Remember that neat crossword puzzle cake we showed you a little while ago? Well, here's the cool couple that created it!

Ultimate Weapon
The offbeat bride: Katie, Echocardiographer

Her offbeat partner: Andy, Paramedic

Location & date of wedding: Hotel Donaldson, Fargo, North Dakota — September 6th, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: We'd been together for the last five years, and neither of our parents held high hopes we'd make each other “honest.” Announcing our engagement and showing off the ring (a wicked cool Victorian engagement ring the Andy helped design for me) made both families a-twitter.

Both of our families are scattered throughout the country–we live in Georgia, but our parents are in California, North Dakota, Arizona, and Alabama. We wanted to do something that reflected us, our commitment and our singular idea of marriage. We wanted to have it in a location that was OUR choice.

Unfortunately, two weeks after Andy popped the question, my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This made wedding planning much easier. It had to be in Fargo, North Dakota, and it would have to be soon. And any frill or elegance or tradition that couldn't fit – To damn bad.

  • We had e-vites, instead of paper invitations.
  • We scrapped the attendants and had Deputies (we gave them deputy stars to wear).
  • Our neighbors from Georgia flew up and were co-officiants for us.
  • Our head Deputy made my bouquet and all associated flowers out of paper and watch parts. So badass.
  • Our cake was a crossword puzzle that we made. To coincide we posted the “clues” in frames so everyone could see.
  • Before the seven pm ceremony, we had a cocktail hour. Both the bride and groom hung out with guests, chatting and drinking.

Fargo Theatre
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest physical challenge was that three weeks before the wedding, we had to change the event from a backyard wedding to somewhere else: in Fargo. Have I mentioned we live in Georgia? We scrambled for about six hours, and found the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo. It fit our needs, but it meant that we had to change the catering, the invitations, and reconstruct our budget.

The biggest emotional challenge was my father's decline. I worried he wouldn't be healthy enough to attend, and we worried that the weekend would end up being for a funeral instead of a wedding. But he was there, and was great! It was what he held on for. He passed two weeks to the day after the wedding. He was a superstar.

Crossword flower centerpieces to match their crossword puzzle cake!
My favorite moment: Katie: My favorite moment was actually the cocktail hour we had before the wedding. Everyone just showed up, got themselves some delicious snacks, a nice drink (open bar), and mingled. Even though our wedding was small at thirty-seven people, it still felt crowded and exciting.

Andy: My favorite part was that the whole thing felt more like a well-appointed dinner party and not a wedding.

Instead of wedding favors they made a donation to the Cancer Center in Fargo

My advice for offbeat brides: It's easy to get wrapped up into getting what you want for your wedding. Sometimes it takes a catastrophe to show you what is really important. It was important to me to have my dad at my wedding, and to also give him a last hurrah.

One significant piece: we didn't want a videographer. It seemed like a ridiculous expense, but one of my friend's dad's flew out and video-ed the whole thing. He put together a DVD with music and wedding pictures within the week. Having that disc with my father laughing, talking and not in pain is the greatest gift I've received.

The wedding day is for you and your partner, true, but it's also for posterity. That's why the dress is expensive (even though mine wasn't. My Deputy rocks!).

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Venue: Hotel Donaldson, was our location for the wedding and reception. It had exceptional food, drink and service. I can't say enough about how great they are.
  • Flowers: Kellie, my Head Deputy. She'll do it for you, too! She has put up a custom flower making page on etsy.
  • Cake: Nichole's Fine Pastries in Fargo
  • Dress: Dillard's, and sparkled up with Swarovski crystals that my Head Deputy and I bought at a bead shop, which she hand-sewed on. She also made my “tails” that are detachable.
  • Suit: Andy's suit was a Hugo Boss–the most expensive single item for the wedding, but well worth it.

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Comments on Katie & Andy’s rooftop cocktail party on the prairie

  1. Props on the Nichole’s cake – I used to work there! It’s great to see a ND wedding on here!

  2. Question for Katie and Andy: It sounds like it really worked for you to have cocktails and snacks with the guests before the ceremony. Were you nervous at all? Were you able to be fully “present” with your guests even though the ceremony was still ahead?

    My partner and I are considering doing this for our wedding next summer simply because the officiant we really want can’t come until later in the day. So on one hand I’m thinking it will be great to meet and mingle to have a more relaxed atmosphere before the ceremony and on the other hand I’m worried about being to nervous or anxious to really enjoy it. Thoughts?

    • Hi Rose!
      I wasn’t nervous at all, because we had been together for 5 years (and lived together for 4 years). I was so completely ready to be married, which for me, was the only way to go. I mingled with every person there, which also cut down on the pressure of mingling during dinner. It meant that I got to chow down on the fabulous dinner the Hotel Donaldson served! I’d heard many stories where the bride doesn’t get to eat the meal she’d planned–I wasn’t about to let that happen to me.
      Also, I had planned the morning ahead of time–a sit in the hot tub first thing in the morning, and I built in time to have a cup of tea and a snack around 3 pm before any guests even began arriving. I would have fallen asleep, but it would’ve wrinkled my tails.
      As for the event, everyone thought our ceremony was unusual, but the fact that they got to drink throughout our ceremony seemed like a plus.
      There is also the bonus of a smaller crowd. We had 37 people including the photographer, so there was less logistics to deal with. We took photos around town ahead of time also, which made us able to be very present with our guests.
      And! I appointed my brother, Wade, to be the go-to with events that night. So if anything was going wrong, I didn’t want to hear about it. Wade was the one who coordinated with staff to make sure everything was working smoothly. (Anybody want a cowboy Wedding Planner?)
      I hope that answers your questions.

  3. Congratulations! Everything looks so thoughtful & creative…I’m especially in love with the cake and crossword flowers! So sorry to hear about your dad, but so glad he was able to attend your wedding.

  4. Reading about your wedding and about your father brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing and heavy way to put everything in perspective: how inconsequential it is to have the right dress, color scheme or first dance in comparison to making it happen in time for your dad to be there.

    As a superficial aside, his suit and styling look fantastic, and compliments your dress beautifully.

  5. HAHA! Yeah! I used to work with Jescia at Nichole’s, too! Lemme guess – Minda did your cake? She’s amazing. I miss that girl.

    And the HoDo is a GREAT venue. As a native Fargoan, I’m so happy to see it featured here. It’s a great place to get married – lots of good restaurants/caterers and lots of city parks and historic buildings. 🙂 Congrats on a great wedding!

  6. What a beautiful wedding, and an amazing story. I live one block from the HoDo, 4 from the Fargo Theater, less than a block from the mural. What a wonderful set of shots to celebrate my favorite place…downtown Fargo! You both look amazing. So sorry about your dad, I’m so happy for you that he got to be there. That’s wonderful.

    Thank you so much for sharing your special day with us!

  7. I am so sorry to hear about your dad passing away, and so totally in awe that you pulled everything together so quickly to make it a day that he could attend. That was very selfless of you. Congratulations to you both.

  8. Also giving condolences for your dad.

    Your bouquet is my favorite nonflower bouquet I’ve seen so far. Bookmarking!

  9. I’m so sorry about your dad but I am very glad for you that he was there and you have joyful memories of him.

    Your wedding was gorgeous, I adore your dress and the crossword geekery! Also, your bouquet is amazing. Congratulations and all the best for a happy life together!

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