The offbeat bride: Nikki, Early Childhood Literacy Trainer
Her offbeat partner: Chris, Lab Tech Extraordinaire
Location & date of wedding: Mom's backyard, Thurmont, MD — September 18, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: After our '09 Christmas Eve engagement, we booked a mansion in Frederick, MD for 115 guests. The cost for our entire wedding: $16,000. Within months of a working overtime and a part-time job, it hit us hard that we may not be able to afford an event of this size.
After the New Year, our parents met for the first time. It was during that moment when we realized that our wedding day should resemble the same level and feel of intimacy as the meeting between our parents.
So, we cancelled our contract at the mansion (losing half of our deposit) and decided to have a small ceremony and reception in my mother's backyard. Using the card stock we originally planned to use for programs, we sent out sixty-five invitations to close family and friends.
Within four months, we planned what we believe was one of the sweetest moments of our lives — for approximately $5000.
The colors were every shade of green there is — just like my mom's backyard. The seventy-nine degree day was gorgeous and, what made it so special is that, Chris and I knew the names of every single guest in attendance and wrote every word of our ceremony, which included honoring our parents, our guests, and each other.
My mother cooked all of the Jamaican cuisine: Jerk chicken, Curry chicken, Ox Tail, Rice and Peas, and a vegetable medley. We hired a wait staff of five to distribute hors d'oeuvres, champagne, and Jamaican rum punch. A friend brought Sangria to get the party started while guests waited for the ceremony to begin. Another friend baked and decorated our wedding cake and a PlayStation 3 grooms-cake for Chris.
We danced the night away to our favorite mix of reggae, new and old school Hip-hop and R&B.
Tell us about the ceremony: Chris and I wrote our ceremony. At they very beginning we honored those who could not be with us: Chris' grandmother who passed away late last year and his childhood friend who passed away three weeks before the wedding in a motorcycle accident.
We then honored our parents by asking them to stand, while our officiant shared a special message from us to them. “What God is to the world, parents are to their children; Chris and Nikki want to thank you for having patience throughout their lives, for teaching them values, and for unconditionally loving them both. There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for a child. They will forever cherish the love and friendship they have shared with you all of their life.”
We added a guest pledge asking our friends and family to state, “we will,” to pledge their support and blessing towards our marriage.
Next, my nine year old sister and fourteen year old brother read a poem that I found on the internet and tweaked for cute factor with lines like:
“He is always thoughtful when he looks at her,
A smile upon his face
Will she look THAT good in fifty years
When her dentures aren't in place?!”
Finally, we ended the ceremony with the jumping of the broom, a African American wedding tradition, which was always done before witnesses as a public announcement to other members of the slave community that a couple chose to become as close to married as was then allowed.
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was space and time. Because the backyard served as the backdrop for our pictures and was also the location of our ceremony and dinner, we scheduled time to take family photos prior to our guests arriving at 6:00pm.
After last minute cooking, make-up, candle lighting, beltway traffic, and Lord knows what else, some of the family were not able to make it into the backyard to take pictures. This was heartbreaking and stressful, because those family members, who worked so hard to make our day special, had no time to be in our photos.
I tried my best to keep us all on schedule, but things happened and our photos felt incomplete with no shots of Chris and I together with my older sister or his father. We have relied on candids shot by our guests with the disposal cameras we placed on every table.
My favorite moment: Chris's vows were beautiful. He had a bet with almost everyone in attendance that he would not cry. He tried his best not to, but tears definitely fell. While he hates being the center of attention or having to speak publicly, it was his idea to write our vows. He said that he knew that I dreamed of this day since I was a little girl and was honored that I had chosen him to share my life with.
My funniest moment: The funniest moment was the garter belt removal. Right before it was time, Chris and went into the house to get our props ready. While some sexy reggae music blared in the background, Chris removed the following items, one by one, from beneath my dress: A Jamaican flag, $500 (the DJ's fee), a Phi Beta Sigma mask (Chris' fraternity) and then finally my bright green garter belt. Guests cheered, eager to see what would come out next!
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I was not sure how Chris's PlayStation cake was going to look. Our friend has made many cakes, but admitted that this was going to be a fun challenge for her. When you are planning a wedding, challenge is not a word you want to hear from a vendor. Turns out, it was one of my favorite things about the night. The guests and Chris were definitely surprised. And she even added a wireless remote controller made of our rice krispie treats!
My advice for offbeat brides: My advice to brides is to remember that mostly everyone in attendance knows you and your style. During the planning period, it was always a struggle to convince my family that our menu, or table grouping, no wedding party rule, or choice of music was not going to shock our guests, because they know Nikki and Chris. Most of your planning has to be done in secret if you really want it your way.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? The important lesson I learned from my wedding is that the next day you are nothing but another married chick.
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