Offbeat partner: Karen, MD/PhD Student
Offbeat partner: James, Software Engineer
Date and location of wedding: Arrowhead Lodge, Brewerton, NY — November 6, 2016
Our offbeat wedding at a glance:
James and I agreed on three very important things: we hate ceremonies, we hate crowds, and we hate dressing up. So a wedding was going to be difficult for us. But we figured if we were going to have one, it was going to be something that was totally up our alley. Thankfully, it was also up most of our friends' and family's, too.
As James and I met in martial arts, and one of our favorite things to do is go to Renaissance festivals, we decided to put a good third of our budget to awesome custom armor sets. We special-ordered swords. I made my own scabbard. We commissioned one of my favorite artists for custom illustration made into our tapestry.
We did our own simple decorations and set up. The ONE RULE for all attendees was that they had to come in some sort of costume (yes, even the officiant). The theme? "Choose your own adventure." We were not disappointed, and had an amazing time.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a 10-minute ceremony that was a mash-up of handfasting and unity candle lighting. We wanted our ceremony to highlight a major element of our relationship, which was that we are equals, and stronger together than apart, and that though things may be difficult in the future, we make this step forward in our relationship with eyes open. The more important element of our vows was:
"I commit myself to you as my husband/wife to learn and grow with, to explore and adventure with, to respect you in everything as an equal partner, in the foreknowledge of joy and pain, strength and weariness, direction and doubt, for all the risings and settings of the sun. We tie these knots to symbolize our connection to one another. They represent our trust in each other and our combined strength together."
We had our mothers do the handfasting. The ceremony itself wasn't so important to us as everyone having a memorable time. We did not walk down an aisle. No wedding party. Just me and him and some fire.
But the best part was that immediately after, we released all the guests to complete a quest we had created for them. They had to find the lost pieces of a map, put it together, and interpret it to find the treasure chest with the wedding favors. Once that was found, they had to unlock the chest by finding the right combination (it kept everyone busy so we could chill!).
Tell us about your reception:
We had both the ceremony and reception at the Arrowhead Lodge to keep things simple. Our cupcakes had galaxy-themed frosting with multiple flavors/fillings. Our food was catered from Limp Lizard BBQ. The lodge had an amazing coordinator who helped move everything along and set up (shout out to Brenda!). We used a service called The Help for food and drinks set up, clean up, etc, so we didn't have to do it ourselves.
As James is a super computer savvy person, he handled the music and sound system and lights, which were a Google album, and an inexpensive speaker/lighting rentals from the lodge, respectively. My parents and siblings really cinched things down the day of, helping out with the transportation, set up, guests, coordination, you name it!
Most awesome moment: our photographer brought smoke bombs for some epic sword fighting pictures. My brother had to run around us with it steaming purple smoke out of his hand in the late evening to get the full effect. Sorry bro, but worth it!
Sweetest moment: when my sister dedicated a speech to us. We hadn't asked anyone to speak because we hate putting people on the spot, but she came up with on her own and it made me really tear up.
What was your most important lesson learned?
Planning this wedding was the second most stressful thing I've ever had to do in my life, trumped only by the lingering death of a loved one. I was getting ready to defend my PhD thesis during the planning, and had to juggle very long hours in the lab with all of the planning.
James and I coordinated everything over a massive Google spreadsheet, and we divvied up tasks based on our strengths. We assigned ourselves deadlines to make it manageable over time. We also set our cost priorities at the beginning: armor, photographer, venue, food, decorations, invitations, wedding favors, in that order. Agreeing on the important things at the very beginning, and trusting each other to complete the tasks we chose really helped alleviate the stress. I didn't worry about James' responsibilities, and he didn't worry about mine.
Second, many people like to trash on costume weddings for some reason that we can't comprehend. Everyone who came to ours had a fabulous time, the pictures are fantastic, and there were some AMAZING costumes (the Knights who say Ni???!!!). And the kids? The ones who usually burn out and throw tantrums in their one-time-use wedding attire? Fun and freedom the entire night. James and I wear our "wedding armor" 3+ times a year. Talk about getting bang for your buck for wedding "dress."