Monday, August 31, 2015

our wedding ceremony

I'd like to start by explaining my absence; I said I'd be right back and now here it is, nearly a month later. As you know, because I've told you, I've been writing full time since I finished school back in the spring, but in order to buy groceries I sometimes I have to do a few other things.

This past month I've been doing those other things, mostly in Virginia, and it was a blur of hotel breakfast buffets and congestion on unfamiliar highways that didn't seem to make much sense, with a lot of exits surprising me on the left. The left! With no warning! I also have a few articles coming out- including one in Blue Ridge Outdoors that you can actually go and pick up in your own hands, I'll tell you more about that later.
One thing I know for certain, after having a little time to think it over, is that I will never regret posting too many pictures of our wedding on this blog. It's a little much, sure, but a lot of good things are a little much. I feel I deserve this after years of dutifully recording every date and relationship that ended, which was all of them until now, including the ones that ended poorly/with humiliation, which was a solid percentage. (Including that time when I met my old boyfriend for dinner in order to get by my bicycle back, tossed back three martinis, burst into tears, and then my bank card was rejected and he had to pay for it all. Which he did without complaint, because he was always a really nice guy.)   

So, in the spirit of well earned indulgence, here is an album of our ceremony and portraits. Once again, thanks to Cassie and Austin at Honey by Hive for being so talented, and understanding that I can never look directly at the camera, on account of my round face.
Something else- do you remember how I walked down the aisle to a song that was written and produced by my sister? They finally released it, and you can listen to it right here and have a multi-sensory wedding experience, if you'd like.

Anna, who is playing the guitar in this video and who looks just like me, would like me to add that when we used this song, it was purely instrumental. As she puts it, "These are not wedding lyrics."
A week or two before the wedding, I went over to New Hampshire for my 'bridal hair trial'. I had very long hair, and once it was all curled and teased in the back,  I looked a little bit like Jessa Duggar, but without her ironically sensual beauty. Seeing this, I panicked and asked for the stylist to cut about a foot of it off.  

As for the final style, I didn't love it, but I also didn't think about it during the wedding because I was enjoying myself so much. Besides, after so many receiving line hugs, it was a moot point. Any style would have been flattened by such a hands-on display of enthusiasm. I also didn't wear any makeup, not really by choice but because, as my friend Kelli puts it, "you're the only one I know who doesn't look better with makeup on." She swears she said it as a compliment.

I bring these things up only because I spent a lot of time in the months leading up to the wedding thinking about how I was going to look, and there was no real need for that. I looked like myself. 

My mom thought the whole "first look" thing was tacky, and maybe it was, but everything about weddings are tacky, I think that's why people like them so much, and also why some people will avoid them at all cost. 
We were married at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farm, which is just a few miles down the road from where I grew up. The rain held out for us until the final hour of the reception, at which point it was the refreshing cool-off that everyone needed. It continued to rain for another three weeks after that.
One of my favorite moments was watching my dad try and figure out what to do with his right arm in the final seconds before we walked. He kept bending it and then straightening it out and then wrapping it behind is back, trying to find the best and most natural looking position, and it was then that I realized how nervous he was, and I loved him in that instant more than I ever have, even though I've always loved him an enormous amount.  
We chose our friend Charles King to be our officiant, because he has a magnetic attraction about him and he has amazing hair. At one point a few years back, he was missing and feared drowned in Tajikistan, causing a bit of an uproar, and if you've been reading here for a little while you may remember. It turns out, as we were all fussing around and losing sleep over his whereabouts, he was plodding 70 miles across a desert with only half a Nalgene of river water for company, in order to secure a rescue for his dying friend, who ended up living. 

I want to say they were briefly imprisoned after that, but anyway, it all worked out in the end. For which I'm so glad*, because he did a top-notch job writing and performing our ceremony. No one could have done better. I'm framing a photo of this to hang in our living room so that those pant legs will never go forgotten.  
As for our vows, they were simple. We've since lost the papers they were written on, because we do not hold on to things. Not for any moral or philosophical reason except that I tend to misplace everything, while David forgets that we ever had it to begin with. 

