Her offbeat partner: Aaron, Artist and Graduate Student
Location & date of wedding: In the Sacred Grove on Wooly Bugger Farm near Scottsville, Virginia. This is a relatively uncultivated piece of land that sits on the James River and is owned by the groom's family. September 21, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: Zombies, robots, bunnies, frogs, and betta fish — all in one theme! We roasted pizza, marshmallow s'mores, lots of beer, and galumphing. Sacred Grove is on the edge of a farm, so there were goats, chickens, turkeys, and dogs running around everywhere. We had awesome jars of honey, made from wildflowers by bees on the farm, which we gave away as wedding favors.
We actually hand-built the pizza oven and the composting toilet. There were also finger puppets, handmade flowers, a self-written and self-conducted ceremony, and a full moon shining down upon our sacred space and blessing us on the Autumnal equinox. YAY!
Plus, the groom animated our first encounter (with zombies):
Tell us about the ceremony: We were legally married in December 2009 at the courthouse in Charlottlesville, with only immediate family around. Since legalities were out of the way, we wanted to create something that was truly ours. We had many discussions about what marriage means to us. We came to the conclusion that since we had an opportunity to get married to each other for a second time, we wanted the process not to be only about us, but to be about our community as well.
It is a frequently heard cry among offbeat brides-to-be: “Do what you want! It's YOUR day!” However, we found in the planning of our event that our wedding was not merely a celebration of two lives joined as one. It was an event that far surpassed us as two individuals. Our wedding was a time for our families, friends, and community members to put their lives and worries on hold and become immersed in a sense of community.
The wedding was a product of many late nights in which many people stayed up working and planning on our behalf. In realizing this, we decided that we needed to acknowledge our loved ones through our ceremony. Therefore, we wrote a ceremony in which we approached our community, offering them the opportunity not only to honor us as a new couple, but to honor themselves as members of our community as well.
We used several visual inventions and articulations to convey these concepts. Here is the text that we included in our programs:
Concentric Spirals: The spiral is a symbol of life, emanating from a central point and expanding indefinitely. In nature, spirals are beautiful artifacts of function; aesthetic mathematical elegance. Concentric spirals seem to expand and grow; their rhythm moving in unison towards a point of blending and unification. We felt that this symbol was a perfect articulation of our two paths moving as one, and our commitment to be with one another always. In honor of our creative energies, and in honor of our two paths now joined as one, we will paint concentric spirals for our community to see.
The Joining of Two Flames: Almost six years ago when we met, it was as though two small flames were lit inside of us respectively. Together these lights have grown brighter, shuddering and glowing, perpetually bending closer to one another. In joining these two flames, we sent up a prayer that our life together will always remain full of love, commitment and passion for one another.
The Unification of Families: Although it is easy to see how two people are bound by marriage, it is often overlooked that the members of those two people's families are also unified through that act. We wanted to honor our community by physically uniting them, binding them with one ribbon, and welcoming them into our new family.
Our close friend also wrote an awesome speech about us for the ceremony. It had zombies, robots, bunnies, and frogs in it: all of the most important things in life, of course.
Our biggest challenge: As a woman with strong emotions, nothing could have prepared me for the roller coaster ride that is a wedding. I have never felt ALL of my emotions, so strongly in such a short amount of time, all while battling general fatigue, worry, family, noodles, dog butts, sheep, hair, and even some tentacled aliens.
During wedding week, what had been fun and exciting suddenly turned grueling and annoying, and I can honestly say, I'm just darn lucky that my closest friends and family love me enough to have endured me during that time. If it weren't for them, and all of the long hours they worked on the farm, on the last minute art projects and on keeping me sane, our beautiful event could have melted into a smelly, disgusting blob.
I feel indebted to all of these people for life, and all I can say now is thank you, Thank You, and THANK YOU! (p.s. I love you, too.)
My favorite moment: Imagine standing hand-in-hand with the one you love as the sun sets and the last of beams of daylight filters through the trees. Imagine hugging your darling close, as you shuffle around the dance floor to that piece of music that is just perfect for that particular moment, and smiling because you have felt true happiness.
Imagine sitting around a campfire, among all the favorite people in your life, roasting marshmallows to a golden perfection as you bask in the warm fiery glow. Imagine the full moon shining down lovingly into your sacred space, and the spirits themselves emerging from the woods and physically expanding the space so that it contains all the overflowing love and energy bubbling in the night.
