Joriel & Ben's equinox commitment ceremony

March 12 2007 | arielmstallings

The offbeat bride: Joriel Foltz, writer (and Offbeat Bride lab rat!)

My offbeat groom: Ben Haley, photographer

Location & date of wedding: March 20, 2005, Plant Zero Art Center, Richmond, VA

What made our wedding offbeat: Technically, we didn't have a wedding. For various reasons we decided not to get legally married. But that didn't stop us from having a blow-out celebration of our decision to spend the rest of our lives together.

We designed our entire ceremony from scratch, turned an industrial-chic event space into a magical wonderland, and served a homemade vegan buffet that satisfied all but the most maniacal carnivores.

Ben & Joriel's ceremonyOur biggest challenge: Most of the challenges (working out complex logistics and selecting the space, clothes, food, etc.) were actually pretty fun for an obsessive personality like me. It did take some effort to get all our friends and family on board with the whole not-technically-a-wedding thing, but we felt good about making people think. And we escaped a lot of traditional wedding expectations by starting off with a non-traditional premise.

equinox ceremonyOn the actual day, the only disappointment was that things wrapped up a lot earlier than we'd expected. We were determined to hold the ceremony on the spring equinox, which happened to be a Sunday. We were ready to dance into the night, but folks had to work in the morning so they started drifting off around 9:30. If we could do it over, we'd push the whole schedule up so that the band could play longer.

VowsMy favorite moment: No doubt about it, saying our vows to each other was the high point of the evening and, in many ways, the high point of our lives thus far. We printed the words in the program, so we didn't have to worry about speaking up for everyone to hear, and there was no officiant, so we were speaking directly to each other. It was powerful and weepy and unforgettable.

At the end when we kissed, the crowd went wild, encouraged by the note in the program that said, "Please feel free to whoop and holler if you are so moved." Many people told us that it was the best wedding they'd ever been to, and one dear friend was even inspired to propose to his long-time love that very night.

My offbeat advice: Share the load. It's true that somebody has to keep everything organized, but you don't have to do all the actual work yourself. The people who care about you want to help.

Share the load. It's true that somebody has to keep everything organized, but you don't have to do all the actual work yourself. The people who care about you want to help.

For us, the key was having a very clear vision of what we wanted *before* we got people involved. We were able to articulate that and delegate tasks according to people's talents. Everybody got excited because it was an opportunity to be a part of something really special and unique. From assembling and mailing the invitations (we combined that boring task with a menu-tasting) to cooking the food and decorating the space, almost every part of the event was a communal effort. It was a lot of fun, and I think it got people more invested in supporting us, both on the big day and as a couple going forward.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Who says you have to get married to have a wedding? Check out the proof on Ben & Joriel's website, and my favorite photoset of shots from their ceremony.

Tell me all about your offbeat wedding!

  1. Hi there! I just came across the idea of getting married at Plant Zero and wanted to know your thoughts about the venue. We want to have about 100 people at the wedding and we were wondering if you thought that the space would be too big and not intimate enough? Any info would be appreciated!

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