Jill & Peter's folk-band, vineyard, clambake wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015

Victoriously Married
The offbeat bride: Jill, Actress/itinerant 20-something (and OBT member)

Her offbeat partner: Peter, Theatre Director and College Professor

Location & date of wedding: Greenvale Vineyards, Portsmouth RI — September 12, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: As much fun as the decorations (made of moss/rocks/winebottles by my mom) and favors (mustaches! temporary tattoos!) were, what really made our wedding special and unique was our ceremony.

As an actor and a director, we both felt that we could create a ceremony that was personal yet fun and entertaining. Our first decision was to assemble a folk band of our nearest/dearest/most talented friends to provide the music for the ceremony. We picked an awesome set list — I walked down the aisle to "Gold" from the film Once, we recessed to "Praise You" by Fatboy Slim, and in between were songs by Ingrid Michaelson and The Magnetic Fields — and emailed our friends, who totally came through. They were dubbed the Grapes of Love Volunteer Folk Choir and they rocked it.I amassed lots of readings, from the poetry we read to each other when we began dating to passages from our respective religious traditions (Peter's Catholic, I'm Jewish) and we winnowed them down to our favorites together. Peter really took the reigns and wrote most of the ceremony himself. We got a good friend and a former teacher of Peter's ordained. She's a great actress and we knew she could handle not only making the words Peter wrote sing, but that she would be heard!

We also didn't have a traditional wedding party. Peter's sister was his best man, and my MOH sang in the choir.

The whole ceremony was funny, moving and totally personal.

Our biggest challenge: The weather! Peter and I both love the outdoors and we fell totally in love with our venue, the lush grapes, the green hills, the Highland cattle, the view of the river. But when our rehearsal dinner barbecue was rained out and then it KEPT raining through our whole wedding day, we had to regroup and squeeze 100 people into a tiny tasting room meant for about fifty.

I was freaking out a bit, trying to help set up chairs in my wedding dress and asking the venue owners about fire codes while our guests all squished into this itty bitty room. Then my aunt turned to my mom and said "Get. Her. Out of here." I was whisked away to the back and given a glass of wine. When I came back in, our music was playing, everyone was seated, and I looked up and saw Peter. All my anxiety fell away, and from that moment on I only felt happiness and joy for the rest of the day.

My favorite moment: There were so many great moments in the ceremony. But my husband's vows were pretty epic. Although he's previously told me that he didn't want to write our own vows, the night before, he asked me if we could each say "a little something" before we recited the vows. When it was his turn to speak, he absolutely knocked me and everyone else out with his amazing words. He spoke for almost five minutes but everyone was RAPT. I'll never forget him looking into my eyes and telling me how grateful he was that I "just love — so completely, and without condition, or a single string attached."claws On a lighter note, the lobster afterwards was pretty fantastic too. We had a traditional New England Clambake (which is so not kosher, but I married a Catholic so all bets were off anyway) and I hadn't eaten all day. Peter and I were supposed to share a lobster but I basically inhaled the whole thing myself in thirty seconds.

My advice for offbeat brides: My first suggestion is to start with what you DO want, not with what you DON'T want. It's really easy to fall into the trap of "I DON'T want a traditional wedding. I DON'T want bridesmaids. I DON'T want a damn wedding cake!" when you're an OBB. This is not only non-productive, but it can be alienating to the people who just want to help you and give you what you want. [Editors note: Remember construction is always more difficult than demolition.] I had to learn the hard way, but once I started listing my do's: music, poetry, an awesome dress, seafood, my dog, the Hora — things began to feel much better for me and everyone else as well.

My second piece of advice: delegate, delegate, delegate! You may think that you want to hang forty chinese lanterns and bake 150 wedding cupcakes the night before your wedding, but first ask yourself if there's someone else you trust. You don't have to be superwoman to have a successful wedding.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. I love the bride's wedding dress and her floral bouquet.The photo at the top looks awesome,with the green vegetation as a backdrop.Nice contrast in color.

  2. AHH!! A RI clambake wedding! My wedding will be waving at this wedding from across the Sakonnet River in a month! I don't think I've seen another RI clambake wedding on this site, what amazing timing. So fun!

      • We're sort of half doing it ourselves, and half hiring one of my dad's friends to run the bake the day of. I did seriously consider McGrath's though! We're also making a point to feature local wine- in our case showcasing Sakonnet Vineyards. But oh love, I really think Aquidneck Island and Little Compton and Tiverton are the prettiest places in the world. I'm sending mental hugs your way for sharing your neighborly wedding joy!

    • I'm having a RI wedding, too! It's at the South County Museum in Narragansett, a fun, quaint, and amazingly cheap site.

      • Does the museum have an indoor space? I'm getting hitched in RI and still looking around for a venue!