We will never forget these moments, because they signify the epitome of our happiness, and they bless us as we chose to embark upon life's journey together.
My funniest moment: For the opening of our ceremony we planned to have three young helpers (my two little sisters and my niece) emerge from the woods and light several candles on our altar before the groomsmen and bridesmaids came out to take their places.
We gave them handheld multi-purpose gas lighters, the sort people always have sitting by their outdoor grills, which are often impossible for an adult to light. However, we deemed them the safest choice for the kids as handing matches to kids in a kindling-dry forest didn't seem wise.
These three beautiful girls approached the altar table, and we waited off to the side. They stood in front of their respective candles and commenced a ten minute serenade of clicking as they attempted to get the little objects to spit out a tiny flame. Then the wind started to blow, making a difficult task even more adorably ridiculous. All the girls helped each other, tiny fingers bumbling around. Flames would appear momentarily and then disappear as fast. The audience waited for something to happen. Clicking continued.
Eventually they succeeded in getting all the candles lit (eight total), but I swear I could hear some mischievous forest spirits giggling in the background.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? In choosing our location for this event, we knew that many challenges lay ahead for us. Aaron's parent's “farm” is a slow work in progress. So a year and a half ago, when Aaron proposed, it was mostly an uncultivated piece of land. Still, its awesome natural beauty and deeply spiritual atmosphere called to us, and we knew that it was THE place we had to be for our special celebration.
In the year and a half since that decision was made, a lot of things happened, mostly through the manual labor done by the two of us, Aaron's brother, and his parents:
Trees were cut down to make a clearing that would later be known as the Sacred Grove. Those trees were chopped up and removed. The soil was fertilized and grass seed planted. An altar was built with wood from the farm. An arched entryway was created by bending young saplings and tying them to the trees.
Electricity was put in and run from the driveway to the Sacred Grove. A wooden building was built with a composting toilet for our guests to use. A brick oven was built completely by hand for roasting pizzas. The wooden “dance floor,” weighing possibly 700 pounds, was moved by the power of two people and a truck into place. Honey was collected from the bee hives and put into jars to be used as wedding favors. A 30-foot tent was assembled and put into place.
All the necessary tables and chairs were picked up from the homes of friends and family in a pickup truck over the course of several days. A fire pit was built. The space was decorated with handmade fabric flowers and paper pom-poms.
It really could have been a disaster, but it was far from it. In the end it all came together.
My advice for offbeat brides: My advice for brides would be to expect the unexpected and take disasters with a grain of salt. Although the end result of our wedding couldn't have been any more amazing for us, the journey to that end was nothing like I had expected it to be. I quickly realized that I would have to gain a sense of humor in those moments of fear and mishap, or hate my wedding for the rest of my life.
I think every bride who has invested as much time and energy into their wedding will come to a critical point where they may choose to laugh instead of cry.
I think every bride who has invested as much time and energy into their wedding will come to a critical point where they may choose to laugh instead of cry. During wedding week, my cake melted (for lack of refrigeration) and we laughed because our handmade cake toppers ended up in a chocolaty grave, much in keeping with our zombie theme. I tripped going down the stairs at our reception site, and landed on my butt with a plate of Pasta a la Vodka all down my dress. I had to laugh because my bloody zombie makeup had been completed for me.
The day before our ceremony, we received a phone call from our best friend saying he had missed his flight to our event. We had to smile and accept the universe's message that maybe he wasn't meant to be there.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Weddings are complicated! But although relationships can change, and difficult decisions may need to be made, a wedding is a celebration of love and life in all its spectacular and unexpected moments. Give yourself time to float in the amazing feeling of love and community that will surround you on your day. And don't forget to make time to eat, drink, and infect the ones you love with the zombie virus!
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photographer: W. Cole Geddy , Photography Intern, University of Virginia
- Bride's dress: A reproduction vintage dress by Russian designer Nataya. I bought it from Bygones in Richmond, VA, the most amazing vintage store in Virginia
- Handmade robot finger puppets: Etsy seller TheHookery
- Decorative pom-poms: Etsy seller FiestaPompom
Enough talk — show me the wedding inspo!