Rosemary & Christopher's hippie pagan eco diy celebration of love

Updated Oct 17 2019

c-r-fullThe offbeat bride: Rosemary, graduate student

Her offbeat partner: Christopher, graduate student

Location & date of wedding: June 21, 2008 in a friend's wild back yard and forest, near Montreal, QC

What made our wedding offbeat: We made up our own ceremony to be exactly what we wanted it to be, which meant throwing out most traditional elements. Being part of a Pagan community, this wasn't so surprising to our friends, but what may have surprised them was that we threw out most of the Pagan handfasting traditions as well, since they didn't really speak to us either.

IMG_8288Most importantly, however, we wanted the ceremony to be participatory. Our 50-or-so guests were in a circle around us, and we had songs that everyone sang (including one to which we walked into the circle, accompanied by both of our parents). We enlisted several friends and family members to help with various parts of the ceremony, and let them decide how they were going to do it. This took pressure off of us, because we weren't trying to micro-manage the whole thing, but rather we were allowed to be surprised and to enjoy the ceremony as it was unfolding around us.

The most important thing to us was that we take advantage of our communities and use resources that were already available, rather than paying strangers to do things for us and producing unnecessary waste.

Our invitations were in the form of a website, and we sent email updates to the guests when we needed to give them more information about anything. We got married on a friend's land, in a ceremony officiated by another friend; one of my best friends took the pictures (and we encouraged others to bring cameras as well); my multi-layered dress was made by the good friend of our landlady and neighbour, who is an amazing clothing designer. We made all of the food ourselves the day before (with the help of our families of course!), and we made the–sparse–decorations and fixed up the location.

The only thing that we really ended up paying a stranger for was the school bus that we rented to get everyone to the site, since it was about an hour's drive from Montreal and we wanted to reduce the number of cars on the road and make it accessible for our friends who don't have cars, as well as for our family members who had flown in and would have had to rent cars otherwise.

For our post-ceremony feast we had a vegan barbecue, with marinated tofu and tempeh, portobello mushrooms, lots of grilled vegetables, and a smattering of various salads and side dishes. The majority of the food we used was recovered, that is, food that was saved from being thrown out because it wasn't pretty enough to be on display at the supermarkets. Not only did this mean we were reducing waste, but it was all free. We also made all of our own beer and wine, which was an amazingly fun process and saved us a whole lot of money. The feast was followed by a bardic event around a bonfire, at which stories were told and music was played.

Neither of us felt like we wanted wedding rings, because of their history and symbolism, but also because we don't like wearing rings all the time. So instead, we made bracelets for each other that symbolize the various facets of our relationship, and exchanged these in the ceremony. I also surprised my partner by serenading him with a song that I had written, which brought in another element that is important to us, polyamory, which we have practiced for most of our relationship, and which we will continue to practice. The song was about blessing other people who have and who will come into his life, and about thanking them for contributing to him being the person he is.

Since we've already been living together for a while, and have a household full of the things we need, we didn't register for gifts and asked that no one give us traditional wedding gifts either. We recommended various organizations, such as Oxfam, to which you can make a donation for a specific cause in someone else's name as a gift to them. We received several of these, and I hope they made an impact in the communities for which they were intended. We also had asked that everyone coming to the wedding bring us a bead of some sort that had some significance to them or was symbolic of something that they wished to bestow upon us. We received some beautiful beads and some fascinating and touching stories!

So, to sum it up: community, low ecological impact, saving the world, making music, and having fun!

Our biggest challenge: I think our biggest challenge was also our biggest help: having our families around in the week before the wedding. They did so much to help us out, but it was really exhausting having to constantly think about delegating tasks, which meant actually thinking about what still needed to be done. One morning, two days before the wedding, my partner and I just stayed in bed all morning, hiding out while our parents kept trying to call us from their B&B to ask what we wanted them to do. I felt a bit guilty, but having a few extra hours of private, lazy together-time gave me the energy boost I needed to get through the next few days!

My favorite moment: This is a hard one, as there are so many! But one thing that was so wonderful to see was the way our families bonded over all the preparation work they were doing. Although he had spent time with my family and I with his, our parents and siblings had never met each other before they got off the plane 5 days before the wedding. And we certainly put them to work, running errands, cooking, helping with the set-up of the site. The day after the wedding I overheard them making plans to visit each other! And considering that my family lives in Oregon and his in France, that's quite a serious commitment!

Another really wonderful thing was that so many people told us how interesting, meaningful and authentic our wedding was; that really validated all of the hard work we had put into making it that way!

My offbeat advice: Don't just do what you want. Work together as much as you can to come up with what is the most meaningful and authentic thing you could do. Enlist the help of your community, whether that's a religious group of some kind, co-workers or colleagues, your family, neighbours, or a few friends. Chances are they will be happy to help as much as they can.

Honeymooning is one tradition I wish we hadn't thrown out!

