The Offbeat Bride: Courtney
Her offbeat partner: Kelly
Date and location of wedding: Grace Restaurant in Portland, Maine — August 9, 2014
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
Kelly and I LOVE traveling and food, so those were very important for our wedding. At the time we lived in Florida, but because same-sex marriage was not recognized, we hosted our wedding in Kelly's home state of Maine. Our budget was also important, and we kept the total costs of the entire wedding including a house rental for our wedding party to stay with us (and which we also used to host a brunch the next morning) under $8,000.
During cocktail hour, we offered two drinks: a blueberry mocktail and Moscow mule, along with hors d'oeuvres such as chicken roulade, duck tataki, and lobster flatbread. Afterwards we moved to our reception space, where we enjoyed a sit-down dinner and a limited bar. Our wedding cake was an eight-inch whoopie pie (topped with Bigfoot figures from Etsy), and we offered individual chocolate and blueberry flavors.
Our guestbook was a globe. Also, our guests' escort cards were postcards with the table assignment based on our favorite places (Brussels, Paris, Belize, and D.C.). I also added a personalized travel quote to each card. Our centerpieces consisted of board games that we spray painted, Mod Podged votive candles, and a sunflower. Instead of a photo booth, we opted for a caricature artist and also had a tarot card reader.
We placed an ad on Craigslist for a photographer willing to build their portfolio for $500. We decided even one great picture would be worth it, and we were absolutely floored when we received our pictures!
Tell us about the ceremony:
Our ceremony was officiated by Kelly's uncle, who is an ordained minister and also married Kelly's sister four years ago. Using bits and pieces from internet searches, I wrote our ceremony, including our processional, my brother's reading, the exchange of our rings, and the blessing from our friends and family. The gathering words included an excerpt from Neil deGrasse Tyson which stated, “It's not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe, and the universe is in us.”
My brother read an excerpt from Robert Fulghum “Union” from The Beginning to End, which I modified slightly to personalize it:
“You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks in foreign cities — all those sentences that began with ‘When we're married' and continued with “‘I will and you will and we will'….”
We wrote our own vows where I promised to find the best travel deals and to always remember that moment when times are rocky and also when times are great. Kelly promised that she would always drive through the mountains so I could look for Bigfoot and also stated that while I think I look cute in the snow, she thinks I am cute no matter where we are.
Tell us about your reception:
We didn't want to have a too-formal reception, but rather allow our guests to have a little more fun. From the board game centerpieces to the DJ, from the caricature artist to the tarot card reader, we wanted our guests to be entertained. Our venue was beyond what we envisioned in terms of food. Since our reception was equipped with its own kitchen, our sit-down dinner didn't interfere with normal business operations in the normal dining area and only required a small minimum. Options included salmon with herbed couscous and horseradish cream, pork chop with creamy grits and collard greens, housemade ricotta ravioli with golden raisins and pine nuts, and herb butter stuffed chicken.
We hired a newer DJ, aiming to keep our costs low, through DJ Jodi's Entertainment, and we were extremely pleased with the planning and execution. One of my favorite moments was when Kelly and I played “who would be more likely to…” and used our shoes to answer the questions.
Towards the end of the night, we offered late night munchies of fried cheese curds and pigs in a blanket. Our original first dance was a little more difficult to dance to so we opted to save it for the last dance instead, which by then the floor had pretty much cleared, and it was just Kelly and I twirling in euphoria.
What was your most important lesson learned?
First and foremost, sit down with your partner and brainstorm. Talk about what you envision and what you can afford, but most importantly what you do NOT want. Decide on a guest list before viewing venues. If you only have 20 people and the venue requires a $10,000 minimum, you are setting yourself up for heartbreak. The opposite is also true.
Be respectful to your partner. Allow one another to be involved as much or as little as they want, but talk about it. Planning worked out best when I did the majority of the research and then presented her with options. I always asked for her input though. Respect their opinion and do not allow others to overrule anything (unless they are paying).
- Venue: Grace Restaurant in Portland, Maine
- Photographer: Allie Conn
- Dress: Maggie Sottero from Athena's Bridal
- DJ: DJ Jodi Entertainment
- Caricature artist: Your Caricature
- Bouquet: Paula's Gardens
- Whoopie Pies: Bam Bam Bakery (all gluten- and dairy-free bakery)
- Cake toppers: Pearson Maron
- Tarot card: Rayne