Who: Abbie and Paul
What: A backyard groundbreaking ceremony turned tented wedding celebration luncheon for 60 or so
Where: The lawn of the couple's home-to-be in Freeport
When: May 16, 2009
How: Simply elegant flowers from Stephanie at the Yarmouth based Flora Home, luncheon of quiche and salads catered by Joni and her crew from Dinner at Your Door in Freeport, cake from the European Bakery in Falmouth, violin solo from Paul D'Alessio (993-2756), tent from Taylor Rental in Brunswick and ceremony performed by Rev. Peter Panagore (known by you likely for his Daily Devotions segment on Maine's NBC affiliates WCSH6 and WLBZ2 and by me because he performed my dad's wedding ceremony in Belfast four summers ago).
Why: Abbie and Paul weren't even planning a wedding. No, really. They weren't.
They'd both been married before, and were just content to have found each other. Besides, they were about to embark on a massive home construction project on land they'd recently purchased in a farmland field in Freeport. Abbie, a well-known Maine wedding photographer and longtime photography instructor at North Yarmouth Academy, was going to be busy overseeing the process, and Paul, an organization development consultant, had nary a free day with client trips to California, Mexico, France and around New England already scheduled this spring and summer.
They were planning a groundbreaking ceremony -casual of course- for a few close family and friends to celebrate the turning of the earth that would one day soon host their home. Abbie called her beloved daughter, who lived across the country in Seattle, to ask her to attend, but it was Emma's quick response that offered the real invitation: "Why don't you just get married then too, Mom?" she wondered.
And it was exactly what Abbie, whose children Emma and Thatcher are her whole world, wanted to hear, and so with their blessing, she and Paul scurried about for four weeks, and transformed a humble dig-in-the-dirt among friends to a lively and oh-so-lovely luncheon for 60 or so people who could think of being nowhere else on that day, with thoughtful details that spoke perfectly of the couple's passion for the natural world, and the one they'd created together.
I had the honor of getting to know and admire Paul through a non-Samantha Warren Weddings undertaking this spring and when Abbie and I met to discuss their wedding plans, we were fast friends, with lots of photo shop talk as I caught her up on how the industry has changed in the few years since she stopped photographing Maine weddings. I was struck by how thoughtful both she and Paul were when it came to getting married, and specifically the impact it would have on Abbie's children, who happened to be about my age. They curiously and candidly wondered about my experience with my new step-parents, and two parents who had become closer friends since their divorce than they ever were when they were married.
And so when Abbie and Emma, wearing matching cowboy boots, came down the dirt driveway, their arms tight around each other, sprite smiles on their faces, I didn't know whether to giggle with giddiness or weep with joy and hope and a heart heaped with love for love. And throughout the afternoon, I and every other guest blessed to be there, did both and every other emotion in between as we celebrated the union of two people who had found such peace in each other, and as a result, into so many of our lives, if even just for that day. What a wonderful thing to witness!
I love this worn bible used during the ceremony- it has so much character! Only in Maine would duct tape not be considered sacrilege on this most holy of books.
Details like this perfectly-tied ribbon and branches give personality to what might have otherwise been just a plain white tent. And it compliments the bride's shawl.
With the ceremony at high noon, Abbie and Paul opted to have it under the tent so guests wouldn't have to shield their eyes from the sun's glare. It was -shall we say- intimate under there, so this young wedding guest hopped up on his mom's shoulders for a better view of the ring exchange. I later found out Abbie had actually photographed his parent's wedding years before and that she plans to go into the boutique egg business with him.
After the pronouncement, two co-workers of Abbie's from NYA (North Yarmouth Academy) performed a very poignant "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and I like this tight shot of Paul holding Abbie in his arms during that.
Guests linked hands and hearts for a final blessing.
After the marriage ceremony, it was time for a groundbreaking ceremony to kick-off construction at the couple's home-to-be. Guests gathered round what will one day be the front door as Abbie did a reading on the meaning of home in their lives and in all of ours.
I'd photographed groundbreakings before in my newspaper work, but never have I seen one done with such gusto, and in a dress and suit to boot!
Then it was time for a simple spring luncheon under the tent. Here are some of my favorite details from lunchtime. From top right and going clockwise: in lieu of gifts, the couple asked that guests give them seedlings to plant around their new home; the bride wore cowboy boots, as did several other guests; the couple cleverly used their new mailbox as their card box; a basket of bug spray is a must for any Maine wedding; and simple terracotta pots piled with moss and ferns served as the centerpieces.
Though Abbie and Paul strove to make their wedding nontraditional, there were some traditional aspects, like this toast.
And the cake cutting.
Usually a cake-cutting is a more riotous affair, but I think it was during this very traditional moment that the untraditional Abbie truly realized the magnitude of this moment- that she was really a bride just like the hundreds of brides over the years she photographed and was deserving of experiencing the same joy and excitement she so often photographed them feeling. Overcome with emotion, she finds solace in Paul's arms again.
Abbie and Paul trusted me enough that they didn't give me a lot of photographic direction, which is great! But, Abbie had one demand of me- that I convince her son and daughter, who live in Seattle, to move back to Maine. The two are so, so, so important to Abbie that she didn't proceed with the wedding until she had their blessing. Her joy in their company is captured in this series of images, which I had to share because I think it shows the way I shoot portraits- and that's capturing both the group, and the group dynamic.
The bride and groom sitting in their living room. Don't you love Abbie's cowboy boots and Paul's running shoes. Very them!
As with all my couples, I stepped back and let Abbie and Paul revel in each other.
And revel they did! Abbie and Paul...there are no words. I was so grateful to be included in your day and now, in your lives. More than a month later, and I'll still catch myself smiling when I recall one of the seemingly fleeting moments from the day that has had such a lasting impression on my heart. So glad I convinced one of your kids to move back to Maine. I'll work on Emma. Once you build it, maybe she will come!
And don't forget to watch their slideshow here.