Heartwarming Garden Wedding
July 23, 2014
New England
Classic WeddingsGarden WeddingsSummer Weddings
What can I say about this wedding other than that it is utterly perfect?  The kind of perfect where a laid-back vibe and all sorts of pretty join forces in a party that is all about celebrating one seriously awesome duo (the bride happens to be a crazy cool officiant) and their amazing friends and family.  It's heartwarming to the max, lovelies.  See it all captured by Chattman Photography right here.
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From the Bride... I've worked in the wedding industry for many years and know how monotonous weddings can get, but as an ordained Interfaith minister, helping couples to craft one-of-a-kind wedding ceremonies, I also know the best a wedding can be.

Every single detail of our wedding reflected us, and most of it we did ourselves and with the help of family and friends; from the invitations I designed (licensing the work of a local artist) to the flowers we bought by the bucket from a local farm for my mother-in-law to arrange. We were even lucky enough to be friends with our amazing photographer, Joanna Chattman, and with Carla Caruso Jewelry, who made my pearl and diamond necklace and earring set as well as our wedding bands.

Our ceremony was truly the heart of our wedding and many, many guests told us afterward it was the most beautiful they’d ever witnessed. Whitney Acres, a local farm, let us use one of their fields for our ceremony, haying it just before our wedding so the air smelled fresh and summery. My brothers assembled our wedding arch there, which now stands in our front yard.

Everyone loved the blessing ribbons. It gave our guests something to do before the ceremony began and included them in physically creating the sacred space by hanging their ribbon on lines strung from either side of the wedding arch. We felt surrounded by their love and blessings during the entire ceremony, and we moved them with us to the reception tent, too. (Plus they made a great backdrop!) Now they’re decorating our baby’s room (due mid-April!). 

Both sets of our grandparents have passed away and my father died when I was 10, so honoring family, ancestors and lineage was really important to us. We asked family members to bring photographs of these loved ones, which we then arranged along a stone wall near the entrance to the field. Guests told us they spent a lot of time lingering over the photographs, reminiscing and guessing who was who. My first tears of the day were shed as we paused there on our entrance. 

We also wanted to include a special ritual in the ceremony to honor our lost loved ones. We asked our parents to come up, one at a time, and say the names of their parents, ringing a singing bowl after each name. My stepfather said my father’s parents' names, and my brother said the name of our own father. I know many couples are worried about feeling too emotional at their wedding, but, aside from our vows, the ancestor ritual was the most powerful part of the ceremony. Many, many guests were moved to tears (as was I), and many spoke to me afterward about how much they loved this ritual in particular.

Alexander and I decided not to have a wedding party, so we felt it was important to include our brothers and sister in the ceremony. We chose readings for each of them that we knew would be meaningful to them, too. (I’m happy to share which poems/readings we chose!) We also asked one of Alexander’s oldest friends, a musician, to play one of our favorite songs just before we took our wedding vows.

Though we got ready separately (by the way, my dress zipper broke and I had to be sewn in at the last minute!), it was really wonderful to make the long walk to the ceremony together. I treasure those moments we had alone, and then our hearts leaping at sight of all our cherished friends and family gathered for us. We had the children following us with bubbles, which was a great activity for them and made for some wonderful pictures, too!

It was also really important that we stood together during the ceremony, not separated between the officiant as is traditional. I loved holding hands and feeling really connected throughout the ceremony. We had our friend/officiant stand aside while we took our vows and exchanged rings so that it really felt like we married each other.

Our reception was at The Curtis House, a short walk from the ceremony site. Gloria Pacosa, owner of The Curtis House, was also our event coordinator (that’s her sewing me into the dress!). We rented antique mismatched china and silverware from her, as well as vintage water pitchers and salt and pepper shakers. The tables were very homey and eclectic, yet elegant. We hung all the lanterns and string lights and made all the bouquets using vases I’d spent a year collecting from thrift shops. My mother also spent a year collecting antique brass candlesticks for the tables, and also making the homemade jam we gave as wedding favors (boy, were those a huge hit with our guests!).

My husband’s family is Greek so we served Greek white wine and our food was Greek-Mediterranean – simple, fresh and summery. A friend also made a special batch of “A & H Love” hard cider. Our biggest splurge was probably the band, but since we love to dance it seemed well worth the expense. The 5-piece jazz/soul group was assembled by local musician friend Jon Fisher and featured New Orleans vocalist Samirah Evans. They rocked the house, and dancing alone to “At Last” was definitely a highlight of the whole day.

A wedding is one of the greatest opportunities you'll ever have to publicly express who you are. So celebrate it! Exploit it! Take full advantage of the chance to have one day in your life be about being who you really are with those you really love. What an extraordinary opportunity.