If this bride looks a little familiar, it's because she's our rad Assistant Editor of Offbeat Bride! Let's see what this lakeside family reunion wedding has in store for us.
The Offbeat Bride: Chris, content marketer (and Offbeat Bride assistant editor!)
Her offbeat partner: Jeremy, software engineer
Date and location of wedding: Groom's parents' lakehouse in North Platte, Nebraska — October 1, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Jeremy has a huge family (his mom is one of 17, most of whom have decent-sized families of their own!), so priority number one was creating a celebration where as many family and friends as possible could join in the fun. Venue after venue just didn't work out, so I finally broached the idea of just having the wedding at Jeremy's parents' home. They host a family reunion every Fourth of July at their lakehouse in North Platte, Nebraska, and it's one of the most relaxing, lovely, cozy, wild weekends you'll ever experience. Just right for a huge family wedding, right? Bless my in-laws' hearts, they didn't balk. They ran with the idea, and Jeremy and I had a fabulous outdoor wedding on a sunny day in October all due to the efforts of our family and friends.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our wedding came at a kind of strange time for me personally. I was smack in the middle of deciding what I thought about the beliefs I'd been raised with, but I hadn't come to terms with anything strongly enough to buck too much tradition. Jeremy and I finally settled on vows that didn't promote beliefs that I knew I'd have a problem with, but honestly, the reading from I Like You by Warburg meant the most to me. It reflected a lot of our shared beliefs, romantic ideals, partnership ideals… so many of its lines were perfect for who we are together. We still keep the book on our fireplace mantel.
Our biggest challenge:
The biggest challenge was the goddamn Nebraska Cornhuskers. Football is a fucking religion in Nebraska, and I am 100 percent not exaggerating. Jeremy and I originally scheduled our wedding for the only Saturday in October that did not have a game scheduled because Nebraskans flip out about that sort of thing. Unfortunately, that was the year the Huskers changed conferences, and suddenly our wedding was indeed on a game day. And you'd better believe that people asked if we were going to switch our date. NOPE. But it worked out. I got to dance with my friends who didn't care about the game, and the people who'd rather watch the game settled down in the living room. Win-fucking-win.
On a much less cynical note, another challenge was how rural everything was. I did my own makeup (not something at which I excel), my own hair (still was getting used to styling short hair), set up the tables at the start of the day, Jeremy and his dad did all the lights, his mom and dad did I still don't know how much work on the house and gardens. Setting up a party for 200+ people in rural Nebraska was a challenge, but it turned out beautifully.
My favorite moment:
My grandmother passed away from breast cancer when I was a child, so I think it's an impressive testament to her beautifully sweet spirit that I remember her as well as I do. I was fortunate to be able to wear a jewelry set of hers. My uncle also wore the necktie that my grandfather wore when he married my wonderful grandmother. I was so touched that he thought to make that happen.
Since a huge emphasis of our wedding was on family, I collected wedding photos from every family member I could. I put them in garage sale frames and hung them all around the wedding. It was totally a coincidence, but I noticed as I began the walk up to the ceremony that I'd created a makeshift aisle of photos. It was a wonderful feeling to walk through the photos of some of the amazing men and women of our combined families.
I was blown away how so many people stayed late at the wedding to help clean up. We had seconds of the barbecue while we packed away chairs and tables and dishes. The next morning, many stayed to help finish the job. I didn't ask a soul (not a plan of action I recommend), but everyone surprised me with their generosity. The friendships and family relationships we have are bonkers in the best way. So many people did so much for us — even people we'd never met (some of my in-laws' neighbors brought over their own potted flowers to push the gardens up to 11)!
I sang at my older brother's wedding, so you better believe I asked him to return the favor at mine. And oh by the way, write me an original song while you're at it. He totally did. He and my younger brother serenaded Jeremy and me in front of everyone during the ceremony, and I was so proud of them. I've always loved their voices, especially together.
We weren't going to have a wedding cake, but we wanted to have some dessert for everyone to enjoy. A dear friend of ours (and an incredible baker) created several simple but amazingly delicious sheetcakes, drove four hours with them to our wedding, and made sure they were ready to serve. She was the one who read from I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg — she has a great dramatic reading voice!
My funniest moment:
I was doing fine, running around before the wedding in my fancy dress, greeting people, when someone suggested that I should probably get out of sight for a few minutes while everyone actually sat down for the wedding. Oh. Well, fine, sure, yeah, I can do that. And that's when the nerves hit. Yay! Tucked away in a guest room upstairs, listening to the pre-wedding playlist, hearing our guests take their seats… I kind of stopped having fun.
My uncle, bless his heart, noticed. He and I share a love of good food and good drinking, so it was lovely and appropriate and perfect and so us when he brought up a huge bottle of vodka and made me a gimlet right then and there. Not a funny moment, perhaps, but it made me laugh with relief and love, and I finally fucking relaxed again.
Jeremy's dad was super into the idea of our booze canoe. In fact, I'm pretty sure he was the one who suggested it. One day, Jeremy texted to say his dad wanted to know what our wedding colors were. “We don't have wedding colors,” I said. “What does he want to know that for?”
“He wants to know what color to paint it.”
“…Jeremy. Please tell your dad he does not have to paint the goddamn canoe.”
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Catering: Ole's Big Game Steakhouse
- Dress: The Wedding Studio
- Photographer: Alec Vanderboom Photographic Services
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!