Renée Marie & Justin's tiny masquerade wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
 
Photos by: Daniela Brown Photography
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Photos by Daniela Brown Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Renée Marie, Esthetician and Freelance Makeup Artist

Her offbeat partner: Justin, Freelance Photographer and Graphic Artist

Date and location of wedding: A friends' former farm and surrounding land, Augusta, GA — November 12, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our wedding concept was originally an all-out masquerade ball in the country with friends and family munching on homemade gluten-free goodies, drinking delicious libations, and enjoying large amounts of dancing. But it turned out to be just the two of us, our friend Emily, and our photographer. Oh, and two dozen gluten-free cupcakes from a local bakery. It wasn't our first choice, but it was the right choice.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
As a couple, we are very open-minded and more than willing to envelop ourselves in culture and new experiences. We chose a date that signified a moment in time that was rare and unique (and that we would never forget): 11/12/13.

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Justin created his Wolf Mask from found and organic materials, and I created my mask from remnants of his mother's wedding gown and hand-strung beadwork. Our masks were Justin's concept, the henna was a nod to my respect and admiration of Indian tradition, and the rings I wore during the ceremony were passed down generations through both of our families. The candle lighting was a symbol of keeping our personal fires lit while we made the journey together, which allowed us to give life to a larger flame.

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Our biggest challenge:
We had planned for a modest but robust guest list: roughly 30-40 guests of our closest friends and family. But sometimes life throws unexpected sadness at you and we needed to make a dramatic change. Justin is his mother's only son. She was his life and a major focus in nearly everything she did. I had a hard time earning a place at this side in her eyes. She and I worked at it every day to grow closer together so that I could consider her my mother and be worthy of her son as my soul mate. As a result, our relationships grew strong and we came to rely on one another in many aspects of each others' lives.

So it hit hard when she unexpectedly passed away mere months (to the day) prior to our wedding. We had considered not having the wedding at all in any form. We had just started creating the costume and masks for everyone, which was then put on hold. We mourned. We took time away. We stopped planning. We almost didn't do it simply because we almost ran out of time. But she was the unseen force pushing us along and we adjusted our plans to allow for a new chapter to begin.

We notified those who had been invited that the situation had changed and that we were going to hold the ceremony with just the two of us, and that invitations to the masquerade reception (to be held in our home during the Spring of 2014) would be sent at a later date.

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My favorite moment:
Susan, my mother-in-law, had allowed me the honor of altering her wedding gown to suit my needs for this wedding. This was a tremendous gesture. The dress meant the world to her and I was deeply affected by her generosity.

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My funniest moment:
During the reception, everyone arrived at a steady pace throughout the night in masks and formal attire. I was so pleased that everyone took the time to coordinate outfits and really find unique masks. My aunt surprised me the most: she is a teacher and adores comfort and no-frills attire, so when she showed up in a sparkly blouse and purple wig, I was ecstatic! It was great seeing everyones' reactions to the characters and style others had chosen.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Life is what we do for a living. Don't let work, loss, sadness, stress, money, other people, or anything else get in the way of happiness. The marriage doesn't start (or end) when the wedding does.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Well great. This made me bawl like a baby in the middle of the work day. Everything about this is beautiful. Your description of your relationship with your mother in law and how it developed sent me over the edge. Congratulations.

  2. I LOVE your wedding, I LOVE your style. So I have to ask, do you have a wedding band? I have almost the exact same engagement ring (mine is a family heirloom as well!) and I have yet to see another offbeat bride with such a simple ring. I've been looking everywhere for a band to spice it up a little. I would love to see yours if you have one. And congratulations, you two and your celebration are beautiful!

    • Hello there ^.^ The simple ring you are referring to is actually both – he proposed with it and it is the ring I wear as my wedding band. It's simple and holds so much value to us in many ways, besides that, I work with my hands pretty often sooooo, sadly, I don't get to wear rings except for special occasions. Sorry I'm not of much help for you there, but I'm happy to hear that heirlooms are continuing to pass into happy hands 🙂

  3. THAT HAIR.

    I *love* white hair. Love it so much. The main character in my first book has white hair, mostly because I just love it so much. That hair is glorious and it lends this otherworldly elegance to your style.

    *dies happy*

    • hello dear! Thank you, thank you! It's literally my favorite hair style and hair color EVER. I had the style in my head and couldn't find what I was looking for anywhere until I found the Ringlet Redux collection from http://www.gothiclolitawigs.com – it is so seriously soft and amazing. Really added that final touch that made me feel like a goddess 😀

  4. "Life is what we do for a living. Don't let work, loss, sadness, stress, money, other people, or anything else get in the way of happiness. The marriage doesn't start (or end) when the wedding does."
    PREACH. This is beautiful – all of it.

  5. I was oohing and ahhing over your hair, your dress, your headpiece… and then got to the story behind all of it. Just, wow. I love all the stories I read on OBB, but this one really got to me emotionally.

  6. "A marriage doesn't start or end when the wedding does."
    That was so insightful to me, thanks for sharing your gorgeous events!

  7. Oh I NEEDED to read this. Having also recently dealt with an unexpected death (the best man to-be), as well as my own pretty serious injuries from the same accident, I can totally sympathize with having to take a step back from it all. It's only been two months, so we haven't quite figured it out, but this is lovely inspiration. Beautiful wedding; one of my favorites I've seen on OBB I think. Best Wishes.

  8. Beautiful day and pictures!!! A lesson in take it as it comes and let go what you need to. Many blessings to you!

    ( and can I ask how long before your big day you had your henna done? gorgeous!!
    )

    <3

  9. This story had me feeling so overwhelmed. I can't express how I feel about those photos too! They're just perfect, you guys definitely seemed to have picked the right…everything. I'm so in love with the love shared in these photos.
    Can.not.handle.
    Just beautiful you two, I wish you both nothing but happiness <3

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