I featured Leigh & Brian’s ridiculously awesome engagement shoot back in June – you’ll remember it, it was the one with the bed in a river! So, you can imagine my excitement when their photographer Hollie sent me the couple’s recent wedding – they got married in a cemetery! The bride is a writer herself and so she wrote me a bit of an essay on their amazing wedding. It’s ace though so I wanted to share all her thoughts here with you.
“Oh my lord, where to even begin? It was all just awesome, and our friends, family, and planners really thought of everything, from the “‘Till Death Do They Part”, Day of the Dead-themed engagement party, to the tombstone-shaped chocolates my mom made for our out-of-town guests,” she began. “We had such a great time, and I think everyone really enjoyed our crazy cemetery wedding.”
“I think we’re Rock n Roll because we did something that meant a lot to us, even though we knew we’d probably get some raised eyebrows. And I also think we’re rock ‘n roll because we were able to pull off a completely unique event while still keeping our guests in mind — even though we were in an unconventional location, we made sure people were comfortable, and that they had refreshments, fans, and plenty of seating before and during the ceremony. We had shuttles to take people to and from the ceremony site, and transportation for people inside the cemetery, if they had difficulty with the stone pathways. Basically, we wanted to do it our way, but we didn’t want to do it at the expense of everyone’s comfort, and I think we did a good job of making our cemetery wedding a blast for everyone.”
“Overall, we went with a “vintage Savannah” theme; we wanted something unique and personal, but we also wanted to incorporate a lot of traditional Southern elements. The location was definitely traditional and Southern – the ceremony was held on Lion’s Field in Historic Oakland Cemetery, in the Grant Park neighborhood of Atlanta. Oakland is Atlanta’s first city cemetery, and was designed in the Victorian garden style; it’s a beautiful place, with old stone pathways, gorgeous mausoleums, elaborate statuary, and plenty of trees and flowers. The field where we were married is actually hundreds of unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers, and has three enormous old magnolias shading part of the area.”
“We did a ceremony in the round, which meant the chairs were arranged to circle where Brian and I stood, with four aisles between the chairs; each aisle was marked by a pair of urns filled with hydrangea, dusty miller, and Spanish moss (to go with the Southern theme; all our bouquets had the same flowers, but with added gardenia, so they smelled unbelievable). They erected iron gatework around the ceremony area, and covered that in vines, moss, and candles; we also had a refreshment table under one of the magnolias (where they served our signature drink, a lime, cucumber, and mint blend we called the “Bobby Jones” — Bobby’s grave is in the cemetery), and they hung a chandelier filled with candles in the tree above the bar. Buses were taking people to the ceremony site, and because some guests would be getting there early, we had passed h’ors d’ouerves and robin’s egg blue silk fans on every chair, with a little note attached, telling everyone to stay cool.”
“After the ceremony (which was performed by a judge friend of ours), we’d arranged guided tours of the cemetery for anyone who was interested in seeing more of the place (it’s enormous, with 70,000 people buried there, and I didn’t want people feeling like they’d only seen a portion of it) — I’d coordinated the tours ahead of time with the Oakland director, and had people mark on their RSVP cards if they wanted to participate. On our wedding day, the cemetery docents surprised us by dressing up in Victorian period costumes (which was awesome!) to lead the groups around the grounds; afterward, we heard rave reviews about the docents, and how interesting the tours had been. People who didn’t go on the tours were taken straight to the reception location. where a cocktail hour was being held; meanwhile, we and the wedding party traipsed through the cemetery, taking roughly one million photographs.”
“We held the reception at the Wimbish Mansion in midtown Atlanta — it’s a gorgeous old stone home just sitting in the middle of the city, and it has a fabulous ballroom from the 1920’s, which we loved. We wanted to tie in the cemetery theme, but without being too obvious about it, so we used the Bird Girl of Savannah — she was the little girl statue that used to be in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery (the one that was made famous by Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), and we had a copy of her for the centerpiece of the buffet table. The (amazing) food had the same Southern influence – there was the standard prime rib and whatnot, but we also had fried chicken and a mac and cheese bar, plus a ton of vegan options (including a vegan groom’s cake that people went crazy over). For the father/daughter dance, we chose an old song from my dad’s favorite movie, and I surprised him with a fake mustache (I wore one, too), a top hat and cape, and dressed him up as an old-time movie villain, which he loved – he kept the get-up on for the rest of the night.”
“More fun reception touches included the photo booth, which we filled with vintage hats, mustaches, and other props (we got our mustaches and glasses-on-a-stick from MaroDesignson etsy). Instead of having a guest book, we had a vintage framed chalkboard in the booth (which was purchased from RevivedVintage, also on etsy), so guests could be photographed with their personal messages to us. For the bouquet toss, I made a bouquet out of scratch-off lottery tickets, and attached a penny to one of the ribbons — we announced that the toss was for anyone who wanted to get lucky, and it was actually caught by one of the groomsmen, who was so excited that he ran a victory lap around the ballroom immediately afterward.”
“Finally, when it was time to go, everyone was given a plastic egg filled with birdseed for our exit toss — for these, Brian and I bought a ton of plastic white Easter eggs, spray painted them (and a good portion of the driveway; oops) blue, then added brown “spots” with a spray bottle of thinned paint. Everyone tossed the birdseed at us as we came down the stairs outside (I was still finding birdseed in my hair two days later), and the night finished with Brian and I leading a parade of guests down Peachtree Street and back to the hotel for a little post-partying, behind a (very tolerant) younger guest who carried a “Just Married” flag. We walked into the hotel bar, and the people there gave us a standing ovation; it was the perfect ending to an absolutely perfect day, and now I totally want to do it all over again.”
Yep, totally awesome huh!? I love these guys!