Layne & Daniel's multi-traditional arboreal wedding

Updated Mar 15 2021
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Photos by Stacy Martin, Behind Your Eyes Photography

The offbeat bride: Layne, Travel Consultant

Her offbeat partner: Daniel, Software QA Engineer

Date and location of wedding: The ceremony was held in a sequoia grove at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. The reception was at Sodo Park by Herban Feast, just south of downtown Seattle. September 22, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Daniel and I wanted a completely honest celebration that was an accurate portrait of ourselves, and that highest priority guided us through every decision. In the spirit of equilibrium, we chose to marry on the Autumnal Equinox and to celebrate our anniversaries on each year's Equinox, which means the date of our anniversary can change from year to year.

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I spent more than six hours having my hands and feet covered in intricate bridal henna, which was a magical and meditative experience I will always treasure. We wrote our ceremony to illustrate our friendly dismissal of certain marital norms and our deep respect for other ones. We showed our reverence for tolerance and diversity by including rituals from as many different cultures as we could.

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We didn't want to dress our attendants in identical outfits, preferring instead to have their distinct personalities shining through undimmed. So we asked everyone to dress nicely but above all, creatively, and to wear green as a reference to the woodland setting and theme of the wedding. They all came up with wonderful raiment as different as they are. Each member of the wedding party carried a Moroccan lantern through the forest and down the aisle. These later doubled as centerpieces for the dinner tables.

Gang Green

Table Setting

Each table was named for a different species of tree, and our place settings were also the favors. We découpaged the guests' names, along with leaves from Thailand, onto stones we hand-picked from the Snoqualmie River. Gathering the rocks was a beautiful day spent knee-deep in glacier melt together, lugging bags full of river stones up sun-splattered trails, and driving for hours through the Cascades.

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We served a creative and organic, locally-sourced menu and a Guinness-chocolate wedding cake designed as a reference to the forest. At the end of the night, the wedding party distributed sparklers to all of the guests and we sprinted through the shower of shimmers to our getaway car, which was a bio-Benz from Seattle Green Limo.

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I believe the event was executed with a good balance between the traditional and the unorthodox, while remaining environmentally responsible and painting a true-to-life picture of my husband and me.

Post Ceremony

Tell us about the ceremony: We wrote our ceremony, taking many opportunities to poke friendly fun at what we consider outdated traditions. Following the traditional Christian "Call to Worship" ("Dearly beloved," etc.) we had the reverend say that "If any person believes they can show just cause why these two should not be joined together, let them bury the hatchet, so to speak; hoist the white flag, that is; or in other words, forever hold their peace." Both of my parents walked me down the aisle, but when asked who gives this woman to be wedded to this man, I was the one to step forward and say "I do."

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We are devout believers in the respect of all spiritual traditions, so we incorporated wedding customs from all over the world: a Chinese wine-drinking ritual, the African hand-washing ceremony, the Hindu rice offering, a Philippine rope-tying tradition, and a Maori hongi. After Daniel and I said "I do," the pledge had a third question for the guests. The congregation was given the opportunity to say "I do" as well, when asked if they would bless our union and support us in our partnership as they had supported us individually.

African hand-washing ceremony

We wanted our vows to honestly address our deepest-felt goals for the marriage and this was our best rendition:

I, Layne, welcome thee, Daniel, into my heart as my husband, to protect but not possess, to encompass but not confine, to support but not suppress, to coalesce with but not consume. I freely embrace this challenge, and I choose it as a lifelong vocation. In the name of "the Unnameable Mystery," we were pronounced "woman and husband, man and wife."

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Afterward, the guests showered us with green wheat in the ancient Egyptian tradition.

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My favorite moment: Receiving the guests after the ceremony was the most jubilant half hour of my life. I'll never forget the sensation of floating in an ethereal sea of love, embraces, and tears.

We each had a Best Man and a Lady of Honor (No one was referred to as a "maid!" The other attendants were bridesmates and groomsmates) and all four attendants of honor gave us the most moving and heartfelt toasts. I wish I had video of that night because I can't remember many of the words, but there wasn't a dry eye within earshot.

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I flew my dear friends A-hummin' Acoustical Acupuncture up from Texas to play the music, both during the ceremony and at the reception. It was an old tradition at the band's weekly Monday night shows in Fort Worth to end the evening with a cover of "Rainbow Connection," during which everyone in the audience would line up and link arms, forming an endless, interconnecting chain hug and singing along to the entire song, every time.

I was delighted that the band chose to close out the night this way. The Monday night shows having ended years ago and many of the group of dear friends having moved away from each other, it was a very special occasion indeed.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Do not attempt to throw your own rehearsal dinner party! Instead of having time to enjoy my friends, who had come from all corners of the country, I was bustling around setting out the food and trying to keep things reasonably clean. I also would have paid for a florist instead of having to keep hundreds of calla lilies alive in my closet for four days and then spending the night before the wedding making all of my own corsages and boutonnières.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Wow. I mean, well, uh, just, wow! I love everything about this wedding. And the wording on that invite ROCKS MY SOCKS!

    So much thought put into all the things that are important, I would love to know every detail about this wedding. every.last.one!!

  2. "Woman and husband, man and wife." Beautiful! I love that.

    So often taking rituals from other cultures seems to be done thoughtlessly, but you seem to have used such reverence and really learning about what you were doing. What a lovely ceremony.

  3. I love your vows – "to protect but not possess"? Amazing. I don't know how you did it, but you managed to capture what a marriage will mean to me and my man.

  4. I think this is one of my favorite weddings OBB has ever featured. That "woman and husband, man and wife" line got me, too.

  5. Thank you all so much for your kind words! I'm honored to have our wedding featured here, and I'd be delighted to share any details I can if anyone has questions.

  6. While this is a gorgeous wedding all around, my favorite part is… the napkins. What? Putting them under the plates and down the side of the tablecloth? Amazing.

  7. This is, by far, my most favorite wedding I have read about on the site. I adore the way you blended a mix of different cultures and wedding ceremonies together to create something so unique and positively YOU. It all worked so beautifully in ways I could have never imagined. Congrats on such an amazing wedding! 😀

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