When Rob and I got engaged, we faced the question that most couples face when they decide to make a big commitment to each other - do we throw a big party to celebrate with everyone we love, or say f it and sit on a beach in Belize sipping pina coladas and call it a day? We had talked a lot about WHY we wanted to get married to each other, what it meant to us, what our intentions were, but we knew that the actual event surrounding the day of our marriage was a whole different story.
I never thought I would get married when I was younger, so I didn't have a clear picture of what I wanted or expected. Why have a wedding? Is it worth it? Would we be wrecked so hard and so sleep deprived we wouldn't even remember it? If we eloped, would we forever regret not having all of our friends and family there to witness it? Through these conversations we kept coming around to the same answer - our people. Besides us, it was about our community, and we wanted them there. Not only did we want them there, we wanted them to help create it. We couldn't imagine doing it without them. We have a large community of friends around the country that have so many incredible talents - artists, musicians, bakers, chefs, writers, printers, illustrators, jewelry designers, apparel designers, the list goes on. Not to mention our families - my mom has a cupcake-baking obsession. How convenient is that? We knew that if our friends and family helped create our wedding day, it was guaranteed to be the most special day.
A few months into dating, when Rob and I knew that we would be together for a long time, but we were still in that awkward phase of not quite being able to talk about it, we would talk about theoretical weddings. 'If "someone" were to get married, it could be like this...' My favorite idea was to have a timber frame wedding. The first real conversation we had was in a timber frame class at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont about five years ago. We thought, wouldn't it be so beautiful to cut our own timber frame together, and then make the raising day the wedding day? Our community would come together and lift the frame, and then that night we would get married under the frame.
We kept coming back to this idea as we talked about what our wedding day could look like. Our whole relationship has been about building, both literally and figuratively. We are project people - we constantly work out ideas, make things, dream together, and work together. Rob had moved to Vermont from Brooklyn, where he had been working at an architecture firm as a designer. My background is in fine art, and I had moved to Vermont from DC where I worked for an environmental design non profit, via traveling all over the world volunteering for environmental education centers and building with mud and clay. We knew that whatever we did for the wedding day, we needed community, and we needed to build something for it.
As we looked around for places to have the ceremony, we quickly grew disillusioned - pay $300 extra for the matrimonial bridge? 5 hours of party time and then spend the rest of your evening folding chairs? This sacred moment deserved a sacred space. Matrimonial bridges immediately made it feel like a commodified, package experience when our relationship has been built by hand. When our dear friends Ashley and Glenn English offered their land to us, we realized there wasn't a better place. It was as sacred as they come. A field down a beautiful tree-lined dirt road, next to a yurt, in a lovely cove in Asheville. We had found our place.
When we told them our idea to building something on their land, they were all for it. The Englishes have this dream of having a small community of friends live on the their land - something that has started to happen. Our good friend Natalie has her tiny home there for the time being, and a couple other friends John and Jen have yome that they visit a few times a years. So as we talked about our plans for the altar, they were incredibly supportive and excited.
Guests parked at the Hominy Wildlife Club, a tiny Wes Anderson-esque club at the end of Ashley and Glenn's half mile long dirt driveway. Our friends George and Jake shuttled guests in the back of a '72 Ford pickup truck on the dirt road to the lower field where our reception site was. Guests arrived to our friend Mary Lattimore playing harp. She chose a righteous mix of Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, plus a list of songs we both love. There folks could immediately get a stiff drink, play badminton, chat, or sit on a picnic blanket.
When Mary stopped playing harp, our friend Winston Yu started playing "Tis a gift to be simple" on violin, and led guests further up the driveway to the ceremony site - our pyramidical altar. Ashley and Glenn's house is about 200 feet from the altar, so we got dressed there and watched as all 170 of our guests walked up the dirt road to the altar. It was so moving! Once all of the guests had gathered, Winston started playing "I must be in a good place now", a Bobby Charles song we both love dearly. We walked slowly, hand in hand to the altar. Each of our mothers were standing on either side of the altar. We each approached our own mother, and she placed a woven necklace over our heads. We then when to each other's mother, and she placed another necklace over our heads. Our fathers have both passed away - Rob's when he was in high school and my father last year, so it was important that our moms each had a large role in the ceremony.
We stood on the altar facing each other hand in hand, and our friend Alex welcomed everyone. His sermon was lovely - we couldn't have asked for anything more. He talked about the nature of our relationship, how he has seen us grow together from the day we met, and wove in perfect analogies to building.
All three of Rob's and my respective nieces and nephews approached the altar and handed us sprigs of spruce and pine. After they did this, Alex described the process of raising a timber frame, and after the community has raised it, the owners place a sprig of evergreen at the top of the gable end of the roof - a process known as "whetting the bow". As he described this, we climbed each side of the altar to the top and placed our evergreens at the top.
When we reached the platform of the altar again, our friend Megan Offner approached and gave an Apache blessing. After Megan's beautiful reading, we said our vows. We had written our vows together late the night before. We kept them simple but meaningful to us, and read the same vows to each other. Together for our lives, together on our vows.
My sister Melinda was holding my ring for Rob, and Rob's eldest brother John was holding his ring for me. They brought them up and gave them to us, and we exchanged them. Alex pronounced us husband and wife and we kissed! And it ruled! As we left the altar and walked down the dirt road Winston played "Whistle Stop" by Roger Miller - one of the best and happiest songs I know. It's a song I've loved since I was a small child, and felt so happy to have it part of our day.
We walked to the yurt that is on Ashley and Glenn's land and hid out for while. We need some time to laugh and cry together, trying to process what had just happened. My friends had decorated the yurt with tons of flowers, made the bed for our first night together as a married couple, and put champagne on ice. It was beautiful!
Finally we came out to greet all of our friends and family and celebrate. I have never celebrated so hard.
This day was made by so many incredible friends and family, and we want to give them THANKS and LOVE right here. We are proud to call each and every one of these folks our friends (J. Crew isn't exactly a friend, but feels like it!)
Photos by Tim Robison
Beautiful land offered by Ashley and Glenn English
Altar designed by Rob Maddox + Karie Reinertson
Wedding invite illustrated by Kreh Mellick. Map insert designed and illustrated by Rob's mom, Sally. Specific information packet written and designed by Karie Reinertson
Wedding invitations designed by Lizzie Kirrill Britton of To & From With Love
Karie's dress by Anna Toth of Bow + Arrow Apparel
Karie's handerchiefs - made by Valerie Soles and one vintage one from Rob's mom
Rob's suit and shirt by J. Crew
Rings by Hannah Ferrara of Another Feather
Karie's earrings by Is Was + Will Be
Insane loads of help, errand running, and general good vibes the week leading up to the wedding provided by Jeff Kaplan, George Peake, Sheena Troia, Valerie Soles, Ian Whitmore, Megan Offner, and Mark Foster.
Cake and TWO HUNDRED cupcakes by Karie's mom, Marcie.
Woven rite of passage necklaces by Jess Feury
Officiated by Alex Sauer
Apache blessing during ceremony by Megan Offner
Flowers from Lady Luck Organic Flower Farm. Flowers picked by Sarah Wilmer, Sayaka Nagata, David Herman, and Zach Biesanz. Floral arrangements by Kristin Korven, Megan Offner, Sheena Troia
Major day-of behind the scenes help from Rory Sparks and Jake Donat
Guest book designed and bound by Rory Sparks
Communal woven piece made by Libby O'Bryan and Karie Reinertson
Signage for woven piece made by Tamera Ferro
Indigo dyed table cloths and shredded fabric made during Karie's bachelorette weekend
Wooden table objects by Brandon Skupski and Rob Maddox
Music by Matt Schnable of Harvest Records
Harp music composed and played by Mary Lattimore
Violin music composed and played by Winston Yu
Barbeque by Fine Swine and Death by Bacon (Rob's past employer at Virant Design)
Almost all of the food for the organized potluck was made by our amazing guests! We chose a couple delicious and simple recipes from from Ashley English's books / Homemade Dairy + Beekeeping - Macaroni and Cheese and Roasted Root Vegetables. Extra trays of food made by Valerie Soles, Ian Whitmore, Karie's sister Melinda's family, Rob's eldest brother John's family.
Bread by Tara Jensen of Smoke Signals Baking / Bakerhands
Potluck booze by our generous guests
Homemade teas by Natalie Pollard
Signage for food and ingredients by Rob's mom, Sally Maddox
Photobooth by Massive Booth. All signage and props designed and made by them, except for the drug rugs and backdrop, which is our bedspread. :)
Farolitos made by Santa Fe residents and farolito pro's Callie Batts Maddox and Marilyn Batts.
Truck to shuttle guests from parking area to reception area offered by Miles Britton
Parking offered at the cutest place ever, the Hominy Valley Wildlife Club
Pre-wedding good times /
September 19th: Bonfire the night before our wedding hosted by Rich and Jen Orris on their beautiful land in Asheville. They made barbeque and provided food and booze and amazing company. We left early that night to write our vows (yes we are procrastinators) but there were tales of whiskey shots with homemade pickle back late into the night.
Labor Day weekend: The best bachelorette party weekend ever organized by Libby O'Bryan. Epic handmade accommodations on a river near the North Carolina coast, complete with party barge, late night dance parties, illegal trampoline jumping, swimming in a tea-colored river, spa night with handmade spritzers and bath salts (not those kind), milkshakes, beach picnics, swimming in perfect waves on a bright sunny day, the best communal meals, witchy rites of passage with offerings from good friends and the most kind words, photographed portraits, Cards Against Humanity, and togetherness with some of my favorite women. Spa times offered by Nicole McConville and Natalie Pollard, dance party jams crafted by Megan Offner, atmospheric hang tunes by Kristin Korven James, basket full of road trip goodies by Kreh Mellick, big screen hangout with Valerie Soles, photographic portraits by Sarah Wilmer, general good feelings with Sayaka Nagata, Lizzie Kirrill Britton, and Emily Gasoi.
We love love love you all dearly. You + Me + Us + We.
All photos below taken by Tim Robison. Click to see all. More to come!