The offbeat bride: Fran, a mundane office worker (and OBT member)
Her offbeat partner: Siobhán (also known as Von), youth worker and geek
Location & date of wedding: The Derby Conference Centre, a listed Art Deco building with gorgeous original 1930s interior. The ceremony was held in the lecture hall, a small theatre shaped room, then we had the celebrations in their giant sunken lounge in Derby, UK. — 31st October 2009
What made our wedding offbeat: Living a non-traditional life meant our guests weren't expecting a traditional day from the start, so we had complete freedom. We're bisexual so it was important our day was a celebration of not just our love but of love generally. The top table included a sibling's wife and girlfriend from their poly life, with a toast to the fact we could even have a legal ceremony.
It was vegan yet decadently sugar filled! It was feminist too, we looked at everything, decided how it could be right for us. We had a flower woman, walked down the aisle together to show this wasn't the start of something, it was a continuation. There was no big reveal, from mingling beforehand in our full outfits to our order of the day with all the text from the day plus the plan for the evening to help guests who needed to balance medication and rests.
The vows reflected us with laughter from the audience, Fran promising to remember that she isn't always right and Von promising to not do things half arsed! We promised to be together wherever we go in life, definitely in sickness and maybe even someday in health.
The main thing was that it was laid back — we were relaxed and therefore our guests could be too. We spent the day laughing with joy, so our guests did too! It was also humble, instead of a receiving line we gave our drinks to our guests to show our appreciation for them.
Our biggest challenge: We met because of chronic health problems, so planning a wedding left us even more exhausted than normal. We planned the day around this, sitting during the ceremony, with comfy seats with arms during the meal, sofas around the dancefloor, the whole venue was disability friendly. We planned it from bed using the laptop, and even had photos taken while we lay on the ground! In the last week Fran's amazing brother and wife came to stay to do the last minute running around for us and were incredible! Staying at the venue the night before helped too, there was much less exertion on the day because everything was there already.
Another challenge was that a member of Fran's family we asked to be a witness said no, which really hurt. But everyone else's love and excitement more than made up for it.
We also had lots of small things go wrong on the day — the DJ was ill so his dad covered and played the wrong first dance, the food wasn't as planned, the venue forgot some other details — but none of it mattered. This was such an incredible day that it would take more than that to overshadow the joy and love between us, and everyone!
In fact the first dance is now one of our favourite moments; we heard the wrong music, looked at each other and made an eye contact decision to just go with it. It was perfect in a very different way than planned!
My favorite moment: The confetti throwing genuinely felt like being showered with people's love. In fact choosing all natural, biodegradeable petals and seedheads for confetti, then mixing it ourselves for appropriate colours (along with bubbles!) seemed like a detail that might be lost on other people, but we loved it. Now I am so glad that we did, it was wonderful to have everyone surrounding us, laughing while we twirled around in their happiness! It turns out that so many details were things that other people noticed and adored, so that energy wasn't wasted!
The cake was also a highlight, we're vegan so the cake needed to be vegan, but we wanted it to taste like cake, not vegan cake! Luckily Fran's an amazing baker and so the five tiers of gooey chocolate richness were amazing. Fran put it together the night before, which was another joy. Us and lots of friends and family stayed the night before and did the setting up and decorating then to save energy on the day, it felt like a community effort! Then on the day another fantastic experience was staying up late together again. The music went off at one a.m., but a group of us sat around chatting and eating cake until three a.m. before we headed off on honeymoon! It was a moment of stillness and closeness after the frenetic day and the contrast felt beautiful.
Oh, and we had fairtrade candy floss which was AWESOME.
My offbeat advice: Enjoy planning, it's the largest party you are likely to throw so have fun with it! We'd spend car journeys together planning it a chunk at a time — it was time that we couldn't be doing anything else with so we'd spend it with a notepad. It also meant we arrived everywhere in a good mood! I know that it's second nature to most offbeat brides, but don't get bogged down in the word “wedding,” weddings are just a celebration of love, so choose to celebrate freely how you would celebrate any joyous occasion with your most loved ones — whether that's with friends, family, or both!
Also, express yourself, but think of your guests too. We chose a venue that our guests could afford to stay at, which meant we had them for longer. Also, we're vegan but none of our guests were, so we wanted to show how fun veganism can be. As well as making it non-intimidating for people who don't eat vegetables when planning the menu. We covered the tables in sweets (translation: candies), then had unlimited fairtrade candy floss (translation: cotton candy) through the evening and then chips (translation: fries) coming out at ten p.m. too! Everyone really seemed to embrace it, it was great to see.
Also, people let you down. Invite them anyway and treat them as if they hadn't. The moral high ground has a much better view, and it shows them what they're missing out on!
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? We spend our life trying to be ethical consumers, so our wedding was no different. We wanted our money to go to people or organizations that we agreed with and we tried to support local or independent as much as possible.
- Siobhan's dress was made for her by Jackie Thompson, who has more patience and skill than any dress maker I've ever met, from organic cotton by Conscious Elegance.
- Our photographer was Rob Bird, who is not only talented but also a joy to work with.
- We were lucky enough to be able to have a videographer Steve Lawson. His work is amazing, and he made us a three minutes highlight video too which you can see here.
- The popcorn and candy floss came from Candy Floss Crazy who were so lovely and enthusiastic.
- Our invites were designed by Von (with the rest of the stationery) but printed by Eco Print UK, an environmentally concious company, who print with vegetable based inks.
- We, like everyone else, found great people on Etsy, Fran's ring came from Bijoutiful, Siobhan's headress from HeadCaseByG and our guestbook made by SeaLemon
- We bought a large packet of dried leaves for decorations from La Villa Victoria who uses the money to feed the abandoned animals that she takes in!
- And lastly, our website is hosted by Al and Sarah, who have been so supportive of us!
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn: