Laura & Guthrie's eco-friendly family-centered wedding

April 22 2011 | offbeatbride

Dear Earth, Happy Earth Day! We love you and are featuring this eco-fabulous bride and eco-stylin' groom just for you. Love, Offbeat Bride — Becca

The offbeat bride: Laura, Middle School Teacher

Her offbeat partner: Guthrie, Graduate Student in Public Health

Location & date of wedding: Irvine Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota — August 15, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: All Guthrie and I wanted to do was show off our love for one another in front of those we love. We also knew that we did not want to leave a huge carbon footprint. From the groom's outfit (pieced together from the Salvation Army, vintage stores, and one awesome locally-made vest) to my home-grown daisies, to the Minnesota apple pie, to the head table of our parents and sisters, the wedding was truly ours. We even received a Green Wedding Platinum Certification from the Live Green Live Smart Institute.

It was a wonderful time not only to come together with family and friends, but to share some of our values — it was so fun to see the creative eco-friendly gifts and wrapping!

As my older sister planned her super traditional wedding, my mother was worried when I told her about the intimate ceremony in a park in downtown Saint Paul. "I know it's going to be hippy, but I get to wear shoes, right?" I assured her that she could, but laughed the day of the ceremony when I caught her and my sisters running around in bare feet.

Our rings were made by Guthrie's uncle. They're matching with engravings of acorns and oak leaves, very fitting since most family members at the wedding were hit by a falling acorn at some point during the ceremony! It was truly us.

Tell us about the ceremony: It was a short civil ceremony, about about 30 guests in attendance. Everyone else was only invited to the reception. Because it was so intimate, Guthrie and I felt comfortable and were able to be expressive. We wrote our own vows together and we chose our own readings. We also involved our family by having the officiant ask for the blessing of our parents and our community.

Our readings were The Orange, by Wendy Cope. Guthrie chose The Master Speed by Robert Frost.

We each opened our vows by saying what we loved most about the other, and I promised to make him my famous chili once a month while he promised breakfast. This is what was the same:

We both feel best when we are giving of ourselves; we are now forming a team. I am no longer alone; you are my partner in both my achievements and shortcomings. I look forward to seeing our family and each other grow as we plant roots together in a community we love. I vow, as your best friend and your lover, to support you, be your ally and equal in all things, to love you with all of my heart and soul through this life and beyond.

Our biggest challenge: The hardest part was planning the wedding from afar. My husband and I live in Atlanta right now while he goes to school. We had to do almost everything via email or phone (and some vendors aren't so good with either method). When we did meet face to face, it was when we were visiting at the same time — which was rarely! Plus, when we were home, we had other obligations (holidays, my sister's wedding, etc).

We would have intense wedding days where we would visit the ceremony site, meet with the officiant, taste-test the food, have coffee with the photographer, and register, all while driving in a blizzard! Though I am so happy to be married, it would have been much easier to have waited until we were living back in Minnesota.

My favorite moment: It was the most wonderful and happy day of my life, so it's hard to pick a moment. One was when my husband's sister (and groomswoman) gave her speech. She is developmentally delayed and so there was some mixed feelings on his side as to whether or not she should give a speech, though we encouraged her. She stood with her father, but was unable to say a word. She was so happy for her baby brother, she could only cry. It was a beautiful thing to see Guthrie stand next to his sister, with his arm around her, as his father read aloud what Jessie had written. There was barely a dry eye in the room.

The other for me personally was during the ceremony. I am an incredibly emotional person and my husband is solid like an oak. However, half way through the ceremony (only five minutes in), Guthrie started choking up. I always thought it would be me that wouldn't be able to hold it together — I barely could for my sister's wedding, but I just smiled and laughed. Guthrie and I even "practiced" our kiss at the end of the ceremony, but when the time came around, I had to hold his cheeks and kiss his teary face. Our photographer told us later that the entire side of his family all looked like they were at a funeral!

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Everything. I am such a worrier that I was actually pretty surprised that everything seemed to work out. It poured right after the ceremony, even though one bar carded me on the way to the reception with the crew (we took a detour), the next one let me drink despite not carrying my identification in my wedding dress. Even the wedding party of 30 people in turquoise dresses and suits who came to take pictures at the park right before the ceremony was supposed to start cleared out before my sister had to kick them out. It all worked out. I got married to my best friend — what could possibly go so wrong?

Their first dance was a swingin' lindy hop to All Shook Up by Elvis

My advice for offbeat brides: For those who do say, "do what you want," I don't completely agree with them. I found that in order to involve both of our families as much as possible, to try to unite them as we united, we needed to consider everyone's needs. If I had my way, we wouldn't have served any meat, but at the end of the day, I had my fabulous vegetarian meal while my parents had their chicken from a local farm stuffed with Minnesota rice. I know it seems like a stupid thing, but making everyone feel comfortable was important to us. We wanted to make sure that our families knew that every decision we made was carefully planned (like how we carpooled or that our beers were Minnesota-brews), but we didn't want to alienate anyone. Even though I would have loved my sisters to have found beautiful vintage dresses (they do not shop second-hand), they found cute dresses at Macy's that they were happy to wear again. On the day of, I was honestly more happy that they felt comfortable than to know that I had everything my way.

However, on the big stuff, certainly do what feels right to the both of you. Though Guthrie's father was alarmed to hear the ceremony was outside (we waited another couple weeks to tell him that it would be a civil ceremony!), we were not going to bend our beliefs for anyone. It took a while to learn to strike a balance.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That it's only the beginning 🙂

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Venue: Irvine Park and Columbia Manor. I loved our ceremony and reception sites, as we supported the Minneapolis and Saint Paul park systems.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Love it!
    eco, inclusive, and fabulous!
    Congratulations and felicitations!
    and is that another bride & groom in the background of your group photo?

    • Thank you! And yes! It's a very popular spot for weddings and photos. Even though we booked the park, we didn't mind newlyweds stopping by and taking photos, as long as no one interrupted the ceremony. And if they had, it would have made for a good story!

  2. What a beautiful day!
    What I especially enjoyed was the details about the speech by Guthrie's sister Jessie. My own sister has autism, and I am looking for ways to include her in the ceremony/ wedding that she will find meaningful but not overwhelming. Would love to see this addressed in posts by other Offbeat Brides. Thank you, Laura!

    • When I was in grad school, I was hired by a family I knew to accompany their uncle to the sons Bar Mitzvah. The uncle has Fragile X, which is really similar to moderate/severe autism personality and behavior wise. He REALLY wanted to go to the Bar Mitzvah and they were all worried about it. When it turned out that I wasn't really needed – I mean, I did have to go for a walk around the lobby with him a few times to prevent a meltdown, but that's nothing – it was cool to see the family members realize that they could probably invite Uncle Mark to more functions.

    • Thanks! Guthrie picked that out — he found it on etsy. My mother refers to us as "two-peas-in-a-pod" so when she saw it, he thought it was perfect.

  3. I love, love, LOVE pictures of laughing, happy people! Plenty of that happening at this wedding, certainly.

    Beautiful wedding that was true to the things important to you both – who could ask for more? 🙂

    Congratulations!

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