Community-Oriented DIY Ohio Barn Wedding
May 5, 2014
Classic WeddingsRustic WeddingsSummer Weddings
Sometimes I look at a wedding, and I read the couples' story, and I just can't fight the smile that forms on my face. This is just such a wedding. It has so much heart, I can almost feel it through the screen, and you can definitely see the love in the beautiful images from Rachel Joy Photos. With darling DIYs, a bridal party that dances down the aisle, and an entire guest list that couldn't be more excited to see these two tie the knot - this gallery is just the best.
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From the Bride...“…it is more fulfilling to live one’s life within a circle of love… To love well is the task in all meaningful relationships, not just romantic bonds” (bell hooks, All About Love)

Adam and I met in high school and had been a couple for eleven years by the time we married on a muggy day in August. Having been through college and graduate school together, we had developed a close-knit group of friends, and we had been a part of each other's families for years. We set out to plan a cheerful, community-oriented wedding that celebrated not only our love and commitment, but moreso all of the relationships we have with friends and family that shape our lives.

First of all, we wanted our bridal party to be integral to the wedding. As far as the look, each of the “bridesbabes” found her own dress (one a year ahead and another two days before), and the eight best men picked their own vests. To keep things light-hearted, our friends danced down the aisle to “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence and the Machine. We think our friends are pretty awesome, so we wanted guests to be able to get to know them better. We asked our friends to be part of our wedding via a video we made while backpacking in Europe. We then asked each of our friends to make a video response expressing what they bring to the wedding PARTY, memories, or wishes, which we then played during cocktail hour. We also asked each pair to brainstorm something the two of them have in common, which contributed to their introductions at the reception.

Our families not only helped with MANY of the handmade details, such as the cloth napkins, wooden signs, beautifully decorated cookies, seating display, and a hundred twine balls, but they also took part in our wedding ceremony. Each of our four sets of parents and two sets of grandparents expressed a wish for us at the ceremony. We also highlighted all of our parents’ and grandparents’ very own parents by blowing up black-and-white photos to poster size and displaying them all over one of the barn walls. Furthermore, each of our families contributed a set of plates, which we used for dinner, and guests were instructed to turn their plates over to discover a label identifying whom their plate belonged to.

Our guests were also incorporated in the festivities. With our invitations, we sent blank quilt squares and asked guests to decorate them at home and bring them to the ceremony. After talking about the importance of community, we then invited all of our guests to file up for hugs as we collected the squares. We also asked each couple or family to write us a message on a chalkboard, which a friend then snapped polaroids of in lieu of a guestbook.

We used very few vendors for our event because friends and family pitched in to officiate our wedding, DJ, make the cake, arrange the flowers, and decorate the entire barn day-of. Every detail was lovingly designed. The party didn’t stop after the wedding, either. Everyone reconvened the following day for a cook-out at my dad’s house, complete with a wiffle ball game and live music performed by my brother. Later that evening, we set off wish lanterns over the lake and had a giant group sleepover for the third night in a row.

The wedding was ultimately so much more than the little details (or as one guest said, “Pinterest on steroids”); the experience of collaborating with Adam to create an intentional day that involved so many of the people we love was truly healing. By the end of the weekend, there was a collective sense of pride regarding the event that everyone had a hand in, and new bonds were formed between family and friends. Our original vision was superseded tenfold. The wedding planning process was so joy-filled for us that I am considering beginning a career as a wedding planner so that I can facilitate similar experiences for engaged couples.

Additional information:
We got married in Ohio, but we were living in Colorado, home of the microbrew culture. So yes, we drove local Colorado beer that is not distributed in Ohio 22 hours across the country for the benefit of our deprived Midwestern loved ones.

A local artist in Colorado designed our invitations, which were a set of four coasters, and we also used rectangular coasters from New Belgium Brewing for RSVPs. The artist also designed our customized pint glass favors and our programs.

We read poetry and feminist theory during our ceremony. (Yes, I have a Masters in Women’s Studies.) We also had same sex couples dance down the aisle together, and we made a statement for marriage equality. To end our ceremony, two friends played guitar and led the pack of guests back to the barn for the reception.

Adam and I both changed our last names together. We took his mom’s name because it is a nice middle ground, and we wanted to honor her role in our lives.

I asked the bridesbabes to wear red shoes, lipstick, and nail polish because I thought it looked fierce

All of my friends, moms, and grandmas gifted me a tea cup before the wedding. I now have this wonderful mixed up set that we displayed at the wedding.

We are both vegetarians, so our wedding was meat free.

We had an awesome team of self-starting women photographers/videographers. When we pulled up, my sister hopefully asked if they were a girl band that had come to perform.

I gave Adam a ginkgo tree for the wedding, which we planted in a park nearby. We both have matching wedding bands with ginkgo leaves on them, which we had designed by a local artist during our honeymoon in New Zealand.

Our families thought we were a little crazy before the wedding, but now they feel so proud of the offbeat, alternative, community-oriented event.