The Offbeat Bride: Bryan, Assistant Director of Development at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
Her offbeat partner: Chris
Date and location of wedding: Stan Mullins Art Studio in Athens, Georgia — June 4, 2016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Chris and I both grew up in Athens, Georgia, a small, bohemian college town known for producing creatives and dreamers. We knew we wanted our wedding to have a whimsical, fun feel and pay homage to the community of weirdos that supported us growing up. The bakery that made our wedding cake made my first birthday cake as a baby. Our friend created art for our reception. We used local everything.
My grandfather, a local poet, officiated. The whole day was a love letter to Athens (and each other!). One of Chris’s only strong requests throughout the entire planning process was that we have a bouncy house — it was a dream to jump in it in my wedding dress. We had breakfast-for-dinner (our favorite meal) complete with Bloody Marys and Mimosas.
Halloween is my favorite holiday by far, so I knew costumes had to be a big part of our day — I called it a Halloween-in-June dance party. Our guests loved wearing hats and wigs as they partied on the dance floor. I think I wore five different hats throughout the night.
We got our wedding party handkerchiefs that said “keep your shit together.” I got my bridesmaids unicorn slippers, and we incorporated them into our wedding party portraits. We have put 100,000 miles on our Honda Element since we’ve been together, so our cake topper was our car.
Our wedding hashtag was #MillerBryLife, so we entered our reception by busting through a banner that said “The Champagne of Marriages” to the song “Space Jam.”
Tell us about the ceremony:
The garden we used had a koi pond in the middle, a grassy lawn, amphitheater seating, and we had people sitting and standing on all sides of us as we exchanged vows. We were literally surrounded by our friends and family. Our families walked down the aisle to “Drive” by The Well Pennies, performed by my aunts and uncle. The song reminded us of all the road trips we’ve taken.
My cousin played saxophone as guests walked in. My bridesmaids and I walked down the aisle as one of my best friends from high school sang “At My Most Beautiful” by R.E.M., our favorite band from our hometown.
I wanted both of my parents to walk me down the aisle, and my step-parents walked down together. It was a nice way to demonstrate the unity we feel as a blended family. My grandfather, Coleman Barks, officiated the ceremony and read one of his Rumi poems, “A Moment of Happiness,” which he altered slightly for us.
We wrote our own vows, and we hadn't read them to each other before the ceremony, so we ended up in tears. My grandfather was so moved by our vows he totally forgot to tell us to exchange rings! As we were walking back down the aisle we realized we had forgotten them. We snuck away before we entered our reception and exchanged rings privately. It was so intimate. I highly recommend forgetting them.
Tell us about your reception:
We had our reception in a big art studio that used to be an old cotton mill. It had the perfect funky Athens-y vibe we were going for. Dancing is my favorite thing to do, and Chris often says I taught him to love dancing, so we wanted to throw an amazing dance party with lots of personal touches. For example, one of our most talented high school friends drew and painted 15 watercolors of important places throughout our relationship: our high school, the movie theater where we had our first date, my grandfather’s cabin where we spent many fun weekends wading in a creek, etc.
We will always remember our last dance. We are huge Prince fans (R.I.P.), so “Purple Rain” had to be the last song of the night. We passed around purple glow sticks and turned off the lights so everyone could sway and dance in a sea of glowing purple. Then my little brother and sister started spontaneously throwing the glows ticks up in the air. Soon, all of our guests were belting out the lyrics while throwing hundreds of purple glow sticks in the air — it was actual purple rain!
What was your most important lesson learned?
Both of our parents are divorced, and it was so incredibly moving how all of them came together to support us and surround us with love from the day we got engaged. Chris's parents worked together to help us plan. My mom and stepmom both took me dress shopping. My mom and dad — divorced more than 15 years ago — walked me down the aisle and danced together at the reception. My step-parents walked down the aisle together.
Chris's sisters and all of my siblings from both sides stood beside us. It was an incredible feeling — all these people who love us coming together to support us in our marriage. It was a lesson in community and the endless love that is always with us despite our non-traditional, blended families.