Britta & Adam

There was dancing, Bohemian Rhapsody, and a dance contest...

Remember that wedding picture last Friday that I wanted to eat? The beautiful dreamy one? Well, Britta sent me her wedding graduate post, and that picture was just the tip of the amazing iceberg. I don’t even know what to say about this post, other than I love it so so so much. I love that Britta was as neurotic about her wedding dress search as I was, and that she ended up with similarly amazing last minute funky results. I love that she also likes to look at her bank statement to see how rich she is. I love that she likes to get her hands dirty and make things. And the pictures. Oh… the pictures. Here we go:

Britta & Adam | A Practical Wedding (19)

Adam and I have different versions of our engagement story we tell to different audiences but for the semi-anonymous Internet I’ll go with the vague but true:  I came home sauced one night in September and then it just happened.

We’d been dating for about four years. We met after I finally managed to talk to him following one academic year of stalking him through the engineering building we both spent most of college in.  I’ll always remember the first time I saw him standing there in front of the injection molding machine…

After getting engaged the first wedding decision Adam and I made was that our wedding would be cheap.* I don’t like spending money. He has an expensive motor sports habit. We wanted to throw a huge party for all our friends and family (yes, to celebrate our love, blah-blah) but we had a lot of other things we wanted to do with out funds.  (Him:  spend it on tires, Me:  Look at my bank statement and see how rich I am.)

The second decision was where to hold the wedding. We both went to college at WWU in Bellingham WA. My Dad’s cousin Fred and his wife Beverly live outside Bellingham in a big house on the bay. Every year they throw a 300 person 4th of July party because they love huge parties. Patriotism has very little to do with it. I left a message on Beverly’s phone telling her Adam and I had ‘Big life news”. When she called me back the first words out of her mouth were ‘Are you pregnant? Are you getting married? Are you having the wedding here?” Of course we were! Done and done.

Neither of us had thought much about weddings previously nor did we have particularly opinionated family members to guide us.  So we generally made the whole thing up as we went along.

As we made decisions like ‘choosing a mystery groomsman before the ceremony based on best mustache’ we got a few raised eye brows, but that was part of the fun and I think most people who know us would have been disappointed with less. All we really wanted a was huge party. We were lucky enough to have un-particular and  indulgent friends and family.

As wedding planning continued it turned out I’d rather have my hands busy as an anti-anxiety measure. I made a lot of wedding stuff. I crafted some crafts. Its like xanax. To anyone confused about why people get all crafty around wedding time: That shit kept me sane. And it was fun. Really really fun. (Full disclosure:  My job is industrial design. Making stuff is my thing.) We made the save the dates and the invitation which involved a brand and butane torch. We made napkins (80 cents to rent 1 napkin!?! Hell no!), the wedding arch out of PVC pipe and old table cloths, a pinata of our faces for the kids to hit. It was all a lot of fun and kept me from going too nuts.   That being said….

The dress kicked my ass. At one point I told Adam “Adam, I give up, I have failed at finding a wedding dress…I think I’ll get married naked…maybe in scrubs”  I couldn’t feel good about any dress over $200 (Oh the cheapness!) and I kept changing my mind so often about what I wanted it probably wouldn’t have helped if I had spent the money. Normally I’m a decisive person. Not in this instance. I looked at thousands of dresses on the internet. I must have bought 10 dresses that I returned. At some point I started making jokes about how all my wedding stress and neurosis was all being channeled into the dress. Eventually I figured out that that was probably true.

But panic is the soul of invention. Right after getting engaged I’d bought a dress (okay 3…) from one of the Chinese wholesale websites. (Not generally a route I’d recommend but hey…) This particular dress had a fine bodice but had a lot of weird going on with the skirt. It lived in the closet for about eight months and for some reason I never cut it up to make the wedding arch. Three weeks before the wedding on the verge of folding and buying a $600 dress, I had a last-ditch idea and I spent about eight hours cutting up a lot of goodwill lace and chiffon curtains into 8” squares. I  stitched them on the skirt of the China dress until it was dense enough you couldn’t see any mistakes I made or how uneven the bottom was… from where I’d manically hacked in a hi-lo hem with scissors…. while Adam acted as dress model while standing on our laundry hamper. (We’re the same height… he offered… and if that isn’t true love, I don’t know what is.) After the dress was done, I’d reached wedding dress peace. Even though the dress was a little big and I knew the hem was uneven and the squares could have fallen of at any given moment I didn’t change my mind anymore.

