We just talked about tandem bikes over on Offbeat Home & Life, and now we've got this adorable bicycle-themed wedding. Ah, bike bliss.

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The Offbeat Bride: Janet, PhD student (and Tribesmaid)

Her offbeat partner: Phil, PhD student

Date and location of wedding: Our backyard in Toronto, ON, Canada — June 21, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Right from when we started planning, we knew we were going to have it in our backyard. We are both introverted people, and we loved the price tag, so this was a non-negotiable for us. Of course, as we live in a downtown Toronto property, we had very little space, and therefore a tiny guest list. We only invited our immediate nuclear families and a select group of friends. We had to compromise with both sets of parents on the guest list by allowing each set of parents to host their own parties for their own families and friends. We actually ended up having three separate celebrations!

Directions into our backyard

Better not trip before we even get started

I'm here!

Cards Against Matrimony

I love crafts, so I viewed the wedding as my ultimate DIY exhibition opportunity. I'm not very skilled, but I made do with what I could make. I made my own veil and sash, the programs and invitations, the seed paper favours, and of course, the personalized Cards Against Matrimony deck. I also spent a ton of time researching how to make my own fresh flower bouquet, and all day long, I kept shoving my bouquet in people's faces, saying, “look, I made it myself! Can you believe it?!”

Evening time

My bouquet

Catch Phrase

Game collection

We don't like dancing, and all those dances at the beginning of the reception are way too much spotlight for either of us. Instead, we asked our friends to bring their favourite board games and party games. You know, those games you love but never have enough people to play with. We partied all night eating frozen pizzas and playing board games.

First look kiss

Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was a blend of personal and traditional elements. Our officiant was my pastor who has been in my life for over 15 years, so having her marry us was very special. She provided the Christian ceremony and began it with a sermon that described her experience with our relationship and advice for our marriage. We didn't know what to expect, but they were her personalized blessings for us, so they were perfect.

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We had a friend read “A Cartoonist's Advice” from Bill Watterson's 1990 speech at Kenyon College. Since the comic made no sense without the images, we printed them into our program so that everyone could read along. This comic has nothing to do with love or relationships; it's about choosing a life off the beaten path because it's more authentic to you. We both love this strip, live our lives according to it, and we have a giant print out of it in our home. We thought it was appropriate to have it in our ceremony to have our friends reflect upon these offbeat values.

Our friends provided the musical interlude

I'm in an a cappella singing group, and a subset of that group sang one of our favourite songs, “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson. We didn't have any bridal party, so it was very nice to be able to honour our close friends by having them be part of our ceremony.

We did it!

Our biggest challenge:
Wedding planning has a heightening effect on your relationships. Whatever works in your relationships will work better (maybe?) and whatever doesn't work will work more poorly during the planning process. Preparing for this wedding brought out all of the unspoken hurts that my parents and I had held against each other. After several months of misunderstandings and hurting each other, I decided that I had to adult-up and talk to them honestly. It was a long conversation that started with a lot more of hurting each other, but eventually we got to the bottom of where the misunderstandings were coming from. Surprisingly, it only took the one conversation to make everything smooth sailing from there.

Overview of party time

My favorite moment:
Rather than making a grand entrance, Phil and I greeted our guests as they arrived. As the ceremony start time approached, it occurred to me that we personally knew every one of the guests that arrived, and we that we had greeted each person with a squeal and a hug. We knew that this is not a privilege that many couples have, and we began the ceremony knowing that our closest and most important friends were with us.

It wasn't a big surprise, but I got really emotional during the ceremony. When Phil realized I was on the verge of losing it, he held me really close and rubbed my back, trying to get me to calm down, which of course, this act of kindness made me lose it even more.

Seed cards

Advice cards

My funniest moment:
At some point in the ceremony, our officiant said, “hold each other's right hands.” We looked at each other for a moment as we processed the instructions and realized that the only way we knew how to do that was to shake hands, like a business handshake. So we reached out and shook hands. Needless to say, we all laughed.

Programs

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I learned two important lessons. One is simple: things aren't going to be perfect, and that's okay. On the overall scale, the wedding was perfect for us. At a detailed level, of course various things were wrong. We didn't practice the ceremony, so there were various hiccups. We didn't know where to stand, or how to hold each others' hands, or when to hold the bouquet and when to put it down. I forgot to tell the guests that the cupcakes were just for the people with gluten allergies, so all the little kids went for the cupcakes (since they're prettier than a slice of cake), took one bite, and then threw it out (since they're gluten-free). I forgot to hand out the wedding bubbles, so we ran down the aisle to applause rather than confetti or bubbles. But who cares? It was perfect anyway. As a perfectionist, this was quite the lesson to learn!

The other lesson was more of a surprise. During the planning phase, I was struggling with Phil to have him take ownership of his tasks. I gave him a couple of planning duties to do, particularly the ones that I couldn't do myself (like contacting his side of the guest list), but he was reluctant to follow through, and would only do things when I held him at the proverbial gun point. When we talked about it, he told me that he felt out of place taking charge because I was holding too much control over the whole thing. I needed to delegate more authority along with the responsibility.

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Tandem bikes are awesome

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!


jewelry: QALO

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Comments on Janet & Phil’s intimate tandem bike-themed wedding

  1. Lovely! I think you did a great job with the crafty stuff, too.

    I’m in an a cappella group, too, we are going to do 2 songs at my wedding, one short and funny, one more heartfelt and schmoopy.

    • Are you singing in it too? I considered singing at my own wedding, but opted to just be watching/listening in the end.

      • Yes, I will be singing – it won’t be at the ceremony, it will be some entertainment at the reception.

  2. You are spot on with the insight about whatever works in your relationships, and whatever doesn’t work in your relationships will be highlighted. I’ve had a similar experience myself–with my family, my friends, my in-laws, and my fiancé. For me, it’s been the hardest part of wedding planning, and I wish I’d been more sufficiently warned!

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