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The offbeat bride: Julia, Personal Chef (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Erik, Accountant

Location & date of wedding: Freedom Park Public Amphitheater, Charlotte, NC — October 24, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Our budget was pretty small, so everything we used/wore/gave away was either handmade, thrifted, or in a few special cases, purchased from Etsy vendors. Because so many of the props and decor were craft projects, we got to involve a lot of our family and friends in the weeks and months before the big day.

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For example: the hanging flag bunting (made entirely of vintage, thrifted ties) was sewn together by my awesome sewing-vixen Gramma. Our ring pillow was designed and cross-stitched by our buddy Carsten, who had just recently learned the craft.

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And all of the boutonnieres and my bouquet were constructed out of thrifted materials, which my friend Kelly helped to laboriously cut into flower shapes one weekday night. Having a part for everyone to play meant a lot to both of us, since we decided against the traditional wedding party and intended to walk each other down the aisle.

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Music has played a key role in our relationship, so what we strolled down the aisle to was a pretty big deal. Another old pal and former bandmate of Erik's, Tim, played guitar while his awesome girlfriend Halley played fiddle and they covered some wedding-ified versions of the classics: “Search and Destroy” by Iggy Pop and “Rock n' Roll Suicide” by David Bowie. We walked down the aisle to Suicide, and when the ceremony was over and we kissed, they broke into “Oh, Comely” by Neutral Milk Hotel.

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We aren't religious, so our officiant was another old pal of mine who had recently been ordained by the Church of Spiritual Humanism (i.e., the internet). This was actually her first wedding, and she killed it. Having a wedding in a public place was really awesome (and cheap) and had some touching moments. When we kissed, total strangers sitting in the seats outside of the theater cheered for us.

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Since we're both vegetarians, and I'm kind of a food nerd, what we served to our guests was something we spent a lot of time discussing and planning. All of the nosh we served at the reception was locally-focused and veg-friendly, except for some barbecue chicken (after all, we love all our pals, veggie or no).

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We had a nacho bar (because I LOVE nachos) and went buffet-style southern for the rest of it, with collards, succotash, mac ‘n' cheese — you name it. The biscuits were really awesome, covered in honey, and stacked in pyramids. We also featured a big ol' spread of locally-made goat cheeses from a dairy farm 60 miles away.

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Tell us about the ceremony: It was short. We timed it during the rehearsal the day before and it came in at eight minutes and turned out to be more about seven the day-of. Since we'd decided to do a ring warming, we were worried about all 80 guests getting to hold the rings before we needed them up front, but my sister stepped in and made sure they moved at a speedy pace.

We also decided that since we weren't having a wedding party, we'd have an impromptu hug-fest after walking down the aisle instead. So we each hugged each and every member of our immediate families before starting the actual ceremony.

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One of our closest and oldest friends, Nick, had to be involved in our ceremony somehow, so we asked him to read the lyrics to “The Book of Love” by the Magnetic Fields. Since he was the one that turned us on to that amazing band back in the day, it felt really appropriate.

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Our vows were very simple and to the point:

“I love you, Erik. You are my best friend. Today I give myself to you in marriage. I promise to encourage and inspire you, to laugh with you, and to comfort you. I promise to love you when life seems easy and when it seems hard, when our love is simple, and when it is an effort. I promise to treasure you, and to always hold you in highest regard. These things I give to you today, and on all the days of our life. And with this ring, I join my life to yours.”

After that we had a good snog and walked ourselves back down the aisle. Short, simple, and sweet!

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Our biggest challenge: We had a death in the immediate family the week before the wedding and it threw us all for a big, twisty loop. The last two weeks were pretty hectic and having to attend an out-of-state funeral right in the middle of it was tough on both of us. Erik's brother ended up coming straight to North Carolina from the funeral with his “Let's git ‘er done” gloves on, however, and played a huge role in helping finish all the projects that needed to be completed. Our local friends also pitched in, and it all got done in the end.

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My favorite moment: I know everyone probably says this, but the moment when we said our vows (written together, a couple of days before) was deeply meaningful to both of us. It felt like the world ceased to exist, and everything got really, really quiet. It was just Erik and me pledging our lives to each other. Wow. I thought I was going to keel over, but the moment passed and I was still on my feet. Phew!

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My funniest moment: Quoting a movie, we thought, would be an awesome way to put people at ease and set a casual tone for our ceremony. We totally underestimated the universality of the Princess Bride, when the ceremony started with the “Mawwage” monologue. Even my Gramma was chuckling, and our officiant did the accent perfectly.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Remember that it isn't the favors and food that people will remember most — it's the atmosphere and the fun. So throwing down lots of cash last minute on crazy favors, while tempting, isn't necessary. People are there to be with you and support you during a big moment of your life, not get swag!

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If you don't have a Maid or Dude of Honor, consider asking a close friend (or two!) to take on some organizational stuff instead. It can be tough keeping the full day's shenanigans in your head, and chances are, your pal will feel honored that you asked.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That with the help and love of our pals and fam, Erik and I could pull off a monster party. It was the biggest project we'd tackled as a couple to date, and despite some setbacks and distractions, we did it! Pulling it off gave us both feelings of anticipation and excitement for what we might do together in the future. Project one complete.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!


photography: Poprock Photography

Comments on Julia & Erik’s public display of thrifted, crafty affection

  1. The details are adorable! The ties/bunting is a clever idea. I love that you had someone ordained to perform the ceremony. I’ve always wanted to do that but I didn’t think the state of NC recognized it as legal so I haven’t pursued it. Oh, and your dress is pretty!

    • @Tina – thanks love! We feared that as well, but the amazing ladies at the marriage license office assured us it was ok (seriously, they were the sweetest things ever, and it kind of surprised us).

  2. amazing!! I love freedom park, My husband and I thought about getting hitched there because we officially became a couple after a few months of “talking” on the brigde that leads to that ampitheater.congrats!

  3. What a gorgeous wedding! This is exactly how I want my wedding to be. Intimate and bursting with love. Putting this one in the inspiration file!

  4. The bouquet and boutonnieres are absolute perfection! I have a (severe) fabric fetish and would love to steal your idea for my own wedding. Can you please explain your process in making them?

    • This is an awesome way to get through some of that stockpile, to be sure! Here’s a link to sort of what we did – templates were altered a bit (forgive me, it’s Martha :/) http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/article/fabric-garden-rose-and-peony-how-to

      Instead of sewing the flowers together and gathering, I pushed a stem through a small slit in the center, one end of which was a loop twisted around vintage stamens (so it wouldn’t pull all the way through). Then I hot glued the fabric in place and scrunched the flower a bit as it cooled, to hide the glue a bit.

      Wrapped the base of the flower where it met the stem with floral tape and repeated. And repeated. And repeated…

    • Hecckkkk yeah, I was super-stoked about how those came out. The design was based on this old, thrifted Bar Mitzvah shirt Erik’s had for years, so it was fun to see people recognize the image from that.

  5. I love your vows! They are perfectly worded.

    I also wanted/still want to start off with a princess bride for the ceremony!

    • Thanks darlin’! Truthfully, however, we had a LOT of help from a collection of marriage vows my Ma in Law gave us a couple of months prior to the ceremony. As in, picked one we really liked and changed the verbiage a little bit. If I can find a link to the book, I’ll post it here.

  6. Great wedding celebration!! looks like everyone had a great time too.. congrats!

  7. I love everything you did! Those vows were really beautiful, exactly the sort of thing I want. I’ve been planning on doing felt flowers but the look of the different fabrics on yours looks amazing. Might do that instead.

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