At one point I read a post on APW about how and when to cater your own wedding. The qualifications were things like: knowing how to cook, and having done it before. None of these were really true of us. However we did the food for our 200 person wedding and it turned out fine, even great.

The key was organization, (google docs!!! Planning is everything, the plan is nothing) and conscripting as many hands as possible in the 2 days before the wedding. We only served dishes that involved one step…either chopping, grilling or thawing. Brats and corn on the cob were grilled. Green Salad, fruit salad, and bean salad were chopped, and Adam’s step mom heroically made 300 corn muffins she froze ahead of time that we later thawed. Same with the brownies Adam and I made for the cake. We also hired 4 college students from Adam’s Ultimate Frisbee team to man the buffet and we lucked out with one extremely competent family friend to help manage it all during the festivities. If you think it through and call in a lot of favors (coolers) it can be done. Which is not to say you shouldn’t fear and respect the beast…cause you should.

When it came to the wedding weekend it was ridiculous how much help we got and how lucky we got.  The weather was perfect. Our friends and family took time off work and helped set up, chop food and generally deal with all complications of throwing a 200 person wedding. Honestly the 2 days of preparation before the wedding were at least as fun as the wedding itself. Its pretty humbling to see your entire network of loved ones hard at work on your behalf.

And we shamelessly  called in every favor we could:  The amazing location at my Cousins’ house. Adam’s Grandpa is a pastor and we asked him to marry us. Adam’s step mom and her mom took care of the rehearsal dinner. One couple we’re friends with own a company that sets up light and sound for trade show booths. Clearly we promised them beer on us for eternity and ended up with a sound system that kept the neighbors up til 3am without having to worry about a single cord. We constructed a one day band for the ceremony out of my brother on trumpet, Adam’s brother on guitar, My aunt on Accordion, a college friend on Bass and the best man’s dad on Drums. They all met for the first time on the day of the wedding and rehearsed while we set up tables and chopped food. You could not find a more funky sound west of the Mississippi.

The only things we paid actual wedding professionals for was A) the huge tent we rented, an extravagance I was willing to spring for because even in August it can rain buckets in western Washington (and it did rain buckets the weekends before and after our wedding)

B) Our awesome photographer. We found her on APW. I can’t say enough about how awesome she was. The pictures really speak for themselves but Christina was also great to work with. We later looked at the full 742 pictures (The rally car number is 742…nice touch!) and we were amazed how she managed to be everywhere at once and capture everything. She must have been literally running around our wedding but after the family pictures I hardly remember seeing her at all.    Apparently my mom kept trying to get her to eat some food but she wouldn’t stop taking pictures… amazing amazing pictures.  Oh yeah, and she charged us almost nothing for what we got.   Ridiculously under-priced awesome photography.

Britta & Adam | A Practical Wedding (27)

And the wedding was everything we wanted. During the ceremony I cried a lot but not as much as I thought I would. We spent approximately 30 seconds with everyone we know. Neither Adam or I ended up eating more then 2 bites of food.

Britta & Adam | A Practical Wedding (10)

There was dancing and Bohemian Rhapsody and a dance contest, fireworks and a particular pair of brown corduroy’s were split in half during the limbo contest.

I saw nothing but grins in every direction. I’d be hard pressed to think of a happier day.

And now that the wedding is done and we’re back from our honeymoon road trip I’m still overwhelmed with how much everyone did for us and how much fun we had.  It was awesome to see friends from all different parts of our lives came together and party like they meant it. On this flip side I was also humbled by how much it meant to people to be invited and included in our wedding. Weddings are heady stuff. People like to be involved and people being involved in our lives turned out to be what it was all about.


I can’t say much about marriage yet.   Our one month anniversary will be this weekend.   We haven’t succeeded in spontaneously referring to each other as ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ yet.   I am optimistic we’ll get the hang of it.

