An Unconventional Marriage: Why We Chose a Different Route

03/11/2014 10:42 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

My friend Brooks Conkle just got hitched in a way that surprised everyone. But it worked for him.

Perhaps you know someone with a similar story. Or perhaps it's your own! If so, please share in the comments section below.

I asked Brooks if I could interview him and send it to The Huffington Post and his response was "Awesome."

Not only is Brooks a close friend and a great guy, but he's a true go-getter and a think-outside-the-box kind of guy. He also happens to be a real estate agent. You can visit his website at

JRL: So let's hear the scoop, Brooks. 2014-03-11-Brooks.jpg

Brooks: One of my life list items was to get married to a beautiful woman (both inside and out). It happened. So, I've been married about 2 months and it's still blowing my mind.

Over the last few years I've realized that I'm just not good at being like everyone else (see one of my favorite books, the Art of Non-Conformity). That it's ok to not do things the way that others do. That nothing is perfect. That you learn as you go and correct along the way.

JRL: How did you do it different?

Brooks: So you know where I live, folks date. After they've dated for some pre-determined amount of time and they still like each other, they get engaged. I've been told figures about how much a man is supposed to spend on a wedding ring (I choked on my sandwich the first time I heard). Then they start planning on the wedding. Typically the female has dreamed of this moment but sometimes the man is just as excited (often times, he just wants to please his future bride). Then the marriage.

I've been to a lot of friends' weddings. And they're beautiful. But they always seem so dang stressful. The bride and groom want everything to go perfectly on this one perfect day. They have lots of people to say hello to and they're whisked from place to place (my buddy that recently got married joked that he had calculated that he had 2 minutes and 40 seconds to speak with each guest that came up to say hello).None of the above fit my personality and apparently not my wife either (which I assume is one of the reasons why we're married!)

What's a "perfect" wedding day for anyway? Don't you have each day to wake up and attempt to be the best you can for each other? Why is the day you get married supposed to be the most important? Why not EVERY day? Wouldn't it be incredible if we treated the 100th and 1,000th day with our spouse the same as the 1st? Ok, so I said that I wouldn't have guessed this is how it would have ended up for me.

Here are a few of my wedding's fun facts:

My step-son (he now calls me Dad2!) was snacking on a banana during our ceremony. It was awesome!

The only people present at our ceremony was God, the court pastor, my wife, myself, and our son.

Rings weren't even yet present for the ceremony.

We didn't know 100 percent that we were able to be married until the day of our ceremony.

JRL: How did your family react to that?

Brooks: We told our families first, but friends have slowly come to learn of our unity. We get two main reactions: "I had no idea you guys were getting married!" We say, "We really didn't either!" Others say, "I didn't even know that you guys were engaged!" And we say, "We skipped that part!"

JRL: How do you respond when people ask why you chose an unconventional path to marriage?

Brooks: I just say, "Why Not?" Over the course of the past year that we dated, we discussed everything that you would need to know about a marriage partner -- life goals, spiritual ideas, finances, which way the toilet paper roll should be installed, etc. We looked at getting pre-marital counseling, but we wondered what in the world that they could tell us that we didn't already know about each other? We had asked countless folks, learned from other's experiences, read books, etc.

The only real thing that was holding me back was FEAR. Fear of "if I could do it." Fear of "will she love me if she sees what I'm like every day" Fear of "settling down." Fear of "children." Fear of "fear." -- yep it started getting ridiculous. So I finally said, "What else do we have to figure out? What are we waiting for? Let's do this." My woman happily moved forward (she knew all along that we would be an incredible team and was patiently waiting for me to get off of the fence that I ride -- yet another incredible reason why I love her). But of course we wanted to find a way to include all family and additional loved ones.

So we're in the process of planning a reception celebration. At a barn? Shrimp Boil? Human Sized Banana Split? Art painted by guests? Signature Conkle-lotta Cocktails? Wii Dance Contest? Bonfire? Hot Dog Roasting and Smores? Inflatable Games? Yes, our reception will clearly be unconventional as well.

But it's our reception. We're not living our lives the way we're "supposed to." It's a time for us to celebrate and we want to express that in a way that makes us feel comfortable. So live your unconventional life. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you come alive. Because what the world is begging for is more folks who have come alive.


Make sure to check out The Mason Jar, a coming of age love story told from the male perspective by James Russell Lingerfelt. The novel helps readers find healing after severed relationships.

The Mason Jar movie is scheduled for pre-production in 2015, and will be directed in the same dramatic and romantic tones as The Notebook (2004) and Pride & Prejudice (2005). Follow him on Facebook or Twitter or subscribe to his email list for updates.