The offbeat bride: Lane, Paralegal/Bellydancer/Singer
Her offbeat partner: Jason, Librarian
Date and location of wedding: My mother's land in Gays Mills, WI in the Driftless Region — July 9, 2011
What made our wedding offbeat: We wanted something that was very much authentically us. Both of us felt as if we were already committed for the long-term, so the wedding would be our opportunity to welcome everyone to the idea of us as a couple, as well as the individuals we want to become.
It was important to us to provide a space that felt right. We mowed out a huge space in the hayfield for the reception, erecting 20 foot trees around the perimeter that were part of thinning out a forest on the land. We strung icicle lights and strings of handmade flags along these poles, and put up handmade wooden signs to direct people. We had a firepit, and trails led from the space out to where people could camp. My stepfather took to calling it “The Village.”
The ceremony space was in the immediate backyard behind my mother's house that she has personally landscaped, and we stood on a rock Jason and I made (with the help of my stepfather) to look out over Crow Hollow.
We included friends in just about every way possible without going insane: save-the-dates, invitations, wedding certificate/contract, the dress, and my hairpiece were made by friends, and a number of our friends were entertainment. In addition, we tried to make as much as possible by hand including strings of flags, napkins, tablecloths, tent decoration, soap and handkerchief favors. Finally, we used wedding items that were handed down from our friends' weddings.
Our entertainment included Balkan singing, accordion and tupan, as well as bellydance, Rajasthani and Tunisian dance. We ended the night with firespinning, and roasting s'mores until 3:00 a.m.
We had two years to plan it, so we bought dishes and silverware from resale shops, and we will be handing down these items to a cousin for her wedding. We gathered three vintage typewriters and asked people to type on muslin squares for our guest book. We tried to keep it local too, with gluten-free options (I'm gluten-free). We had Indian food from a local restaurant, and our beers were all local microbrews. We had Strongbow Cider as an option, as well as cordials we made ourselves.
Our wedding night was spent in a yurt handmade by my husband. There was no cake, no garter, and no exchange of rings (we went into the wedding wearing them). There was no plan. It was vaguely organized mayhem.
Tell us about the ceremony: Our ceremony was completely written by our officiant (a very close friend) and ourselves, with numerous readings. We had three themes: “Community and Connections,” “Choice,” and “Hard Work,” and the readings opened and closed each section, each read by a different person. In the Choice section, we had numerous people read the book I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg.
We were led in by the musicians and dancers with the kids all dressed as fairies. We stood and spoke on our topics on a stone we made to overlook Crow Hollow, with all the guests seated theater-style in the backyard. Community was inspired by a Radiolab episode containing a story titled “Ineffable” from the book Sum by David Eagleman. Hard Work was inspired by our experiences and an interview with Michelle Obama about marriage being hard work. We asked everyone to agree to recognize the marriage, and to sign our wedding contract/certificate, which contained a large portion of Khalil Gibran's poem “On Love” from The Prophet.
Our readings were:
SPACE IS BIG. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the pharmacist, but that's just peanuts to space.
So imagine the stunning feat of probability involved when one person, traveling the chaos of life, manages to find another like-minded individual in this planet's teeming masses. Imagine if, despite all the forces arrayed against them, they somehow manage to fall in ever-increasing love.
And imagine if, united in a common purpose, they decide that the trajectory of their lives would be better if they traveled it together.
That would be pretty epic. Don't you think?
– Bran Cedio, a friend
We don't accomplish anything in this world alone… and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.
– Sandra Day O'Connor
It is difficult for some people to accept that love is a choice. This seems to run counter to the generally accepted theory of romantic love which expounds that love is inborn and as such requires no more than to accept it.
– Leo F. Buscaglia
Sometimes hidden from me
in daily custom and in trust,
so that I live by you unaware
as by the beating of my heart,
Suddenly you flare in my sight,
a wild rose blooming at the edge
of thicket, grace and light
where yesterday was only shade,
and once again I am blessed, choosing
again what I chose before.
– “The Wild Rose” by Wendell Berry
Hard Work readings:
Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.
– Louis de Bernieres
For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate test, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person – it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances.
