Liz & Laurie encourage wedding guests to "Outshine the Bride"

Updated Oct 17 2019

The offbeat bride: Liz, makeup magician

Her offbeat partner: Laurie, German studies scholar and language teacher

Location & date of wedding: The Night Kitchen restaurant at the Montague Book Mill, Montague, MA

What made our wedding offbeat: Probably the most "offbeat" aspect of our wedding, aside from our gayness and my burgundy gown (are those things even offbeat anymore? Please!), was our dress code: we <specifically instructed our guests to Outshine the Bride. It was right there on our website and in the invitation, and our guests did an amazing job!


Overall, our wedding was very "us:" we married on our 6th anniversary to the day, in the fall (our favorite season), and chose autumnal colors we both adore: burgundy and orange. We chose a venue that we both spend time at regularly, and love. And I spent a lot of time creating our website, which was fun and well-received.


The wedding included a good mix of buy it and DIY it with a LOT of help from our amazing friends! We wrote the ceremony and our vows; I hired a stylist for my complex updo but did my own makeup; my gown and accessories (hair flowers, wrap and clutch) were created by a talented friend who is currently studying at FIDM; a friend played classical guitar during the ceremony and another DJ'd; Laurie's academic advisor got a one-day marriage designation and conducted the ceremony; a coworker of mine created our invitations while another did our photography; a family member created my bouquet the morning of the wedding from flowers she got at the grocery store…! We were very blessed, and we saved a TON.

In addition, we kept things pretty simple. We shot our "formal" photos before the ceremony so no one would have to wait around. We had the ceremony and reception in the same space, and the venue manager knew EXACTLY what he was doing — the transitions were seamless.


We wanted to blow the majority of our budget on good food and wine, which we did (deliciously *and* quite affordably, given our fabulous venue), so we skipped things that didn't resonate with us: favors, printed programs, a big wedding party (we opted for one attendant and told her to wear whatever, which made things SO much easier), extensive decorations/flowers (the venue was already so pretty!), and those ubiquitous big honkin' tiered cakes (we opted instead for an assortment of the Night Kitchen's amazing desserts). Although I had moments of "but won't people be expecting that???" it was EXACTLY the right decision to only do what we really wanted to do. And frankly, I don't think anyone missed the miniature bottles of maple syrup we were halfheartedly considering.


But in many ways, our wedding was fairly traditional, too: my dad walked me down the "aisle," my groom wore a tuxedo, we were toasted with champagne, a few family members got spectacularly drunk, and we got our cheeks squeezed relentlessly by my aunt!


Our biggest challenge: Probably our biggest challenge — and disappointment — was Laurie's (Catholic) mother's refusal to acknowledge the wedding. She was never accepting of her daughter's sexuality, and promptly shut us down when we told her we were engaged. She didn't attend (she and her sister didn't even return the postage-paid reply cards!), but the happy surprise — which we only learned about a month before — was that Laurie's father decided to attend alongside her three younger brothers. It was wonderful to spend time with them — they were an absolute riot! I suppose we'll have the rest of our lives to deal with the elephant in the room whenever we happen to see her mother again.


Another family surprise: Laurie's former host parents flew all the way from Germany to attend our wedding and travel around New England for a week! It was wonderful to meet them, and bittersweet to see Laurie's high school host mother attend when her own mother would not. (Yeah I'm sure to get over this any day now!)


My favorite moment: There were so many moments — there's a reason we're grinning like mad in almost every photo! — but the "Outshine the Bride" runway show was easily the high point of the reception! Our friends made great use of the support pole in the center of the room, let's just put it that way. We provided gag gifts (a clip-on veil and a bow tie) for the winners of the runway walk-off. One wore a short, tight, fire-engine red dress, and our gentleman winner wore a full dress kilt! It was great.


I was also serenaded by friends while my hair was being styled — pop songs performed with ukeleles, including highly wedding-inappropriate fare like "Femme Fatale" by The Velvet Underground. I'm looking forward to seeing the footage of that. It TOTALLY relaxed me!


My father's toast, which commemorated my (deceased) mother and shared both of their love for us, will also stick in my memory.

The whole evening was just FUN. We had an absolute blast!

Try to keep your planning ahead of your mouth, but don't fret if you can't make everyone happy, because believe me: you cannot.


My offbeat advice: No matter how much planning you do, expect to make a few mistakes. My most cringe-inducing mistake: chatting about the wedding and confirming people's addresses BEFORE realizing just how huge and impossible our guest list had become once we factored in guests. Oops. We HAD to cut it, and I felt like such an ass, but we simply couldn't accommodate more than 90 guests at our venue (and we were at capacity on the day!), not to mention our budget. So try to keep your planning ahead of your mouth, but don't fret if you can't make everyone happy, because believe me: you cannot.

