Rachel & David's artsy retro picnic wedding

June 14 2010 | offbeatbride

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The offbeat bride: Rachel – Freelance Illustrator and Actor

Her offbeat partner: Dave – Actor

Location & date of wedding: Mayfield Park in Austin, TX — April 17th, 2010

What made our wedding offbeat: Dave and I fell in love with each other's creativity, so that was at the forefront of our day. We were on a tight budget (enter creativity!) and decided that a picnic reception full of hand-made personal details was the solution. We bought baskets with tableware inside (and blankets for the lawn) and we were our own florists and caterers.

I wore a 1950's party dress found on eBay, and Dave sported Chuck Taylors, a fedora, jeans and a vest. A friend of ours is an amazing musician, and he arranged songs from Aerosmith, the Beatles, Ben Folds and Coldplay for the ceremony. I'm Jewish by default (not in practice), but I love the tradition of a chuppah. We made the canopy ourselves, and printed "I Am the Luckiest" on it (inspired by some Ben Folds lyrics), and had siblings hold the four legs of the canopy–it was awesome having them so close during the ceremony.

We hand-cut paper birds and put wildflower seed inside and strung them on clear line as decorations/favors, along with having buckets on guest tables that included wrapped sparklers, personal trivia cards and candy. My graphic design skills were put to use on fan programs, banners, invitations, and quirky signage for lawn games and the cupcake/beverage bar.

Highlights of the day (aside from marrying my dream man and being surrounded by friends): Exiting through an impromptu friend "tunnel" into pouring rain while a peacock watched through the glass and piped in during the ceremony.
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Our biggest challenge: Number one was budget (which we talked about). And number two, I guess, big life events like this really shine the light on true colors. We certainly know who would circle the earth for us (and we'd do the same for them), and the best thing to do is focus on how wonderful those relationships are and, as hard as it is to do, let go of the rest.

My favorite moment: Dave's brother married us, and so we had him to one side, siblings around us holding the chuppah, and another brother in the wedding party. To have family so close and so involved in the ceremony was touching.

Another wonderful moment was when we dedicated a song to my father who passed a couple years ago. My sister, Dave and I were sitting on the front porch step listening, and Dave's Dad came up to ask me for a dance. Now I'm lucky enough to have had two wonderful Dads!

Also, we did literally everything to put the wedding together. The morning of, friends appeared in ten-fold to help us rearrange plans to avoid the rain, and they even bought a tent for us at the last minute. We were incredibly touched.

My funniest moment: The peacocks and the groom were the entertainment. 🙂 One peacock spoke up from behind a glass door during the ceremony and someone commented, "Dave, you've got some competition!" During our first dance to the song "Falling Slowly" there's a lyric that says "Raise your hopeful voice…" Well, that's the exact moment when peacocks started to caw! They speak our language. My groom knows how to walk their walk and mimic them, which was great fun to watch.
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Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Rain. It rained hard. I had grown my own ranunculus for bouquets and aisle decor, and the rain pummeled them days before the wedding. We picked wildflowers and paired them with affordable hydrangeas from a market, and they did the trick. The rain returned the morning of the wedding–so much for all outdoors and watching the peacocks! But the sun came and stayed out until about the last half hour, when the big storm hit…including lightning hitting a tree on the grounds. But, it was romantic and strangely ideal. It really is true that if you're flexible and your heart and mind are in the right place, it'll be perfect regardless of the weather and your plans.

Hand cut paper bird decorations/wedding favors with wildflower seed inside!

My advice for offbeat brides: When the question is "How do we do this on our budget?" the answer is: Don't. "This" usually means the reception that everyone else is doing. Scrap the hall. We rented a park and cottage owned through the city at a fraction of the cost. We had the freedom to make our own food (amazing pasta, salad with mango and jerk chicken, berries with cream, brie and baguette, grapes) and chose our own vendors…of which we had just one for table and chair rentals. And that rental was the biggest hassle of the whole day. Everything we had done went smoothly.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? In the days leading up to the wedding (and the day of), I really became incredibly in touch with how important our friends are in our lives. I've always known this, but it became so evident in many ways. They had our backs, worked and helped us relax and celebrate. We originally thought of just the two of us getting married in Paris, but thank God we didn't. Spending our day at home in Austin was so much more important than I had anticipated for us. All of our memories and friends are right here.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photographer: Will Hollis
  • Dress: Ebay
  • Music: Gabe Hayes Band
  • Graphics: Me! Rachel McGinnis Meissner – greeneyedphoebe@gmail.com. I've had a lot of people ask me about the projects. I will say that a lot of them were very time-consuming and involved lots of hand-cut items, so they're best as DIY unless resources are abundant.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Love it!!! Our friends did the impromptu "friend tunnel" thing for us at our wedding, too, and it was the best!

  2. Ah, The Luckiest is one of my favorite Ben Folds songs, good choice! This wedding is so cute and you can tell a lot of love went into everything you did. I love the dress the most. Congrats!

  3. That DRESS. OBB, would you mind if I tried to get that dress copied? I don't want to jack your style, as the kids say, but it's speaking to me.

