Offbeat partner: Shantelle, Admin Assistant & Freelance Photographer
Offbeat partner: Edward, Research Technician
Date and location of wedding: The Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park, Howard, PA — August 26, 2017
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
We combined our love for nature and the stars into a theme that came very easily for us. It helped that we found a venue that was the perfect setting to view the beauty of nature, as well as get a great view of the stars at night. To further our theme, I wanted to add a bit of a fantasy element so I decided to add subtle details that drew from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, both of which we're big fans. Keeping the geeky aspects subtle was a great way to not isolate guests who wouldn't understand them, and at the same time also surprise our guests who would catch on.
Overall, I was hoping to create an atmosphere that felt cozy, fun, and a bit laid back. Because our venue was an inn, we were able to book out all 16 guest rooms from Friday to Sunday. This meant our friends and family were the only other guests on the property all weekend, and this really helped keep everyone comfortable and happy for those three days. It was like a big sleepover, but with a wedding in the middle of it!
Tell us about the ceremony:
To further the nature and stars theming, half of my bridesmaids wore navy blue dresses to represent the night sky, and the other half wore dark green for the earth. The groomsmen wore blue or green ties depending on the bridesmaid with whom they walked. The bridesmaids carried flower-adorned lanterns instead of bouquets, and for myself I created a bouquet hoop using fake flowers that I can keep forever.
The flower girl, my parents, and I walked out to a recording of "Moon River" sung by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's — a song very special to me. Instead of tossing flower petals, our flower girl handed out flowers to those sitting in aisle seats; it was lovely seeing these people later on with the flowers tucked into their hair or behind ears. We had a good friend be our officiant, and had readings done by our Maid of Honor and Best Man. With our officiant we created a ceremony (using the great resources from Offbeat Bride) that focused on nature, the stars, and our friends and families. Since neither of us are religious, we didn't use any religious readings or text, and it was important that our ceremony reflected our personalities.
Ed and I wrote our own intimate vows, and read them aloud during the ceremony. I didn't even get through the second sentence of mine before I started crying which opened up the flood gates for everyone else. Though there were tears, there were also many laughs as it's almost impossible to stop us from joking around.
Tell us about your reception:
Instead of table numbers, I created constellation signs for each table that corresponded with our constellation seating chart. For seat placeholders, I created Golden Snitches for every guest using Ferrero Rocher chocolates and wrote their names on the wings. Tedious, but it was a hit! During our reception dinner, we also had music from the Harry Potter film soundtracks playing in the background. We had special his and her cocktails. His: A ginger beer and sarsaparilla whiskey mix named "Magic Missile" (a spell in D&D). Hers: A strawberry mojito named "Amortentia" (love potion from Harry Potter).
Instead of hiring a DJ, we chose to craft a Spotify playlist that would better represent our personalities and eclectic tastes in music. Many of our guests joined us on the dance floor for hours of singing our hearts out and dancing our feet off, while others enjoyed playing board games on the lake-view porch. Throughout the cocktail hour and reception, I had one of my bridesmaids snap pictures of guests on my Instax Mini polaroid camera. These adorable photos made great memorable favors for guests to take home.
Neither of us are big fans of cake, so we instead opted for a small semi-naked cake for cutting, and the best mini donuts around! One of my favorite moments of the evening was having my younger cousin sing Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" during the cutting of the cake. It was such a sweet and intimate moment despite there being a little over 100 people in the room.
What was your most important lesson learned?
My biggest challenge was overcoming the idea of a "the perfect wedding." A lot of ideas changed over the course of planning, and there were a few bumps that stressed me out. But in the end, I couldn't imagine being any happier than I was on the big day.
My advice to couples currently planning: look for alternatives. Don't stress too much if you can't afford that certain decor piece you had your eye on, I found alternative methods to create items that were out of my budget. And crafting such things by hand, or finding overlooked services to create custom pieces made me so much prouder of my work when all was said and done.