A small, simple Winter wedding as seen on @offbeatbride
Photos by Katie Marie Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Sam, social worker

Her offbeat partner: Meghan, programmer

Date and location of wedding: Lake Forest College, Lily Reid Holt Memorial Chapel, Lake Forest, IL — February 21, 2015

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

Our wedding was a very small and simple celebration of our relationship. There were 17 guests in attendance, just immediate family and best friends. We met in the dead of winter at a small college chapel for the ceremony, then went to a restaurant down the street for dinner. We had few decorations, no theme, no wedding party, no rehearsal dinner, no formal invitations, no gifts, no dancing — and it was glorious.

A small, simple Winter wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Tell us about the ceremony:

We were able to greet guests as they arrived at the chapel, and used the time before the ceremony to take portraits with our friends and family. We had a traditional Presbyterian ceremony, which was officiated by a dear friend who flew in all the way from Colorado to be there. A friend from high school played piano before and after the ceremony. My mother and brother were the procession, then my father walked me down the aisle.

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Our ceremony included three bible verses, read by friends and family: Ruth 1:16, 1 Corinthians 13, and 1 John 4:7. Our pastor read One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII, by Pablo Neruda. We recited vows, which were very long and compiled from many sources on the internet, and had a ring warming ceremony. We loved doing the ring-warming, as it gave our guests with different religious/spiritual beliefs a chance to bless the rings in their own way, and it gave us a chance to take a few deep breaths. As our guests warmed the rings, Meghan and I hugged, joked with the pastor about backing out (apparently it was too late for that), and stood in awe of our love for each other and from our community.

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

I was told later that my grandfather had believed we were passing out souvenir wedding rings, and that he had attempted to pocket one. As soon as the ceremony ended, the pianist played “At Last,” and Meghan and I ran to an annex off the chapel for a second to embrace in private.

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

Tell us about your reception:

After the ceremony, we all went to a restaurant down the road for cocktails and dinner. We rented a private room with two large tables and a fireplace. My mother surprised me by decorating the space with photos of me and Meghan from childhood through to our engagement. We had an open bar, so guests could order whatever drinks they wanted, and we worked with the restaurant to create a menu for the event to ensure that there were options for a variety of food restrictions and allergies. Everyone ate and drank heartily, and then six of our guests gave toasts (only four of which were planned, the other three were spontaneous and hilarious drunken ramblings). We cut and served carrot cake in addition to the abundant desserts for the menu, and then exited the restaurant with a sparkler send-off. After dinner, we met up with our friends at a local bowling alley to continue the celebration.

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

What was your most important lesson learned?

We experienced a lot of stress after our engagement in September. Meghan's family was not supportive of our relationship, sexual orientation, or our marriage, and they chose not to attend. Two months after our engagement, we moved from Pittsburgh to Chicago and had to find a new apartment and new jobs. Though we had originally envisioned a big, bright, outdoor, summertime wedding, we decided in December that a much smaller affair would suit us better. We nixed all of our plans, and set a date ten weeks later. We were able to pull together a wedding that was perfect for us in just a few weeks, and we are both so happy with that decision.

A small, simple Winter wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

A small, simple, Winter chapel wedding as seen on @offbeatbride

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Comments on Sweet simplicity: Sam & Meghan’s small, simple Winter wedding

  1. If I could do my wedding again I think I would do it like this. Keep it small (which ours was small considering (30-40 people)). I also like the way they did the reception. Congrats!

  2. We were debating doing a ring warming too– I really like the way you explained it! As a chance to cool off and take a few breaths. I get choked up just thinking about the ceremony, so I like the idea of having a few “breaks” in there.

  3. I love this sweet wedding! We also had a very small wedding (13 guests) with a ring warming. It was lovely and intimate and worked out so well for everyone.

  4. Im going to do this!!! Im getting married in May and really want the small intimate and personal wedding! This was just Beautiful! Thank you!!!!!

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