There is a full fledge wedding crush happening on this side of the screen. No joke. My palms are sweaty and I can't stop my girlish giggling. Craig Photography's view from this autumn Pennsylvania wedding has stolen my heart and I can't imagine I'll be getting it back any time soon. So fall in love with this gorgeous soiree and then meet me in the gallery, where I'll be trying my best to control the embarrassing grins.
Jon and I met at a rock climbing gym in the summer of 2007. Neither of us were climbers before -- Jon had just moved to Maryland and decided he needed a hobby to get himself off the couch after work and my aunt had just introduced me to climbing as a stress reliever during my first year teaching in DC. We started climbing as part of a big group and quickly found ourselves turning long nights belaying each other at the gym into short nights at the gym followed by long nights drinking with chalky hands. Other play dates like going hiking on nearby trails followed and several months later, as I was going to meet up with him in something other than spandex workout clothes, I realized we were a real couple.
After four years together, including a year long distance and a year living in our cozy apartment, we knew we would officially start a family someday but weren’t in any particular rush to have a wedding (I suppose getting a Kitchen Aid as a birthday present took the edge off for me a bit…). I figured I would know when Jon planned to propose because there were some family jewels involved. My grandmother, to whom I was very close, always used to wear a choker with a diamond in the center (this diamond was initially in her father’s pocket watch, so it's been in the family for a while). My mother held onto the necklace thinking that some day the stone could be put into a new setting. Needless to say, both my mother and Jon proved to be much better at keeping secrets than I previously thought. On a fall morning as I was taking photos on a camping trip at New Germany State Park, Jon called my name. I turned around expecting to see Jon pointing to a better angle to get the reflection of the fall leaves on the lake, but instead found him down on one knee. For folks who said we weren’t in any rush to make things official, there was some impressive sobbing.
We spent the most time during the planning process on our ceremony to ensure it reflected us as a couple, including the religious traditions from each of our upbringings that resonated with us, and involved our family and friends. For our chuppah (traditional Jewish wedding canopy), Jon cut down the trees that were used for the posts, our family friend made the covering, and his groomsmen assembled it the day of the wedding. While the words spoken during the ceremony were meaningful and often laughter-inducing, there was also something special about the objects used in the ceremony. We picked up an old desk from our favorite antique store to hold all of the items used in the ceremony including a ring bowl created by Jon’s brother, kiddush cups borrowed from my grandparents, and unity candles. The table also held stones that we threw into the water to remember those who were an important part of our lives and helped make us who we are but could not be present. We couldn’t help but feel like some of those special people were looking out for us when, after a gloomy, rainy morning, the clouds parted and we were able to have a fall wedding outside.
Before the wedding people kept telling me that all of the little decisions would fade the day of the wedding. It turned out that was part of what made the day fulfilling – all of those details are what made the wedding us. At the reception I loved that people were confused when they took their first sips during the toast to find that they were not drinking champagne, but instead one of our favorite Dogfish Head beers. Sure, as I traveled around the pavilion all night I was focused on my husband and visiting with my 100 favorite people in the whole world, but I also smiled seeing the table decorations in the corner of my eyes and thinking of all the hours Jon spent diligently stenciling the letters of the names of parks we’ve camped at onto the wooden signs and looking at the flower arrangements and thinking of memories from the antique stores we visited to supplement the collection of blue Ball jars I normally use in the pantry for grains and beans. I will vividly remember looking up while dancing to see the amazing paper pinwheels and pennant signs that one of my talented bridesmaids made to bring the best of my Pinterest page into reality. And, sure, favors are just favors – but seeing the stacked jars of granola I made the week leading up to the wedding cleared out by the end of the night made me hopeful that our guests could at least taste a bit of our gratitude for everything they did to be a part of the wedding.
Still, more than seeing any of those details come into reality, the moments Jon and I shared during the wedding day – both those when we were alone (the First Look in the woods) or just felt alone (when he squeezed my hand while stomping the glass at the end of the ceremony and when he spontaneously lifted me up on the dance floor during ‘I’ve Had the Time of My Life’) are the ones that I’ll cherish the most.
The best advice I received that I’d pass along to other brides – 1. Be detail oriented all you want until 24 hours before the wedding – then pass over the spreadsheets, itineraries, etc. and fully absorb every moment of the wedding day; 2. Have dinner packed up and available for you and your groom in your room later at night (seriously, you’ll be famished); 3. Stop worrying. With enough love, things have a way of working out.
Photography: Craig Photography / Flowers: Wedding Elegance by Joelle / Ceremony and Reception Location: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort / Invitations: Beacon Lane via Etsy, addressed by grandmother of the bride /Bride's Shoes: J.Crew / Groom's Shoes: Camper / Dress Designer: Modern Trousseau via Hitched / Bridesmaid Dress Designer: J.Crew / Groom’s Suit and Groom and Groomsmen ties: J.Crew / Groomsmen and Father’s Suit: JoS. A. Bank / Bridesmaid earrings & pins: Mariosha / Groom's cuff links: BioS via etsy / Veil: Bridal by Teri via Etsy / Ceremony table: Cottage at Leesburg / Candles used for unity ceremony: MileEndSoapandCandle / Ketubah: Woodland Papercuts via Etsy / Favors: Granola made by the bride; tags TodoPapel via etsy / Table signs: Made by the groom / Name tags: Tags fom PaperPastiche via Etsy; stamping and writing by family of the bride / Wooden mugs: Wondrous Works in Wood / Hair & Makeup: Justine Kolano of Beauty Justified