The offbeat bride: Sarah, the Publicist
Her offbeat partner: Rhett, the Butler (just kidding), Risk Analyst
Date and location of wedding: Holly Hedge Estate, New Hope, PA — December 30, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Rhett and I had just bought a house and had been living together for an entire year (sinnin' and grinnin' as my uncle likes to call it) while planning our wedding. Under no circumstances did we want a church or a stranger to officiate. We wanted to marry ourselves in the Quaker tradition. We chose an Art Deco theme that harkens back to our shared love of Hollywood glamour and the 1930s, specifically 1939, the year Gone With the Wind premiered.
We saved a little money by having the wedding on a weekday after the holidays. We wrote the ceremony from scratch and strived to make it memorable and surprising. Many of our guests were coming from more than six hours away, so we wanted it to be worth their time.
We worked with Mark Bryan Designs to realize our vision. I brought in my concept of some champagne buckets overflowing with white callas and orchids, and a freshly-opened bottle of “bubbly” (real bottles, lit from within and stuffed with mica). He definitely understood what I was going for, and even incorporated an infinity symbol, a key moment in our ceremony. For the other centerpieces, Mark used actual vintage trumpet vases which he left slightly oxidized to play up that 1930s vibe, and created a beautiful fan burst of flowers and feathers.
Choosing Holly Hedge was the easy part. It had that perfect blend of charm in a bucolic Bucks County setting (where my parents live). Their Revolution-era stone barn where we held our candlelit ceremony was converted in the 1920s to a gathering space, and was so uniquely beautiful we booked it more or less the same weekend we saw it.
At the reception, we entered to “Come Dance with Me” by Frank Sinatra and went right into our first dance. There were no bridal party introductions, just our friends ringing the dance floor in anticipation.
We had no toasts, other than my father's welcome speech right before dinner. There was no cake cutting (since there was no cake!), and no garter/bouquet toss. It was just dancing and visiting, and I recommend this to anyone looking for a more simple and laid-back time.
Tell us about the ceremony: Here were some of our readings:
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
Parents' Reading (all four, in rotation):
When you find someone you can love and who can love you, then love one another. And, as you love one another, remember this: Make your love a joyous, freedom-loving adventure. Let your love be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Sing, dance, and be joyous together, and yet, let each of you have moments alone.
Let there be spaces in your togetherness so that the winds of the heavens dance between you. Remember, the strings of the lute are together, yet alone as they quiver with the same music. As the pillars of the temple stand apart, they serve a common goal.
Fill each other's cup, and yet, allow each to drink at their own choosing. Give one another of your bread, while allowing each to season it to their own taste. Give your hearts to each other, while providing space for each other's heart to be free, for there is much in life to be loved. Let your lover's heart be free to answer the call of life.
Stand together, yet not too near each other, for in the garden of life, the oak tree & the cypress each have air to breathe and a little earth to call their own, where the sun can reach down & touch them bringing forth the hidden beauty that lies within each one. Yes, be together, and be yourself. Be free, and always be together.
An Apache wedding blessing:
Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the
journey ahead and through all the years,
May happiness be your companion and
your days together be good and long upon the earth.
Our DJ played 1930s music for half an hour before the ceremony, but the ceremony music was a bit more contemporary.. The bridal party came in to “Seasons of Love” from Rent, done by Vitamin String Quartet. I walked in to “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young covered by Vitamin String Quartet. It is my parents' song and all of my family knew it. The recessional was set to “You're My Best Friend” by Queen.
Our biggest challenge: One thing that presented a challenge was being walked down the aisle. This was actually a HUGE debate in my family for many weeks, and perhaps I didn't handle it well in the beginning. I love my father more than anything, but I was adamant that I would not be “given away.” The decision was a very hard one that eventually turned into a debate about other elements of the ceremony as well. We ended up compromising on a hug for my parents at the end of the aisle to symbolize the transition from daughter to wife.
In the end, I am glad that I walked myself down the aisle. It was right for me. It won't be right for everyone. But I met Rhett on my own, got engaged on my own without asking permission, and I would meet him at the front of the barn with a kiss, on my own.
My favorite moment: The first favorite moment was our private first look before the bridal party arrived. It was relaxed, romantic, and truly special, laughing and trying not to be nervous. Our photographers were like ghosts. We hardly knew they were there.
We married ourselves too! We asked our friend and matchmaker to emcee the ceremony, but we said our vows and included “I marry you” to make the point. Our vows were a complete surprise to each other as well. But they were so similar, it was creepy.
My funniest moment: Our DJ, Roots & Groove, dedicated (per my request) Cee Lo's unedited “Fuck You” to my mother. This wasn't for any passive-aggressive reason, but because she truly loves that song. My bridesmaids ran and got her, and shoved her on the floor with me. Good thing my gram can't hear all that well!
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I made cocktail menus with six selections of beverages from the 1930s. I don't know how great it turned out in the end, but I was a bit worried that our offerings would make everyone very drunk, very quickly. I'm pretty sure most folks got tipsy immediately, but at least 95% of our guests were able to tolerate the alcohol content. There were no bar fights, and no one got kicked out, thankfully!
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Be mindful! Watch what you say and who you say it to if you get upset. I learned this the hard way. Be honest but moderate your response and make damn sure it's the right time and place to speak your mind.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Décor/flowers/lighting: Mark Bryan Designs
- Pies: Town Crier Bakery
- DJ: Roots & Groove
- Trolley: Bucks Country Trolley Co.
- Bride's gown: “Harper” by Priscilla of Boston's Vineyard Collection
- Bridesmaids' dresses: Bill Levkoff 526 in Euro Navy Satin
- Men's tuxedo rentals: Joseph A. Banks, Style 912 “Radnor” jacket
- Bride's fascinator: Etsy seller Alliums123
- Groom's boutonniere: Etsy seller SweetGrassMill
- Bridesmaids' rhinestone combs: Etsy seller BethanyLorelle
- Invites/escort cards/table numbers: Etsy seller JamieKonet
- Favors: Champagne truffle corks from Pierre's Chocolates
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!