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The Offbeat Bride: Morgan, Recruitment Consultant

Her offbeat partner: Dominic, Insurance Broker

Date and location of wedding: Bride's parents' backyard, Tahuya, WA — August 16, 2014

Our offbeat rustic wedding at a glance: Dominic and I met at a concert, so music has always been a huge part of our relationship. We decided early on that we wanted the perfect tone all day to be set with just the right music. We found the perfect DJ, who also performed live acoustic guitar during the ceremony. We featured Kings of Convenience, The Long Winters, and Sufjan Stevens in our wedding processional and recessional. When it came to the dance floor selection, we certainly submitted some favorites, but the only rule was no songs that tell you how to dance! No “one hop this time” for us.

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Everything that could be handmade was handmade. Signs, table runners, bunting…you name it, my mom and I made it! We worked on wedding craft projects for well over a year. The best handmade element was the homecrafted huckleberry liqueur that went into our signature cocktails. Huge hit.
All of our plates and cutlery were individually chosen from thrift stores throughout the area. There were 150 of each plates, cake plates, forks, knives, and spoons. We had so much fun picking them out and quickly caught on to the best “red tag sale” days. It ended up infinitely cheaper and cuter than renting.

My family has a really fun tradition of painting rocks at our family cabin, and everyone who has stayed there knows that you absolutely must paint a rock before you leave. We carried this on by handpainting a place-rock for each guest, which also doubled as a gift.

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We definitely fell into the uber-trendy Mason jar fad, but we made ours different by providing hole-punched lids and straws for safe drinking and dancing. Our guests also took their blue Mason jar home as a gift.

The biggest stroke of genius in money saving was picking up 10 huge sunflowers from Pike Place Market the day before the wedding. The total cost was $10, a huge chunk less than traditional bouquets.

We skirted the issue with not really having enough space for a buffet by going with family-style food. Our food theme was “the best picnic you've ever had” and had yummy breads and dips, potato salad, salmon sliders, and fancy fried chicken — all stuff that tastes just as good warm as it does cold and ideal for outdoor eating. I'd highly recommend it as it gets people talking at the table instead of waiting in a line.

For a non-alcoholic treat and to keep the energy up, we also had a big carafe of delicious vanilla iced coffee with cream on the side.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We had a secular ceremony, which suited our style perfectly. The judge, Thurman Lowans, was actually my mom's boss when she was pregnant with me in the '80s when he was a lawyer and she was his secretary. We knew we had to ask him as he had a great personality and voice. He even offered to perform the ceremony as a gift, which was very generous.

We used our own vows. Dom was prepared and wrote his down. I, on the other hand, decided to speak off the cuff! A couple of bullet points were stored safely in my maid of honor's cleavage just in case… but I ended up not needing them at all and the words just came to me. There were lots of tears.

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Our biggest challenge:
Doing the majority of the planning from overseas was by far the biggest challenge. Thank goodness for an absolutely amazing support system who were always willing to jump in and help. I learned early on in the process that my usual difficulty asking for help was going to need to be gotten over very quickly. One of my bridesmaids even went so far as to organize a meet-up with our potential DJ before we booked him to make sure he wasn't weird. He wasn't, by the way, he was the best!

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My parents' property is a good two hours outside of Seattle, and 40 minutes from the nearest hotel. So there was absolutely no chance at taking cabs. It made it an idyllic setting, but a bit of a pain for guests, particularly those who were traveling from overseas. We decided to book a block of rooms at a hotel near the Bremerton Ferry Terminal and offer a shuttle service from there, that way people could ferry over from Seattle and hop on the shuttle and not have to worry about a designated driver. I'd say about a quarter of our guests used it, and were very thankful.

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My favorite moment:
Dominic and I live together in Auckland, New Zealand, his parents are in the UK, mine are in Washington State, my brother is in Honolulu, and his brother and sister are in Melbourne, Australia. Just getting us all together in one place was absolutely amazing. The family all started arriving up to a week before the wedding, and the days leading up were action packed and very special.

I wore my grandmother's wedding dress, which my mother also wore. My grandmother passed when I was 12, and it was the best way to have her with me on the day. The dress only had to be taken up a few inches, no other alterations.

A friend of ours, who Dominic was living with at the time we met, surprised us with a personalized, signed concert poster from one of Dom's favorite Seattle musicians, John Roderick. It hangs framed in our dining room now.

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My funniest moment:
I'm a big fan of colorful lipsticks, so even though we hadn't discussed my makeup plans in thorough detail, Dom came prepared. After our first kiss as man and wife, he reached back to Rob, his groomsman, and called “WIPE!” which was promptly passed on.

Dom's brother Jim gave an absolutely hilarious speech which all the crowd got a huge kick out of it. Highlights included Dom's propensity to sleepwalk, funny experiences when getting sick, and love for his mother. The best part was, though, guests who didn't know Dom's family well, kept congratulating his dad (who did not make a speech) on the funny speech, mistaking him for Jim.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
Drink water. Speak to everyone. Be budget conscious but not too much, because in the end over-budgeting can completely take all the magic out of it. Trust your vendors, they're professionals for a reason. It's totally cool if you have leftover alcohol and food because then you have a bunch of alcohol and food! On that same note, don't be stressed out about having everyone's favorite alcohol. Have a few options, but if someone doesn't have their favorite thing IT'S FREE BOOZE and they'll drink their second favorite thing.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Comments on Morgan & Dominic’s handmade hand-me-down backyard wedding

  1. I loved everything you said under “Most Important Lessons.”

    The budget thing was really starting to crush me, until somebody said to me, “will you regret not spending the money?” and then with a whole new perspective I had much more fun.

    The booze thing is a good general life tip for me. 🙂 I obsess about offering people exactly what they like best, but that’s nearly impossible (for me) to do all the time without going at least a LITTLE bit crazy. But you’re exactly right – I’m offering people something free – and if it’s not exactly what they like they can just deal with it….

    Well Said! Thanks!

  2. I was thinking how much I loved the dress, then I saw it was your grandmother’s and I loved it even more. How fortunate to have such a beautiful heirloom in your family!

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