Lauren & Joshua's rainy potluck wedding

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Photos by Violet Marsh Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Lauren, Licensing and Training Coordinator

Her offbeat partner: Joshua, Radio Engineer

Date and location of wedding: Cobb Hill Estate, Harrisville, NH — June 23, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Joshua and I live in Atlanta, while all our family members live in the New England/Northeast region. So, we opted to have the wedding up there as opposed to arranging for 100 people to do all the traveling. We also wanted to have our wedding be reflective of our support for marriage equality, so we chose a state that recognizes gay marriage, and only chose vendors that were in similar states or were LGBT-friendly themselves.

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VMP_9023Our photographer, Violet Marsh Photography, was located in New Hampshire, where our wedding was, and also has done LGBT weddings before, so we knew she was the one. We also opted to write to our state governor to tell him about our plans, so he knew that his local economy was not benefiting from it.

We adopted a honey badger mentality about lots of the details, so if it wasn't a necessity, I didn't want it. I didn't want to stress about the planning aspect, if I could avoid it. So, people came in jeans, there was no assigned seating, and we did the reception potluck-style. We DJed ourselves by creating a playlist on my computer and hooking it up to a sound system.

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Tell us about the ceremony: The processional was "Wouldn't It be Nice" by the Beach Boys, and it was supposed to lead into my processional song "Love you Til the End" by The Pogues, but because of some unexpected rain that forced us to move, it got cut to just the one song.

My uncle/godfather was our officiant, and he helped us to tailor the ceremony from a traditionally Lutheran ceremony, but we made it secular since we're both atheists. We had our attendants do readings from The Velveteen Rabbit, a poem from Mark Twain, and an excerpt from the movie/book Stardust.

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A very touching point in the ceremony was when my uncle referenced loving relationships, including his own daughter, who has been married to her wife since 2004, and have a beautiful five-year-old son together. I was so glad to have another great reference to the need for marriage equality.

We had a ring-warming, and passed around our rings to everyone, while "We're All in This Together" by Ben Lee played. We recessed out to "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Want to Rock 'n' Roll)" by AC/DC.

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Our biggest challenge: We had some drama with invitations, including being confronted about not inviting certain people, and then having them not show anyway. I also had quite a few family members not RSVP at all, and gave no reasons as to why they couldn't come. But I had my pity party and moved on, trying to keep that honey badger mentality as best I could!

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My favorite moment: Thirty minutes before our outdoor ceremony was supposed to start, the skies started turning black. A big storm was looming, so we decided to push it up by 15 minutes in the hopes of beating it. Everyone congregated at the ceremony site (overlooking the mountains), and we started to process, only to have to turn back around as everyone started running back up the hill due to the rain and lightning that finally arrived. So we did the ceremony under the tent, with the winds picking up and blowing things over. Thankfully, we all ended up laughing under the tent about it. Plus, a rainbow appeared ten minutes after the ceremony!

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Another highlight was dancing with my father to "Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, and my dad whispering to me that he had to listen to the song a bunch of times so he wouldn't cry, and me looking up to see that he was crying despite his efforts.

My funniest moment: At the end of the ceremony, my uncle read the Apache Wedding Blessing, and when he read the line "May you feel no rain, for you are the shelter for each other," a crack of thunder sounded and a gust of wind nearly knocked the whole tent off the side of the mountain. There was that moment of pause, and then everyone started cracking up because it really was so ridiculous.

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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great?
The potluck! I was getting some feedback from people leading up to it that they were really bothered by the fact that we were asking for food donations instead of gifts (we didn't do a registry). It was like they just couldn't grasp the idea, and were inwardly freaking out about it. I really had to take the time to reassure them that food was really what we wanted. In the end, we had a TON of food, and I saw everyone enjoying it and exchanging recipes, which opened it up for people to mingle and talk to someone new.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Surround yourself with people who will support your vision. My mother was instrumental in helping me to pull it off, because she was totally on board with what I wanted to do. I even approached her to make my dress (she sewed her own dress when she got married), and she did a stunning job.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Appoint someone to help you get food and drink during the ceremony. I was hoping that having a potluck would increase my chances for enjoying the food. Nope. I got a plate of food, sat down, had two bites, got pulled away for 30 seconds, and came back to find that someone had cleared my table already. I went to get another plate, but kept getting into conversations with people on the way and never got to eat.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. your attitude of going to a LGBTQ friendly state and writing your own state is exactly what I plan on doing as well one day!
    congrats on your beautiful wedding and good will towards a long happy marriage

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  2. I <3 that you used LGBTQ friendly vendors! I hope that my wedding turns out as lovely as yours did.

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  3. I truly, genuinely love this. Everything about it.
    I'm most impressed with the potluck. I toyed with that very idea, as my partner and I are already an established household. The nicest gift, I think, would be to not have to pay to feed the wedding guests and maybe have some leftovers to take home. Kudos. I'm definitely planning to go this direction now.

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  4. I'm Lauren's mom, and I wanted to add one piece of valuable advice (hindsight being 20/20) regarding the potluck: my biggest mistake was not hiring someone (because a guest/family member shouldn't be saddled with the responsibility) to oversee getting the food ready – heated, placed on tables, replenished, cleaned up. We are blessed with incredible family members and friends who jumped in to help, but some foods didn't even make it out to the buffet, and despite our best efforts at organizing and making lists of what to do when, many things could have been done better.

    The potluck was well-received and an incredible feast, and I definitely would gladly attend a wedding reception that was planned this way. For anyone contemplating doing this, consider hiring the buffet coordinator. It is worth the expense!

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