Jen & Jeff's intimate beer and bicycles mountain wedding

June 30 2014 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Stephen de Leon
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Photos by Stephen de Leon

The Offbeat Bride: Jen, Professional Photographer

Her offbeat partner: Jeff, International Relations Program Manager

Date and location of wedding: McRae's Meadow at Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, North Carolina — April 18, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: The wedding was an immediate family-only event. We rented a cabin from Blue Ridge Rentals in Blowing Rock, NC, and we spent the whole week in the mountains where we had gotten engaged, exploring and enjoying some quiet time together. Family arrived the night before our Friday wedding, and we hosted them at the cabin for a cookout, which allowed everyone a chance to talk and get to know each other.

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Friday, Jeff and I got ready together at the cabin, and Stephen, our friend and incredible photographer, arrived to take photos. Jeff had given my amethyst jewelry as a Christmas gift. Jeff's tie was hand-painted by a dear friend who is an AMAZING fabric artist. We had ordered custom Chuck Taylors from Converse. His said "groom" and mine "bride" down the heel stripe, and the colors were negatives of each other. I don't do uncomfortable shoes, so these were perfect. My bouquet was a dozen yellow roses that I found at a grocery store the night before the wedding for $12.99 and wrapped in $3.00 ribbon.

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We used the cabin's view as a backdrop for some of the portraits, then traveled a few miles along route 221 for some photos at a roadside waterfall with some local graffiti as a backdrop, and finished up at Grandfather Mountain's Mile High Swinging Bridge and the ridge where Jeff proposed last June.

The weekend after the wedding, we hosted an "after wedding party" for about 50 of our friends on a Sunday afternoon at Vendetta, a local restaurant with indoor bocce courts, in our neighborhood in NE Washington, DC. The owner is our next door neighbor, so he was able to discount the food cost and waive any space rental fee. We wanted to keep a local vibe to the event. The beer served was Public Ale from DC Brau and instead of a cake, we served "wedding pie" from Dangerously Delicious Pies, another local restaurant and also managed by another neighbor. They cut us a discounted deal, too, and personally delivered the pies to Vendetta. It was a great afternoon and we were able to have fun with everyone.

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Tell us about the ceremony:

The ceremony was in McRae's Meadow at the foot of the mountain. Our officiant was our dear friend, Ed, who introduced us two years and one day earlier at his birthday party, and between Ed, Jeff and I, we wrote the entire ceremony. The ceremony opened with Ed asking everyone to refrain from taking personal photos, because, I really wanted photos of our families' faces and not their devices and cameras.

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Jeff and I walked out together from behind some large boulders and into a grove of trees where everyone was gathered. I lit a candle to remember my father, who passed away 15 years ago, and Ed told the story of how we met. My best friend, Eileen, who is pretty much a second sister after 32 years, read a passage from The Irrational Season, by Madeline L'Engle.

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We did a beer ceremony, where we symbolically compared Breckenridge Vanilla Porter and Lancaster Strawberry Wheat and mixed them together to share (it's like strawberry shortcake in a glass!). We locked letters and a bottle of wine from one of our favorite wineries away to be opened and enjoyed on our fifth anniversary. When we exchanged rings, the vows compared the ring to bicycle race wheels, and we pledged each other all of our miles. Jeff and I are both long distance cyclists, which is why Ed thought we might like to talk at his party. We haven't stopped talking since!

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We adjourned the ceremony from the chilly meadow to dinner at The Best Cellar in Blowing Rock, where we ate amazing food, and shared a beautiful little cake with a bicycle cake topper. After dinner, we enjoyed a few beers with our siblings at a bar up the street. We spent the next day sightseeing with our families, and we closed the day with another group feast at the cabin. We couldn't have asked for a better weekend or a better start to married life.

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Our biggest challenge:
I hated the day I spent doing traditional wedding dress shopping before I scrapped the whole idea and went with my purple dress. I found it on ModCloth when I was browsing ideas on my phone while we were at a local bar one day. I knew I wanted tea length, because I would be in a meadow, and didn't feel like dragging a longer dress through the grass. I happened upon a purple polka dotted dress called boysenberry buckle, and the decision was made!

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My favorite moment:
I LOVED having my friend and professional colleague, Stephen, photograph the day! It made it even more special that he's someone we know and with whom we have a great rapport. Having Ed as our officiant was the perfect way to bring our relationship into this new chapter. It seemed fitting that he brought us together, and that he made it legal.

It was super special to have just our closest family members there with us, because we got a lot of meaningful time with them, and we never felt pulled in a million directions. I also just loved every second of the ceremony. It went off exactly as we wanted it to. The jokes, the laughter, the sniffly emotional moments, and the faces we inadvertently made at each other were perfect.

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My funniest moment:
I "Rick-rolled" Jeff during the ceremony. When we first started dating, Jeff and I were all snuggled up and he was saying all kind of sweet things to me, and he inadvertently recited the lyrics to Rock Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up." I started laughing until I was crying, and he just sat there wondering what was so funny. I decided almost as soon as he proposed, that I was going to Rick-roll him during the wedding. Apparently, he had briefly considered doing the same thing to me, but had decided not to. Now that would have been REALLY funny!

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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  1. I love the purple accents. I was wondering where you got the beautiful wooden box with your names on it?

  2. Pretty (and that dress is to DIE FOR)! Congrats! (And I love seeing my hometown represented in the beer ceremony– LBC's Strawberry Wheat really is a treat!!)

  3. A beer ceremony. A BEER ceremony. In your wedding. Jeezy-creezy. That's inspired. 🙂 And rick-rolling your husband earns you, like, +1000 internet points!

    It looks like you two were made for each other. Congratulations on your amazing day!

  4. Aww! Thanks so much! Almost as much fun as the beer ceremony was the tasting we did in our kitchen to find the winning combination! 🙂

    The rick roll was classic! He thought I was going off script on my vows… Until the music started!

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