The Offbeat Bride: Julie, Executive Administrator (and Offbeat Bride Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Marc, Wildland Firefighter
Date and location of wedding: Le Carlton Centre d'Événements, Montreal, Quebec — October 26, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We decided early on that we wanted a formal Jewish ceremony and a more relaxed, fun reception.
Some of our offbeat decisions weren’t actually that controversial, like my decision to have bridesmen and a man of honor instead of female attendants. All my best friends are guys, so it just made sense to have them standing next to me. I did have a stealth behind-the-scenes bridesmaid to help me get dressed and keep me company in the bridal room, but she wasn’t part of the formal wedding party.
Because our flower girl and ring bearer were very young — just under two years old — we chose to replace the traditional flower petals and ring pillow with bride-and-groom teddy bears. These proved very popular and got a lot of time on the dance floor during the reception. Someone even thoughtfully safety-pinned a red rose petal to the groom bear’s head so he’d have a miniature kippah!
We stole two ideas directly from Offbeat Bride: rolling a D20 to make us kiss instead of clinking glasses and having “quests” for our guests to complete over the course of the evening. Our “quest sheet” involved everything from dancing in the hora to thanking the wait staff to congratulating my grandmother. We had people posting their quest results to Facebook all night, which was great to see when we got home.
We tried to keep things upbeat through the reception. So instead of a slow dancing our first dance, we played “When I’m Up” by Great Big Sea, which has about 30 seconds of slow dancing and then turns into a fast-paced reel. We invited all our guests to come join us on the dance floor, and it was wonderful being surrounded by all that bouncy energy.
My dad and I secretly choreographed our father/daughter dance, which was a ton of fun, even if we were competing for people’s attention with the dessert table.
Speaking of the dessert table, ours was stupendous. Marc’s mom and her friends baked like madwomen to provide us thirty different desserts, including a “marriage grimoire” in cake form. The pièce de résistance was a tiered stand of 200 cupcakes baked by Marc’s mom, with adorable red dragon cake toppers to tie the whole thing together.
Tell us about the ceremony:
About an hour before the start time on the invitation, we had a semi-private “ketubah signing ceremony” in which we signed both the legal and the religious wedding paperwork. Our ketubah was a paper-cut piece of art gifted to us by my stealth bridesmaid. The “chuppah ceremony” was the public one in front of all our guests. We are both Jewish, and while we didn’t get married in a synagogue, the rabbi ensured that everything was done according to Jewish law. It was important to us to incorporate the elements of a traditional wedding, such as circling the groom seven times, blessings over the wine, an exchange of rings, and the sheva brachot (seven blessings).
The rabbi had encouraged us to personalize our wedding by adding a few extra elements that were uniquely about us. The first thing we did was have Marc’s brother give a short welcome speech. He talked about us as a couple and how we’d come together in our eight-year relationship to get married. He threw in just enough subtle gamer references to let our personalities shine through without alienating any of our non-geeky guests.
The other element we added was a personal prayer, in which Marc wrapped me in his tallit (prayer shawl) and we were able to spend a few moments exchanging some words that held significance to us. This isn’t usually done at Jewish weddings, but I’d seen it at a vow renewal and wanted to incorporate it into our ceremony.
Our biggest challenge:
There were two main challenges for us. First, we had to plan a wedding in six months while the groom was 3,000 kilometers away. While we’d known for a while we were planning a fall wedding, the actual proposal came in mid-May, five days before Marc left for the fire season in Wyoming. He only returned three weeks before the wedding. We were already late on a lot of things from day one, like finding a venue and ordering a dress. In the end, we relied a lot on both our moms and on our man of honor to help us throughout the planning process.
Our second main challenge was trying to arrange for an evening sit-down dinner wedding for 185 people on our budget. The issues were exacerbated because we wanted to have the ceremony and the reception in the same location. I knew from the beginning that I would rather have a less-fancy wedding for more people than a fancier wedding for fewer. While an admirable goal, this led to a desperate few weeks where it seemed like we would never find a venue in our budget. Thanks to copious networking and persistent ground pounding, we ultimately found a beautiful hall with delicious food whose owner was willing to work within our constraints. We even got a last-minute upgrade to a bigger room, which was an unexpected but delightful surprise.
My funniest moment:
War was declared and we were offered tribute to adjudicate. See, we had named all our tables after fantasy locations. For the family tables, we chose more recognizable places like Narnia, Neverland, and Oz. The friends’ tables got more obscure locales like Minas Tirith and Earthsea. We had two neighboring tables of friends sitting at Florin and Guilder, which are the two named countries in The Princess Bride. Suffice it to say, our friends did not disappoint.
Early in the evening, Florin stole Guilder's wine. Guilder retaliated by stealing all of Florin's silverware, much to the consternation of the wait staff. Shenanigans continued for most of the evening. Sometime around the main course, representatives of Guilder approached the front of the room where we were sitting. They held a basket, inside of which was a package beautifully wrapped in linen and decorated with flowers and rose petals. It turned out Guilder had come to present the newlyweds with a gift of “silver,” i.e. all the forks they had stolen from Florin. Florin intervened, but they weren’t quite ready to give up their wine, mostly because they already drank it.
We declared that further shenanigans would amuse us, so the war continued late into the night. Hostilities were finally settled when most of Florin’s representatives had been bribed, blackmailed, or coerced into joining Guilder. Peace was declared, to be enforced by the brute squad.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Venue: Le Carlton Centre d'Événements
- DJ: XO Productions
- Photography: Sarah Goblot, Black Ink Photography
- Dress: Galleria della Sposa
- Hair: Spa Evita
- Makeup: Shmink Cosmetics
- Manicure and Pedicure: Spa Diva
- Flowers: Edgewood Florist
- Ketubah: Smiling Wolf Art
- Rings: The Silver Dragon Jewelry
- Kippahs: Kippah.com
- Cake Toppers: Natu Designs
- Geeky Tie Clips: The Little Saint
- Inflatable D20: Crystal Caste
- Bride and Groom Teddy Bears: Build-a-Bear