I would also recommend going on a honeymoon. We didn't, for two reasons: we had some friends from out of town who stayed around for the week after the wedding, and we're both trying to finish up our degrees in the next few months and couldn't afford the time off. However, seeing as we were utterly exhausted for about two weeks after the wedding, I really really wished we'd been able to go away, far from everyone we knew, and just have time to be together and to explore what getting married meant to our relationship. We'll probably take a trip later in the year, but it still won't be the same. Honeymooning is one tradition I wish we hadn't thrown out!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: To see tons more photos, click the image below:

  1. I love love LOVE this wedding, especially the inclusion of polyamory, and the ditching of the rings in lieu of bracelets. And that dress! *swoon*

  2. freecycling the post-ceremony feast is pretty damn impressive: it can be tricky to find a good assortment of things to feed just a few people that way (most of the freecyclers i've heard of potluck for that reason), much less a whole bunch of people! very cool.

  3. Oh, love love your ceremony. I loved your bead gathering idea. Its very personal and beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  4. OH, how nice! We're doing many of the same things (no gifts, wild foods, homemade dress). Congratulations-
    your wedding was AWESOME.
    you can always do a honeymoon later, btw.

    • I know that this comment is being left a few years after the fact, but I figure it is worth leaving anyways.

      I help organize a group where I live who does food recovery for the Food Not Bombs movement so I have experience with exactly this.

      To be certain that we are recovering safe foods, we set up arrangements with the local shop owners beforehand and come to an agreement with them on what we can take. (As an extra precaution however, we do not recover meats.)

      Definitely worth it to discuss this with some of the local shop owners and see how they feel about it. If they do reject you at first, ask them why and try to come up with solutions for their concerns if possible.

      I am not sure of your location, but for both the U.S. and Canada there are legal documents (Called the Food Donations Act) that you can offer any potential business owners which removes any liability from them for any donated foods that you may receive.

      That is the thing that most business owners are concerned about when it comes to sharing their leftover foods. If you take out the liability, most are very happy to help.

      Happy recovering!

  5. That is so refreshing! I love how the couple made the ceremony fit their true beliefs and threw customs out the window. I particularly love how they made each other symbolic bracelets instead of exchanging rings.

  6. Wow! What great wedding, and so authentic! I like the inclusion of who the couple really is and totally support the polyamroy piece. Even down to knowing they won't wear rings and made bracelets is fantastic! And a solstice wedding as well!

  7. Thanks for all the awesome comments!

    Drgnsyr, we got food through an organization here in Montreal called Zero Food Waste, which has agreements with local grocery stores to pick up the produce that would normally go in the dumpster. There may be similar organizations wherever you are, but you'd have to look. Or start your own! Or even just go talk to a few stores near you and ask them if you can pick up their food before it gets thrown out. Or just go dumpstering yourself… there are lots of ways to reduce food waste!

  8. Rosmary and Drgnsyr,

    I am so impressed that you used all recovered food for your wedding reception – it is an idea I fully support. I have one concern about your comments on how to reduce food waste. I work some with the homeless in the greater Puget Sound area – I know that some locations now spray their dumpsters with chemicals to make the food inedible and discourage homeless from being near their business. Be sure you "know" the dumpsters you are retreiving food from. Also if it is an area with homeless that dumpster may be a major source of their diet – try not to "poach" from others using dumpsters as a primary food resource.


  9. I like your alternative to a gift registry, that's really what I want to do, since my partner and I have been together for so long. It's great to be able to share your joy by helping those less fortunate, what a great way to celebrate your love 🙂

  10. I am really inspired by this wedding. My fiance'/partner and i beleive we are "neo-soul hippies" and i really want our wedding to reflect that. We are a same gender loving couple and do not feel stifled by the legal issue around us being married. I do not see us being in a polyamorous relationship and we are not vegans, but i DO wish to have vegetarain foods and LOVE the saved resources and money and focus on including those that love us and will support us and encourage us to love one another. I want natural elements and i would LOVE an honored elder to marry us/officiate over us, preferably a woman with a beautiful spirit, loving heart, and beautiful energy. I LOVE the colors of your dress! We want our wedding to be olive green and red! I am a heavy woman and i want the dress to be flowy so i know im going to have to get it made. I like to dance and i would love LIVE music and a mix of music, not just hip hop and r&b. We love so many people and i want to feel like we are committing publically but also that people are not just spectators but coming to celebrate with us and lift us up. We are very spiritual beings and i just saw so much in your pictures and preperation that speaks to the essence of who yall are and that is what i hope my partner and i can create. Again i am inspired. SO glad i ran across this! I googled "hippie weddings" LOL love and light to you both always. And i will take heed to taking that honey moon! 🙂

    • Try for beautiful, flowy dresses in sizes up to 5x. I have several pieces from them. They are gorgeous and fit even very heavy women. (I am a 5x ). Very good prices too.

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