Laura & Niels’ intimate international musical wedding

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Photos by Maren Wohlers

The offbeat bride: Laura, Domestic Goddess (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Niels, Aeronautics

Date and location of wedding: Rathause (city hall) and Hause India, Stade, Germany — April 7, 2011

What made our wedding offbeat: From the beggining of the planning process we had clear ideas of what we wanted — eclectic music, non-traditional attire, and a super small guest list. We also knew that our vision would upset some people, and be difficult to achieve due to a small budget and strict requirements for the German civil ceremony.

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The only words the bride and groom utter in the German civil ceremony is “Ja” (Yes). We had a lot more to say than that.

Also, music and readings are not allowed by some officials. We were very lucky to find a great official who worked with us to include our own vows, and four different songs into the ceremony.

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Since we have friends and family in seven different countries, and over a hundred people locally who would expect to attend the wedding, it was decided we would only have immediate family. Our budget did not allow for a big party, and it was impossible for us to choose who could attend.

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Not wearing the white dress and tux was seen by some family members as a disappointment, but we LOVED our outfits and felt comfortable.

In the end, everyone agreed it was “us.” This was the biggest compliment anyone could give.

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A Big Leobowski cake topper!

Tell us about the ceremony: We tweaked the traditional civil ceremony by having music by Schandmaul, The Beatles, Adam Sandler, and Barry White interspersed.

After the required “Ja’s,” the officiant sat down and allowed us to recite our own vows. Niels included references to his car I wrecked and how his life has been an adventure since our first meeting. Mine included lyrics from Metallica and a nod to “Friends” (his favorite American TV show).

When we kissed, Barry White‘s “My First, My Last, My Everything” began playing, and some of the guests started to dance and out came the champagne!

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Our biggest challenge: Many friends and family were upset about not being invited to the wedding. For two months prior to the wedding, we recieved calls and emails from people who were dissapointed in our decision. We reminded everyone that we would celebrate with them later, and that we have to do what is right for us. Even though some feelings were hurt, everyone eventually came around.

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185_Laura_NielsMy favorite moment:
Laura: The vows that Niels wrote were amazing and so meaningful. I did everthing I could not to cry like a baby listening to him choke up and share some very emotional thoughts in front of our family.

My son played “Blackbird” on accoustic guitar and sang as we were walking into the ceremony room. It was beautiful.

Niels: I would also have to say our vows. The moment when we both said our vows was very emotional.

When I saw Laura for the first time in her dress I could not believe what a beautiful bride she was.

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My funniest moment: During the ceremony, after reading the addresses of the witnesses to the marriage (part of the German civil ceremony), the officiant began to discuss how the city one of the witnesses is from is a sister city to Stade (the city we were in). This discussion went on for a while. You can see my face on the video looking a bit peeved and wondering “Really… we are going to talk about this now?” But now that I look back it was very funny.

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162_Laura_NielsWas there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? The language barrier! Of our twelve guests, half were German, half American. We solved the problem at the ceremony by having the best man translate.

We had a song in German, which the Americans did not understand, and vice versa. We explained the meanings later, and everyone found a way to communicate at the reception.

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My advice for offbeat brides: If anything goes wrong the day of the wedding, RELAX. The day will rush by so quickly so don’t spend any of it worrying about something that won’t matter two weeks from now.

Have as good of a photographer as you can afford, and make sure they share your vision.

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently? This was my second wedding and Niels’ first. My first wedding was big, traditional, and not at all me. I gave in to the pressure of family who said “It has to be this way.” Being a bit older now, and having a partner who shared my wants and needs, made it much easier to have it “our way.”

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Important lesson number one is that it does not matter what your budget is, you can have the wedding of YOUR dreams with a little creativity. If I couldn’t afford to buy it, I made it. If I couldn’t make it, I found someone I knew who could.

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Lesson number two is that this is a day for you and your partner, so do what you want and make yourselves happy first! In the end this is a day you will remember for the rest of your life.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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