Beth & Jay's sunflower, kid-friendly, 40-something wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
Ready or not, here we come …
Photos by Liz Pumphrey Photography

The offbeat bride: Beth, mom and VP at a large regional foundation (and OBT Member)

Her offbeat partner: Jay, actor and business analyst for fleet management corporation

Location & date of wedding: St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Cincinnati, OH — August 14, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: What, being gray and bald isn't offbeat enough in our pretty young bride magazine world?

We welcomed and planned for kids to be at the wedding. We did lots of DIY print design and flowers. We used simple (recycled and recyclable) decorations. The bride wore green (off the rack) and the groom wore a nice new suit (with a tie to match the dress, naturally). Tattoos were present but not visible :). The wedding party was the bride's children only wearing clothes that made them happy and comfortable. There was no dancing and no bouquet/garter chucking.

Guitarist
Beth & Jay skipped the traditional organ music and went with classical guitar instead.
Tell us about the ceremony: Well … we had a straight-from-the-book Episcopal wedding service, because that's my background. Jay knew this was important to me and so that's what we did, although he is not religious.

I regret somewhat that we couldn't find other ways to bring Jay's personality into the service itself. It did end up being personal, since our priest had spent a lot of time in premarital counseling with us. He used a non-Bible reading we liked in a very short sermon, and he added a prayer for the children we now share to what was written in the prayer book (deleting a part about having more, at our request!).

We wanted something simpler with less pomp than traditional organ music, so we found a local classical guitarist, who was wonderful.

This is how we get them to leave a room
Beth says, 'This is how we get them to leave the room.'

Our biggest challenge: Act sassy, she said
The snowball effect. We envisioned a small-ish wedding, not because of money or anything else. We just thought our circle was more intimate. Our final invitation list was bigger than we thought. Then a higher percentage of people than we thought could make it and wanted to join us.

As Jay said to the crowd at the reception, "We were planning to invite just family and friends — the people we love. And this was as small as we could get it." So true. In the end, it was a good thing. We had done some things on the cheap, so things like a larger catering bill didn't really phase us. I admit that, as someone who manages projects and plans events at work, it was hard for me not to get out in front of Jay on planning and doing things – if you're like that, don't run over your partner in the rush to get things done!

Squooshy facesMy favorite moment:
Jay: Standing up there together with the kids.

Beth: I'm a really stage-frightey kind of person so, of course, I started to shake as we walked in and I knew my legs were shaking for all to see (knee length dress). As I felt my daughter leaning on me, and I could lean on Jay, all that nervousness just went away and I was happy, happy, happy. Smiling at all our family and friends as we walked in and out. Seeing our awesome cakes made with love by a friend! Hearing Jay's touching words about his late father, whose dog tags he carried that day.

Groom's cake
The groom's cake was Jay's favorite scotch made out of white chocolate.
My funniest moment: We weren't sure my 6-year-old son would be able to stand still as long as he did, with nothing else to do and "boring church stuff." He did great, but ten or fifteen minutes in, he suddenly pulled up Jay's pant leg and said "Are you wearing cowboy boots?" (He wasn't). Just a curious boy doing what little boys do! No one heard but Jay but he was tickled.

At the reception, people's incredulity that the groom's cake was actually cake! It was so realistic.

And I loved seeing people coloring and playing with the stuff we had put on all the tables for children.

Centerpieces
They saved wine bottles to use as vases and bought wholesale sunflowers for the centerpieces.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We wanted to grow our own sunflowers. Which we did. And which all had already bloomed and died in the heat before August 14. Boo.

I did have a few to take as host gifts to showers. But we had a plan B and my wonderful parents ordered sunflowers in bulk from our local Kroger store, paid for, and delivered them to us the day before!

We had gobs of flowers to put in recycled green wine bottles for our centerpieces, buffet, extra vases, and I
made, both, my daughter's and my bouquet with them. It was awesome to walk into that big sunny room and see sunflowers and happy faces everywhere!

