The offbeat bride: Leah, magazine designer
Her offbeat partner: Charles, software engineer
Date and location of wedding: The Lower Mill Restaurant and Galleries, Honeoye Falls, NY– April 16, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We made a pact when we got engaged not to make ourselves crazy with planning. We picked one location for the whole event: a refurbished historic mill with a restaurant on the first floor and an art gallery on the second. We greeted our guests together at a pre-ceremony cocktail hour and then were married in the gallery. We're total foodies, so we worked with the chef to come up with a family-style dinner that included fabulous goodies such as Parisian gnocchi hors d'oeuvres, red pepper bisque, and short ribs. For dessert, we had a pastry table with rhubarb pie in lieu of wedding cake.
I designed our invites and Charles and I printed them together at a local letterpress studio. We also enlisted a lot of help from family for our other DIY projects. My bridesmaids helped me make tissue paper pom-poms to hang around the restaurant, and we used the scrap paper in recycled glass jars as table votives. We also created exclamation flags for the ceremony and mini flags for the table numbers and our pie toppers. Charles' mother arranged forsythia and pussy willow branches from her garden around the venue.
My father used Sparkbooth software and built a photo booth setup, including an automatic printer, so that guests could take their pictures home as favors. Charles' father set up a sound system using his own speakers, his sister helped us put together playlists on our laptop, and my brother DJed throughout the day.
We had our wedding party walk in to a ukulele version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and our first dance was to “Anything for You” by Ludo. Charles was particularly proud of the eighties dance mix he put together for after dinner as well.
Tell us about the ceremony: The structure of the ceremony was fairly traditional, but we kept the content secular and made sure it felt unique to us. It began with the Korean tradition of having our mothers light red and blue candles to signify our families coming together.
My father walked me in and my stepfather did one of our readings. We had a section addressing all of our guests to let them know how important their support is in our lives. Our ceremony was officiated by a good friend of our family, and although he's an ordained Buddhist minister, he was happy to help us put together something that reflected our relationship and beliefs. Charles and I scouted out bits and pieces we liked from lots of different sources (including Offbeat Bride!) and our officiant worked with us to make them flow together.
One of our readings:
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others; they too have their story. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. Whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Do you pledge to help each other develop your hearts and minds, cultivating compassion, generosity, trust, patience, ethics, and wisdom as you age together and undergo the ups and downs of life? We do.Recognizing that external conditions will not always be smooth, and that, internally, minds and emotions can sometimes get stuck in negativity, do you pledge to see all circumstances, inner and outer, as challenges to help you grow, to accept yourselves, and to generate compassion for others? We do.
Do you pledge to avoid becoming narrow, closed, or opinionated, and to help each other to see various sides of situations? We do.
Finally, Charles and Leah, do you choose each other as life partners in a relationship built on respect, friendship, and love? We do.
Our biggest challenge: Money (sigh). Although our families were kind enough to contribute, and that gave us some breathing room, we paid for the majority of the wedding ourselves and had to be strategic with our spending. We picked our venue because we loved the restaurant, but also they were great about letting us customize our event so that we only paid for what we really wanted.
Also, I bought my dress on sale at the mall and had it altered by a local tailor. I made my own veil and found great deals on Etsy for my belt and earrings. I admit I splurged a little on my shoes, but overall the whole outfit cost me way less than what I would have paid for just a dress at most bridal stores.
My favorite moment: Our vows, and the speeches given by Charles' brother and my best friend, were incredibly touching. While our ceremony was meaningful because we had spent a lot of time working on it together, the toasts were a complete surprise and it was the only time that day that we both teared up.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I'm amazed the whole thing came together. Around New Year's we moved the date of the wedding from September up to April because one of my brothers found out his unit would be deploying overseas in May. In the end I'm glad we did it, not just because it allowed my brother to be there, but it forced us to honestly evaluate what we wanted so we could make decisions quickly. I think more time would have just been spent second-guessing ourselves.
My advice for offbeat brides: All the little things really add up! Making stuff ourselves and with the help of our family kept us on budget. Don't feel like you need to plan every minute of the day; leave free time to just relax and connect with the people who are part of your celebration. Also, Spanx are your friend. 😉
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: White House | Black Market
- Shoes: Saks Fifth Avenue
- Earrings: Etsy seller YedOmi
- Custom pocket squares: Etsy seller MyMotherMary
- Custom guest book fingerprint tree: Etsy seller Bleudetoi
- Mustache photo booth props: Etsy seller LittleRetreats
- Chalkboard trays: Etsy seller HerMajestysPug
- Bouquets: Arena's Florist