    Your wedding looks beautiful. Congratulations to you both!

    • Thanks, Claire! Absolutely–feel free to copy it. There should be more dresses like this out there! It was so much fun to wear. And the blue crinoline underneath I got from Gloria McClain (glorsstore@optonline.net)–she has a shop on eBay, and she was incredibly wonderful. I gave her the color I needed & she actually had the crinoline made to the proper length, and it was around $50. It was impossible to find exactly what I wanted, so it was great to work with her. Even on the dress, I altered the hemline & I changed the sash a bit. Good luck! And the bridesmaid dresses were custom made for $116 by Jiminie Hayward (jiminiehayward@gmail.com). She has a shop on Etsy. Good luck to you!

  4. I just drooled.

    LOVE THE DRESS. And the polka dots. And the Chuck Taylors.
    LOVE the site. Beautiful. No, that doesn't do it all justice. STUNNING.
    And you…you looked radiant.

  5. I went to high school with Rachel (the bride) and she was adorable a quirky then. I'm not surprised to see her wedding was so original and charming. She's given me some great ideas too. Way to go Rachel!

  6. Love all the hand made goodies, it really adds personality. Great line budget=creative, just shows that u dont have to spend a fortune to create something unforgetable for you and your guests.

    • Absolutely. I got the template from online:
      http://www.weddingannouncer.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5043

      You can use a hole punch and tie ribbon through, or you can do the fussy option (always my option of choice). Get rivets & a setter from a hobby store (Michaels is where I got mine). Punch a hole that is slightly smaller than the rivet, place rivet, and pound it with the setter & hammer. Sounds scary, but it's very easy & adds a more finished look. Also, I used about 80# cardstock paper for printing & hand cut the blades. Good luck!

      • thank you thank you thank you. our wedding is in michigan in august and it promises to be sweltering! I'm with you… despite inwardly groaning at the legwork for another DIY element, now that you told me how, I know I'm going to do it your way!

  7. Where, oh where did you get your shoes! Those are the most AMAZING wedding shoes I have ever seen! And, you had a beautiful wedding!

    • Thanks! The shoes were Carlos Santana shoes, and I ordered them online. That's one receipt I didn't keep, so I can't recall the exact site. But, if you google "Carlos Santana, wedge, blue" you'll pull up some sites. And, I've really got to say that I was surprised at just how comfortable they were. My feet didn't hurt one bit! Good padding and very soft leather straps. And the blue is actually shimmery in person. I was in love. Still am & plan to use them a lot!

  8. Thanks for all of the sweet comments, ladies. Our wedding was so ideal for us, and I hope for the same for all of you!

  9. Love the birds (DIY and real peacocks),love the picnic (even the storm), love the dress, the shoes…but the pictures…Wow! I am just lovin' the love. I have seen countless of images of weddings and this one is one of the most touching ones I have seen and I think it is because you can feel the love flowing when you look at the pictures. Proof, yet again, that you don't need to go for broke to get married.

  10. I'm certainly feeling the love from y'all!! Thank you. Without a doubt, I will be crazy about Dave through my last breath, and it does my heart good to know that it's so apparent to others. Something else to share, which I left out of the profile…I had 2 charms tied with ribbon to my bouquet–one said "Be Kind" and the other said "Lucky". Now the charms are tied around the knobs of our nightstands, and they're daily reminders of just how incredibly fortunate we are to share our lives together. Every time I open the drawer, it clinks and reminds me of the wedding. 🙂 On to the birds…VERY easy. I got a template here:
    http://www.spoolsewing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/birdpattern1-1.pdf
    I folded paper in half & cut the bird body on the seam. Didn't even use the bird belly pattern. Modified the beak to a shape I liked better & cut out some wings. I used a hot glue gun to glue the edges of the bird together (didn't glue the tail shut), poured in some wildflower seed through the gap by tail, then glued it shut. Used a hole punch at the top & strung fishing line through. We planned to hang these from trees outside, but they worked beautifully inside, oriented horizontally. HIGHLY recommend this project. They're cute, cheap, easy, and guests loved them!

  11. Oh wow, I love just about everything about this. I really adore the updo with the big flower; I need to do some experimenting to see if my curls would work with something like that. Hrm.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks, Weasy. I have hair that is a little longer than chin-length, and I really wanted an updo (but my hair grows very slowly). My stylist did an awesome job of making it look like I had longer locks without doing extensions, and the flower helped fill out the 'do. 🙂

  12. please please please tell me if the ebay dress was just second hand or if the seller makes them? The places over here in uk want like £400 to make a similar one and im getting upset

    • Yes, the dress was second hand from a vintage seller, and they don't, unfortunately, make these. However, within a month, I found about 5 great white party dresses in the eBay vintage shops, so you might keep your eyes open if you don't mind second hand. It did seem that most vintage dresses I found seemed to be quite small, so there's not as much availability in all sizes. Don't know if the info helps, but I hope so!

  13. This is one of my favorite weddings to be featured on the site – the style of it (some great ideas here), the love, the dress, and the encouragement that even with the rain possibility, outdoor weddings are totally worth it. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us!

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