On June 15th, 2019, my partner Kyle and I had a small but beautiful wedding ceremony followed by a jubilant reception. It was an incredible day that we will never forget, but to us, the story behind it is just as dear and memorable.
The Background (or: Why This Whole Thing Seemed to Come Out of Nowhere)
Kyle and I have been preparing to move to Germany for the past few years, while we both worked on our degrees and saved up some money. We were planning to get married after we get back from Germany in 2-4ish years, and so wedding plans weren’t really on our radar.
Well. At the beginning of this year, we entered the final stretch before our move to Germany this upcoming September. We began executing the beginning stages of the plan that we had been developing, but by mid-February we realized one big thing: we wanted to be married.
Although our decision to get married sooner than we had been planning was mostly for bureaucratic reasons, it is ultimately because we love each other very much and have chosen each other as our partners for life that we decided to become real family.
Kyle is one of the most genuine people I know, and he and I have worked for years to channel our passion for each other into a healthy relationship in which we value and respect each other, and each day brings us closer and closer together. He is so unconditional with his love, he makes me laugh every day, and he is my very best friend. I cannot (and don’t want to) imagine life without him.
When we realized that getting married was the best plan for our upcoming move, Kyle and I felt…well, we were over the moon. As soon as the idea of being married to each other entered our heads, we fell in love with it. In the months following that decision, we’ve actually wondered how we didn’t realize sooner that we would want to be wed before we moved out of the country. To us, it seems like a no-brainer now.
One of my favorite parts of getting married is that I have yet to have any negative feelings about it. Those who really know me, know that I tend to freeze up and doubt myself about decisions that I must make. I overthink things and criticize my logic at every turn (see my previous post for one example of this).
However, my decision to vow to love, honor, and respect Kyle for the rest of our lives, in front of our closest family and friends, never gave me anything close to “cold feet.” When I think about marrying Kyle and our upcoming move to Germany, I don’t develop tummy aches or feel worried. Instead, I feel excited, optimistic, and truly blessed.
Behind the Scenes
Some good friends of ours, Bob and Nancy, generously offered to let us have our wedding at their home, and we gratefully accepted. This isn’t the first time they have opened up their hearts and home to us: Kyle and I have stayed at their cabin in the Sierras many times during hunting seasons in years past. We count ourselves very lucky to not only have such generous, loving friends, but to also be fortunate enough to enjoy their company as well. They’re very fun people, and we’re going to miss them while we are gone.
They also helped us to make our wedding as low-waste as possible! As soon as I mentioned the idea, Nancy was throwing out ideas left and right. She showed me disposable wooden cutlery, which we ended up using and which worked great – even for cutting the tri-tip!
When it came to discussing the tables, Nancy showed us a stack of lumber that she and Bob had acquired for another purpose. Since it hadn’t yet been put to use, she thought that we could use them to make tables – which we did, and they worked magnificently!
I didn’t take photos of the process (dangit) but my mom, Nancy, another good friend Monica, and I assembled the tables over the course of a couple days. Soon afterward, we created legs out of extra wood from my mom’s backyard and some sawhorse brackets. Voila!
The plates that you see in the photos were supplied by our aforementioned friend Monica, as she has plenty of ceramics on hand for her artistic passions. Monica is a very gifted artist (check out her work!), and creates mosaics out of all kinds of materials. She even crafted a gorgeous sundial table top for a conveniently located dead tree!
Nancy also had the idea of dyeing linen napkins with natural materials. This project had some ups and downs as we learned more about the process of dyeing fabrics.
When dyeing fabric, a mordant is usually necessary. This helps the dye bind to the fabric. We didn’t want to go that route, because most mordants are harmful to the environment and to our bodies. Who wants to use a toxic piece of fabric to clean their hands and face? Not me!
Instead, we used fixatives such as salt, baking soda, and vinegar. Our results varied greatly depending on what natural materials we used to dye our linen.
How did red cabbage create two totally different colors, you might ask? Great question! And the answer is:
magic chemistry! Red cabbage is very pH-sensitive, so adding vinegar or baking soda to the dye bath will change the color of the dye.
I read and watched videos showing a seemingly simple process: chop up and boil/simmer red cabbage for about an hour. Then, strain out the veggie scraps and separate equal parts of the dye bath. For lavender, add a splash of vinegar to one bath, and for blue-green, add a bit of baking soda to the other bath (I have also seen people get a steely-blue color with the baking soda). Then, pre-soak your fabric in cool water and transfer to the bath, letting it simmer until you’re satisfied with the color. Make sure you rinse out the dye well, or it can transfer.
Did that work for us? ‘Course not. While we successfully achieved a lovely lavender that held after the rinse, the blue-green color washed out after several attempts. After my third attempt, experimenting with longer boil/simmer and soak times, the color kept washing out, so I hung the napkins to dry and gave up on that, planning to try different plant materials instead.
That was when I had a breakthrough. I was running out of hanging space, so I overlapped some of the napkins. When I went to take the napkins down, I saw that a few of the baking soda ones (which had no color due to the dye rinsing out) had turned bright blue-green where they had been in contact with the lavender vinegar-soaked napkins.
