Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Wedding for Wanderers

   My husband and I recently celebrated our first anniversary, which inspired me to look back through our trove of wedding photos. They are just too pretty to file away and forget. This got me thinking that maybe I should include them in a blog...for the romantics out there.

   Dane and I are both wanderers who got lucky and found the person with whom we want to explore the world. We both studied anthropology, share a passion for culture and history, and have spent more of the last decade living outside the United States than in it. When we got engaged we knew that, since our lives are different than most, our wedding should be too. It was important to us to stay true to ourselves and not get caught up in other people’s expectations. We live very frugal lives and often “rough it” in order to stretch our travel dollar, and the idea of dumping a bunch of money into the inflated wedding industry went against our every fiber. We knew if we were going to have a wedding, we would have to make it a very hands-on and self-expressive journey. Luckily, we both come from very D.I.Y. families. We are originally Texans after all, so working with our hands and getting down and dirty is basically bred into us. Also, as an Etsian, I knew I had the Etsy community as a boundless resource as well.

    In addition to keeping costs low, our main priority was that our wedding embody our love of travel and history. We currently live in Thailand, and at first we planned to have the wedding here amid archaeological ruins, but when we considered the expense it would cost our families and the fact that we’d be the contact points for all the logistics involved in their trip, we decided to avoid that potential stress pit and bring the ceremony home to them. But we figured there was no reason we couldn’t have some wedding photography taken in Asia first. We scoped out some of our favorite backdrops and then hired a local photographer to accompany us there for a whirlwind day of surreal wedding photography.

   On another occasion, Dane and I traveled to Cambodia to our favorite archaeological site, Angkor, with my dress stuffed in a backpack. I changed into it onsite and Dane, a skillful photographer himself, took the coolest bridal pictures an archaeologist gal could ever imagine. I know it broke with tradition, but the pictures mean even more to me knowing he is the one who captured them.

    Then it was on to the real thing back home. We reserved a free chapel overlooking the Texas hill country. I flew home two months before the wedding so I could spend some time with my family and get all the details rolling. Nearly every element was collected from around the world, made by hand, or passed down through the ages.

   I made our invitations myself and printed them to look like vintage postcards.

   My dress, an amazing vintage find from an antiques store, only required minor alterations, and, to suit my old-fashioned taste, I added an extra layer of lace acquired from an Etsy fabrics recycler.
   Dane had his suit made by a tailor in Thailand following a vintage style, and he wore his grandfather’s pocket watch from his years working the railroad.
     I scoured estate sales for antique lace, teacups and lanterns. My mother sewed the tablecloths, my grandmother the seat cushions. I made lace-covered candleholders and wine glass charms from cameos I purchased from Etsy crafts suppliers.
    The night before the wedding, we had a girls' night-in, and my mother, sister, grandmother, mother-in-law and I made my bridal bouquet and all the flower arrangements. With several hands at work, each bouquet was unique, giving the arrangements a natural, straight-from-the-garden effect, especially when displayed in old tea cups and lace-covered mason jars.
   For the cake, food, photography and music, we hired burgeoning artists in order to keep costs down. Because of their novice status, all of these people offered their services at incredible discounts, while they gave tremendously more effort than most established professionals probably would have. As a new small business owner myself (of the Etsy shop LotusandLaceBoutique), I loved the idea of supporting other budding artists.

    It was extremely important to me and Dane that the ceremony be intimate. This was reinforced by the fact that the chapel was tiny and had very limited space, so we kept the guest list down to immediate family and only a few of our closest friends. For us, it was essential that the ceremony be representative of who we are, as individuals and as a partnership, and of the commitment we were making to each other. Dane is a writer, and I dabble a bit as well, so we decided to write the ceremony ourselves, and Dane’s brother officiated it. This made it all the more meaningful for us and for our guests. As the rain clouds momentarily parted and our loved ones gathered near, we shared the joy we had found in each other and exchanged our personal vows expressed from the heart. It was an emotion-filled, magical night.
my mother's bridal portrait

   After the wedding, we had a small, informal reception at the pavilion next to the chapel and then a larger bon voyage party the following weekend before we left for our honeymoon and return-trip to Thailand.
   Guests were served Thai tea and an array of ethnic dishes cooked by our skillful parents. We decorated the pavilion with curios brought back from our travels, such as Thai statues and Buddha amulets, and then sent them home with our guests as wedding favors.
   Instead of a having a guestbook, I printed out old maps in the form of postcards and scattered them around for guest to view, leave us messages, and then deposit in an old travel case.  
   For the bon voyage party, I made another set of wine glass charms from fabric buttons, each featuring a global location or iconic site, purchased from fellow Etsian and globe-trotter RetroNaNa.
   My favorite addition to the reception décor was a collection of antique, hand-written, French postcards, many of them documenting couples’ honeymoons, which I found through an Etsian in France, CartesPostales. I decorated the tables with these and then invited guests to select their favorites to take home.
   We finished the night lounging on floor cushions and passing around a Middle Eastern hookah, while reminiscing about old stories and planning for future adventures.

       And the blissful journey continues...


Wedding photography in Thailand:
Sweetheart Studio

Wedding photography at Angkor, Cambodia:
Dane Phillips

Wedding photography in Texas:
Claudia Alvarado

Wedding location in Texas:
Chapel Dulcinea

Catering and Set-up:
Amanda Teague

Musician (classical guitar):


  1. Lindsey these photos are spectacular. My favorites are the ones from Cambodia. So special. And of course your wedding dresses are stunning! I especially enjoyed reading about all your plans and preparations. I had no idea you had so many DIY elements. You're so creative! Thanks for sharing your wedding story :)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and look through it all! I know this one was a long one! ;)

  2. Such a cute couple!! Thanks a ton for sharing these photographs. My sister also wants to have a destination wedding. She has been making a list of popular New York wedding venues. Do you guys have any suggestion for good wedding spots in New York?