– Ranier Maria Rilke
Our biggest challenge: Biggest external challenge? ANTS OMG ANTS!
Biggest internal challenge? Our own expectations. We had moments where we would butt heads about what we wanted, mainly because his vision was too small and mine was too large. He didn't want a big fuss about things, looking for a good party with friends. I would frequently get carried away by some thing I saw on a bridal blog somewhere and question everything we were doing, wondering if it was going to look too thrown together.
About a month before the wedding, something just clicked between us and we were able to compromise, reminded of how much we loved each other. We decided that if we threw all of that love at people, it didn't matter what we did.
My favorite moment: There were many. Walking out onto the ceremony rock and seeing the whole expanse before us, like all of opportunity was there, right now, to witness love in action. Seeing so many people wearing the white ribbons for marriage equality. My stepfather calling me daughter for the first time. (We bonded so much over all the work we had to do to make the happen.) My brother-in-law running up and grabbing the processional umbrella to make sure we were shaded from the sun during the recessional. Hanging out and dancing on tables till 4am with amazing friends.
My funniest moment: This is a part that very few people got to see — only about ten people total, including our accordionist, drummer, singer, and dancers, as well as other friends. It was late, probably midnight or so. I was tired of being in a corset and dress, and I just wanted to hang out and dance around the fire. But I needed help getting out of it, so Jason came back with me to the yurt to help me change into shorts and a t-shirt.
When we got in there, we saw that the yurt had been decorated by all of our friends, filled with balloons. Then we heard them outside. They'd followed us to the yurt and began to play the most whacked out version of Salt-N-Pepa's “Push It”… on the accordion. Jason and I were laughing so hard that he couldn't untie my corset because we were falling on the ground.
We proceeded to unearth a packet of false moustaches and I put one on. We emerged from the yurt, handed everyone their moustache, and then danced on the tables singing random songs till 4:00 a.m. (Also hilarious is something we call “The Eat-A-Peach Incident,” but I'll leave that for anyone who asks.)
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? There were a number of hurdles. First, the weather had been muggy for days beforehand. Luckily, the day dawned with slightly cooler weather and a lovely breeze, with enough clouds to keep the sun from being ridiculous.
We were so not prepared for the amount of work that needed doing yet on the day of. If all of our friends who had spent the night hadn't all pitched in to make it happen, I'm not sure I would have ever gotten into my dress. One of the dancers stood in front of me on the stairs and ordered me into the shower.
We forgot to label the three gallons of strawberry cordial we made (basically, vodka with sugar and strawberries), saying that it was alcoholic. Luckily, someone noticed and made a big sign… and made the children dump out their “Kool-Aid.”
My advice for offbeat brides: Engage your partner in discussion about what a wedding means to each of you. Take the time to decide what really matters to you in a ceremony and make sure it is there. No matter what you do, if you really put your heart into it, it will affect everyone.
Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? Both of us have been married before, and the major change we wanted to see was purpose. We didn't want to position the wedding as the “beginning” of anything or some bond that would somehow mystically promise an easy and happy future. We made an effort to learn something in the process of the DIY stuff (including how to use augers, chainsaws, do screenprinting) so that it wasn't something for one point in time, but something for our marriage together.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? That if you approach others openly and authentically, they will be encouraged to respond in kind. And that sort of connection is what makes life worth living.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: Raymond Siler Photography
- Dress and hair fascinator: Q. Phia Dedes
- Save-the-date design and invitations: Kristel Cornell
- Wedding certificate: Bran of Mydwynter Studios
- Accordion: August Hoerr and Mezmer Society
- Tupan (Drum): Dave Machek and Accidental Circus
- Singers: Onca O'Leary, Hardest Working Woman in Show Business, and Mezmer Society
- Bellydance, Tunisian, and Rajasthani Dance: Maria Hamer and Christine Andrews
- Fire Dancing: Tashar
- Fabulous Indian food in Madison, WI: Swagat Indian Restaurant
- Two of the typewriters: Freecycle
- Bride's necklace: Fanny Garver Gallery
- Groom's hat: Sacred Feather
- Groom's feather in hat: Brass Rooster
- Inspiration: Anthology and Radiolab
- Rings and necklaces for friends: Beth Cyr