The offbeat bride: Leah, graduate student and therapist (and OBT member)
Her offbeat partner: Jordan, entrepreneur and lover of life
Location & date of the wedding: The grounds and barn at Falling Water (a Frank Lloyd Wright house), Uniontown, PA — August 1, 2010
What made our wedding offbeat: Our most obvious offbeat decision was to NOT have an officiant. I am a Quaker and my partner a Humanist, both traditions strongly reject any kind of hierarchal authority. The idea of someone presiding over the wedding was ditched immediately.
We had djembe circle and the bride wore pants. We chose to have the reception be a rainbow rather than have specific colors. Our friends and family did our photography, DJing, wish tree, jewelry, decorations, boutonnières, my bouquet and pretty much everything. In the end we only paid for the catering, the venue, our marriage contract and cake toppers. And those were all etsy, local, or non-profit!
Tell us about your ceremony: Yay, we loved our ceremony! It was in a clearing in the woods with hay-bale seating. Our ceremony was pretty much one long surprise, made up of a series of “gifts” from our “ceremonials.” Our parents, siblings and friends gave us their gifts in the form of music, song, words, and prayers. Also, all the “ceremonials” joined us in wearing white. We never, ever wear white — so we thought it was appropriate for us all to wear white to this once in a lifetime celebration.
My brothers and our friends welcomed us to the space in a djembe circle, as we each walked in with our three parents. We met in the middle encircled by all six parents, as they took turns speaking prayers or words. My partner and I then took each other by the hand and walked to the front of the space together. Our friend then read a selection from the Velveteen Rabbit (What is Real?). My two brothers and sister then sang “Anyone Else But You” by the Moldy Peaches with amended surprise lyrics!
In the past three years, three of my four siblings have also been married. In lieu of the typical speech-about-love part of the ceremony, we had each of them come up with their spouse and offer us their words of wisdom on marriage. It was really an incredible experience to hear how their experiences have brought such different pieces of wisdom and understanding to them.
Also, it was awesome to be surrounded by so much love. At this point, my partner and I then each spoke our promises to each other. It was important that we not repeat written promises, but that we speak them aloud to each other, as genuine promises of what we will fulfill in our journey together.
My favorite moment: The ceremony was pretty incredible. My spouse chose a song for my siblings to sing to me, and everyone managed to keep the surprise up until two days before the wedding when our friend accidentally spilled it! I was bummed that I knew, until I actually heard it. He had rewritten a bunch of the lyrics. That was pretty amazing. Hearing each one of my siblings offer us words about marriage was really meaningful.
My funniest moment: Our yichud time. We decided to have a quick meal at a yichud. There was supposed to be a private table on the top level of the barn for us. However, when we went to the barn, it was locked! We eventually got upstairs, only to find no food or drink on the table, and our friend, the DJ, getting ready in the upstairs bathroom! He is a very boisterous guy who likes to ramble. We quickly split.
Desperate to get a moment alone, we wandered down the grounds behind a little retaining wall, and crouched down. We then spotted the wedding coordinator wandering around who said “Oh there you are!’ (like we’d been hiding). She opened up the top level of the barn for us. Thankfully, this time there’s food and champagne, but still our chatty friend in the bathroom. My spouse had to ask him two times to leave before he finally got the picture and by that time, we were already late and had to go take pictures…!
Our biggest challenge: There were a few bumps in the road with family members of course. Also, my sister got pregnant in the midst of our planning and was due two weeks after wedding, meaning she wasn’t able to come, which was pretty difficult for me. Planning during my first year of Ph D studies and through my partner being laid off in December was also a special kind of madness.
Closer to the wedding there were several issues with our marriage contract (a very important contractual document in a Quaker inspired wedding) that resulted in multiple hand made copies. It was really stressful but the artist worked with us to create a wonderful document, even though it had to be overnighted to the wedding site! Same goes for our rings, they also had to be overnighted to the site. All in all, there were a lot of tears and frustration but things worked out and my family stepped in to deal with situations when I was overwhelmed.
My advice for offbeat brides: Firstly, choose the people in your wedding very carefully. We chose several of our friends that we are close with, but who aren’t typically very responsible. Unsurprisingly, they weren’t very responsible the wedding weekend. It was no fun. So our lesson is – just because they are your friend does not necessarily mean they are going to be awesome in your wedding.
If you have made a decision and it’s final, don’t ask people what they think. This was always my way of introducing an idea and it’s a bad one. If you don’t want to hear that someone thinks it’s awful, don’t ask anyone.
Conversely, if you don’t care about a decision, ask someone who you want to include or who feels excluded. There were some decisions that I honestly couldn’t care less about, so I would ask my mom or mother-in-law. They then got to have their voices heard, and I didn’t have to compromise on a decision that was really important.
Don’t tell people anything they don’t need to know. We had a lot of decisions that sounded unusual (bride in pants! djembes! no officiant! no wedding party! all in white!) but we kept most details on a need-to-know basis. I think this worked out really well. Everyone loved the unusual details.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? Actually my pants. I had a really tough time coming up with an outfit – I am gender-queer and aim to be pretty androgynous in my day-to-day life. Though my stepmom was making my outfit from scratch and I had total design power, I couldn’t really come up with anything that looked fancy enough and neutral.
In the end, I felt the need to “pick a side” with my attire. I decided to go much more feminine, but definitely stick with pants. My sister made my fascinator, necklace and bracelets and really wanted to make me pieces, which played a part in the decision as well. I thought people were going to FREAK about the whole bride in pants thing. To my huge surprise, people loved my outfit!
Care to share any vendor/shopping links?
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!