Pictures: by the amazing Christina Richards Weddings. There are tons more pictures that I couldn’t manage to fit in the post, but you should totally go look at them.

* For context: we ended up spending 10K, counting the rings. Its more then I was shooting for but felt about right and allowed for plenty of fun and not too much financial regret. And it was worth it.

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  • Gillian

    Wow. Wow wow wow wow. Congrats!

  • Rose

    Love this! And so lovely to read a grad post that is light on angst and heavy on joy (no offence intended to other grads – I find most of them fascinating and captivating in their own way).

  • I’m mentally blathering on like an idiot: this is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful for all sorts of reasons and so Refreshing!! You have some wicked style, lady! I’m with you on the differing money styles (his expensive hobby: brewing). And on the crafting! I have to have busy hands while worrying. What a wonderful way to celebrate your love, commitment, and community!
    APW, thanks for having rad photogs! I can’t wait to utilize.

    • meg

      Rad, but mostly sane. I actually pick based on sanity, and rad just seems to come with it. But Christina is f*cking amazing, no?

      • Exactly! And to me, a major portion of their “rad” is their sanity. They’re the whole package!

  • Erin

    Wow, Britta, your dress story kicks ass. So glad to read about your happy wedding! Congrats on your marriage!

  • Sarah M

    “At some point I started making jokes about how all my wedding stress and neurosis was all being channeled into the dress. Eventually I figured out that that was probably true.”

    This was exactly me!! All my wedding planning was basically put on hold because I could not find a dress. It was completely stressing me out. I even partly convinced myself that the fact that I could find a dress meant that maybe I wasn’t ready to get married. It seems silly now, but somehow all my wedding anxieties got wrapped up in finding my dress. It wasn’t even that I was looking for that “oh my god this is the one I am so happy I will bawl my eyes out in the dress store” it was that I could not make a decision. I never have trouble making decisions. Love it or leave it. But the dress…the day I finally found my dress I wasn’t even looking for myself (I was dress shopping with my aunt who is getting married a month after me). It took me about 4 months of engagement to make a dress decision but once I found it, it was like the whole stress of the wedding was gone and I was finally joyful about the entire experience.

  • Love love LOVE this post. I can relate so much to Britta’s graduate post. (We also encouraged every male we knew to grow out facial hair for the photographs.. though there was no real epic mustache that I can remember… boo.) And I also crafted a lot to keep myself busy and therefore sane.

    These photos are gorgeous! Congrats on your upcoming anniversary!

    • I couldn’t get over how absolutely awesome the “mystery groomsman” part was. You are some fab people!

  • ddayporter

    holy baloney! Meg wasn’t kidding when she said that photo was the tip of the iceberg. that photo bowls me over every time I see it!! but then that post was 10 times more amazing. I can’t believe you did that to your dress, it’s spectacular. congrats on your joyful wedding – the whole “husband” and “wife” thing gets easier! almost six months later and I’m still not totally used to it though.

  • this brought tears !

    when I first saw the dress I was like – “stunning, I wonder where she got it” and automatically assumed it would be one of those uber lovely dresses that is too expensive for me. so I think that should say something about the hem, and squares and all of that!

    • Kibbins

      Adam acting as wedding dress model totally made me tear up. Now THAT is sacrificial love. ;-)

  • Jessie

    Beautiful… you, the wedding, the dress. It’s breath-taking.

    I bought a lot of dresses too. Finally found one I thought I loved, only to attack it with scissors and a needle & thread two weeks before the wedding (much to my mother’s dismay). But, in the end, it worked out, I didn’t ruin anything, and my dress was one of a kind. Can’t beat that!

    Happy marriage! :)

  • Michele

    Christ on a cracker! I don’t think I’ve ever actually commented on a wedding graduate post before, but this is officially my favorite wedding ever featured on APW. I think it’s my favorite wedding ever – maybe even including my own. Kidding. Kind of.

    You had me at mustache contest. I am STILL giggling at the guys 2nd from the left in the groomsmen photo. Amazing.

    • meg

      Can we use Christ on a Cracker more often in the comments? JUST SAYIN.

  • Class of 1980

    Funny, it looks like an outrageously expensive designer dress. LOL

    Also amazing is your bouquet and the photo of all the guys is so cool.