Nobody cried; it didn't feel like a crying moment. It was very lighthearted and easy. Plus, raw displays of emotion always make me slink out of the room. I very much dislike them. Which is why, if and at which time that I have a baby, family members and particularly tender-hearted friends will be asked to sign a no-cry waiver at the door. Should the contract be broken, they will be escorted from the premises and asked to try again at a later date. 
  We wore our river shoes from Astral Design. Every time we looked down at our feet we were reminded of kayaking, and now every time we go kayaking, we are reminded of our wedding.
It will never be lost on me -at least within the boundaries of my comprehension- how lucky I am to have had, among so many other things, this family, these friends, and the fact that they all came together for one beautiful June day in Vermont.

David Ambrose Clarke is the warmest, kindest, and most handsome person that I've ever met, and of all the people in his life that love him, I love him the most, and I think he can say the same about me. (Besides for our parents, but that's a different sort of thing entirely, as I trust you understand.)
Believe it or not there are still more to come, one final post from the reception, which according to my memory was nothing but dancing and wondering what happened to all the cake. And while you may think, "boy, that is a LOT of pictures," I still don't think that it's nearly enough.

 * for many reasons

Thursday, August 6, 2015

the barn raising

All photos, unless otherwise noted, are by Honey by Hive Studio.

As for the wedding itself, we decided to hand it over to our very talented and capable friends. We aimed to hire as many of them as we could to be our vendors, gave them total creative license, and detached ourselves from the details. I don't have an eye for design anyway, it's just not one of the tricks that came in my tool box when I was born. How it would all come together, in terms of aesthetics, is not something we worried ourselves over. We wanted our people to feel happy, involved, and proud with their work, to understand that they are integral to our wedding and to our lives.
As it turned out, it all came together. It was simple, elegant and relaxed, with thoughtful consideration poured into every detail. On the precious occasions I had during the reception to stand back and observe the scene- kids dashing through hazy green fields, bright dresses swinging like flowers opening on the dance floor, aunts and uncles around the fire pit, jars brimming with flowers on white tabletops, the tent glowing like a ship lit up in the evening- I felt the way pioneer families must have felt after the whole town raised them a new barn overnight. Such awe, such pure gratitude, the kind that leaves you with the sensation that your heart might flap right out of your chest, soar above your head and you'll never see it again.

Our friends, our parents, our family- they raised us a barn.
We hired Colleen as our florist. For those of you who have been reading the blog for a while now, you may remember Colleen as the black-clad roommate in the shittiest apartment in Seattle (which has now been leveled and replaced by a pair of slick townhouses), the one who used to give me pep-talks decrying my affinity for wallowing in self pity while I lay face down on my bed. When I left for work, she'd go into my room and tidy up for me. "The first step to being back on your feet is an organized room!" she'd chirp, like somebody's no-nonsense mom.

But I've known Col long before those days. She was my first friend in Vermont. As second graders, we used to explore the river that runs through Woodstock as our moms did aerobics in the Little Stone Theater. She used to carry around a little Tupperwear of grapes.

The arrangements she created were soft, cream and pale yellow roses with bold strokes of blue and tiny sprays of white daises. They were gorgeous. They looked like a watercolor rendition of Vermont in June. Colleen's company is called Whiskey Daisy Floral. Her specialty is flowers for men who've really screwed up and are trying to win back their girlfriends. Her bouquets come with a shot of whiskey.
David as the groom could not decide what to wear, and we went back and forth in our house for months, me growing decidedly edgy about the topic, until Ann Tilley swept in and saved the day. Ann is this fabulous and very talented textile designer by profession, one of his closest friends from childhood. For christmas she knit him this big piece of art that says TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT. And so she rescued us and offered to sew his groom's vest as a wedding present. 
Lee Timmons Photography
Back in May, she took him to Charlotte for the day so they could wander around one of those great big fabric stores. David had his heart set on one pattern and Ann wanted another, so in the end she made his vest reversible. He wore her iridescent blue diamonds during the ceremony and then flipped it around to his swirly floral for the reception. Dave called his pattern his Party Time look.

