Natalie & Matthew's homebrewed kilted lakeside wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
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Photos by Elizabeth Balentine

The Offbeat Bride: Natalie, Homemaker (aka the person that makes sure Matt shows up with pants on) (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Matthew, Engineering Team Lead (aka technical computery stuff)

Date and location of wedding: Seven Coves, my grandma's neighborhood clubhouse overlooking Lake Conroe in Willis, TX — April 1, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: The best part about planning our wedding together was that neither of us really had planned or dreamed of our wedding day before we decided to actually have one. The few things we had secretly wanted we laid out, and the rest we just went with as we saw something we liked and realized we could do whatever we wanted. Matt wanted a kilt, and I wanted a dark green dress. Everything grew around those two stipulations and the things we love in our life.

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We made all the flowers and many decorations out of sheet music as a nod to his passion and talent in all things musical. He spent hours crafting the playlists for the ceremony and reception. I walked down the aisle to "Lightning Theme" from Final Fantasy XIII, and we danced to "Waltz for the Moon" from Final Fantasy VIII. Portal's "Still Alive" was played during our cake cutting.

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I baked all the desserts that morning in my grandma's kitchen. We wore sneakers and bought them for our helpers since we live in them constantly and didn't see the point in buying shoes we would never wear. Our officiant insisted on brewing beer for us, and he did an incredible job of two different brews so perfectly suited to each of us.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We asked one of our dearest friends to officiate the ceremony. We gave him very few rules and did not know what he was going to say. His words were so eloquent and attuned to our relationship. We knew he would do well, but he went beyond what we could have imagined.

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The best man and sole attendant did a reading of "To Love is Not to Possess" by James Kavanaugh which we had picked together.

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We both had our own vows, and our officiant flipped an old coin given to him by his grandfather to decide who went first. I had forgotten to ask someone to hold my bouquet for me during my vows so Matt did the honors.

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My vows:

I love you.
I remember when we had our first serious relationship discussion. You told me you would never get married; that you would never be a man to make future plans. I was heartbroken. I had never dreamed about a wedding, but I always saw myself married to someone that I could plan a lifetime with. I had to make a decision, and I thought it was the most difficult one of my life. Then I stopped thinking about it, and it was the simplest.
I loved you and it didn't matter what plans we would or wouldn't make. I could live the rest of my life without being married, but I could not imagine any moment of my life spent without you in it.
You need to know that when I said 'I love you' then, it is not because I wanted you or because I couldn't have you. It had nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, and how you try. I've seen your tenderness and your strength, your ferocity and your forgiveness, your dirty socks and your ability to laugh at my cheesy jokes. I've seen the best and the worst of you, and I understand with perfect clarity what you are. You're the one. My best friend and the love of my life.

(Yes, there was some borrowing from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in there. You didn't imagine it.)

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Matt swore he wrote two sets of vows and that I would not get to hear them both: one for if he went first and one if he went second. He hadn't written either and spoke off the cuff. I loved it.

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Before the ceremony, all the guests had picked up wishing stones to hold during the ceremony. Instead of walking back down the aisle after the rings and kiss, we had everyone join us near the water for a Celtic pebble toss. I'm so glad we told our photographer about the ceremony details beforehand so she could capture it all, especially getting the entirety of our guests in a single pebble toss picture.

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Our biggest challenge:
The feeling that I had no friends of my own. I felt like everyone I knew was his friend first or related to me. I had events in my past that caused me to lose touch with so many people in my life, and have been ill with Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis since I was a teen. For some reason, making real friends as an adult is ridiculously difficult, and becomes even more so when you are stuck at home in bed more often than not.

We avoided almost all of the pre-wedding events: bridal shower, engagement dinners, etc. We used excuses like we were already settled with all the things we could ever need or want after being together for ten years, or that so many of our guests were from out of town. In reality it had a lot to do with my anxiety.

I talked it out with my fiance and decided to put myself out there. I went to meetups and actively made plans with people we knew (and accepted invites to things even when I wasn't really up for it). Actual fun was had more often than not and I began to rekindle more friendships than I thought I would ever have in my lifetime.

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My favorite moment:
Having so many ladies helping me get ready was really fun. I've always seen myself as a person without typical girlfriends, so having so many around was very calming and helpful.

The few moments before the ceremony with my brother and him walking me down the aisle were amazing. We had only recently reconciled after years apart, but it felt like we had been planning it this way all along.

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My funniest moment:
We had decided on an unplugged wedding ceremony. Everyone followed the rules with one glaring exception. We walked down the aisle and everything and everyone was just right. In that brief pause between getting settled in where to stand and our officiant starting his loquacity, Matt's phone let off a barrage of chimes and buzzes which resulted in an, "Are you friggin kidding me?" from me. It was his Facebook reminding him of the event he was attending, our wedding. It broke all the tensions and banished the "something in my eye"-ness right away. After a few minutes he stopped blushing and everyone else, including myself, finally stopped laughing long enough to start the ceremony.

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One of the April Fool's jokes we actually planned got fewer chuckles and actually fooled most of our guests. We pretended we had lost the rings, asked if anyone had anything we could use, then were handed a box of Cracker Jacks and found the rings inside as the prize. No one knew about this aside from the two of us, our photographer, and my grandma (she was in charge of the Cracker Jacks).

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? My dress:

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Love the Buffy quote!! And your dress. And kilts. And being crazy enough to bake your deserts the day of (I'm doing the same thing). Your wedding rocks 🙂

    • I had a dress from SecretBoutique also, she's great to make gowns for plus size girls! you're beautiful in green!

  2. Thank you for your brave words about friendships. I, too, feel like many of my friends are inherited from my fiance and that I don't have the dewy-eyed possy of best girlfriends that the media assumes I should be surrounded by at this time. It can be so hard to make new friends, especially if you're a little socially anxious! It was great to hear how you used your engagement time to do something good and healthy for yourself like getting out and being with people. That can be so hard to do. Thanks for the inspiration and reassurance! It looks like you had a beautiful and special day. 🙂 Congratulations!

  3. What a beautiful & heartfelt wedding! Being and introvert with a small family, and my husband being an extrovert with a very close, extended family, I felt the same way during the planning process for my wedding. I had several pre-wedding pity parties about how only three tables will be there for me, and the rest were my husband's guests. Funny, how on the actual day of the wedding if feels just right, and you know the people who are there for you are the only people you would have wanted, anyway. Loved your vows (and the Buffy reference)! Congrats!

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