The offbeat bride: Cara, pediatrician and professional camp counselor
Her offbeat partner: Kit, engineer and motorcycle fanatic
Date and location of wedding: Taughannock Falls State Park, near Ithaca, NY — July 16, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We traveled from the ceremony site to the reception site on a beautiful restored 1969 Triumph motorcycle that belongs to Kit's brother. We had our second date on that bike (so did Kit's brother and his wife actually!), so it meant a lot to us. Fortunately, my dress was short so it was easy to tuck up out of the way.
We also did or made whatever we could ourselves. Kit built a giant cupcake stand. I spent a ridiculous amount of time turning thrift store finds into chalkboards for table numbers and photo booth props. I made a steampunk motorcycle with two little riders for a cake topper. I took a chance on direct-order flowers (after being turned down by a local grower… bummer) and made good use of my brother's previous job in a florist. After scouring the internet for “barefoot sandals” that would match my dress, I ended up making them myself and was so psyched at how they turned out!
We wanted to keep the wedding green, which was harder than I thought it would be, considering we had an outdoor wedding. There was no place to rinse off china and we couldn't afford it anyway, so we were stuck with disposables. My caterer was more than a little worried when I started talking about compostable plates, but we found beautiful palm leaf plates and bamboo flatware that were classy and eco-friendly. We also found a company to drop off a few compost bins and they just picked them up afterwards.
The reception was in the afternoon, and I was worried most people wouldn't feel like dancing. I nominated one of our friends to be “Mistress of Fun,” and she brought about a million hula hoops and taught people how to hoop. We also had a bunch of other games, but the hoops definitely got the most attention.
Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was personal and reflected all of our collective passions and traditions. We wanted our friends and family to stand alongside us, and we didn't worry too much about what to call them. My dad and I were the only ones to walk down the aisle, which was really a stone staircase with barely enough room across for the both of us. My friend, who's in a punk band, played acoustic guitar and we walked down to Van Morrison's “Crazy Love.”
My dad, who considers himself more or less Buddhist, opened the ceremony by ringing a Tibetan singing bowl. My brother quoted The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a book that brought Kit and I together in shared geekdom on our first date. Kit's aunt read the Apache Wedding Blessing, which had been read at her own wedding 30 years ago. Our vows were adapted from a traditional Celtic vow in acknowledgment of Kit's Irish heritage. We are both musicians and I really wanted to sing to Kit. So I arranged an a cappella version of “Lullaby” by the Dixie Chicks. I was backed up by my college a cappella group and a bunch of talented friends and family.
Our biggest challenge: The guest list! We wanted a group small enough that we might actually get to speak to each of our guests, and one that we could afford to feed. Our budget was waaaay less than the average wedding, but we still wanted to throw a good party. Our families were very understanding, but it was still tough. We used the question “How will you feel at the wedding if this person isn't there?” If the answer was “Really, really sad,” they got an invite. If the answer was “Kind of bummed,” they went on the waiting list. We ended up with 100 people plus a bunch of kids, and it was perfect.
My favorite moment: Singing to my husband was amazing. Music is something we are both passionate about, and I loved spending hours arranging and practicing a song that was just for him.
I know it's cheesy, but the kiss was awesome too. We almost kissed the second I got down the aisle and we both spent the whole ceremony trying to remember that we weren't supposed to kiss yet. When we finally did… wow! We were so excited we had to do it twice!
My funniest moment: Our ceremony site was really hard to photograph. There was a long stone staircase leading to a small overlook with an amazing view of a waterfall. Unfortunately there was really no place to stand to get it all in. Our photographer's assistant was a climber and he brought all his gear so that he could get high up in a tree for some good shots. He was about 40 feet above the ground when the park police came by to give him a ticket for disturbing the trees. Everyone was impressed that our photographer was breaking the law in the name of getting good shots.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We were doing so much ourselves, and it was a morning ceremony. Even with a ton a planning I realized there was no possible way I could get everything set up. I had to delegate a lot more of the day-of work than my control-freak self wanted to, and it drove me crazy. I tried to use it as a way to make everyone feel involved, and I gave them titles like “Official People Wrangler,” “Parking Posse” and “Beer Czar.” That helped me give up some of the control. I still honestly have no idea how it all got done, but it did!
My advice for offbeat brides: The minute you start planning, sit down with your partner and each list about five things that are important to you for the wedding. As the planning gets crazy and your family/friends/vendors start to question your choices, think back to those things. If something was important to you in the beginning, fight to make it happen no matter how difficult it is or what other people think. If it's a little detail that seems really important right now but didn't back then, it's probably not worth getting stressed about.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Dress: Mon Cheri, bought off eBay
- Photography: Laura Kozlowski
- DIY Flowers: Fifty Flowers
- Catering: Blue Stone
- Cupcakes: Walker Cake Co
- Compostable Tableware: EcoPalm and LetsGoGreen
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!