Day 3 of Kilt Week = awesomeness. Royal blue dress + purple kilt = total awesomeness. – Becca

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The offbeat bride: Allison, bookstore assistant manager

Her offbeat partner: Jason, graduate student in anthropology

Location & date of wedding: Martin Luther King Jr. Lounge, Ripon College, Ripon, WI — January 8, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: We wanted to start our marriage in love, not in debt. Our six-year anniversary was January 18, so the wedding was more of a thing we finally got around to rather than something hugely symbolic for us. And we kept it to about $4,000 — including parental contributions. We also planned everything in three months.

JAWedding078I am a pale white girl who looks paler in white — I’ve always known I wasn’t going for a white dress. I picked mine — a bridesmaid’s dress — out of a catalogue, in my favorite color, without even trying it on, and it turned out to be perfect for my body shape and complexion. It was comfortable AND beautiful. I love it. I want to wear it every day. Even to work.

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JAWedding268Jason has always wanted a kilt and figured his wedding was the only time he’d actually buy one. So he did — in purple.

When he proposed (at the Rio Grande Bridge in Taos, NM), he didn’t have a ring, so we each picked out what we liked and bought them for each other. His Celtic-engraved ring is the color of my eyes, and my twisty sapphire ring is his birthstone (those were both coincidences).

JAWedding353We DIY-ed a lot. I made the favors, programs, invitations, and my wedding gauntlets. I love knitting and knew I’d need something to keep me warm — it was Wisconsin in January, after all!

We kept decorations simple to keep prices down. We used white lights and my mom’s blue bottle collection to decorate, along with blue and purple ornaments (half price at Christmas). It was simple and elegant.

JAWedding409We also had no wedding party and a small guest list, with cost in mind. Just being in someone else’s wedding can be expensive. I have five siblings, so the party was either going to be tiny or enormous — we didn’t want anyone to feel slighted.

Our first dance was pretty traditional (to “Such Great Heights” by Iron and Wine), but our second dance was a tango! I changed to a dress with a scandalous slit (at least for me) and Jason put on pants so as not to flash the masses. Remembering our vows and the dance steps were the most stressful parts of the day, so we were glad to get the last one taken care of — but it was fun, too!

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Tell us about the ceremony: We’re both spiritual, but not religious, so our ceremony was made of various weird components that were totally us. Instead of having a unity candle or sand ceremony, we had an <a Anam Cara ceremony — a Celtic representation of the elements, including spirit, that bind us. Our readings were Love by Roy Croft, The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Peterson, and the Apache blessing.

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The processional was “Ashitaka and San” from Princess Mononoke, and the recessional was “The Throne Room” from Star Wars, two songs that express both our love and joy in each other and our geeky natures.

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It was during the ceremony that I was glad we had kept things small — only thirty-five people attended. I really felt it was something very intimate, and all the people who attended are dear to us and “get” our relationship. It made my heart sing to have so many close friends and family there.

After the pastor presented us to the masses, I was so happy I couldn’t contain myself and let out a little “Yay!”

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JAWedding282Our biggest challenge: One was planning a wedding long-distance. We’re in New Mexico while Jason finishes school and wanted to get married at our alma mater in Ripon, WI. Plus, we’re in a small town with no wedding shops of any kind. There were lots of trips to and from Santa Fe to get things taken care of. Luckily we knew the site venues well — the ceremony was on campus, and the reception was held where my sorority’s formals took place (and our first date was there, too).

We almost had two disasters the week of the wedding.

  • My hair. I had dyed it bright red and wanted to go back to blonde. I’ve never dyed my hair dark before and didn’t realize I’d have to get it professionally done, which was why it was a last-minute thing (plus I didn’t think I’d care so much, but I did). JAWedding357Everyone I checked with said it would be $80 at least. Finally I called the lady who was doing my hair for the big day — and she gave me highlights and fixed a bad haircut for half that! She was a wonderful hairdresser and a lifesaver.
  • The cake. The reception venue didn’t realize the cake was a gift from a talented, professional-caliber friend instead of from a licensed baker. Non-licensed cakes aren’t allowed at certain reception venues in Wisconsin — we almost had no cake! Thanks to a cooperative owner and a waiver, we still had our beautiful Princess Mononoke-themed cake (and no one complained or got sick).

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My favorite moment: We said goodbye in the morning and went our sepaparate ways to get ready. When the ceremony finally came around, I was a nervous wreck (I hate being in front of a crowd). I came up the stairs by myself and — I’ll never forget this — Jason was waiting for me at the top, looking handsome and just as relieved to see me as I felt to see him. The stress melted a little — still there, but manageable with him.

That moment made everything perfect.

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My funniest moment: We wrote and memorized our vows, based on Ingrid Michaelson‘s “The Way I Am.” One line of Jason’s was supposed to be, “If you are chilly, I’ll be your sweater.” But he was so nervous and excited that he said, “I’ll be your sweaty” instead. It was adorable!

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JAWedding336My advice for offbeat brides: Promise yourself from day one to not seek perfection. I did, and it kept me sane. It helped that I’ve never had “my big day” all planned out, so I was able to let the decisions be what felt good rather than what felt absolutely perfect. Perfect is overrated — the weird little things are what make the day memorable.

And remember to have FUN! This is the day it’s all been leading up to — what happens will happen, so sit back and enjoy. If something does go wrong, just remember to laugh and relax, and it will be okay.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Weddings are a headache. If I had to do it over again, I’d convince Jason to elope. Don’t get me wrong, I have wonderful memories of the day and it was beautiful, but it was incredibly stressful! This is definitely my one and only wedding ever (being totally in love helps!).

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • My dress: Christine’s Bridal — the lady who helped me was so helpful, and a thrill! She wore hiking boots and jeans in a bridal shop!
  • Jason’s kilt: USA Kilts
  • My ring: Angara
  • Jason’s ring: Apples of Gold
  • Photographer: Mary Mihajlov
  • My bra: Her Room – great user comments, and I found a strapless that fit perfectly without even trying it on.

Most of our vendors were small and very localized, but I’m willing to pass on info to those in Eastern Wisconsin or Northern New Mexico!

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

Comments on Allison & Jason’s spiritual, frickin’ cold, tango-infused wedding

  1. That is the exact colour I’d want my dress to be! You both look so awesome!

    “We wanted to start our marriage in love, not in debt.” My favourite line and one I will be trying to keep in mind for sure when the real planning begins for us.

    <3

  2. Looks absolutely AMAZING… and btw, I drive through Ripon every weekend! It’s really cool to see an offbeat wedding in Wisconsin!

  3. Everything looks lovely! But I literally started squealing when I read your processional, because Ashitaka and San is one of my picks for my own processional! I adore Joe Hisashi and his music is definitely being worked into my wedding (even if the Ponyo sountrack ends up beating out Mononoke…) 😛

    • Yay! Princess Mononoke was one of the first movies we watched together, so it’s always been “our movie.” The soundtrack is incredible!

  4. I just found out about the cake law in Wisconsin. =(
    I’m not happy, my aunt is making my cake and now I don’t think she’ll actually be able to. We have less than 3 months to go and cake is not in our budget.

    • Check with the venue before you worry too much; maybe they’d be willing to help you out somehow. If nothing else, maybe pie would be cheaper? We almost got sheet pies from Main Street Cafe for ours.

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