Things about the wedding


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Philadelphia Wedding at the Awbury Arboretum

There’s not much better than a good love story. Maura, a trapeze artist, and Nikki, a librarian who plays guitar in a band, met in a small whiskey bar on bluegrass night. It was love at first sight. Their celebration was sweetly and uniquely their own without losing sight of what the day is truly about. We hope you love this celebration between two brides as much as we do!

Remember it’s supposed to be fun. We didn’t want to lose sight of what this day is really about, which is us, our love for each other, and our love for our friends and family. It was important to keep perspective on that while doing the less glamorous details (Costco trip, anyone?)

“It was important to the both of us that our wedding be in Philly. We’ve both been here for about ten years and wanted to bring our families together in the place we call home. We considered a few sites, but as soon as we saw Awbury Arboretum, we knew it was perfect. The Francis Cope house, built in 1852, was the perfect backdrop for our love of the city’s history, and we knew we’d have the freedom to make the day our own with a ton of DIY. Also, it was one of the few spots we looked at that was beautiful, historic, AND affordable for our size wedding. Many venues were priced per person, and at 150 guests they were way out of our price range. Awbury’s pricing was simple (small event, large event) and very reasonable.”

We sat down with our officiant on a snowy morning, in her living room while her toddler played nearby. She asked us questions, and we told her stories about ourselves, from our first meeting to the things that were important to us. It was a really lovely moment of reflection in the whirlwind of the planning process.

No specific traditions other than vows. Beforehand, our officiant pointed out that vows are traditionally intended to be declarations of intention (“I will” statements) as opposed to straight-up gushing about the other person. That was helpful guidance when it came to sitting down and writing vows.

We booked a solo violinist, Reina Inui, to play before and after the ceremony. Our only specific request was to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”.

Tara Rubinstein of Red Seeds—we met her through the recommendation of a friend after our first officiant told us she had been double-booked. It turned out to be an ideal match!

We wrote our own vows. We kept them secret from one another until the ceremony, but there were a lot of parallels. We both emphasized how important independence is to us; independence for ourselves as much as for the other person, and how maintaining our creative, distinct personalities will only continue to make us stronger as a couple. We also both referenced our first couple of dates in our anecdotes; Nik used it to point out that we’ve been inseparable since then, and Maura used it to highlight how much we are cut from the same cloth (both arriving at second-date picnic with an extremely excessive amount of highly curated and aesthetically pleasing food and drink).

It was important to us as secular humanists that we didn’t revert to any religious terminology out of a sense of tradition. Words like “blessed”, “miracle”, and “sacred” were carefully omitted and replaced with equally evocative words and phrases (such as “marvel of love” instead of “miracle of love”). After the wedding, we received a couple of comments from friends and family who specifically expressed appreciation for this language and who felt that it added a lot of depth and personality to the ceremony.

We couldn’t have done it without our Wedding Action Committee. Instead of a traditional wedding party, we asked a small group of friends to help us with implementing the final logistics of the day. They arrived early, set up the tables and chairs, assembled the bud vase table decorations, checked in with our bartenders and food vendors, helped with clean-up, etc. If we didn’t have such wonderful people in our lives, we don’t think we could have pulled it off.

Among some of our friends, it is a tradition to give a creative group wedding gift. They managed to surprise us completely with a book of photographs—they were photographs we had taken of each other throughout our courtship, right next to a duplicate photo hilariously recreated by our friends. It was amazing.

Choose a venue with all the tables and chairs we needed. And maybe a better rain contingency plan. We were lucky we could book a tent at the last minute (and split the cost with another wedding the next day), and even luckier the forecast for rain was wrong.

We had a gorgeous three-tiered cake with champagne and chocolate almond cakes with raspberry icing. We also had a spread of small desserts: coconut lime mini pies, flourless chocolate cake bites, macaroons and chocolate dipped marshmallows.


Simple Farm Wedding Absolutely Filled with Love

Our gorgeous weddings this week have something amazing in common: they are all about the love story, not the details. Our lovely bride Sara says “the whole day felt very intimate – due in no small part to the fact that some of our very talented friends helped put it all together. A childhood friend of mine was the DJ, another our officiant, and my officemate turned dear friend Dorothée Brand of Belathée was our photographer. Our friends Matt and Emily of The Corson Building curated a wonderful assortment of food and beverages, and the save the dates, invitations and menus were created by another friend, Danielle Bellert of BDR-studio. We are so lucky to be surrounded by such gifted and generous people.” It is seriously inspiring that this couple didn’t get caught up in ‘all things wedding’, but kept it totally authentic to them, and it really shows in every aspect of their day. Which reminds me – be sure to read on for what Sara says she would do differently if she had to do it all again – it is so honest and one of my all time favorites answers!

Sara tells us the sweet story of finding what she calls her “not-so-expensive-dress”: “I was visiting my parents at home in Anchorage, Alaska the winter before our wedding and my mom and I went to a small wedding dress shop which featured many consignment pieces. I was not expecting to find my wedding dress in Alaska, but ended up falling in love with a piece that had been handmade by a local woman. She had originally made it for her daughter. Because Anchorage is a small town I contacted her and we began corresponding with each other – we’ve since shared many cards and phone calls and my connection to her made the dress feel that much more special.”
Sara paired her beautiful gown with her great grandmother’s veil, which has also been worn by her mom, aunt and cousin!

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently? Probably! Ha! It’s all kind of a blur now, but of course no process is perfect and there were a lot of growing pains during the planning. Honestly it was probably the most difficult year of our relationship and I’m sure wedding planning had something to do with that. I think it was important for us to forgo the illusion that the planning would be romantic and magical. And it is amazing how any quarrels leading up to the wedding didn’t really seem to matter on the big day or after.

One of them was definitely walking down the aisle with our families. We opted not to have a wedding party but had our parents and siblings walk us down the aisle instead.

We didn’t want anything overtly religious, and we knew we wanted to write our own vows. We wanted it to feel sentimental but also a little light hearted. And nothing too long! We took cues from a lot of friends’ and siblings’ weddings, but pretty much wrote the script on our own. We tried to combine many of our favorite features from past weddings into our day.

We wrote our own! We wanted it to be a surprise for each other. The only thing we agreed on beforehand was that we would keep our vows around one minute. Hearing each other’s vows in the moment was by far the most special part of our entire wedding.

The wedding budget is definitely a slippery slope and it’s really easy to get carried away. This isn’t revelatory advice, but I would just recommend picking the things that matter most to you and spending your money on those and not worrying about making everything “perfect”. For example, I chose not to spend a lot of money on a dress but really cared about having beautiful photographs and flowers. And think of the guests’ perspective – guests will notice if you run out of booze, but they won’t notice if you didn’t put hand carved name tags at each seat!