David was over the moon about his vest. He's saved it, pressed neatly into the back of his closet, so that one day our son, if we have a son, could wear it at his wedding. I suppose our daughter could wear it, too, if we have a daughter. (She can't wear my dress though; I went swimming in it. )
Ann also painted our chalkboard signs and was very nice about it, even though we'd forgotten about them and didn't ask her till the day before. I'd also forgotten to buy a veil, although it's more accurate to say that I could simply never muster the strength to shell out $80 on a piece of gauze, so my cousin Alison sat down with a hot glue gun and made one for me with $5 of material from JoAnns fabric. She even added little beads to the comb. If I ever travel to Africa it will be the most elegant malarial prophylactic anyone has ever seen.
For a long time before the wedding, I had no idea what song I would walk down the aisle to. Sea chanties, The Decembrists, Yo-Yo Ma with Bela Fleck, Patti Griffin, Riverdance (yes, and proud), Alison Krauss, the Beatles- there were too many to choose from.

So I kept waiting for a song to choose me, and I finally settled upon "Here, there, and Everywhere" by Paul McCartney after it came on the radio during a particularly winsome evening in North Carolina. David and some of our friends were playing a card game on the back porch as I did the dishes, summer air breezing in, and everything felt very certain and nostalgic and easy.

But then, just a few days before the wedding, I heard the most gorgeous piece of music that I've ever heard sailing out of the living room in my parents' house. My sister, who is a musician, was working on mastering one of her songs that she was producing for another singer.  The melody was hypnotic, haunting, all cello and piano with crescendos that peaked and fell like waves.

 "This is it," I told her, running into the room. "This is the song- whatever this is!"

"The song for you to walk to, or for your wedding party to walk to?" She asked.

"All of us. Tell the DJ to loop it if he has to."

Anna also sang during the ceremony, wearing a lace dress that looked to die for, a song about ships from her album The Wasted Ocean. "I'm singing this one for my sister, who is obsessed with sea chanties," she said, "and for Dave, who kayaks."
I ended up with two bridesmaids, Anna and Alison. I had three- Lisa, of course, Lisa was my bridesmaid, and she flew fifty hours from Vanuatu where she's serving in the peace corps just to be there. But at the last moment there was an emergency, something really rotten. She got as far was Washington, DC. She was so close.
Our flower girl, Charli, was the star of the show. She seems to have been constructed out of peach skin and silk, and would consistently come up with the most serious and earnest little pieces of advice:

"Excuse me, but I was just making sure that you've taken the time to grab a bite to eat this morning."

"Make sure that when David comes in from the camp fire tonight to go to bed, that he does not disturb you. You need your rest."

Charli belongs to our friends Sarah and Charles, who performed our ceremony. She was like a little piece of moonlight.
For the readings, we asked the two women who we consider to be the wisest amongst us: Molly Milroy and Elissa Koop.  Molly and David have been friends since they were two and stuck with each other even through college, living side by side in the dorms and then as roommates until David bought his own house. Now she has this little job where she herds great swarms of surgeons, doctors and nurses through places like Ethiopia and El Salvador with Operation Smile.

And Elissa, she used to push me off of the sidewalk into the street when we were in middle school, although she hates when I bring that up now. She is the most brilliant writer I've ever met.
And finally for now, our indefatigable photographers, Cassie and Austin of Honey By Hive Studio. They have been two of my dearest friends since middle school, through Woodstock and the Academy at Adventure Quest. They are so extremely proficient and competent, I remember Cassie directing the elaborate series of shoots involving the extended families, all while the holding two glasses of champagne in one hand that she later delivered to Dave and I, and never spilled a drop. And she had just delivered her second baby a few weeks back.

I read something in Ann Lammot's book Operating Instructions that said if you truly knew what a person had gone through in their life just to make it to the place they are today, you would fall to your knees at their feet. Whenever I read that, I think of Cassie and Austin.
That's enough for today.

I'll be back later to write about our ceremony, the reception, the officiant, the six cakes. There are so many gorgeous photos to share. But I wanted to begin with the behind the scenes, our friends who built us that heavenly day, what surely was the most beautiful wedding in the recorded history of White River Junction, Vermont, perhaps even on earth.