lesson learned?
The biggest challenge for us was staying within a small budget. We knew from the beginning that we were going to have to keep it simple, which ended up working great for our sensibilities. When cash is an issue, you're really forced to figure out what is most important to you and what you can do without. We are so fortunate to have a huge family and a lot of friends who have been at our side through the ups and downs of our ten-year relationship.
Cutting our guest list down was never an option, so we worked within our budget to create a wedding that would accommodate a lot of people. My mantra was “no stress, no drama,” which ended up also meaning “no florist, no bridesmaids, no band, etc.” And that was fine because the wedding was still 100% percent “us” without those things. That would be my biggest piece of advice to other couples: plan backwards from how you want to feel on your wedding day and throw out anything that doesn't fit within that vision. The only requirements are you, your fiance, and an officiant. Everything else is optional, even if your family or the internet tells you otherwise!