What helped the most for me personally was to see everyone before the ceremony. Throughout the morning I worked with my friend Marie to set up tables, dishes, wine, linens, chairs, etc. I had my old beat up jeans and work boots on, and busied myself with things that needed to get done. My dad rode a rented bike to our house from the hotel to say hello around 10 am and that meant the world to me. Guests arrived a few hours before the ceremony to hang out and see the house, so when they came I was just Claire. Just me in my jeans the way I am comfortable. I was able to chat with friends and family as I worked rather than being sequestered in a room away from everyone. If any of you are dreading your wedding the way I was, and you have the flexibility to do things a little unorthodox, I'd highly recommend going the "no big entrance" route. It took so much pressure off. We also didn't do a "walking down the aisle" procession. I put on my dress about ten minutes before the ceremony, said "Ok, I think we're ready" and everyone walked down to the apple tree together and the wedding began. It was short and sweet. No droning on, no long-winded pontifications. It was soulful, but not sappy. Josh's grandmother wrote the ceremony and married us, and she was a class act. Grandma Marcia, you made the day. Our pup Fern was lying in the grass looking bored throughout the entire thing, which totally eased my nerves. Any time my throat started to get dry, I'd glance down at her and the moment would snap back into perspective.
After the ceremony we walked over to a flat grassy spot in our yard and had drinks and apps before heading to the tent for dinner. Our caterer knocked the ball out of the park. I can't wait to share the photos of the spread once I get them from the photographer, which apparently takes about 7 weeks. The wait is going to kill me!
The day went exactly as we had hoped. The weather held out for the ceremony and cocktails, then drizzled just a bit during dinner but didn't last and we were no worse for it. It was actually quite cozy with the fog rolling by on our hill. And thank goodness we didn't build that pergola because if we had we would not be dry and happy under the tent.
I'm not going to lie, the week leading up to the wedding was tough. We were stressed trying to finish the house. In one week we built a fence, four raised beds, planted about 20 flower bushes and potted too many other plants to count, built and painted a picnic table, cleaned the house from top to bottom, moved tons of construction supplies and power tools to the barn, graded the driveway, and attended another couple's wedding out of state. I had several meltdowns. Josh was no picnic either. Both of our heads were ready to explode. I bring this up for those of you who are also dreading the day, because our situation was far from ideal, but in the end the wedding day was amazing. Something bigger happens when the wedding starts. I hate to say that, it sounds so cheesy, but that's what happened. Everyone told me it would be wonderful and to be honest I did not believe them, but I get it now. The love from friends and family blows you away, and I didn't have any concept of that until it actually happened. To all of the friends and family who trekked out to our little hill in Vermont this weekend, we love you so much and you made our year. Really!
Knowing what I do now, I'm glad we didn't go to city hall. City hall would have been a lot less stress and I would have been very happy with it, but seeing how excited our family was I'm glad we did it this way. People were crying and laughing, it was good stuff. It filled our hearts to visit with friends and family we don't get to see nearly often enough.
I can't wait to share the "real" photos from our photographers Ray + Kelly, but until then I've included a few of the images I snapped around dusk. This is just a small taste, lots more to come in November!
Images above, clockwise from top left: dinner tent // happy moms // string lights // our house with finished garden beds, rock retaining wall, and fence!