The offbeat groom: Bryne, Auto Finance Mgr
His offbeat partner: Becky, Accounting
Date and location of wedding: The Hall of Philosophy, Mt. Gretna, PA — 10/04/2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Almost everything in the wedding was personalized and affordable, and many of our vendors were friendors. Our DJ, Jay, is the fiance of Becky's friend. He kept feet moving all night. Our photographer, Shauna, is also a friend of Becky's and we feel she captured us perfectly. Our friends, Jay and Ben, beautifully played four Beatles songs for us, including our first dance. Our officiant, Tyler, is a friend of Bryne's and he did a great job at performing our secular ceremony. Becky's friend, Kelly, didn't charge us a dime to serve our beer and wine. We made sure to have the DJ prompt everybody to treat her well, which they did. Our florist and caterer were also very affordable. Dan from Blue Heron Flowers took bottles collected by Becky and her mom and turned them into beautiful centerpieces.
The food was provided by a food truck, The Bountiful Feast. The owner, Jim, tailored a menu of delicious food: gyros, Bratwurst, Angus cheeseburgers, and vegan veggie kababs. Our wine was cheap Trader Joe's brand. We re-labeled them with our own personalized labels, which paid homage to our favorite entertainer, Howard Stern. We had can koozies made with our name and date, as well as a nod to the Beatles: “All you need is love… and a cold beverage.”
Because we are huge Philadelphia sports fans, our guest book was a Phillies jersey, which our friends and family signed. Each table had a small basket of Becky's favorite sweet treat, candy corn. Finally, as huge supporters of equal rights, we needed a way to show support to our LGBT friends and family. A local bakery, Sweet Sanctions, made some delicious heart-shaped cookies with the equality symbol.
We really saved money on things that are often some of the costliest aspects of a wedding. Becky's engagement ring features a gorgeous green amethyst and cost only $90 on Etsy. Both our wedding bands combined were about $60. Becky's dress is a vintage '70s dress, also found on Etsy for about $70. Bryne's outfit came in under $80. Another area of saving was our venue, which was only $300 for the day due to the DIY nature of the setup. Without Becky's mom, Kathy, our wedding would have probably cost twice as much. She put countless hours and effort into creating so many uniquely personalized items that completely wowed us.
Tell us about the ceremony:
I wrote the ceremony on my own. The entire thing lasted only six minutes but it was packed with meaning. Because we are secular humanists, we did not want to have a religious figure perform our wedding. Luckily, my friend Tyler happens to be the mayor of our small town and he was honored to help us. Becky and our daughter, Avery, made their way down the aisle as Jay and Ben played a third acoustic Beatles song, “Here Comes the Sun.” We had no wedding party other than ourselves and Avery, but we were joined on the “stage” by our family members.
My favorite moment:
Hands down, the most meaningful thing about our wedding was that Becky's dad, Mike, was able to attend and share the day with us. Mike lives in a nursing home, suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder called Huntington's Disease. It's a nasty condition with no known cure and children of those afflicted have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the disease. Because we'd already been living together for a couple years and didn't need another toaster, we requested that all gifts be in the form of cash. We pledged to donate 20% of those gifts directly toward the research fund at hdsa.org. We were able to make a $600 donation to the battle!
As for Mike, the guy is incredible. Afflicted with such a dreadful lot in life, he always has a smile on his face and he's very emotional. He was a happy mess at the wedding, especially when Becky's sister, Anne, gave a moving speech about him during the reception.
My funniest moment:
The funniest moment of our wedding was our piñata-smashing, which was in lieu of a cake-cutting. I hand-made a zombie piñata and we filled it with Hershey's Kisses and Hugs. When it was time, our DJ played the theme to The Walking Dead and we acted scared. I turned and saw the “zombie” and screamed, hiding behind Becky. Becky took a whack at the piñata, hurting her hand a bit, so I finished the job. When the head collapsed to the floor, I drove the stake straight through the brain.
Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
We'd both been married before. We'd each had fairly large weddings that were fairly traditional, and we spent the bulk of our time making our rounds. This time, the main idea we worked with all along was that we wanted a quick, meaningful ceremony and a kick-ass party. A major part of ensuring a great party was being picky with the guest list. Because this was wedding number two for each of us, we didn't feel obligated to invite every coworker and extended family member we could name. Instead, we invited the people we truly wanted to celebrate with and made it an adult-only affair, except for our daughter, her friends and a couple of babies in our family. As a result there was zero time spent mingling with relatives we couldn't pick out of a line-up and tons of time boogying down on the dance floor. A pleasant side effect of our invitation strategy: about 95% of the invited guests showed up!
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
The most important thing we learned is how important it is to work ahead. Thankfully, we did! It's scary to think how things would have gone if we hadn't. We got engaged in August of 2013 and quickly decided on an October 2014 date. Planning in earnest began in October of 2013. This was huge because we never felt like things were coming up on us too quickly. We also made sure that we were in close contact with all of our vendors along the way to be sure that things were still in place. If something became cloudy, we acted quickly to get it fixed.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Shauna Yorty
- Caterer: The Bountiful Feast
- DJ: DJ Matrix, Lebanon PA
- Florist: Blue Heron Flowers and Unique Gifts
- Venue: Mt. Gretna Hall of Philosophy
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!