All done!My advice for offbeat brides: Figure out what your vision is and stick to it. Think about what would make you happy that day when you remember it later.

Don't tell people about the details if you don't want their input! It's fun to be surprised anyway. And when people (like parents) aren't paying, they don't get to say, right? But don't borrow trouble. People love you and they want to be happy for you.

Plan your own happy day, but be considerate of people's needs so you don't throw people so far out of their own comfort zone that they're miserable — you are the host of a big party after all, and that's what a good host does.

And if there are traditional things you like and have meaning for you, by all means do them! It's not a contest to be offbeat.

Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
Jay: My first wedding was actually more offbeat than this one. It was non-religious, held in an old men-only men's club, and used a Justice of the Peace. The best man was a woman and got hit on by the Justice of the Peace.

Beth: Picked the right guy! I had actually mostly done what we wanted and dropped the rest the first time, so I had some muscle memory for disregarding things that weren't meaningful to us.

Yay, it is candy!
How can there be kids but not candy? There can't!

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Beautiful and so meaningful. Thank you so much for sharing. And HORAY A WEDDING FROM CINCINNATI! My sister lives in TP 🙂

  2. THANK YOU!!! I thought I was the only 40+ bride here. It's nice to see someone else walking down the isle with gray hair. Everything looked beautiful and I *LOVED* the story about the sunflowers!! (not the part that they died, the part where it all worked out!)

  3. You look absolutely lovely! And so do your sunflowers, even if they weren't homegrown. I love the colours of your dress with the sunflowers and your kids' outfits.

  4. Hey thanks, that's me! I can't see the whole text of comments in the post though – just excerpts at the side. Anyone know why?

  5. I love this wedding! What a happy family. I loved the muted but still bright colour of your dress. The sunflowers made it pop!

  6. love love love the greens and browns together! and the sunflowers just set off all the colors. the wine bottles were a fantastic idea too. you are georgous!

  7. I love this – the nervousness, the openness to experience, the consideration of your loved ones' feelings. We'll be 40 and 41 come wedding time, both of us with some gray and all the rest that comes with age!

    I also love your attitude to the "snowball effect." I've had some guilt about is the size of our guest list (I am lucky to have parents eager to help with funds, but I do want to be reasonable). But the more I look over it, the more I realize the number of loved ones is a function of our age. More places lived and worked, more friendships of 10+ years, and more people coupled and childed – it adds up! So it's a big party, as you said! But it doesn't have to be big and stuffy both. I love how you two addressed it in speaking to your guests.

  8. Can I just say how much I love the bride's hair? She looks absolutely amazing with her natural colour.

    • Thank you! It's been a few years since I went "natural" and I've had nothing but good comments since. Except from a twenty-something kid who couldn't imagine why. I told him he wasn't my target market anyway 🙂

  9. I just got married July 25 2010 none
    In our home I wore a Purple dress, my husband wore black pants and a light purple shirt. I had my dogs one wore some of my material from my dress made into a ring pillow on her back a Swedish Valuhund and my Corgi he wore a Harley pillow on his back.
    In the wedding and my husband’s VFW motorcycle club members were all in the wedding in their club vests white shirt and the girls purple shirt off the rack and their vests and everyone wore black pants and my friend that is blind had her dog in the wedding it was relaxed and simple the girls in the club made the food and one made the cake and one of men men in the club played the music he was the DJ
    I had Harley unity candles
    My pictures were taken my Don Cole and it was a mix of Harley and Renaissance wedding
    My best friend married us in our home

  10. Thanks everyone! Your comments mean a lot to us. I still can't see them all though – so weird. It says I have 13 but I can't see that many. Wacky.

  11. Wow! So gorgeous! And I love the dress, the sunflowers, the kids' involvement…
    The BEST is the bride and groom–how beautiful are they?!?!!

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.

Biz owners & wedding bloggers

Please just use your real name in your comment, not your business name or blog title. Our comments are not the place to pimp your website. If you want to promote your stuff on Offbeat Bride, join us as an advertiser instead.