  • Annie

    Surprised groomsman based on best mustache? That’s a forever win! Congratulations on throwing a totally you wedding! Amazing!

  • I just devoured this post. I also got married last month in Western Washington, and probably on the rainy weekend after this wedding that Britta mentioned :)

  • Katelyn

    Noone has commented on the bride & groom head piñatas yet!!! I’m sad there’s no pictures of that- because I laughed aloud when I read that line.

    What an AWESOME wedding!

    • meg

      There totally ARE pictures on Christina’s site, just click through the link at the bottom. I just, uh, was going crazy trying to cram a billion pictures in because I love them so much, and I didn’t end up using that one.

  • I LOVE this post all for one particular sentence:
    “I’ll always remember the first time I saw him standing there in front of the injection molding machine…”
    I met my boyfriend while doing rotations for a PhD program, in a lab I rotated in. Our chats often include insects and microbes.
    While I have no clue if we’ll get married (at almost 31, I’m still not sure how I’m supposed to know), it’s nice to see that others have met in similar nerdy settings :)

  • Alis

    Wow. Wow. Wow. First off, I luuuurve WA state. Like, big pink puffy heart love it. Such a beautiful backyard/venue! Second thing, how did you sew the squares onto your dress? I’m imagining you sewed each square down in the middle and then let the square fall over and around the stitching…? Third, amazing wedding! The joy literally radiates from each (gorgeous) picture.

    • Britta

      Hi Alis
      You are totally correct. Although with the really delicate fabrics sometimes I folded the squares into a triangle and put the stitch at the center of the hypoteneuse. That gave the stitch more fabric to grab on to.

      And thanks to everyone for all the awesome comments! I never post or comment on anything but maybe I’ll have to start. Sheesh! I feel so loved!

      • I love that you used the word hypotenuse to describe your wedding dress. I’m not even kidding, I am smiling so big

  • ka

    YAY! I looked at every one of these pictures when the link was posted last week, because they are STUNNING. And now I am awed by the story of the dress. Because a) like others said I totally thought it was swanky designer one and b) it makes me feel that somehow the things I’m stuck on will work out for the best…wish it wasn’t the location, but still…

  • Liz

    It is a huge relief to see another 10K wedding in Western Washington. Ours will take place next August in Olympia and it is feeling a little insurmountable. We’re trying to keep it local and under $10,000 (Which, is by the way the most I’ve ever spent on anything with the exception of my graduate degree) and even though I only spent $500 on my dress and we’re doing some of the catering ourselves I’m having HUGE doubts wither we can actually do it in our budget. I’m glad to see it can be done!

  • ElfPuddle

    Nearly half of our extended families live in or near Bellingham, so I’ll thank you in advance for inviting my cousins. (No, I didn’t see them in your pics. Yes, I’m pretending they’re there anyway.)

    Congrats on a wonderful, wonderful wedding. May you have many, many more great moments!

  • LeahIsMyName

    So, total APW newbie here, but after I discovered this site, I obsessively read through the archives and even most of the comments!

    This is a great site, and keep up the (sane) good work.

    And, that dress!!!!! I’m so glad she told us how she did it. It’s freakin’ amazing! Just amazing.

  • Tears. On my cheeks. At work.

    Nice to see someone else that gets the “flow” during crafting. I find it calming and when I don’t, I just stop doing it. Also, that dress looks like it came out of a Monique Lhuillier showroom. Girl’s got skillz!

  • bria

    HAHAHAHA! I have heard of grooms SEEING the dress before the wedding but never WEARING it! what a delicious first!!!

    • meg

      I used to just hang out and watch TV in my wedding dress and shoes, pre-wedding. And I made poor David MAKE my damn hair thing.

      Sigh. I love APW grooms.

    • Ali

      I was thinking the same thing! How cool!

    • Erica

      Totally! This wedding is ultra-awesome–and grooms wearing dresses? Yes, please!

      Britta, you and your groom are my new wedding heros.

  • “As wedding planning continued it turned out I’d rather have my hands busy as an anti-anxiety measure.”

    That’s me too. Busy hands make for a calm mind. So while a lot of people thought I was insane to make all I did, I’m afraid to think how insane I would’ve been if I hadn’t done it.