EUREKA! I bought some more red cabbage, chopped, boiled, and simmered, and dyed it the same way I did the lavender ones. After I rinsed the vinegar and red cabbage dye out, I then soaked the napkins in cold water mixed with some baking soda. And it worked!! I cannot tell you how happy I was. Check out the video below to see how I did it:
It was fun, but also pretty labor-intensive to cut, wash, dye, dry, and fold seventy-something napkins, especially including all of the dyeing we did that ended up washing right out. I’m very glad that I won’t be doing that much dyeing again any time soon.
Kyle and I also spent some quality time together building a display for some photos! We wanted to have some sort of timeline (the idea for which was inspired by a good friend of ours, Sophie) to show a bit of our life histories, including the time that we’ve spent together.
It was a bunch of fun to plan and put together! I think it’s so satisfying seeing plans through to the end, and this was extra satisfying, since I designed the display structure myself. We also gathered the materials from, you guessed it, my mom and Nancy’s yards.
Nancy and Bob’s daughter, Josie, located a cornhole game for us. Only one problem: no beanbags. Well, since we were on a DIY kick…
…we made them ourselves! With scrap fabric and an assortment of dried beans and corn kernels that we had on hand, of course. And yes, they are each very close to the same weight.
Kyle also thrifted most of his wedding attire over the months before the wedding, down to his shoes. The only thing he had to purchase was his suspenders (bonus: look for his socks in the photos below! They’ve got our cat’s face on them :D). Go Kyle! My dress is from Elven Forest Creations.
The Big Day
The wedding was everything we imagined and more. We had a less-than-traditional ceremony, with each of us walking out at the same time, by ourselves. We led everyone out to a field with a mighty oak tree, where we stood in circle and introduced ourselves to each other one by one. This welcome ceremony was inspired by my cousin’s wedding over ten years ago, which has stuck with me ever since I participated in their warm and loving ceremony.
Our dear friend Tony, whom I have known almost my entire life, officiated our wedding. His words were poignant and so comforting, and they reflect who he is as a person and as a friend to us so beautifully. Our photographer, Morgan, captured the ceremony on video, and we already love watching it and hearing what Tony had to say all over again.
It was definitely a strange experience for Kyle and myself, because we tend to be more private with our personal lives. In addition, a romantic relationship is a very personal and private thing in itself, and establishing a union for the rest of our lives and planning the ceremony that would solidify it felt extremely personal.
My best friend Jenn married her husband Leon last year, and she told me how full of love she felt on her day. She said that her family and friends showered them with their affection and encouragement, and that helped to ease my nervousness, but I was still unprepared for my emotions on our day.
I expected to be overwhelmed with love for my partner, Kyle. But what I felt that day was love for everyone. The idea that every person there had set aside our day, had taken time from their lives to join us in celebration, was so meaningful to me. In the month since the wedding, I have been hit many times with the mountains of euphoria that come with being married to a man as incredible as Kyle, but on that day, I could not stop thinking about how much I appreciate our people.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and that is true. But I think it takes a village to succeed, and our village was there with us that day. And I have so much gratitude for that.
Following the ceremony, which was opened with orchestral renditions of songs from The Legend of Zelda from Taylor Davis and the Triforce Quartet, and concluded with Smash Mouth’s “I’m a Believer” played nice and loud, we had an unforgettable time with all who attended.
For dinner, Tony stepped up once again and barrel-cooked some delicious tri-tip, while Bob whipped up his famous paella. Both were outstanding.
The rest of the evening was filled with magic and laughter. We truly could not have asked for a better wedding celebration.
The photos speak for themselves.
Some final shoutouts:
- a big thank you to Justin at Fathom Sound for his assistance in selecting and operating the sound equipment that we used. He was really friendly and personable in his communications, which was awesome during the planning process.
- to Susie, who crafted our beautiful bouquets and Kyle’s boutonniere. She did a wonderful job of deciphering my taste through the dozen or so photos that I provided, which were all very different from each other. She followed her heart and listened for guidance from God, and the results were beautiful!
- we have so much gratitude for Morgan, our photographer! She was so great to work with in the weeks and months leading up to our wedding, and she did an amazing job capturing our day. Her photos are gorgeous, and we discover new things each time we look through them. It is so hard to pick favorites! She can be found at her website, or on Facebook, Instagram, and Vimeo.
- and to everyone who helped us over the three and a half months that it took to put this wedding together! Our parents, Bob and Nancy, Tony, Charley and Josie, Monica and Jessie, Jenn, Susie, and everyone else who lent us their support, guidance, and encouragement. We are so grateful to each and every one of you.
Thank you. ♥
Thanks for reading!
4 thoughts on “Our Homegrown Wedding”
Wow, what a wonderfully written text, and I am very happy for you both.
Make sure you take the fella here to Innsbruck one day!!!
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Thank you so much Andreas! I would love to, and he would too!! Maybe we will bring some snow with us this time!
Wow Holly, it’s so cool to hear the story and about all of the prep work that was going on behind the scenes leading up to the wedding! (I’m even more impressed now 😂)
So happy to two wed before Germany – I definitely felt the love from everyone that attended your day and it was truly a heart-warming feeling ☺️ Very honored to have been apart of it!
What an amazing read. It feels like I was there. So happy for you!!