The offbeat bride: Clare, assistant at a law firm (and Tribe member)
Her offbeat partner: John, sales assistant
Date and location of wedding: Town Hall in Southport, followed by the beach in Southport and the Village Hall in Hesketh Bank, UK — October 1, 2011
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We wanted a day that wasn't at all formal and where we could see the vast majority of our family and friends in one place. Neither of us enjoy dancing or overly formal situations, so we had an afternoon of music, games, Twister, hula hooping, and an awesome vegetarian buffet lineup. We both also had a best man! We didn't have a specific colour scheme, so we encouraged everyone to wear something brightly coloured for the day.
We DIYed many things including the invites, ceremony programme, all of the decorations for the hall, my felt flower bouquet, and the button holes for each guest (including making the felt itself). I made and embroidered my dress, and we made all of the food in the day or so before the wedding.
John made all of the cupcakes, my nan made us a small fruitcake (her compromise as she wanted a “cake cutting” photo), and John composed and recorded the music for the ceremony (listen to it here!).
A lot of our relatives were initially under the impression that we were DIYing so much to cut costs. Whilst it certainly did, that wasn't the major reason behind it. We're both creative people and enjoyed most of the process, including coming up with the initial ideas to seeing how it all came together in the weeks beforehand.
Tell us about the ceremony: We walked in together, followed by both of our best men. My parents weren't at the wedding, so having my father walk me there wasn't really an option. In John's composed ceremony music, there were several acoustic guitar pieces which were nice and calming.
The ceremony that followed was very simple. We asked for a shortened version of the ceremony because neither of us are very good with public speaking. We added a “thank you” into the ceremony programmes that were handed to everyone instead of doing a reading:
A quick word…
We're not big on public speaking so we won't be doing a speech. But we want to say thank you.
Thank you to all of you that have made it here to share this day with us — whether you've travelled from Scotland, Wolverhampton, Oxford, 200 metres down the road, or somewhere in-between, we're honoured and privileged that you could make it. One of the things we've been most looking forward to about today was to have one day where we had the majority of the people that we care about in one place.
Everyone we've invited has helped to get us to where we are today; you've formed part of our lives, our community, and we hope you will go on to form part of our future.
So here's to you — all of you. Those of you that have laughed with us, cried with us, watched films with us, drank with us, ate with us, celebrated with us, supported us, played games with us, fought with us, fought for us, fought against us, joked with us, sang with us, listened to music with us, played music with us, been camping with us, walked in the rain with us, worried about us, been on packed train journeys with us, made things with us, been on car rides with us, had late nights with us, seen in the new year with us, burned things with us, spent hours talking with us, and been there for us.
Our biggest challenge: On the morning of the wedding, John discovered that there had been a mix-up with the bookings for our honeymoon which was to take place a couple of days later. As I was getting ready, he spent an hour or so frantically making phone calls to sort it whilst my best man made sure that we'd both actually eaten and kept us supplied with coffee. The whole thing was only resolved between the ceremony and reception, but it all ended well. Thankfully, everything else on the day went according to plan.
The biggest challenge leading up to the day was trying to communicate our ideas and how the day was going to turn out to relatives that were far more used to formal, traditional weddings.
My favorite moment: We made our own way to the ceremony with a couple of close friends and walked around the corner to the front of town hall. We were met by the sight of a huge group of our friends and family. I was dumbstruck! We'd known who would be attending on paper, but to physically see everyone there was something else entirely.
Something that had really stuck with me was when it was time to clear down at the end of the night. I'd walked out of the room to say goodbye to someone, then returned into the main hall about five minutes later to see that a group of our friends had decided to start helping, and had basically cleared the room in the time that I was gone. They stayed late to help simply because things needed doing.
My funniest moment: There was a laugh from everyone at the ceremony as I counted the fingers on John's left hand to make sure I was putting the ring on the correct finger.
A couple of our friends were trying to see if they could spice up our photos by borrowing a donkey from a vendor on the beach who was giving rides to children. They maintain, to this day, that had the tide not been on the way in, they'd have managed it.
Finally, we had a spare pumpkin that had been left in the hall the night before that hadn't been used for the cooking. I was told promptly that it was being decorated because “everyone needs a wedding pumpkin!” Who was I to argue?
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? I wasn't totally sure how the layout of the hall for the reception and the decorations were going to work out. After we finished the food the day before the wedding, John and I plus some of my friends and family headed to the hall to decorate and set up. It took what seemed like an age, but we were really happy with how it all came together. I think that's the risk that you run when you're doing something that you've not seen firsthand. You've just got to think it through and hope that by sticking to your guns, you'll pull it off!
For the photography, we gave everyone login details to a Flickr account to upload their photos. We weren't sure how successful it would be since it was a bit of a gamble not hiring a photographer, but it worked very well and we were spoilt for choice with all of the photos.
My advice for offbeat brides: We had a very busy summer this year, without accounting for all of the wedding things. So I can't overstate the importance of having a break with your partner away from wedding stuff every so often, whether it's a weekend away, a day trip, or just an evening in watching a film.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? I learned that John and I may be a brilliant team when it comes to getting things done, but we also have a fantastic network of friends and family. Throughout the whole process, they gave so much time and effort to what we were doing.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Rings: Etsy seller DowntotheWireDesigns
- Fabric for my dress: Abakhan
- Card stock for invitations and decor items: Fred Aldous
- Thank-you presents for friends and family: Lush
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!