Remember those beautiful hand-made paper flower bouquets that we all drooled over. Well here is the wedding that started them all!
The offbeat bride: Lauren, paper florist
Her offbeat partner: Madhu, scientist
Location & date of wedding: St. John's RCC in Frederick, MD; reception at the Delaplaine Visual Arts Center — May 22, 2009
What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was offbeat because it had to be. There were too many traditions to follow and people to please, but we had to please ourselves first.
Madhu and I couldn't live without an eco-friendly and budget-conscious wedding. My mom couldn't live without a Catholic wedding. My MIL couldn't live without a Hindu wedding. I was damned if I wasn't going to have a really cute handmade-focused wedding. We did our best to do it all, and came close.
I was amazed at how accepting everyone was. There were a few trying moments over the religious side, but no one flinched when I wore red heels and a short dress. We had vegetarian Indian food at the reception, cupcakes as centerpieces, a paper flower bouquet, and a baraat on foot (instead of in a sportscar or on a horse). We also encouraged our guests to walk from the church to the reception, which most did.
Our ceremony was essentially Catholic, with a placing of the thali (necklace worn by married women) and a reading from the Bhagavad Gita. Before the ceremony, there was a simplified baraat, in which the groom is escorted to the temple (or, in this case, the church). Usually the groom will ride a horse or a sportscar, but in order to make our wedding more sustainable and affordable, everyone just walked. After the wedding ceremony, there was an impromptu Hindu ceremony in which the married women of Madhu's family gave us sweet things to eat and a blessing. This was so impromptu that I don't even know what it was called!
Our vendors were super supportive also. Our photographer was up for anything, our florist suggested I do paper flowers, and the Delaplaine's coordinator even sewed our table runners.
Our biggest challenge: Probably religion. For various reasons, this issue became particularly fraught for both of our mothers. I can't pretend that there weren't fights and tears, but we all came through the other side still liking each other, so I guess we did something right.
The main tip I can give here is to make sure everyone knows that you really are trying your hardest to respect any and all religions involved. The ceremony we ended up with was not our ideal. I made sure my MIL knew that I, too, was dissatisfied with not having equal time, so to speak, for each religion. I think (and I hope) that it helped.
My favorite moment: Dancing to our first song, Real Love, by Regina Spektor. It's really not the best first song (a bit long and slow), but it's very meaningful to us.
Walking together to the reception.
Watching our families dance and laugh together, particularly when Madhu's family friend, Sateesh, started to lead an Indian dance and almost everyone in my family joined in. My family still talks about how much fun they had dancing that night.
Giggling and whispering together at our sweetheart table, kind of alone for once during the day. (Okay, I was doing most of the giggling.)
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great:I was very afraid that my meat-loving family would hate the idea of eating vegetarian for one meal, that someone would give me crap for wearing red high heels, that the two families wouldn't mix, that no one would dance. In short, I'm a worrier. What actually happened is that everyone seemed to go out of their way to have fun and if there were complaints, I didn't hear them.
My advice for offbeat brides: If something isn't important to you, jettison it ruthlessly. I don't care for flowers, so they were gone.
Listen to your family and give in when they're being reasonable. My mom was not in favor of us having no flowers, so she offered to pay for them herself. That lead to having some quite nice, simple flowers in the church, for the bridesmaids, and flowergirls. Oh, and I gave in to myself and made my own bouquet, which opened a new career path.
If you find a vendor who really gets you, hold on tight to that person. Bake them cookies. Show them love. Having a professional voice backing you up can do wonders with relatives who can only see their own opinion. Not to mention, a vendor is much more experienced in dealing with wedding crap than you or your family. They are also more detached about the situation.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding:
Our wedding, or the wedding planning, kind of changed my life. I never considered myself a crafty or creative person prior to that process.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photographer: Spence Photographics — David Spence was the most fun, easygoing, diplomatic photographer imaginable.
- Flowers: En Masse Flowers — Sharon at En Masse Flowers encouraged me to make my own bouquet and quite literally changed my lfe.
- Venue: Delaplaine Visual Arts Center — Marilyn at the Delaplaine sewed our table runners and did our decorating for us, asking only that we donate the table runners. We threw in the decorations, too, because what were we going to do with them afterwards?
- Wedding Dress: Jane BonBon
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!