When we launched HuffPost Weddings in 2011, the spirit of Indiebride.com guided our voice and vision -- and it still does to this day. So to celebrate the offbeat couples who might not get featured in national bridal magazines or major newspapers, we decided to launch Indie Engagements. Here, we'll feature nontraditional couples whose weddings will celebrate their distinctive approach to life and love. Want to be featured? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and introduce yourself.
Below, Albany, New York couple Caitlin Mooney, 25 and Michael Ryan, 26, share their story. As told to HuffPost Weddings editor Stephanie Hallett.
Caitlin Mooney: We both went to SUNY Cortland for undergrad, and on the first night of my freshman year -- he was a sophomore -- we met through a mutual friend.
Michael Ryan: When I found out that Caitlin loved [Seattle-based indie band] Gatsby's American Dream, I just was like, "That's it, we're set."
Mooney: That's kind of the reason he first started talking to me! Then a month later we went on our first date to a concert in Syracuse -- it was As Tall as Lions and This Day and Age. We've been inseparable ever since. He's very outgoing, and he always has high energy. It brings me out of my shell and makes me do new things that I wouldn't have done before. He got me to start downhill skiing! I never thought I'd do that.
Ryan: She literally plans every minute of the day. Our wedding's not till 2015, and we have everything done already.
Mooney: We got engaged on Feb. 24 this year. We planned a ski weekend at Greek Peak in Cortland because we hadn't been back since we graduated [in 2010]. On the first night, when I was [in the bathroom] getting ready to go out to dinner, he set up the room with red roses, candles and a bottle of moscato, which is my favorite.
Ryan: I took a picture of the room all set up. I put it on Instagram and Facebook and was like, "I hope she says yes." All her girlfriends had no idea -- they were freaking out!
Mooney: I came back into the room and he did the whole get-down-on-one-knee thing. I was very surprised! At the very beginning of the year, we looked at rings to get an idea of what I wanted. But still, I was like, "Oh my God, this is actually happening."
We're doing a Great Gatsby theme for the wedding because it's his favorite book, but also because our favorite band is Gatsby's American Dream, and the name comes from the story. He was a history major, so the fact that our venue was built in the 1930s or ‘40s -- an old bank that was renovated -- he really loves that historic feel. I love the fact that there's a stage where they show Broadway plays. When I was younger, I took dance lessons, and I had my recitals on the same stage. Our wedding party is pretty big -- eight people on each side. It's all of our best friends from growing up and from college.
Ryan: When I was in college, I threw a “Mustachio Bashio” at a bar, so I figured it would be fitting if my cards to ask my friends to be in my wedding had something to do with a mustache. So I found these cards on Etsy and they say, “Send a picture of you wearing this mustache if you accept to be in my wedding.” And all my friends just went above and beyond.
Mooney: One guy dressed up as a cop with the mustache. His brother dressed up in his Navy uniform with the mustache on.
Ryan: My one friend, I always make fun of him for watching wrestling, so he put on a WWF belt and he had the mustache on. And my one friend down in North Carolina had the American flag waving and his fireplace going and he “iced” himself -- where you get down on one knee and pound a Smirnoff Ice. He sent me like 20 pictures, waving the flag, chugging the drink.
Mooney: Even though we're having the wedding on Valentine's Day, we don't want it to be Valentine's Day-themed, with hearts and red and pink. Our colors are going to be cobalt blue and coral. The venue itself is blue. The walls are a gray-blue. And then I'm thinking we'll probably do coral flowers, and I'll have the girls wear either coral dresses or cobalt blue. I don't want the groomsmen to be too matchy-matchy, so I think we're just going to do a black and white tux and then a cobalt-blue pocket square sticking out. I'm thinking about doing a birdcage veil. We were talking about having the whole wedding party wear TOMS, but I don't know if that would be the best shoe in the wintertime. Maybe just for the reception. I also kind of want to get the blue sparkly TOMS as my “something blue” -- I want an excuse to wear those.
Ryan: I demanded that the venue have a piano because I'm actually going to have two best men and they're both musicians. So they're probably going to make an improv speech -- a song on the piano.
Mooney: One thing that's kind of cool that we're doing with the cake is we're going to have them slice it up and put each piece in a martini glass, then drizzle chocolate and fruit over it. They call it a “cake-tini.” Also in the last hour they're going to bring out mini-sliders with all different toppings. And chocolate milk and root beer.
Ryan: We're thinking a City and Colour song, "The Girl" [for our first dance]. But my roommate from college -- he's always made fun of the music that I listened to -- one time I went to visit him and he was blasting City and Colour. I'm like, "What are you doing?" and he's like, "Oh, that's my wedding song." So now we're torn.
Mooney: Right now we're very busy. I'm working full-time at [an ad agency] and he's working as a full-time teacher, and he also [waits tables] evenings and weekends because we're saving up for the wedding.
Ryan: I didn't grow up wealthy, so [if I were saying my vows today], I would definitely vow that I would work to the bone to provide everything that she wants.
Mooney: And I'll always try my hardest to do nice things for him. I would vow to love him unconditionally and always be there for him. He's always been such a great support system. So I vow to do the same for him.