Her offbeat partner: Mike, Operations Ninja and Writer
Location & date of wedding: Thorpewood, Thurmont, MD — 01/17/2010
What made our wedding offbeat: Our wedding was very much about expressing our geeky, crazy love. When we decided on a winter wedding, we stumbled upon the idea of the “Midwinter Night's Dream” theme, and tried very hard to make it whimsical, light-hearted, and above all fun, without being too over-the-top with the faerie or renfest theme. I'm also a crafter who loves DIYing everything, so pretty much everything we COULD make ourselves, we did.
The men were in Utilikilts, the women were in vaguely medieval gowns made by me (with chemises they made themselves), and I wore a blue dress and fabulous blue boots.
Since neither of us is particularly religious, and since we paid for everything ourselves, we were able to do pretty much whatever we wanted. We kept the bits of tradition we liked, and ditched the bits we didn't. I had a Matron of Awesome, a Bridesmaid, and a Bridesdude; Mike had a Best Dude and two Groomsguys. Mike walked down the aisle with our ring bearer to the theme from Batman, and I danced in to “Lovecats,” by the Cure.
I knew from the start that I wouldn't be wearing a white dress, and that I'd be making whatever I wore myself. It incorporated the skirt of my grandmother's wedding dress, an underskirt of blue taffeta, an overskirt of blue chiffon, and a blue taffeta corset. I also totally stole the idea of a ribbon veil from OBB, and whipped up a headpiece using ribbon leftover from the bouquets.
Tell us about your ceremony: Our awesome officiant, an old friend of mine, managed to work in references to Shakespeare, World of Warcraft, and Joss Whedon's “Firefly,” without any of it sounding too hokey.
In keeping with the “Midwinter Night's Dream” theme, the vows, ring exchange, and unity cocktail wording was all written by me and Mike, in iambic pentameter (with a bit of tetrameter thrown in, as in some of Puck's speeches in “A Midsummer Night's Dream”). An example:
And so I place my heart within your hands
to have and hold, whatever joys and strife
may come. My love, before you now I stand
and pledge my troth, henceforth to be your wife.
And so before these gentles here
to witness now these vows sincere,
Give me your hand if we be friends,
and with this ring I do thee wed.
Did I mention a unity cocktail? Why yes I did! We wanted to do something other than the typical candle or sand ceremony –- while awesome, those aren't very “us.” Mike is a beer connoisseur, and I'm a fan of hard cider, so when we stumbled upon a combination at the Maryland renfest last year, we knew we had to use it as our unity cocktail: Sam Adams Cherry Wheat beer and Woodchuck cider. Just trust me –- I know it sounds weird, but it's delicious. I found a pair of heavy wine glasses and a pretty pitcher at an antique store, and we mixed and sipped as part of the ceremony.
What was your biggest challenge?: Since we were paying for everything ourselves, keeping costs low was a definite priority, but we also knew that there were things we didn't want to scrimp on. We went with a buffet rather than served meal, but splurged on some of the pieces of it (and everyone commented on how wonderful the food was, so it was worth it). We also held the wedding on a Sunday because it's cheaper than Saturday, but the venue itself was still fairly expensive. It's a non-profit, though, so we felt good about spending the money there. We definitely paired down a LOT from our initial idea list, once we started adding up the costs!
Another issue I had was delegating some of the DIY work, and knowing when to say “screw it, we're buying that!” I made the guys' shirts, and had initially intended to make vests as well, but quickly realized that there was no way I would have the time. We ended up just telling them to go find a vest in any dark color, which worked out just fine. I delegated the card box and table place holders to the Best Dude, who's very a very handy carpenter, and the girls made their own chemises to wear under the dresses. I'm very Type-A when it comes to doing everything myself, so it was very challenging to me to let some parts of it go and trust that those I'd entrusted with the tasks would do them perfectly well.
Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?: This was the second time around for both of us. We did a lot more DIYing this time, and were much more cognizant of what WE really wanted, not necessarily what was expected of us. I also didn't get to dance at all at my first wedding (through a long series of equipment SNAFUs), so that was something I absolutely wanted to make sure we were able to do. And we did! We actually managed to get quite a bit of dancing in, which was one of the best parts of the day.
What were the most meaningful moments of your wedding?: As everyone says, there were so many! When I reached the front of the room and took Mike's hands, and we looked into each others' eyes, I thought I would melt right then and there. When our officiant almost lost it and started sniffling towards the end of the ceremony, I thought we were doomed. But I think most of all, it was that first kiss, and the one right after, and the one after that, until someone poked us and pointed out that we were done and could walk back down the aisle together now.
Another moment that had me nearly in tears was when my father, with whom I've never been all that close, told me that he had never seen me look happier. And it's true!
My advice for other offbeat brides: The most important words of wisdom I got were from my Matron of Awesome, and were first uttered in regards to HER wedding, several months earlier: “As long as you're married at the end of the day, the details don't really matter. It won't be perfect, but it will be your day, and at the end of it, you'll be married to the love of your life and that's really what's important. Everything else is just gravy.” I found that advice invaluable whenever I started to freak out about some detail or other.
The other bit of advice I have is to remember that DIY does not always equal cheaper. If you add up the cost of all the materials in my bouquets and boutonnieres, for example, it would probably be pretty close to the cost of real flowers. Totally worth it, in my opinion, but definitely something to keep in mind.
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