It’s getting colder here in the Northern Hemisphere, so this week we’re celebrating woodsy, outdoor weddings while we can. Get ready for majestic mountains, placid lakes, and gorgeous forests for days.

Flying
Photos by Kimberly Moa, moa photography

The Offbeat Bride: Rebecca, Community Builder

Her offbeat partner: Scott, Manager at a Non-Profit

Date and location of wedding: Essex Conference Center and Retreat, Essex, MA — September 28, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Scott and I were full partners in this venture. I did most of the aesthetic research and he did most of the vendor research. We planned our wedding around four ideas: keeping it small and intimate, our desire to get married outside in the fall, Scott’s idea to include origami, and my purple dress. The woods around our venue inspired our invitations, hand-drawn by a talented friend, and our cupcakes decorated with frosting leaves. My floaty chiffon dress inspired all our decorative ideas, from the purple and green theme everywhere, to creating a magical feel by getting married around a lily pad pond and being showered with bubbles after the ceremony.

Bouquet

Invitation with origami instructions

We got a lot of help from family and friends to make it a reality. We designed our own ceremony, with help from Jessie Blum’s Offbeat Bride post and lots of conversations with our officiant who is a close family friend and professional life coach. We wrote our own vows, made 70 origami animals for table assignments, and created playlists on Spotify for the cocktail hour and reception.

Our big net of origami cranes

The Crane Table

To help us keep on task and make sure we weren’t missing anything, we turned the Offbeat Bride Checklist into an awesome Google Docs spreadsheet where we kept track of who was in charge of what, when the task was due, and any other relevant notes. Scott was in charge of the bartender and music system, I was in charge of cupcakes and flowers, but we went in evenly on most everything else. It was really great for me to have a partner who cared about the little details as much as I did, and lucky for us both that we agreed on so many things.

Mom, Dad, Rebecca

Tell us about the ceremony:
We got married in the woods, on a small peninsula in a lily pad pond, across the pond from our 70 guests. My dad walked me halfway to the peninsula, where my mom met us and we all hugged before I walked the rest of the way myself.

Ceremony

After the first reading (from The Velveteen Rabbit), we made our Declarations of Intent, for which we had decided our own wording for ahead of time. Madeline, our officiant, asked us each “Rebecca, do you, vow to stand by Scott in times of abundance and scarcity, to create and nurture a family together, and to grow old together?” (And vice versa.) And we each said “I do.” We also included a Declaration of Intent for our parents, to signify that we will all be one family. Madeline asked each pair of parents, “Do you vow to celebrate and support Rebecca and Scott’s marriage and the family they will create? If so, say ‘We do.'”

Scott

Rebecca

We exchanged our vows and rings at the same time. Scott and I had drafted our vows separately and then worked on them together. Ultimately we decided to make complementary but slightly different vows, starting and ending the same, but in the middle we each said different vows personally crafted for each other.

After the second reading (the conversation between Inigo and Fezzik from The Princess Bride book), Madeline gave a secular blessing and asked our guests to give us a blessing too. She told the guests to each think of one word, one thing they wish for us as a new couple, and to yell their words out three times.

Bubbles!

Finally, for our recessional, our guests blew bubbles over us as we walked away from the peninsula. While planning these two ideas (being showered by our guests words of love, and by bubbles) I sometimes felt they might be a little silly, but when I actually experienced them I was filled with joy and love.

Kissing in the sculpture garden

Our biggest challenge:
Our biggest challenge was finding the right venue in time. We got engaged in August and wanted an autumn wedding. Neither of us had grown up imagining our perfect wedding, so we didn’t really know what we wanted, but we hoped to find a place that felt special to both of us. We ended up visiting 12 venues over a frantic two weeks, trying to cram it all in, and keep track of the feel of each place.

When we found the right one, we both knew it. It felt like a magical fairyland in the woods, and the retreat center would host most of our loved ones overnight and included a late-night bonfire. It was worth all the tedious, exhausting venue visits to really get to understand what we were looking for.

Table setting

Cupcakes!

My favorite moment:
When I stood in the second floor window watching all the guests gradually arrive. I got to anticipate all the excitement from the safety of my little room with my mom and bridesmaids.

When our officiant invited us to take a deep breath, feel the ground under us, look at the trees around us, and take in all our family and friends’ love for us — that really helped me feel grounded and be in the moment for the rest of the ceremony.

Favors!

Honey jars

Father-daughter dance

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I was very lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who supported my vision. I felt empowered to do things our way without any pressure to adhere to tradition. Not only did my mom love my purple dress, and my friends were happy to help with our DIY decorations, but I was surprised by how many meat-lovers ate lots of the vegetarian food, and urbanites were happy to spend a night in the woods with us. Because we only invited the 70 people who matter to us most in the world, we were flooded with love and joy every moment.

Enjoying the toasts

First dance

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Comments on Rebecca & Scott’s fairyland forest wedding

  1. such an uncommonly good looking couple. you could tell how much love went into this wedding.

  2. Gah! This is lovely 🙂 I looked at Essex but their indoor options were too small for my wedding.

    Also – I know Betsey Holland! We went to college together, also Japan, but College!

    • Thanks, Karen. Betsey was awesome! She didn’t only make our invitations. She also made little animal cards for our centerpieces so that the origami animals were less ambiguous, and made big beautiful signs to show our guests the way to drive in and park!

  3. I absolutely love your flowers! So pretty. What part of the velveteen rabbit did you guys have read?

    • Thanks, SilverDragoness! The florist at Whole Foods was really helpful – I just described that I wanted purple and green wildflowers, and she came up with a few great ideas.

      Here’s the reading we got from Velveteen Rabbit:

      “What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

      “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

      ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

      ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

      ‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

      ‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

  4. This is so lovely. Congratulations to you two!

    I especially love the part about having your guests yell out their blessings to you. We’re meeting our officiant to discuss the ceremony this week and I think it’s something that would fit in perfectly with our secular ceremony too! If you don’t mind me borrowing the idea, that is.

    • Hi Holly,

      According to Jessie Blum’s Offbeat Bride post about how to craft your own wedding ceremony:
      “The Declaration of intent [is] the “I Do!” part of a wedding. The couple faces one another, takes hands, and answers some very important questions about marriage. If you are planning on writing your own vows, it is nice to include more traditional vows here, or you can even write your own “I Do’s!”

      Scott and I worked up our own declarations, and followed the tradition of having our officiant read it off to us: “Rebecca, do you, vow to stand by Scott in times of abundance and scarcity, to create and nurture a family together, and to grow old together?” (Obviously she asked Scott with the names switched.) And then we said “I do!”

      Here’s the link to Jessie Blum’s super helpful post! http://offbeatbride.com/wedding-ceremony-101

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