The offbeat bride: Alissa, public health and social work nerd (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: Eric, air pollution expert and public health student
Location & date of wedding: City Museum, St. Louis, MO — 4/25/2009
What made our wedding offbeat: First off, I proposed! And it wasn’t a big deal! Getting married was a topic we’d broached plenty of times in the past, and the time was about right; I was planning to go back to school and we already owned a home together, so why not?
My parents requested a Jewish wedding, and since Eric is an atheist we went with the most lefty hippie rabbi we could find. She was absolutely wonderful and reflected our values in a spiritual way that brought people together, rather than making Eric’s Catholic family and our non-Jewish/non-religious friends feel excluded.
To include friends who we might not be able to invite, or who might not be able to make the trip, I recruited my knitter friends to make our chuppah (I sewed the squares together), while Eric built the frame himself. He also made all of our beautiful, lit, tree decorations from Christmas trees that we scavenged in January from the city dropoff.
I didn’t want to spend a fortune on flowers that we would throw away, so I made our centerpieces from old gallon jars (which I mostly bought from a woman off craigslist) where I grew seedlings that I transplanted into our backyard garden, and are now growing happily.
And thankfully, we had friends who volunteered their services, like our awesome DJ.
Our biggest challenge: Our wedding planning happened to coincide with both the 2008 presidential election, and my grad school applications. I got very distracted by both, which was how Eric got his fair share of planning foisted on him.
In retrospect, it was really great to have the distractions to help keep everything in perspective — after all, our wedding was just one day of celebration, but our marriage will be for the rest of our lives (and the presidency and grad school are also a few years each!).
It also helped us to get more friends involved without the burden of the wedding party title. We had one friend managing the day-after brunch, and our DIY projects helped to draw people into the planning process.
My favorite moment: After all of the craziness of the week and all of the planning, to just arrive at the venue and see our wonderful pastry chef decorating the cake at the bar and all of our decorations in place was so incredibly gratifying. Then I could just let it go and climb around the City Museum with Eric on a glorious spring day. Plus, the museum is so unreal that the setting itself made everything seem magical and otherworldly AND we could completely let go by diving into the ball pit!
My advice for offbeat brides: Prioritize! Know when you care enough and know enough to DIY, and when to contract it out. Sometimes the effort will be returned many times over and you’ll get tomatoes from your centerpieces, and sometimes you just don’t want to be dumpstering for flowers on the day of your wedding!
If you do DIY anything, set ridiculously early deadlines for yourself. You can avoid a lot of the stress of doing things last minute that way. This is especially true of projects that involve others — I set my chuppah square deadlines about two months before the wedding, to allow for the inevitability of needing to do some extra work at the end. There is nothing anal retentive about planning ahead!
And finally, allow yourself to be lazy about things, because it will allow you the time to focus on the things you care about. My invitation printer, florist, pastry chef, and chocolatier (for a cake alternative) were all within a mile of my house, and it saved me lots of car time. Plus they were all completely fantastic and I could support my community at the same time. I also felt like our wedding wasn’t just about me and Eric, but about bringing our community together to celebrate. It made a lot of sense to support our immediate neighborhood for that reason, and to have as many people incorporated into the planning and the ceremony as possible.
- Dress: BCBG (total lucky accident)
- Hairpiece: Oh My Deer! Handmades
- Cake: Mathew Sweet
- Flowers: Lucky You
- Photography: Sarah Cross
- Invitations: Firecracker Press
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!