The offbeat bride: Katie / corporate whore (currently looking for something more fulfilling, like talking to plants)
My offbeat groom: Lindsay / sporting goods
Location & date of wedding: Mom and stepdad's yard on the Tulalip Indian reservation by Marysville, WA
What made our wedding offbeat: I think two things really set the tone for our offbeat wedding: 1.) Save the date magnets with ketchup and mustard bottles holding hands and smiling with, “some things just go together! Please save the date for our wedding” and 2.) A quote by Thornton Wilder on our (very lovely) invitations: “my advice to you, is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it is on your plate.”
Lindsay's been married before, so I think that really helped stay us focused on what was important and what wasn't, since he'd already done the traditional thing. We did a ton of the planning together and split up the rest. And we wrote the ceremony with special emphasis on brevity and sincerity in all of the words being spoken, not just our vows. We saved a fortune, for sure. So many people contributed to this event. (Specifics can be found in our photos.) And the music definitely wasn't traditional.
Our biggest challenge: Because of space limitations a wedding at a home can bring, there were some people who got left out that I wish we could've invited. That said, I'd say our biggest challenge was finding enough parking for everyone. Luckily, my brother has property across the gravel road from my mom's house so we cleared it with a bulldozer (that was a last minute expense that did add a chunk to the overall cost of the wedding) and put down hog fuel (really big pieces of wood). The bulldozer was operated by Lindsay's friend who also, as his gift to us, did all of our DJing. When the wedding was over, my patient brother is now allowed to start building his house.
Many potential challenges were diverted by generous neighbors, friends and family. My grandparents live three doors down from my mom and stepdad, so their home was open the morning of the wedding for our cupcake icing sweatshop. Neighbors lent their homes and driveways — and one couple even offered up their guest house!
This one might come off a little weird, but we were a wee concerned about potential party crashers. Since it's a residential area with a bunch of neighboring beaches, we felt it was realistic to expect any number of uninvited guests, known or unknown to us. I kept picturing a rogue pack of folks who weren't invited getting drunk at a nearby beach and deciding it was a great idea to come on over and crash the party. So we hired a guy my brothers know to be there in case anything happened. That way, it wouldn't put any of the guests or homeowners in an awkward position of asking people to leave. Nothing happened, but it did provide us with peace of mind.
My favorite moment: Pre-ceremony, I was upstairs perched at a window, peeking at everyone getting there, signing the guest book, writing wishes on pretty paper and tying it our wish tree (an enormous ficus tree generously lent to us by the neighbors), spotting people they hadn't seen in years. It was an amazing feeling, almost voyeuristic…
Then, getting to the aisle and looking back at this huge crowd of people who were all there for us.
And then! Sadie the neighbor's cat greeting us and our guests at the aisle, talking and purring and prancing off a few moments later.
Lastly, Lindsay's vows. He forgot most of what he wrote, but I got it psychically through the energy of his hands holding mine and his eyes looking into mine.
My offbeat advice: A recent bride-friend at work gave me the best advice ever right at the beginning of our planning: stick with your gut. If something seems right or wrong, go with it. This timely advice got me through a lot.
Monetarily, decide on what's important and what you can scrimp on. It was invitations and flowers for me and a photobooth for Lindsay. With the flowers, we did have a florist prepare some arrangements and the corsages, etc., but we supplemented by going to a u-pick garden that morning at the lavender farm in marysville — $5 a bunch! I also made the little girls' poesies with lavender and rosemary from my and my mom's gardens. Free and beautiful!
Another thing I kept in mind was the intention behind the desire. “Hm. Are monogrammed napkins really going to add to the overall feeling of this day? No, but we really do want to have personalized beer cozies for guests to take home as a memento.” “…I care a lot about nice stationery and invitations, but know that most of them will ultimately end up in the recycle bin. I understand that and am still totally in love with the kermit mum with gold bee invitations and will therefore pay for them myself instead of putting it on mom's tab.”
One thing I learned by trying to be as anti-bridezilla and easy going as possible is that some vendors might take this as an opportunity to put you at the bottom of their priority list. Make sure you clearly state your expectations/boundaries: when goods will be ready, what happens if they aren't, etc. Otherwise you might get hosed and spend needless energy worrying that things aren't going to show up in time. There's a big difference between a total bitch-zilla and forthrightly putting your cards on the table about your needs and expectations. To that end, remember that just because you're paying someone for a service with the expectation that they are a “professional” doesn't mean that they are automatically good at time management and/or not overbooking, etc.
As much as I hate to admit this, wedding expos *can* be a helpful way to define your event planning. For me, it was a good mother/daughter bonding experience and just as great pointing to chairs with big ass fabric bows on the back and saying, “no fucking way” as it was to say, “whoa! I really like the fruit in those floral arrangements!” We also ran into an old friend of my stepdad's at the show, and he ended up doing our bbq buffet. Just make sure you get a good night's rest, eat a hearty breakfast and show up right when it opens and don't stay too long (the bright lights will start making you hallucinate). My mom and I held up for about an hour, then busted out and headed straight to the Betsey Johnson store for some offbeat affirmation.
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: Almost 200 gorgeous images over here — with tons of details like champagne toasts in jelly jars, the bride doing a headstand, an amazing up-do, and of course a gorgeous Wai-Ching dress: