Remember the bellydancing bride we fell in love with a little while back? Well, she was kind enough to give us the whole scoop on her amazing wedding festivities.

The Offbeat Bride: Christina, Jewelry Designer

Her Offbeat Partner: Jason, 3D designer

Location & date of wedding: The Maryland Renaissance Festival, Crownsville MD — October 17, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: I always knew that I didn't want the traditional white dress and church wedding. I'm Pagan, and Jason isn't particularly religious. Plus, I look dreadful in white! The Maryland Renaissance Festival has been a part of both of our lives for a long time — I've been going every year since I was a little girl! We look forward to it and always have so much fun there, so it seemed natural choice for venue. Problem solved!

BackbendI'm a bellydancer, so I opted to wear my costuming in lieu of a wedding dress — bright and festive reds and yellows that made me feel beautiful. My husband wore a handsome red kilt. Our wedding party followed suit, and our guests were encouraged to come in costume. Since we'd already had our legal civil ceremony, we wrote our own ceremony and vows and hired Cardinal Sinnius Vice to officiate in style. I have two fathers, so I involved them both — one did a reading, and the other a toast, and I walked myself down the aisle to the tune of live bagpipes!

For the reception, we took the money we would have put into things like fancy china and hired a professional bellydance troupe instead. My dance partner and I performed as well. We had a cupcake tower, many lovely toasts, and wonderful Mediterranean buffet catered by a local restaurant. We limited the bar to Jason's favorite beer and my favorite spicy wine. Everyone loved the personal touches!

Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge was definitely the weather! Ordinarily, weddings at MDRF take place in front of a pretty chapel, under no cover. I checked the weather periodically throughout the week — 65 and sunny. Pretty typical for Maryland Autumns. Unfortunately, a few days before the ceremony, things took a turn for the worse. A Nor'Easter was coming through, and the forecast was now 43 degrees and pouring rain!

On the morning of the wedding, we made an executive decision to take over the Dragon Inn, a pub on site that had covering. We relied on our friends to help us manage the ensuing pandemonium — one tracked down our officiant and hustled him to the right spot, another spoke to one of the groups who usually use the Inn at that time.

In the end, everybody was huddled together and cold and wet, but things went off smoothly! After a friend graciously procured me some hot cider, I hustled home to wash my skirts, which were six inches deep in mud. As it turns out, the pounding rain made our vows hard to hear in the back, so we re-read them at the reception, with one guest even stepping in to re-create the famous “MAWWAGE” scene from The Princess Bride!

Rose Petal Shower

My favorite moment: The funniest moment was definitely that Jason really went for it with the kiss and came up with a faceful of bright red lipstick!

But I think that overall, my favorite moment was most definitely my husband's vows. He'd been procrastinating a bit, and I could tell he was worried that they wouldn't be up to snuff. He kept making little comments like “I wish I'd had more time,” and changing words around. You never would have known when he delivered them! They were SO personal and touching, mentioning how he dances for me in the grocery store to make me smile and the time I serenaded him with a MeatLoaf power ballad after eleven hours of driving just to keep him awake. When he got to the end, where he talked about us growing old together, counting gray hairs and laugh lines, he teared up, and I just about lost it. Our officiant said they were the best vows he'd heard in a very long time.

Then again, our nuptials were also personally blessed by King Henry VIII himself. How many people can say that?

My advice for other offbeat brides: Create a day that is personally tailored toward what makes you and your partner really happy. When my husband and I sat down and thought about it, we realized two things — we didn't have an extravagant budget, and we wanted our shindig to be memorable. We found a common love, the Renaissance Festival, and started there. I think that if you make sharing things you both love with your guests priority number one, everything else will fall into place.

Personal touches are so important! Remember, no one will ever remember that you had plastic forks, but they'll always remember the show you put on, or the song you sang, or your unique first dance. In the end, I had so many people tell me that they loved our wedding because we made them feel so comfortable — they loved that it was more of a group celebration than a formal affair.

Secondly, utilize your friends and family. The great thing about being a bride is that if you delegate, people really pull together to get things done. I was actually quite sick on my big day, but I found that I'd say something like, “I need to go set the tablecloths/decorate the head table/etc.” and before I even finished the sentence, it was done. Your friends and family love you and want your big day to be spectacular. Delegate, delegate, delegate, and things will go off without a hitch.

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