Lesley & Nick's laid back, vegetarian, Buddhist wedding

Updated Mar 9 2020
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Photos by Anna Christine Photography

The offbeat bride: Lesley, Gardener at Zoo

Her offbeat partner: Nick, DJ

Location & date of wedding: Great Oak Commons Park/Art Box Art Gallery in Stutz Building/Lockerbie Pub, Indianapolis, IN — September 4, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: We cut costs by skipping the favors, cake, guest book, fancy invites or programs. Instead, we had postcard invitations with an email rsvp. We DIY'd bouquets with flowers from the local farmer's market. We only spent ten dollars a piece. We made our centerpieces for the reception out of found items in nature. (Moss growing on rocks in Mason jars, allium heads, pine cones, river rocks.)

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I wore a 1950s, ivory, tea length vintage dress. Nick and I wore matching peacock shoes/saddle oxfords. I wore my grandmother's wedding ring, which she wore for almost fifty years.

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We didn't have any set bridesmaids' or groomsmen attire. Everyone wore what they wanted. We had mixed wedding parties. (Nick had a best woman and I had two best men.)

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Our ceremony was performed by our friends and we exchanged Buddhist vows. Then we had a vegetarian brunch with fresh local food. No alcohol! Later, we had beer and fun for whoever wanted to come to a dive bar that night. Also, we had fifteen flavors of cupcakes. I got henna on my hands and feet. I had to be still for twelve hours and couldn't bathe for twenty. It was well worth it.

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We planned our wedding in three months. We didn't pay any rental fees. We just showed up at the park guerilla style, had a quick ceremony and then headed off to the art gallery, which was borrowed from a friend.

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I have five friends who are DJ's, so they handled the music for the party at the bar, complete with a cheesy first dance. We only used a photographer for the ceremony and we used a high school student who is aspiring to be a professional photographer. I think she did great!

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Tell us about the ceremony: We didn't do a procession and no one gave me away. We had remarks from our friends who were the officiants about us as individuals. Then one couple and then a friend sang a song a capella. Another good friend read Nikki Giovanni's poem, Resignation. We then exchanged Buddhist wedding vows, exchanged rings, presented each other with katas and we were married!

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Our biggest challenge: The guest list. We wanted to keep it small because we were paying for it, but we also didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. We kept the wedding and brunch reception at around ninety people (vegetarian and no alcohol) and opened up the bar to anyone who wanted to come. Everyone was somehow included and there was no elbow rubbing of grandma and our drunken friends.

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My favorite moment: Realizing we were really doing it! The speeches our two friends (officiants) gave were so heartfelt and wonderful. Our friend, Bashiri Asad, sang one of my favorite Stevie Wonder songs, "You And I," and caused a few tears to be shed. Having our closest friends and family gathered around us on an unusually cool morning in a park was humbling and comforting.

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My funniest moment: Our officiant said we were not officially married until we took out our iPhones and changed our status to "married" on Facebook. Also, we were forced into doing an awkward first dance to Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at the bar that night. We don't dance together, so it was really amusing.

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My advice for offbeat brides: The internet was my friend. I found a wedding band, dress, shoes, petticoat and decorations (lanterns) for the reception, all online. Also, if it doesn't get done — it just doesn't matter. I wanted a photo booth and to do mad libs, but we ran out of time. Things went great anyway.

Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? I have, Nick has not. I had a civil ceremony and no fanfare of any sort the first time around. Coincidentally, it was telling of my marriage as a whole. This was perfect and amazing. I hope our marriage is just as joyful!

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? To calm the f' down! I spazzed more than I should have. I would fixate on something small and it wasn't worth the stress. Everything fell into place. Also, to not hold grudges just because someone doesn't want to help out with the wedding. It's all been a lesson in letting go and living in the moment.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. oh i just love this wedding. those flowers just bang right off the screen they're so joyful and colourful and happy!! you both look so relaxed and happy, i love it. and the henna? to d-i-e for!! 😀

  2. OMG, she's one of the most beautiful brides I have ever seen. I absolutely love her look; the vintage dress and bettie bangs paired with the gorgeous henna and tattoos just works so, so well. Also, all the details for the wedding itself are so creative; I especially love the farmers market bouquets!

  3. Yeah yeah! I love to see fellow Indiana brides who don't conform, since it seems so rare sometimes. I am DROOLING over that shoe combo. Lovely.

  4. Everytime I see those shoes online, my brain immediately goes "MUST BUY NOW" haha. I love 'em so much. This wedding sounds super fun in a laid back kinda way.

  5. Congratulations! This is a beautiful and lush wedding. I'm getting married on Sunday and haven't gone through a florist. I just plan on visiting the farmer's market in Saturday morning and picking out what looks pretty. And we're also using produce and leaves as our centerpieces. With so much beauty inherent in nature, there's no reason not to.

    Thank you for sharing this thought: "To calm the f' down! I spazzed more than I should have." I will do my best to remember this in these last few, heady days! Congratulations again!

  6. Thanks ladies! 🙂 It was such a wonderful day. It went by so fast. I wish I would've been more relaxed leading up to the big event because things fell into place perfectly without little fussing necessary on my part.

    • Your wedding looks beautiful!!!
      I'm hoping to do a vegan / alcohol-free reception as well, but my partner is a meat-eating beer-lover who thinks we'll be putting people off our offbeat wedding. I say it's our special day and I like to not have animals killed and that most people who know us will understand that. Did you have anyone mention anything negative about the no meat/no booze situation?

      • No one voiced any concern over the lack of meat or booze at the brunch. (If it had been lunch or dinner it may have been touchier.) We also had a party that night at a bar so people knew they would have a chance to drink later. I agree that it is nice to think of the guests and what they would like BUT I wanted the day to most accurately reflect us. (Therefore vegetarian brunch/no liquor in the morning.) 🙂 Good luck with your planning!

    • Lesley,
      I thought you looked absolutely stunning in your photos. COuld you please telll me what shade of lipstick (and the brand) you wore? Cheers

  7. 15 flavors of cupcake?! That sounds awesome!

    You know though, I think this would have to be one of the most thoughtful weddings I've heard about – no conforming, just relaxing and no pressure for those who don't want to be around alcohol or dance late into the night to go. That's the way it should be, shouldn't it?

    • Gayle, The cupcakes worked out great. People loved having a selection of flavors. Also, we didn't have to pay anyone to cut cake, pass out plates, or smash cake in each other's faces. We let people eat everything at their own pace. I wish we would've gotten photos of the food and the beautiful set up Mills provided but we were too busy having fun. 🙂 The brunch allowed us to get a nap in before heading out for the night. It was definitely a laid back wedding.

  8. How awesome! This wedding is exactly what I'm hoping to accomplish next week, right down to the guerilla-style ceremony. Best wishes to you both!

  9. This has to be one of the most beautiful couples I have ever seen. You both look SO radiant and happy and you wear vintage so well!

  10. yay! this is an awesome wedding, beautiful bride and groom! I am prejudiced, as some of the details remind me of my own wedding (specially the flowers)

  11. One of the best weddings I have ever been to.. It was just SO Lesley and Nick. Fit them perfectly. They really inspired me to do exactly what we wanted for our wedding a fee months ago, and not worry about how things "should" be. I loves me some Nick and Lesley!

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