The Offbeat Bride: Hannah, artist
Her offbeat partner: David, biologist
Date and location of wedding: Tree Hill Nature Center, Jacksonville, FL — March 14, 2015
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Our venue for both the ceremony and reception was a nature center that we'd visited together a lot in high school before we were dating, and plenty of times after we started dating, too. David had volunteered there for a time too while beginning his biology career. We are both nature lovers and couldn't imagine any better place to celebrate our wedding than this beautiful place full of personal history for us.
We didn't mean for this to happen when we set the date, but we soon realized we would be getting married on the ultimate Pi Day, 3/14/15! To celebrate, my mom made a bunch of different dessert pies to go along with our wedding cake. We had already decided to order a bunch of pizzas for dinner, serendipitously continuing the pie theme. Boss.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our friend Sergio officiated our ceremony and added some truly beautiful words to the script we'd provided him. We actually borrowed some from a script we'd found on Offbeat Bride. We also included a reading of one of Pablo Neruda's Love Sonnets, XVII, which David chose. I'll never forget the look on his face as our officiant read the words, he looked so peaceful and happy. We had another close friend, Daniel, playing our ceremony music on guitar which added another special personal touch.
But my favorite thing about our ceremony is that it made people laugh. I'm notoriously shy, and though I had mustered enough courage to speak loudly and clearly, without any stage fright, I hadn't finished my vows and had to admit to that in the moment. I said what I felt on the spot and everything was fine, but it gave people a chuckle, and that made me happy. David jumped the gun on the ring exchange trying to get me to put his on before our officiant said to, which was another funny moment for us and our guests. One of the biggest aspects of our relationship is our love of laughter and silliness, and our ceremony wouldn't have reflected us without that.
Tell us about your reception:
Our reception was held on the lawn outside the amphitheater where our ceremony took place. We wanted it to feel open and relaxed, so the entire hill was used as our dance floor, with picnic tables under a canopy of palm trees for dinner and dessert. There were lawn games and even a small shrub maze that had been planted in the field just a couple weeks beforehand by the center staff. The nature center was closed by this time of day so our guests were free to walk around the trails, down the long boardwalk over the creek, and to the animal houses near the front entrance.
Each table's centerpiece was a couple slices of wood, cut and oiled by my uncle from his backyard, with a different little animal for each — all our favorites from dogs, armadillos, to a T. rex for our head table. We made a playlist for dancing and included some silly stuff for the special events. Everyone got Rickrolled for the bouquet toss, the garter toss song was “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul (Jones is our last name), and the cake-cutting song was “Ice Cream and Cake” by Buckwheat Boyz (of Peanut Butter Jelly Time fame).
We were so grateful to have had the help of so many of our talented and generous loved ones. Our beautiful cake, covered in gorgeous handmade sugar peonies, was gifted to us by our friend Mike whose mother is an expert cake baker and decorator. The rest of our wedding party, our parents, and many other friends and family members all handled decorating, food, and cleanup. Their help was invaluable.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Be as prepared as you can be, but if something doesn't happen, just let it go. We ran into a number of obstacles on our wedding day, including one of our groomsmen developing a kidney stone the night before (he showed up and had fun despite the pain), another groomsman having a busted knee, and almost a complete lack of lighting in the field for our reception after the sun went down. Some of the decorations I wanted didn't get brought to the venue at all, and a couple songs were missing from our playlist. But we danced to the rest of the music by the parking lot lights and a couple flood lights someone had the foresight to bring along, and had an incredible time together. Regardless of what may go wrong the most important thing is to enjoy celebrating the love of your life with family and friends.