August 15th, 2015
New Gloucester, ME
When Tony proposed in April 2014, he didn’t just give me the ring we’d picked out together. He threw in some French Champagne and Italian cookies for good measure. If there are things Tony and I love almost as much as each other, it’s great food, delicious drinks and bringing together our cultures with friends and family. Tony grew up in Arizona as part of an Italian American family and he took staple Italian recipes with him when he started living on his own. Good meals remained an important part of his everyday life after he moved to New England for law school, as he grew to love the region’s craft beer and foodie scenes.
Like Tony, my love of food is in my genes. I was born in Paris, France, taught from an early age to appreciate good food, especially cheeses and pastries. A city girl at heart, I came to love the charm of nature from my time spent as a child in the French country and, later, as a young adult attending college in California’s farm land… but only as long as I don’t have to sleep in a tent. I value the comfort of a cozy home and the beauty of antique objects.
Encapsulating who we are and where we come from quickly became my goal when thinking about the event. I did not want a “cookie-cutter” wedding; I wanted to choose every vendor, every detail, so the day could represent us best.
That’s how we ended up in a Maine barn. We’d chosen Shady Lane Farm because of its country feel, its beautiful view of the orchards and gorgeous renovated rustic barn. The morning of our wedding started there, in the private apartment set up for my bridal party where the talented hair and makeup team from Big Day Beauty helped us get ready. We drank mimosas, ate breakfast and put together flowers delivered in bulk by Broadturn Farm. Our friend Taylor, a photographer, took portraits of my bridesmaids and helped out with setting up decor items I’d spent about a year gathering from online sales and thrift stores. I’d wanted the decor to reflect an early 20th century vintage French country theme. Specific, I know. Our centerpieces were vintage silver pitchers, small glass votives set up around old French, Italian and American books. Our guest book consisted of old postcards people slipped into a 1940s-style suitcase after signing and our photo booth was made up of baroque armchairs in front of a burlap backdrop and using fancy hats as props.
I remember that seeing our vendors set up brought home the reality of that day. It was August 15th, the big day was here, and it had come together to blend all the elements that symbolized us and the people we held dear. Guest arrived as I finished putting on my dress — a handmade two-piece ensemble purchased on Etsy. They had travelled from all over, from various parts of the East Coast, from Washington state, Arizona, Colorado, even France and Poland.
Right as the ceremony was about to start with this fun blend of people and cultures, it started to rain and groomsmen rushed to put up the tent while guests waited in the barn. The ceremony was delayed about 20 minutes and our guests had to huddle together to find shelter from the rain, some even were forced to stand up because the tent wasn’t big enough. The rain was still falling when Ray LaMontagne’s Let it Be Me started playing and our party walked down with matching clear umbrellas provided by our friend, Sara Landon, who also happens to be one amazing wedding planner in NYC. It was both imperfect and perfect, there was light though it was grey, guests were all smiles, and as my husband says “we couldn’t have been married any other way”. The minute before I stepped out with my dad will stay engraved in my heart as the most nerve-racking, exciting moment of my life. Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah helped us pace our steps while we headed to meet Tony, our parties, and our officiant, our close friend Rabbi Suzie Jacobson, who beautifully integrated my Jewish heritage into the ceremony. As we got closer, I saw all our friends and family, all the people we’ve ever loved, made memories with, laughed and cried with, standing there, under that tent, and I immediately felt enveloped by the love and joy they carried with them. I remember tearing up when Suzie talked about us, when I turned around to wave to the crowd and casually say hello, when we read our vows and signed the Ketubah. Those 10-15 minutes of life change you in a profound way, not only because they remind you of the love you already have, but comfort you about the love you get to keep.
The clouds parted and the sun came out just in time for cocktail hour, a not-so-subtle indication of the weather god’s priorities for our wedding. Shady Lane Farm both allowed us to bring in our own bar service and had space for the one we wanted. Our good friends had started HIVE in 2012 after renovating an Airstream to turn it into a bar on wheels. Their team did an amazing job that day, creating a unique and cozy lounge space all decked out to reflect the theme: flowers and flowery cursive fonts sketched on the bar’s chalkboards detailed the menu, and drinks were served in vintage coupes. Our wine selection, La Vieille Ferme, was simple but good, and for beer we served up classic PBRs and a more local brew from the Pretty Things Ale project. Lastly, we offered three specialty cocktails. HIVE tailored that menu to us, creating whiskey drinks of Tony’s liking and an elderflower cucumber champagne cocktail to keep things classy, summery and refreshing. I also had made mini Champagne bottles our wedding favor for the toasts before dinner. Cocktail hour allowed for everyone to enjoy a moment together outside, take photos to remember the celebration, and the drinks ultimately paired to perfection with the menu created by our caterer, 111 Maine.
With dinner, Jennifer Banis helped us stay on budget while providing us with a delicious, well thought-out four course dinner served family style that blended our cultures and that kept our guests happy and full. We offered bacon-wrapped scallops, crab cakes and cod as a nod to our time together in New England, hanger steak and vegetables for all the times Tony and I grilled with friends in Boston throughout our time dating, and homemade chevre cheese raviolis for obvious reasons. Instead of a cake, mini French pastries were served buffet style for guests to grab at their leisure between dances, or to refuel ahead of Hava Nagila.
It was hot and humid as most August nights in New England are but people kept dancing together, laughing and partying into the evening, carefree and happy to reunite after all the time spent apart. I’ve heard brides say that their big day goes by so fast they lose memory of many things that happened, and while our wedding day did pass by quickly — I could have stayed there with everyone for days — I can honestly recall the smell of my flowers, the taste of that amazing ravioli, the surreal feeling of togetherness, the hugs I received and conversations I had. My heart holds all of it like a keepsake.
Photography by Kim Chapman Photography
Sarah lives in Boston, but is originally from Paris, France. After a few years in Northern California, she moved to New England to get her Masters’ degree in International Affairs from Boston University. She now works in the Outreach Department of a surrogacy agency in Boston, helping gay and heterosexual couples become parents through surrogacy. Sarah got married back in 2015 and wanted to tell the story of that fun day in this blogpost.