His offbeat partner: Amanda, biology student
Location & date of wedding: Tellus Science Museum, Cartersville, GA — May 15, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: My partner and I aren't at all religious, but both work in scientific fields and spend most of our free time hiking and rock-climbing. Add in that we're both hopeless geeks, and a science museum is the obvious place to get hitched.
I wrote a ceremony centered around science and the interconnectedness of nature, and for good measure, snuck in a few subtle sci-fi references to boot. We chose to weave that “green wedding” theme through all our choices — purchasing rings made of meteorite, giving tree seedlings and handmade soaps as favors, and using recycled, recyclable, and local materials for nearly everything. It also fit nicely that green is Amanda's favorite color and the main color in my family's tartan. We chose to embrace these certain elements of our heritage while stripping out all the “giving away” of brides and “honor and obey” language that squick us out when we think of equal partnerships.
Our evening tried to share the reverence and wow-factor we feel toward our universe, from the smallest seeds to the far-flung corners of our galaxy, and as our recessional music played (the “medal ceremony” fanfare from Star Wars: A New Hope), we looked at one another with the joyful knowledge that we didn't compromise a thing.
Tell us about the ceremony: I wrote a preamble about how we think love works in the brain, and how these feelings help us to bond as lovers and families. This tied into the theme of how everything in nature is interconnected, even the fossils there with us. Since I wanted people to geek out as much as myself, I also included a second section about meteorites, the roles they played for early tribes, and how our rings were crafted from that same stone. We included two native american wedding blessings (one repeated by the audience), slyly appended with Battlestar Galactica's tagline “So Say We All!”
Our biggest challenge: There are not many secular officiants in the deep South, and fewer still who aren't booked for your day. We had two backups in case we couldn't find a good match, and thankfully we didn't need either. This was good for us, and life-saving for our parents, as one was a friend and the other was the president of American Atheists.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Amanda doesn't even conform to the useful-for-weddings female stereotypes like knowing about fashion or enjoying dressing up formally, so she procrastinated on the dress shopping until far too late. We got exceptionally lucky in finding a seamstress in our neighborhood that did bridesmaid dresses, and I was forced to grab a fistful of dresses off the rack and ask, “Can we get this dress in that length in this color, with that lace?” As the pictures show, she did a wonderful job on something that was precisely what we wanted, for far cheaper than any bridal store's offerings.
My favorite moment: Probably the vows. We tasked ourselves with writing deeply meaningful but entertaining vows, all while fitting the time constraints and theme of the ceremony, and I think we passed with flying colors.
My funniest moment: I dance a bit, but Amanda doesn't AT ALL. So I gently coaxed her into dancing not a serious dance or a sexy dance, but a silly dance: namely, the twist. She got cold feet and tried to chicken out, but as soon as she did, she was begging the DJ to play more Lady Gaga for her to dance to.
My advice for offbeat brides: If you're budget conscious, I think it's better to spend highly on one focal point than to spend moderately on everything and not have that center of attention. I would suggest that you choose one image or memory you want your guests to have, and devote a large portion of your time and budget, if necessary, to getting that single memory. In our case, we paid quite a bit for the use of the museum and went rather cheap on everything else by reusing and asking friends for help.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Ladies, trust your offbeat grooms! Also, if it seems like one of you is doing more planning work and “taking it more seriously,” realize that the effort toward that one day has nothing to do with the effort they'll be putting into your future relationship. Also, consider if “serious” is even something worth going after!
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!