Love-filled Wye River Estate Wedding
May 2, 2014
Mid Atlantic
RusticEstate WeddingsFall Weddings
This love story? Well, it's more of a love journey. It's got my wedding-loving heart beating as fast as it can. After 28 wonderful years, these two sweethearts were able to vow their love to one another with their nearest and dearest, and it's oh-so-good. The images from Sweet Tea Photography will melt you, I promise. See it all right here!
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From Sweet Tea PhotographyJim and John's love story began in Washington, DC, at an event in 1984 called “At Home with the Saarinens” featuring furniture designed by Eliel and Eero. Their passion for architectural design (Dulles Airport (Virginia) and TWA terminal at JFK), and furniture design brought them together. Jim was 24 and John was 29.

After 28 years of dating, they continue to carry beautiful memories of how they met and fell for one another:

From Jim: “John's deep blue eyes, and mischievous smile across the room drew me in, and a dinner of marinated grilled shrimp on his balcony in Adams Morgan, several weeks later sealed the deal… I have been looking at that tender face, and eating his lovingly prepared meals ever since.”

From John: “Across the room, I spotted a tall, attractive young blond fellow. “I want to meet him” and I marched across the room and introduced myself. I didn’t remember Jim’s last name, but luckily remembered the firm where he worked. When I called there the next day, they connected me with another Jim. I was a couple of minutes into my pitch before the wrong Jim stopped me and transferred the call.

The Maryland legislature passed the law providing for marriage equality in March, but it was a tough battle to get necessary votes for passage. In order to get the last couple of votes, a compromise with several legislators was agreed to which delayed implementation of the law until January 1, 2013. Clearly this was inserted to allow the opponents to gather signatures and attempt to repeal the law thru direct votes of citizens. Never before had voters in any state signed on for marriage equality. Marriage equality was achieved in all other states through the courts or thru legislature. We felt strongly the needed to work towards implementing the recently passed legislation. We hosted a fundraiser for Maryland Marriage Equality, reaching out to friends and family for support. It worked and we prevailed!

On November 6, 2012 the voters of Maryland upheld recently passed legislation, which provided for marriage equality, fighting back an attempt to overturn the law. When the election results were clear (2:00 am November 7th) I asked Jim if he would marry me."

Jim and John were married at the Wye River Estate, just over the Bay Bridge in Queenstown, Maryland. The special occasion took place on September 7th, 2013. John has done architectural design work on several waterfront estates on Maryland eastern shore. He found the manner in which the land and the water meet in the estuaries of Maryland simple magical. They thought that the Wye River Estate was less pretentious than some of the other properties they had visited and the porch with the farm table was hospitable in a way that jived with their style. Friends and family from near and far joined them for the ceremony held in the back yard of the Wye Estate. John’s mother Audrey gave him away while Jim’s sister Marsha gave him away. The officiant was Judge M. Brooke Murdock of the Baltimore Circuit Court. In 2006 Judge Murdock granted summary judgment in the case of Deane & Polyak v. Conaway (marriage equality case), but was overruled by the Maryland Court of Appeals.

“Emotions were definitely running high on the afternoon leading up to the wedding. During the ceremony, my best man Randy leaned over and whispered a naughty and amusing comment in my ear. After the ceremony, I conveyed Randy’s bon mot and both Jim and I broke down laughing/crying. Our guest assumed we were overcome with emotion, and I suppose we were,” said John.

A cocktail hour was held following the ceremony on the back patio of the Estate, which included a signature cocktail of a traditional Negroni on the rocks with an orange peel twist. Jim and John’s Golden Retriever puppy, Windsor, visited with guests during this time. What a fun time the pup had getting so much attention from everyone. Windsor was named after Edith Windsor, who challenged the Defense of Marriage Act, prevailing at the Supreme Court in June of 2013. Dinner was served in a family serving style, under a tent overlooking the shore. The menu included: a whole roast pig and braised prock, seared sustainable Pacific cod, house made corn bread, fingerling potatoes, and grilled Mediterranean vegetables. The whole suckling pig was cooked in a pig box under charcoal and was carved table side by Chef and Chef Expressions Owner Jerry Edwards and served family style. The dessert station featured assorted pies, orange Grand Manier lollipops, and margarita lollipops with candied lime.

“Seeing and feeling the air of love and happiness from our friends and family.... It was magical and the one thing I did not anticipate when we were planning the event, that made the whole day absolutely perfect,” Jim recalls.

As far as the entertainment and music goes, they thought a DJ in drag would inject a fun element to their wedding reception. They had seen Lady Bunny perform in the past and thought she would be great choice for their event. Needless to say, they were very happy with their choice. Their first dance was to Etta James “At Last.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the tent.

For floral and décor, they were going for a late summer, Maryland wild flower concept, which Soo Son of Silverstems developed into a more sophisticated concept, adding fruits, leaves, and other unique options. They chose a rich brown wooden table as the table accents as well, which played well with the yellows and oranges.

For stationary ideas, Jim enlisted the help of friend and Gensler colleague, Scott Hasty. Scott and his partner married a year earlier, and were familiar with the process. We asked for a unique invite, Scott brought us creative options to consider. We settled on a ticket for admission to the variety of events over the course of the weekend. We added one additional piece to the invite, a re-creation of the 1984 invite to the Saarinen event where we met. The 1984 recreation was distressed and included canceled Saarinen stamp (Dulles Airport).

Jim and John live with their young puppy, Windsor, in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland.