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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.