It’s getting colder here in the Northern Hemisphere, so this week we’re celebrating woodsy, outdoor weddings while we can. Get ready for majestic mountains, placid lakes, and gorgeous forests for days.
The Offbeat Bride: Rebecca, Community Builder
Her offbeat partner: Scott, Manager at a Non-Profit
Date and location of wedding: Essex Conference Center and Retreat, Essex, MA — September 28, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Scott and I were full partners in this venture. I did most of the aesthetic research and he did most of the vendor research. We planned our wedding around four ideas: keeping it small and intimate, our desire to get married outside in the fall, Scott’s idea to include origami, and my purple dress. The woods around our venue inspired our invitations, hand-drawn by a talented friend, and our cupcakes decorated with frosting leaves. My floaty chiffon dress inspired all our decorative ideas, from the purple and green theme everywhere, to creating a magical feel by getting married around a lily pad pond and being showered with bubbles after the ceremony.
We got a lot of help from family and friends to make it a reality. We designed our own ceremony, with help from Jessie Blum’s Offbeat Bride post and lots of conversations with our officiant who is a close family friend and professional life coach. We wrote our own vows, made 70 origami animals for table assignments, and created playlists on Spotify for the cocktail hour and reception.
To help us keep on task and make sure we weren’t missing anything, we turned the Offbeat Bride Checklist into an awesome Google Docs spreadsheet where we kept track of who was in charge of what, when the task was due, and any other relevant notes. Scott was in charge of the bartender and music system, I was in charge of cupcakes and flowers, but we went in evenly on most everything else. It was really great for me to have a partner who cared about the little details as much as I did, and lucky for us both that we agreed on so many things.
Tell us about the ceremony:
We got married in the woods, on a small peninsula in a lily pad pond, across the pond from our 70 guests. My dad walked me halfway to the peninsula, where my mom met us and we all hugged before I walked the rest of the way myself.
After the first reading (from The Velveteen Rabbit), we made our Declarations of Intent, for which we had decided our own wording for ahead of time. Madeline, our officiant, asked us each “Rebecca, do you, vow to stand by Scott in times of abundance and scarcity, to create and nurture a family together, and to grow old together?” (And vice versa.) And we each said “I do.” We also included a Declaration of Intent for our parents, to signify that we will all be one family. Madeline asked each pair of parents, “Do you vow to celebrate and support Rebecca and Scott’s marriage and the family they will create? If so, say ‘We do.’”
We exchanged our vows and rings at the same time. Scott and I had drafted our vows separately and then worked on them together. Ultimately we decided to make complementary but slightly different vows, starting and ending the same, but in the middle we each said different vows personally crafted for each other.
After the second reading (the conversation between Inigo and Fezzik from The Princess Bride book), Madeline gave a secular blessing and asked our guests to give us a blessing too. She told the guests to each think of one word, one thing they wish for us as a new couple, and to yell their words out three times.
Finally, for our recessional, our guests blew bubbles over us as we walked away from the peninsula. While planning these two ideas (being showered by our guests words of love, and by bubbles) I sometimes felt they might be a little silly, but when I actually experienced them I was filled with joy and love.
Our biggest challenge:
Our biggest challenge was finding the right venue in time. We got engaged in August and wanted an autumn wedding. Neither of us had grown up imagining our perfect wedding, so we didn’t really know what we wanted, but we hoped to find a place that felt special to both of us. We ended up visiting 12 venues over a frantic two weeks, trying to cram it all in, and keep track of the feel of each place.
When we found the right one, we both knew it. It felt like a magical fairyland in the woods, and the retreat center would host most of our loved ones overnight and included a late-night bonfire. It was worth all the tedious, exhausting venue visits to really get to understand what we were looking for.
My favorite moment:
When I stood in the second floor window watching all the guests gradually arrive. I got to anticipate all the excitement from the safety of my little room with my mom and bridesmaids.
When our officiant invited us to take a deep breath, feel the ground under us, look at the trees around us, and take in all our family and friends’ love for us — that really helped me feel grounded and be in the moment for the rest of the ceremony.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
I was very lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who supported my vision. I felt empowered to do things our way without any pressure to adhere to tradition. Not only did my mom love my purple dress, and my friends were happy to help with our DIY decorations, but I was surprised by how many meat-lovers ate lots of the vegetarian food, and urbanites were happy to spend a night in the woods with us. Because we only invited the 70 people who matter to us most in the world, we were flooded with love and joy every moment.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!