Jessi & Dave's sincere celebration of fellowship and love & potluck wedding

Updated Mar 12 2021

The offbeat bride: Jessi, teacher and photographer

Her offbeat partner: Dave, Whole Foods team member and photographer

Location & date of wedding: Dave's family friend's back yard in Prairie Villiage, KS — Sept 21, 2008

What made our wedding offbeat: We're pretty unconventional, so we did it "us." My bouquet came from the farmer's market, my mom picked the flowers for the tables at the side of the highway, our centerpieces were board games, my husband wore hemp pants and a simple shirt; we didn't have attendants, a cake, toasts, bouquet toss, etc.

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As guests came into the yard, there was a shoe check because we wanted everyone barefoot. The chairs for the ceremony were set up under a huge tree in a circle so that the guests would feel intimately involved. We served everyone communion, and laughed the whole ceremony. He surprised me with my grandma's ring, instead of the custom band to match my engagement ring I was expecting.

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After the ceremony, we went up to the house for the potluck reception! All the guests brought a side dish to share, and the feast was INSANE. We had an ice cream sundae bar with a flavor we created. Guests played games and enjoyed fellowship with each other.

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My best friend was the first one in the pool (in her dress…) and a lot of people followed suit! It quickly turned into a pool party, with everyone, including me, still in their clothes (well, except my husband in gross swimtrunk!).

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When it was time to go, we left in a 1979 white Volkswagen Beetle convertible, Dave's dream car. It was a perfect day, start to finish!

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Our biggest challenge: My mom wasn't on board with the potluck idea at first, so it took me standing up for what we wanted for her to understand why it was important to us. We wanted our friends and family to feel like they were a part of what was going on, not just showing up for a show. She got on board, and so many people have told me that they loved the potluck idea and had a lot of fun putting their dishes together. And that they had a lot of fun eating!

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But really, that wasn't that big of deal. We didn't get hung up on details — we just wanted to be married! At the end of the day, we'd be husband and wife, so we didn't get bothered by things that happened in unexpected ways.

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My favorite moment: There's two moments for me…

Dave's three sisters and brother-in-law were going to play "Come and Listen" by David Crowder to start the ceremony, which I asked them to do two days before the wedding… Dave and I had our "first sighting" and were walking back toward the guest house when they were practicing on the porch. The words are so simple, but so beautiful and powerful.

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I remember walking up and standing there, holding Dave, thinking, wow, this is happening! It was probably one of the more emotional parts of the day for me, because I felt so at peace, knowing that what was happening was good and right, and knowing that we were surrounded by and supported by so many people who loved us. The images from that moment are some of my favorite, because they make me feel those same feelings all over again!

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A close second would definitely be getting in the pool — no one, not even me, was expecting it! Everyone else looked like they were having so much fun, swimming in their clothes, and I wanted to be a part of it, too! The look on Dave's face when he turned around and saw me walking down the stairs into the pool was worth it. The pictures from that were unreal, and the dress is still intact!

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My offbeat advice: Make it you — just because something is tradition doesn't mean you have to do it. Your guests are coming to celebrate you and what's happening in your lives together. Let them know who you are and who you want to be as a couple. Be willing to take risks and let your personality as a couple show. People have told me that our wedding was their favorite they've been to, because they got a sense of us. Our wedding was memorable for us and our guests because it screamed Jessi and Dave.

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Details are just things — don't stress over them and just let it happen as it happens! And a lot of money doesn't need to be spent to make the day special. Costs can be kept down and the day can still be spectacular!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?:

  • Photographers- The Parsons
  • Dress- The Gown Gallery, Kansas City, Mo
  • Ice Cream- Poppy's, Lee's Summit, Mo
  • Flowers- Drumm Farms, Independence, Mo
  • Rings (his and hers) and jewelry- Paul Dodds, Lee's Summit, Mo (THEY ARE AMAZING- did everything custom!!!)

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn:

Click the picture below to see the full gallery

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  1. Absolutely stunning photos. I don't think I've ever seen such sincere representations of love and happiness in wedding pictures. LOVE the idea of boardgames as centrepieces too!

  2. The picture of him wiping your tears is so special. It brought tears to MY eyes. Gorgeous special wedding, and the photography is magic in the way it captures your day.

  3. Wow!! This wedding reminded me so much of my wedding, except with a better photographer. How beautiful!! I don't like most weddings (they're interesting but I don't *like* them), but this one is just so amazing.

    Ditto Laura about the tears comment. I get a little teary-eyed at that one too.

  4. this is seriously one of the most beautiful weddings i've heard of… wow. and come and listen from david crowder… wow. and im totally stealing the barefoot idea. oh my goodness. beautiful. absolutely beautiful.

  5. Real and simply lovely! Wow – what a great way to start a marriage! – I hope your life together will be summarized in those four words 🙂 Congrats!

  6. Fate, we had probably 200 people, 150 chairs. People stood around the edge of the circle, which Dave loved! It was kind of like a picnic. 🙂

  7. we just did a potluck wedding in november. it started as an alternative for people who objected to our "no gifts, please" request. we relented a bit and told people if they absolutely had to bring something, they could bring something yummy for everyone to share. the response was stunningly overwhelming! we had such an outpouring of amazing stuff to eat and it was, ultimately, a wonderful show of love. if you're thinking about it, i recommend it highly.

  8. What a beautiful wedding! My husband just watched me get completely weepy viewing your Flickr feed. Just wonderful pictures that absolutely captured the magic of the day. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Fabulous! I just love that you all ended up in the pool! There's a pool at our backyard reception too, I had been trying to work out whether to tell guests to bring their swimmers just in case, now I've seen this I will!

    Also, can you tell me how many guests you had? I'm wanting mine in a circle too, but worried there will be too many. Yours look well arranged!

  10. This is what weddings should be about. Not the $7,000 dress, micro-planning and a crystal-dripped venue but simply the honest union of a couple so obviously in love and above all, so very loved by all who know them. Stunningly beautiful – Congrats 🙂

  11. That's my hometown! Prairie Village reppasent! Love everything about the wedding–you make PV look like a happening place to be 😀

  12. I love the barefoot idea, I totally want to do that! ….and I totally started crying looking at your photos. What a beautiful wedding.

  13. i've really been trying to figure out how to set up the chairs so that it isn't "his" and "her" side, i love love love this idea of the circe. this is exactly how i envision my wedding, sad that no one else can come to terms with a wedding just being about the the love and not about the show. beautiful!

  14. how did you get everyone to do the potluck? was it on your invitations? did you have all 200 people bring food? i really want to do a potluck but have no idea how to get the point across!

  15. We put it on the invitation. It said "Meat, drinks, and ice cream will be provided. Please feel welcome to bring your favorite side dish to share." We had A LOT of food, too. People loved it!

  16. Had to comment that it just looks like such a beautiful wedding – congratulations. I want something chilled and perfect for me, something that people can recognise my boy and me in, and you can totally recognise you two as a couple in the way that you did your day. And the picture of your first sighting where he's wiping away your tears is one of the most gorgrous pictures I've ever seen.

    LOVE IT!

  17. Thank you for sharing your wedding day with the world. I'm in the planning phase and my FH and I want the same sort of outdoorsy, relaxed, casual vibe on our wedding day. We'll most likely do potluck and I'll be taking many of your ideas… like the Shoe Check and the chairs in a circle. Love the community vibe you created! Congratulations!

  18. Love love love love everything about this wedding, from the shoe check to swimming in your wedding dress. Unbelievably cool.

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