What is a wedding anniversary? Beyond being the day each year that the event of a wedding occurred, it is so much more! It is a day to reflect on the past, the present, and the future to come with your spouse and the communities joined by the union of marriage.
On September 2, 2018 I walked toward the rocky cliffs of the Maine coastline where my best friend waited for me, standing next to his father (our officiant) between our friends and chosen family. As they processed down the aisle, this instrumental version of A Thousand Years played. Amanda pulled me aside and reminded me that this was what I should pay attention to – this is what I will remember – the moment before everything begins. It’s important to have close, lifelong friends like this in our lives. Thank God I am blessed to have a friend like that.
Before us a community brought together through our lifetimes guided us through a ceremony of our own design (based loosely on old Norwegian and New England heritage waterman traditions. My father had to bow out of his role as a fiddler due to surgery on his wrist years ago).
Once we said our “I dos” and the community said their “We dos” we left to the Vitamin String Quartet’s version of Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.
I recently read an article that remarked a concern that I’ve seen repeated my whole life: is marriage dying? As long as there is love and there are humans falling into it – no. Marriage is not dying. I promise 2020 is not going to kill it.
Our marriage was not about legal benefit, it was not about a big party, and the ceremony could have proceeded without any legally binding contract or even the <50 people that were present. Marriage is about something much deeper. Marriage is about community and the joining of communities – the chosen families we accumulate through our lifetimes. And though we don’t plan to have biological children, we plan to raise children within these joined communities.
Marriage is valid even when children are not involved. Communities can be joined simply for love and to join families that are meant to be together. That may sound trite, but it is a beautiful, valid, amazing thing I will need to go into more detail on at some point. Marriages “of the soul” are valid, if not more so, than any legal contract – if two individuals remain together even though they are free to leave does that not make their union more valid than those who remain together out of legal obligation? I think specifically of a widow friend. Though never legally married, I will always view her as the rightful widow and the one and only true love of a late friend.
Every year we are faced with the opportunity to reexamine our union, and 2020 is no different. We are blessed to have joined our two families and to spend the rest of our lives with each other, and I promise there is nothing more healing than finding a friendship that sows seeds of love wherever it touches your life.
And so, without further ado, on this second anniversary, I share the proof of the design project I’ve been working on with our vows. Consider creative ways to celebrate love. I decided to take our vows and re-write them into the shape of a lighthouse.
The shape of the lighthouse is based on the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (without the keeper’s house) in Bristol, Maine where we held our ceremony. There’s still room for improvement – I’m aware! For those using assisted readers, I have included our vows in the alt text.
Part of planning our ceremony was bringing a community together. Jacob’s mother’s wedding dress became the stole for Jacob’s father’s officiant robes.
My mother and Nana wove the knots and did all of the floral arrangements for the wedding, including my bouquet. As per family tradition, these knots were saved and are displayed at holidays around our home.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen carried lanterns that were an arts and crafts project labor of love between Becky, Kate, Heather, and myself. These beautiful lanterns were constructed using LED lanterns that can be purchased at a craft supply store like Michaels and bulk loose wooden flowers in the colors sage, sky blue, dusty rose, natural wood, and ivory. Those wooden flowers were used for decorating throughout the weekend, including on the cake.
After our ceremony, we proceeded back to the Bradley Inn. They provided an inclusive wedding package at a reasonable cost compared to other similar venues (that did not have on-site lodging) with gluten free and allergy conscious catering with menu options that acknowledged all of our heritage traditions. It was a truly remarkable experience. We were even able to set up a dance floor!
One guest made the comment about how they worried they were at the “gay table.” The hardest/most awkward thing we had to disclose later was that we actually had to put together a “straight table.” Welcome to the 21st century! As a reader may be able to tell our accent metallic colors were in the copper to rose gold range with some aged bronze thrown in.
We kept the invitation list very small. We invited fewer than 50 people and still have spare invitations for future memories to share. I guess in 2020 it’s valuable to share our experiences with planning a small wedding such as this.
It would be an absolute shame if I failed to mention our cake by Hippie Chick Bakery (pictured below). This champagne, ginger, raspberry cake was gluten free, dairy free, and 100% divine. The top layer kept in Jacob’s parents’ freezer for a year and a half with minimal freezer burn, so we were able to fulfill that tradition as well! It turns out gluten and dairy are not required.
Our very first dance as a couple was to a special duet version of Broken Road by Rascal Flatts. This was followed by the realization during the planning stage that we had both chosen Paul Simon songs as our Father/Daughter and Mother/Son dances. The song chosen for that first dance with my father was Father And Daughter with each lyric carefully examined. This song captures my relationship with my father in a way I could have never predicted until I did that.
Jacob and his mother chose Loves Me Like A Rock for similar reasons.
One unusual bit of our wedding compared to others people may have experienced in America is that we had a dance that brings the community together as a singing/dancing hymn after the “first dances.” This hymn is called “Lord Of The Dance” and is a Shaker hymn. It’s important to note that Shakers do not traditionally believe in marriage and this is part of why they’re dying out.
But back to the lanterns really fast – we don’t have pictures of this part of the event sadly. As the wedding party lined up and we walked out of the reception, the lanterns were lit to guide our path into the future through the darkness. As we walked out, our wedding DJ (Bob Wilson – Maine) conspired with us to play Pachelbel Canon in D as played on rubber chickens as our exit song. Because this is Us.
As I look back on that day, and all of the work that went into making it happen, I do have one regret. My eldest sister had a speech prepared and the person hired to make sure microphones got into the correct hands and things went smoothly handed the microphone to the wrong person. As in, the exceptionally wrong person. Things did not go smoothly. Feelings were very hurt. Two years later, this still hurts. My sister still hasn’t shared those special words with us and I can only hope that someday we will be gifted with the honor of hearing them.
But given we planned a wedding from over 2,000 miles (3,220 kilometers) away and that’s the hardest lasting hiccup, even though I purchased a used dress that needed extensive alterations, left a toxic PhD program, and started a whole new journey focusing on my art and writing… The truth? It’s all better than my wildest dreams could have ever imagined.
At the end of the day, through all of the stress, we joined two communities: one from the North and one from the South. We did this through the efforts of everyone involved in making the day happen. And we did end up signing a legal contract because it’s America.
We still ended up married and many more people will continue to get married. For this, we give thanks.
• Bei Capelli – Hair and Make Up
• Love Pop – Invitations – we chose their now-retired lighthouse design.
• James Allen – wedding bands
• Adair Jewelers – Lo’s engagement ring setting
• Tiffany & Co. – Jacob’s engagement ring
• Kate Crabtree Photography – Photography
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Thank you for joining me in honoring our 2nd wedding anniversary. I hope that this inspires those looking for ways to celebrate their love in a time of social distancing and more intimate celebration restrictions. If you enjoy this post, please like, comment, and/or share. It helps me know which posts my readers enjoy most.