    Beautiful fun wedding! Yea!

  • Harriet


    I spent two days the summer before last helping my best friend prepare for her wedding in her parents’ backyard. So many friends and family (many of whom I’d never met) came to help this couple we love, and we really bonded over how excited we were for them. I had the best time at her wedding, but in some ways it’s those two days of running around and working together that I remember most fondly.

  • AlsoMeg

    WOW. This is, hands down, my favorite APW wedding ever, and my favorite APW bride ever. I can’t even begin to list the things that I totally love, but damn, if I can pull something half this awesome off, I’ll be set!! Congrats, guys!

  • Kara

    What a fun read! I love hearing about how the different personalities of wedding grads on this site lead to soooooo vastly different but such uniquely wonderful beautiful weddings!
    My fiance and I also swear by Google docs in keeping track of wedding things!!
    Oh and last note — I’m from Bellingham! Yay :)

  • I know people have already commented on the dress but . . . WOW. I’m amazed that it was a craft project! So, so beautiful. Love this post. Congrats to the happy couple!

  • Vmed

    Oh yay enginerdy love!

    Britta, excellent advice, excellent execution (“Planning is everything, the plan is nothing” (!)), beautiful happy day, congratulations.

    I relate on so many levels (in anticipation, wedding’s next year)- the crafting to stay sane, the desire for edible photography coupled with a neurotic aversion to blowing cash on a dress, the frankendress in the back pocket, the high probability of not eating dinner.

    Thank you for sharing, and thank you for showing me that I really can either make my own dress (plan a!) or couturify a previously unfortunate dress into something completely f***ing magical (plan frikken B!), and either way everything will be totally awesome.

    Anyhow- post bookmarked. You rock.

    • Tina

      Ha ha, frankendress. It’s ALIVE!!!

  • This makes me SO HAPPY. you really did it right. COngrats!!

  • wow, I was super stoked when I saw some of these pics the other day, now even more stoked that this wedding I was loving is some fellow Bellinghamsters and WWU grads. Very cool guys. Love that dress and loving the ripped-up-curtains-as-a-skirt idea. Turned out really gorgeous.

    Where on the water was this? Anyone know? I can’t sort it out through the pictures but it looks like it’s on the way out toward Lummi along Marine Drive.
    Many congrats!

    • Britta

      Hi Kelsi
      My Aunt and Uncles house is off Haxton Rd. out past the Silver Reef Casino on Lummi. Their house faces west. One of the cool things is out in front of their house as the tide goes out there’s miles of mud flat and even when the tides in its never very deep. During the wedding some of the brides maids tried to go skinny dipping. The joke is they went skinny wading. The water never got more than 2 1/2 feet deep and they had to sit down to get wet :)

      • Alexandra

        Heee, skinny wading! What a great story.


    • BEX

      More fellow Bellinghamsters and WWU grads here too! (And we just got married up that way two weekends ago).

      Congrats Britta – it looks like it was a fabulous celebration in a fabulous setting!

  • Jen M

    I just love this post…too funny! If you’re ever in Chicago, let me know you sound like so much fun!

  • Britta, thank you for this:

    We wanted to throw a huge party for all our friends and family (yes, to celebrate our love, blah-blah) but we had a lot of other things we wanted to do with out funds. (Him: spend it on tires, Me: Look at my bank statement and see how rich I am.)

  • Britta, can we be best friends? Pen pals? Because you are my bridal soul sister! I too am having my wedding in a dear friend’s backyard, self catering, and making it up as I go; but more importantly I just want my friends and family to have as joyous and delighted as your guests look! Thank you for sharing your insight:
    -“To anyone confused about why people get all crafty around wedding time: That shit kept me sane. And it was fun. Really really fun.” Yep, suddenly a craft knife has become my sedative of choice!
    – “It was awesome to see friends from all different parts of our lives came together and party like they meant it.” Exactly! What is the whole point if not this?

  • CarMar

    Britta, what a wonderful wedding, and I loved your sanity about everything! Also love the location, I grew up in MV and we had our wedding in Bow. Love the Pacific Northwest!

  • Stephanie B

    I love her dress!