Her Offbeat Partner: Peter, programmer extraordinaire
Location & date of wedding: Harvey West Park in Santa Cruz, California — 04-26-09
What made our wedding offbeat: We were married under the redwoods by my uncle, our first dance was to Mystery Science Theater 3000's “When Loving Lovers Love” (such a pitch-perfect parody song that several people didn't realize it was a joke), and the only white items anyone saw were the groom's tie and the cake frosting.
We didn't intend to have a theme to our wedding, but one emerged on its own: “Here, have some chocolate”. From our dessert-first truffle appetizers to the make-you-own bottles of M&Ms favors to the cake itself: it was all chocolate. Even the catering was from a restaurant named “Chocolate”.
While I didn't make any of the food, I did as much on my own as I could. I designed and printed the invitations (all done out of my little home inkjet printer), assembled the centerpieces, made the Bridezilla and Groomera cake toppers, and even separated out 25 pounds of M&Ms by color.
Peter helped with as much as he could (he's not the crafting type), but thankfully he was on board for one of our more controversial offbeat decisions: no gifts. There wasn't really anything we needed (or had room for), and when the economy tanked, tons of really good organizations needed money a LOT more than we needed new plates. So we asked everyone to give to charities instead. Not everyone was thrilled with that idea (some people gave us gifts anyway, some people didn't give anything to anyone), but it was still one of the best decisions we made.
Our biggest challenge: We were paying for the wedding ourselves while trying to save up for a home, so our first priority was to keep costs down. That meant a lean headcount, cutting some “traditional” items, shopping at the occasional dollar store, and using a public park. We used paper plates with plastic utensils, iTunes instead of a DJ, and skipped the bridal party.
But some of the decisions were harder: when it came down to the wire, we had to cut the professional photographer (fortunately we had two hobbyist photographer guests coming), the booze (we would have had to spends hundreds on permits before we even bought a single bottle), and we got a smaller cake than either of us wanted. In the end it was worth it. We had a fun, fantastic wedding with 45 people and the total bill for everything (rings included) came in at a fourth to a fifth of what the “average” wedding costs (depending on whose “average” you use), and people STILL tell us it was the best wedding they've ever been to.
My favorite moment: So many to choose from…
There was the previous weekend when my then-fiance found my beautiful dress (yes, he came along to find a wedding dress; I hate clothes shopping with a passion and was on the verge of buying something terribly boring just to get the process over with, and HE was the one that encouraged me to find something special), there was also the “garter toss” where he tossed a rubber garter snake, the moment I dug into my wedding cake and realized it was the BEST cake I'd ever had at ANY wedding…
But really, the best moment was when I arrived at the ceremony site. I had gone all morning without seeing Peter or most of the guests (the one traditional thing we did), so when I walked up to the grove and was suddenly surrounded by my wonderful fiance and all the important people in my life with the sun streaming through the trees and the ivy all around us, it was just the most beautiful thing in the world. And since we didn't have a sound system out there, my uncle led everyone in singing the “dun DUN dun dun” song as I was walking up, which just put the whole experience over the moon.
My advice for other offbeat brides:
1) There is no wrong way to get married. We had a small budget party, and it was wonderful. A month prior I went to my cousin's big white traditional wedding, and that was fantastic too. I've seen some big elaborate expensive weddings on this site, and they look gorgeous. And if you honestly want to just get married at the courthouse and throw a backyard barbecue later, then that's exactly what you should do. As long as the wedding is about you, your friends, your families, and your future together, as long as you're marrying the love of your life — the day is already perfect, and anything else on top of it is just the awesome sauce.
2) Doing things yourself and comparison shopping will save you a ton of money, but it also takes a ton of time. Plan accordingly. I wish I had organized everything better so I could have shopped for more items at the same time, instead of running to the same stores over and over again. On the plus side, shopping for an offbeat wedding is a LOT of fun, even if you get into some strange looks from the people behind the counter when, for instance, they ask what kind of doll you're trying to find a tux for, and you have to admit it's actually for a Japanese monster turtle. (Then they ask what you're using a tux-clad turtle for. “Uh, it's going on a cake.” “Like, a kid's birthday cake?”)
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? We got SO lucky with the vendors – there were three things we really cared about and were willing to splurge on: the food, the cake, and the rings, and all three turned out fantastic!
We had a Santa Cruz restaurant, Chocolate, do the catering.
Our favorite bakery, Sugar Butter Flour, provided the main chocolate cake and small red velvet and lemon sheet cakes. (The guests really appreciated having a choice of cakes, especially when I hauled out the take-out containers and told them to take some home!)
Finally, we hit a big home run with the ring designers: we wanted something truly unique for the rings, and Dean's Designs in Los Altos was able to work with our ideas and made us exactly what we wanted!
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!
Click on the photo of their amazing cake toppers to see even more fun photos from this wedding: