Nikki and Casey were wed on a chilly, slightly damp, but perfect October Saturday. Their wedding was held on Nikki’s family’s property; their ceremony in the field overlooking the hills covered in full autumn splendor, and their reception in the post-and-beam barn behind the family home. It was not my typical wedding; Nikki and Casey are not my typical wedding clients, and perhaps this is why I adored this wedding so much. Nikki and Casey poured their hearts and souls into this day, and while I had been privy to some of the plans over the last year, it was much more marvelous than I had expected. This wedding was like a cozy warm woolen blanket, surrounding everyone who was there. It was utterly devoid of. pretense or pomp, and it was perfect. And even though I was the photographer, and not a guest, they made me feel like one small part of a big happy family. This wedding was largely a family effort, led by their fearless leader Nikki, so I’ve asked her to write about it below. This was her vision, and it was beautifully executed and I want to give her credit for that, so rather than give my impressions and synopsis of the day, I thought it was best to had it over to her:
I can’t say I’m one of those gals who has been planning her wedding ever since she was a little girl. Actually, I can’t say that I thought about it much at all until the day we picked a date. It was probably the day after that, as I started to think about the date we had chosen, that the artist in me took over and I realized I might be in for it.
I don’t really know how to do anything creative without putting every bit of my energy into it, and despite the many challenges and overwhelming moments, I really enjoyed much of the process of making our day. Both Casey and I have large families, and we knew early on that if this was going to be a big affair involving all of these folks we would want to do our best to make everyone feel as comfortable as possible. I think ‘comfort’ was the word most commonly used as I described my fears about the day. I just wanted us to feel comfortable in front of a big crowd (not an easy feat for either of us), and I wanted our guests to be relaxed and feel like they were part of a celebration rather than a production or show in which Casey and I were the stars and they were just the audience. So, I realized quickly that this day really needed to be about putting many touches of ‘us’ into it so that everyone might feel more like they were in our home than a venue. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we had such amazing support from my father and his wife allowing us to use their gorgeous property and barn – I honestly feel that I just took a beautiful spot and spruced it up a bit.
I planned for about a year, and just made things as the ideas came to me. (I did do a lot of perusing of wedding blogs, but also just developed ideas as I collected material.) I am a woodworker and have a job in a college woodshop, so I had access to any tools I might need and endless inspiration from materials walking through the door. In one corner of our classroom, we have a waist-high pile of rusted whiskey barrel rings left over from a class project years ago. Realizing last winter that I needed to think about some lighting in the barn, I decided to grab some of the rings and turn them into chandeliers using an acquired collection of mason jars with candles placed inside. In addition to my skills in woodworking, I am a lover of textiles. In our own home, Casey and I continuously acquire art, furniture, rugs, and all sorts of décor that incorporates mismatched patterning, flea market textiles, and a wide spectrum of color. That being said, I truly hated the idea of choosing a single color (or two…) for my wedding day. Meeting with vendors – especially florists – was particularly entertaining as they attempted to get a grasp on the day I was creating. Each person I spoke with eventually arrived at calling my theme (or maybe just me?) “eclectic.” This love of textiles and all things fabric led me to collecting $1 sheets from Goodwill from which I sewed all of the bunting flags hung in the barn and tent. I also collected new fabric pieces – quilters’ scraps – from flea markets and craft store scrap fabric bins. These were then cut and sewn by myself and my wonderfully helpful mother – a much more talented seamstress than I – into the napkins guests used.
The variety of flea markets and antique stores around Maine also proved incredibly helpful in this process. My father has always been a big fan of picking through the delights one can find in the local antique shops and together we scoured the stores and collected tablecloths and a wide assortment of water pitchers to be placed on tables.
Tables – these were another issue altogether. Although I was not too picky about china, silver, chairs, etc. – really just interested in simplicity there – the woodworker in me was intent on having farm tables for our guests to sit at. Not only did the farm tables work beautifully in the setting of the barn, but it felt like they were an important factor in providing that sense of comfort that was so important to both Casey and myself. After much searching when the original vendors fell through, we were able to rent them and could not have been more pleased with the quality. (Again, I’m a woodworker…I can’t help but look at these things.) In addition to the farm tables, we were in need of a table for us to sit at. Casey and I had decided that we would forgo the tradition of having a bridal party, as our families are so large that we were concerned about making anyone feel left out. So it was decided that we would have a sweetheart table. Last winter, my father – a doctor who is well known in his community and beloved by his patients – handed me a roll of tissue paper and explained that one of his patients had made something for Casey and I when she found out that we were engaged. This woman does not know either of us, but has so much respect and love for my dad that she wanted to give us a gift. Wrapped inside the tissue was a round piece of lace that had been painstakingly crocheted by hand. As an artist, and someone who understands the meticulous craft of lace making, I was blown away by both her skill and her gift. I quickly decided that this work of art needed to be a part of our day, and realized that I could build us a sweetheart table with the lace inlaid into the top. Having recently moved back north following a few years living in Virginia, Casey and I were often reflecting upon the things we missed and loved about the South, and magnolia trees were always at the top of the list. So, I decided to construct our table from magnolia wood, the lace inlaid into the top, and made the piece at a size that allows it to now live in our hall at home following its use at the wedding.
There are many other items that were made in preparation for this day, both by myself and with the help of amazing loved ones. I painted signs onto scraps of weathered wood in the free moments between work and planning. I spent hours with my mother and sister one weekend in June making batches of jam, and a solid day this fall grinding peanuts into peanut butter in my small apartment kitchen. We served pies for dessert – some we had prepped and frozen fresh this summer, many baked by loving family and friends the day before the wedding. It was important to me that this day feel as though it had a human touch, and thanks to many helping hands the results were wonderfully handmade.
Although I suppose I was the mastermind behind most of the creating and vision for the day, I can honestly say I planned and worked and created out of a sheer joy for making and a desire to give Casey a day that he could enjoy. He is always calm and kind, he doesn’t enjoy productions and throughout the process wasn’t too excited about having to put on a show for everyone – and I felt the same. So it was really important to me that he get to enjoy this day, and that we would have a day that exuded the sense of calm and comfort and joy we feel when we are together. And honestly we have both said, although the day flew by way too fast, it was better than we could have ever imagined.