  3. Everything looks beautiful (especially that lobster… yum….)

    Thanks for easing my worry about the weather. The rain plan for my outdoor wedding is to rent a truck and move ALL the furniture out of my mom's house that morning to try and make room for everyone. Its good to get perspective and reassurance that the wedding can still be enjoyable and lovely even on a rainy day.

    • At least you have a rain-plan! I kept telling myself, "it won't rain. It CAN'T rain!" Until it did. Lol.

      Honestly, as I told a fellow OBT member freaking about the weather, some of my favorite moments were because of the rain. The two biggest and most important were that a.) the acoustics were amazing in the tasting room – things were heard way better than they would be have been outside! And b.)I couldn't freak out about things not being perfect. My hair was frizzy and my dress was muddy, so I had to give it up and not worry about everything looking seamless the whole time. And I had WAY more fun as a result!

  4. Congrats, your wedding looks beautiful! Also, can I just say I love your job description? I too am an itinerant 20-something.

  5. OK, tears at Peter's speech! In wedding culture, everyone tends to ignore the groom, but his words proved that he was present, aware, and really focused on the reason for the ritual. Showing this to FH with a nudge!

    • Tamara, Peter was amazing. There were some things he straight-up didn't care about (flowers, colors, centerpieces) but when it came to what mattered, he was all in. He was actually a constant reminder to me of the important parts of the wedding when I started to get too wrapped up in wedding "stuff".

      Plus, it doesn't hurt that he has fantasies of being a Unitarian minister.

  6. Ahhh! I've been there! I went to Newport with my mother a few years ago, and I dragged her to the vineyards. This was hands down our favorite! We loved the cattle!

    FH and I are also doing a vineyard wedding, in the Finger Lakes (NYS). Glad to see another vineyard extravaganza featured on OBB. 🙂

  7. I always enjoy weddings that look "traditional" at first glance on OBB. It's all about the Offbeat spirit! Lovely and classic with touches of personality that really shine!

  8. Oh I cried when I read the bit about your husbands vows. Congratulations, looks like a mighty fine shin dig.

  9. Congratulations!
    Everything looks lovely!
    I've fallen into the "I Don't" trap before, thanks for the reminder about "I Do".(Pun intended)
    Your Peter is really epic, but I think you knew that.

  10. Yay for OffBeat RI Brides!! Your wedding looks like it was so much fun! Thanks for the don't/do advice, my wedding is June 2011, and I hope to bring my own brand of off-beat-ness to it that includes things that are meaningful to me, without alienating the traditional peoples.

  11. What a fun wedding – I absolutely love your Ketuba. It is gorgeous! I (Jewish) thought about doing one with my (Catholic) love, but can only wish I knew someone as talented as your mom to make something similar!

    Would you be willing to list me what poems and readings you thought about/ended up using? (Your downloadable sound file is missing in action.) I'm having trouble hitting the right notes between Catholic, Jewish and pretty much lacking religion. Your wedding rang totally true with me 🙂 So gorgeous, thanks for sharing!

  12. I'll post the sound file again — megaupload is notorious for deleting files after disuse.

    A quick list:
    -We used a unity candle and a kiddush.
    -We had a chuppah and a kitubah, and we also did the "peace be with you" moment from Catholic service.
    -We read song of Soloman in Hebrew and English.
    -We read a passage from Kahlil Gibran "On Marriage"
    -We read Pablo Neruda's "Amor" which made us both cry like dorks
    -We read "Falling In Love is Like Owning A Dog In The City" by Taylor Mali

    One of the songs in our set-list was "All Good Gifts" from the musical Godspell, which mentions God in a Christian-sounding way, but not Jesus, and used it as an "offertory" moment, where our flower girl and ring bearer brought up the unity candle and kiddush cup.

    Jewish traditions were easier to come up with, so there were more, but the feel and structure of the ceremony was classically Catholic (i.e. liturgy, which means song/reading/song/reading.)

      • Thank you so much for all the extra info and inspiration, and the reposting!

        We had decided that we were definitely incorporating the 'peace be with you' bit, and having a chuppa, as well. And I love Pablo Neruda – maybe we'll use Love Sonnet XVII. And I love the owning a dog = love poem, but hadn't thought of that at all…

        So in summary… I love love love your ceremony, and feel very in tune with you 🙂 Thanks and congratulations!

    • it's SO not offbeat — i got it from Priscilla of Boston! it was the first thing i tried on and i basically couldn't get it out of my head.

  13. I'm really late to the party but I have to comment! I can't believe this is the first time I've seen this wedding, I just assumed there had been no offbeat weddings in my homestate! Of course I just had a "Rhode Island moment" and recognized the groom from my theater camp days and the officiant from my theatergoing days. Also, great choice of venue! One of my cousins is getting married at Greenvale Vineyards this summer. This wedding made my day!

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