Also, speaking of not making people happy: you probably can't change your family, so if they're not supportive, look to other family, friends and colleagues!

Finally, it bears repeating: do what you want, and skip what you don't!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn:

  1. Great advice thanks for sharing! Extremely quotable line on keeping planning ahead of your mouth – I'm going to have to keep that in mind in the coming months. Constantly.

  2. I love this wedding. First of all, my wedding is also going to be in October and will also have dark red and orange as the main colors (and I will be wearing dark red). But beside the "me" factor, this couple just looks like they're having SO much fun! I LOVE Liz's dress and hair (and on a sidenote, she's got one of the prettiest smiles ever). I love the idea of outshining the bride (though again, how could you outshine that glowing smile?).

  3. Congratulations! Your celebration looks like it was fabulous. You both look so happy!

    A special greeting to Laurie from another Germanist (and Wiggie!)

  4. Congratulations! I find this inspiring, in so many ways it's similar to my own plans, but obviously we each have our own quirks.
    What a fun and fabulous wedding!

  5. hmmm…how do you feel about me totally plagiarizing your 'out shine the bride' portion of your website? I just love the vibe of your entire wedding. you are playful and funny and genuinely in love – thanks for the major dose of inspiration!

  6. Molly – plagiarize away! We were by no means the first people to encourage their guests to dress fabulously. (Don't know how many runway walk-offs there have been though… haha.) I'm glad you were inspired!

    • So I can't see your website (I'm guessing it's down now) But I'm very curious how you let guests know what the dress code was and that there would be a "walk off"? I need a little help / guidance on how to communicate the dress code I want, "Carnival Dressy". Apparently it's confusing!

      Beautiful Wedding!

  7. Holy crap, love the "outshine" thing, everyone looks like they're having a blast! And (being someone who lives in scotland) who doesn't love a well dressed gentleman in a kilt?

  8. I absolutely LOVE the Book Mill! When I was a Vermonter, I would frequently take day trips there to browse, read, drink coffee, and stare at the waterfall. What a great wedding location! Thanks for reminding me of a great bookstore too!

  9. I LOVE her gown! She looks fantastic in it.
    They both look phenomenal!

    Outshining the bride is a great idea. And the photos are great.

  10. I love the gown too!! where did she get the gown from? does anyone happen to know?? I also love how the bride has her hair style as well!! congrats to both of you!!

  11. Ok thanks I just love the color and happen to love roses too. I was looking for something for my holloween themed wedding thanks so much

  12. I am in love with your hair and dress! You are so entirely beautiful! What a lovely wedding and gorgeous bride.

  13. P.S. I am so sorry about Laurie's mom's reaction. 'Tis a shame really, as you too look so in love and the wedding was so perfect. It's amazing that her Deutsche family came to visit!

  14. Congratulations to both of you and here's to many more years!!!! And you both look amazing!!!! Lots of love!

  15. I am in love with this wedding. I think because her hair is so awesome and I love the colors..the colors! They both look fablous. It has gotten me excited about my own wedding date (decided not dated yet).
    I wish her Mom had decided to come, I would not advise choosing a religon over your child. For her whole life even after mom is dead and gone, she will always know Mom didn't come, at least the men did what was right.
    I hope this blog is still able to be posted on! Thanks

  16. I'm most likely getting married in the springtime (groom's parents and my parents were married 4 days apart, so we're heavily leaning towards a day half-way between the two), but I absolutely adore Fall wedding pictures! I was blessed to be a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding (unofficial co-MOH — bride's sister was official MOH) and she and her hubby got married in October, too! Their favorite colors are hunter green and orange. They married at a vineyard and it was beautiful!
    As an avid book-lover with another book-lover, that's awesome that you got to pick a bookstore! I'm a bit jelly. ;p

    I am sorry that Laurie's mother chose not to attend. While I disagree with the homosexual lifestyle, if one of my bi or gay friends ever invited me to one of their weddings, I would go because they already know how I feel about it, but still wanted me to be there. I think it's more important to distinguish that you can show love, encouragement, etc. to a person, even if you disagree. I'm also against premarital sex, but that doesn't stop me from being happy for friends and family when they wed, nor attending and celebrating. To me, it's the same thing. I hope that all made sense and mean no disrespect in any regard. 😉
    Furthermore, weddings recently became a whole lot more important to me after my younger brother ran away from home and got married and wouldn't let any of his loving family attend. Four older siblings, myself included, and two parents are completely baffled as to why.
    Sorry for the novel. I hope the heart of my message got across. God bless and take care!

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