Happy First Anniversary!

August 17, 2012

It’s been a year since our wedding, so of course now seems like an excellent time to write about it (right?). Ever since the planning phase, I was interested in doing a write-up à la Offbeat Bride, having read so many interesting and inspirational write-ups there that helped me with my own planning. Besides, this seems like a fitting conclusion to it all. (If you’re looking for any wedding planning help/tips, of course I recommend going to the source itself: www.offbeatbride.com. Our wedding wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without the helpful writers and contributors there.)

Caroline & Justin’s “Secretly Nerdy” not-at-the-beach Florida Summer Wedding

Name: Caroline, graduate student in architecture

Partner’s name: Justin, computer programmer

Wedding location: Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Sarasota, Florida

Date: August 13, 2011

Wedding photos: available on the Eleven Weddings website thanks to our fantastic photographer, Chip Litherland, at this address (contact me for the password). All photos in this post are courtesy of Eleven Weddings Photography. Selected photos are also viewable on my web album here.

Wedding highlights (the “offbeat” bits): We tried to incorporate little nerdy touches into all aspects of the wedding. For example, for the invitations, I drew an illustration of two swallows carrying a coconut (from Monty Python and the Holy Grail); for the wedding website I drew a “cable bouquet” of different connectors, like USB, Wii, ethernet, etc; and in addition to the regular program we made an “alternate” program using lolspeak with references to a variety of internet memes. Materials used in the invitations and table cards were recycled from the Slide Library where I work and from discarded architectural drawings.

And did we mention that the wedding was at a marine laboratory and aquarium? More nerdy details included: our cake’s Latin inscription with decorations based on architectural details, and Justin’s dragon buttons on his vest (think Trogdor). The wedding party wore Star Wars buttons in their boutonnieres (and on the bouquet, below), and walked down the aisle to excerpts from Yoda’s Theme, Leia’s Theme and The Throne Room. Unless you were looking for them, you wouldn’t necessarily notice these “secretly nerdy” pieces - but of course we and our friends knew, and loved it!

What were the most meaningful moments of your wedding?

Caroline: Getting a few minutes to ourselves during the photo shoot before the ceremony (even though it was awkward since neither of us like having our picture taken); hanging out with our friends before and after; and getting to see all of my family in one place at the reception, together with my best friends and other important people in my life. Also, trying not to cry while Justin was crying during the ceremony.

Justin: I highly recommend having tissues available for this contingency.

What was your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it? One of our biggest challenges was staying within budget while satisfying everyone involved, from parents to grandparents to ourselves. It’s easy to get sucked into the standard wedding idea and buy lots of things you don’t really want or need! We didn’t spend much on decorations, deciding that the fantastic view of the water from our air-conditioned venue was all that was needed in August in Florida. No outdoor wedding for us, and no real flowers, either, since Justin is allergic and they’re expensive. Instead, our friends hand-made dozens of paper flowers for our table decorations, and I re-used vases from a cousin’s wedding. I don’t think anyone missed having real flowers!

What was the funniest moment of your wedding or reception? At one point during the reception, our friends spontaneously formed a conga line and snaked their way around the room. Some of the pictures from this are the funniest ones of the day! Some of the other funny moments came before the actual wedding - one of our attendants got stuck in the elevator during the rehearsal, and during the photos before the wedding we took some pictures with large stuffed marine animals that were sitting around the venue.

Tell us about your ceremony.

We wrote the majority of the ceremony ourselves with help from our officiant, Rev. Cherrie Henry, who was my pastor at Duke University. Cherrie was incredibly gracious and helpful, and we think the ceremony managed to reflect both of us. We were concerned because Justin is not religious but I am, so we tried to balance and respect both of our beliefs during the ceremony. We had readings from Ogden Nash (To My Valentine) and John Stuart Mill (philospher of utilitarianism and women’s rights), our good friends Roger Zare and Alex Dee performed a piece that Roger wrote, and the other music in the ceremony included a Mozart sonata and Bach prelude performed by another friend. It seems like practically all our friends helped us with the wedding, and we couldn’t have done it without them! We also had an all-female group of four honor attendants instead of the traditional bridesmaids/groomsmen, and both of us walked down the aisle with both parents.

Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great?

We weren’t expecting any disasters, but we were both nervous about the first dance. Justin is a great dancer, but I hate dancing. We discussed various alternative “firsts” for a while (first Wii game? first argument?) but decided to try to dance after all, with the help of our friends joining in the dance after a minute or so of us alone. We opted for a waltz since that’s one of the few dances that works well with a wedding gown. We didn’t rehearse much with our friends, but everything went great and it was a success.

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?

Take advantage of your friends and family to help you with everything! Usually they will be thrilled to help, and if they aren’t, well, ask someone else instead. It’s a more fun event for everyone if they get to be involved. And don’t be afraid to do what you want to do, even if it’s not usually done.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Photography by Eleven Weddings Photography

Catering by Simply Gourmet Catering

Cake (Tropical Delight) by Pastries by Design

Recessional, “Vinculum Matrimonii,” by Roger Zare

Videography by Monique and Ryan Lebar

Silk flowers from Afloral.com, paper flowers hand-made by our friends! Thanks everyone!

Caroline’s dress: family heirloom, worn by her mother and grandmother in their weddings

Caroline’s earrings by Victoria Dumbaugh

Caroline’s ring by Boone Titanium Rings

Caroline’s tiara by ElnaraNiall

Caroline’s reception shoes by Tom’s

Justin’s vest from Rags A Gogo, with dragon buttons from Patterns of Time

Advice for other offbeat brides: If you’re worried about how to incorporate your geeky/nerdy sides into a wedding that your grandparents will still be proud of, you can do it! For us it just meant thinking a little harder about how to incorporate what we wanted in an elegant rather than obvious way. We didn’t wear anything unusual but we still had Star Wars music, I wore a tiara that reminded me of Lord of the Rings, etc. If you’re happy at the wedding, your friends and family will be, too.


geeky “offbeat lite” interfaith eco summer Florida laboratory DIY