--The Peace of Wild Things--
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and what my children's lives may be,
I go lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Who: Liz and Derek
What: An intimate, family-focused fall camp weekend and wedding for 20
Where: Lakeside ceremony and celebration at the Quisisana Resort on Lake Kezar in Center Lovell, Maine
When: Saturday, September 19, 2009
How: Pre-ceremony coiffing at Combing Attractions in Conway, NH; fall flowers by Ruthie's Flower Shop in Conway, NH; chairs and aisle runners from South Portland's One Stop Party Shoppe; cake by Jake Cerese; some food from Chef's Market in North Conway, NH (other food provided by friends and Quisisana); ceremony and dinner music by fellow friends and performers from Quisisana including Nick Consol, keyboard; Sam Nedel, bass; Joelle Lurie, vocalist; Brett Gregory, flute, clarinet, saxophone; and Matt Abatelli, saxophone.
Why: Liz and Derek tried to have a traditional wedding. Really, they did.
While visiting her native Michigan one holiday, Liz and her mom trekked to all the well-known wedding venues in the Great Lakes State, and while they all certainly looked nice, none of them felt right. As Liz's mom later told me, "As beautiful as they may have been, it wasn't Quisi."
Quisi, more formally known as Quisisana Resort, was succinctly and quite suitably summed up in the New York Times as being a most "magical place." "Entrancing", possessing "restorative powers", having a "sedative effect", and "almost a religious experience" are other elegant explanations used in the Times' travel piece to describe this sophisticated summer camp of sorts, where families flock to lounge lakeside by day, savor gourmet dinners at dusk and then take their seats in the Music Hall to hear musical theater on Mondays, one-act operas on Wednesdays and a concert of arias on Friday, with a variety of other entertainment for the ears on the nights in between. Performances are staged by the very people who clean your cabins, watch your children and bring you milk and cookies after the show. Some of them will land on Broadway or in the Metropolitan Opera post-Quisi, which Liz described to me at our first meeting as "kind of like Dirty Dancing."
She and Derek ended up married.
The two first met working at the resort in the summer of 2000, when Derek worked in the maintenance department, and Liz, at the time studying acting at the prestigious Hartt School, worked as a chambermaid by day and a performer by night. Each summer they returned, with Derek eventually becoming the maintenance manager of the 47-acre property and its several dozen cabins, while Liz worked as waitstaff, in the office and as head of housekeeping, all the while still singing each night.
Beyond their collective care and affection for Quisisana, which in Italian means "a place where one heals oneself," Liz and Derek share a love of creativity and artistic expression (he's a talented painter and potter), a deep respect for the value family and friends in their lives and appreciation for the sense of place and of home they've found here in New England. Both are kind, compassionate, contemplative, grounded and as open-minded as they are open-hearted.
Their very private and thoughtfully personal marriage on the shores of a sun-kissed Lake Kezar reflected all that, and more. Along with their 20 or so guests and their Quisi friends turned family who stayed on after closing to fortify camp for the festivities, Liz and Derek retreated to the place most meaningful to them for their wedding weekend. Together, guests swam, practiced yoga at sunrise by the edge of the lake, found respite and read in the shade of the proud pines, and celebrated the happiness of two people who bring such joy and beauty into the world.
We began at Combing Attractions, a small salon in nearby Conway, New Hampshire. Here Liz's niece, flower girl Isabel, waits patiently though it's clear she'd rather be back at the lake.
A quick manicure for the bride.
Liz completed her pre-wedding preparations in the women's dressing room of the Music Hall, which is where I found her dress alongside the Styrofoam wig stands, bottles of AquaNet and boxes of bobby pins.
A performer at heart, Liz gracefully showed off her something blue, a pair of tights.
Outside, her father waited to walk her down the pine needle lined aisle. Though he's just a small figure in a shot intended to be a scene-setter, you can feel his pre-ceremony eagerness.
The groom arrived to the point where the ceremony was sited by canoe. What a peaceful processional!
As you can see from the waves, the wind was whipping on the water, but Liz made a pre-ceremony decision (with much support from me) to go ahead with the outdoor ceremony. Here's why:
Have you seen a more breathtaking backdrop!?! I love the contrast between the intimacy of the small ceremony and the vast openness of the lake and the Presidential Mountain Range beyond.
A laugh during the ceremony, which was so thoughtfully put together by the couple and featured multiple readings, including with the words of Mother Theresa, Carl Sandburg and Rainer Maria Rilke.
And then a few tears.
The couple's officiant, Rev. Kendra Ford, lends a hand so Derek can actually see the woman he's saying his vows to.
The bride's parents and grandmother look on during the exchange of vows.
Married! Love the light on them as they walk from the exposed point into the darkness of the shaded forest ahead.
It was so bright and windy by the water that we did the group portraits on the deck behind the main lodge, including this meaningful one of the couple with their Quisi family who contributed to their wedding day by providing song, sustenance and/or support.
While guests enjoyed hor d'ourves and cocktails in Treble Hall, Liz, Derek and I explored the resort's grounds, stopping to take photographs in the places that were most meaningful to them and their coming together as a couple.
We started down by the lake.
So, so, SO happy!!!
There is some discrepancy in my online research as to whether Lake Kezar is one of the three most beautiful lakes in the world, or one of the five. Regardless of the exact ranking, it's a most special spot to the couple and now to me, having shared in the experience of Liz and Derek's wedding with the couple and their families, and it was certainly in its most majestic glory that day, with bluebird skies, golden fall light and a quiet that was among the most beautiful sounds I'd ever heard.
Walking back hand in hand toward the cottages.
Stopping to snuggle up at the cottage named Maestro, which has special significance to them.
Love those floral details from Ruthie's Flower Shop in nearby Conway, NH.
Guests then gathered for a gourmet dinner in the dining room. How nice it was for everyone to see each other throughout the meal.
Check out that buttery fall sunlight on the lakeside.
And beyond that, nothing was formally planned, save for a late-night bonfire lakeside. But just as I was packing up, an impromptu first dance broke out, something Liz looked plenty pleased with.
Liz and Derek, thank you both (and to your families too) for welcoming me so warmly and allowing me the honor of being a part of such a deeply-personal and thoughtful tribute to your love. I now count Quisi as one of my special serene places, and wish you many more lovely days on the lake. Let's do dinner at Ricky's Diner sometime soon!
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Four years. Four years. That's how long we're in high school. Or college. Or how long a president can be in office before having to run for reelection. Seems like there is lots in life measured in four year increments. And as of 4:40 or so today, it's the magnitude of our marriage.
We almost didn't make it. On our first anniversary, we came thisclose to getting divorced. No, really. For my gift, Kyle gave me a gel wrist rest for my computer. I share this story now with such a silly smile, but at the time, I was, to put it lightly, furious. Where was the blue box, the barrage of blossoms, the pert pearls, those things that you are supposed to get when someone wants to show you their love? I wanted those things, because I'd somehow surmised that my value to Kyle had a clear correlation to the value of the things he'd buy for me, and I'd convinced myself that the more he'd spent, the better he could care for me. I needed them, to know our marriage was right.
This year, when Kyle and I were making plans for our anniversary (as you read this, we're bound by boat for a two-day tech-free getaway to Monhegan Island) and discussing our expectations for gift-giving, I suggested we set a $20 spending limit (suffice to say the gel wrist pad would have easily limboed below that line) because really, I didn't even want a gift. And as the words left my mouth as we walked down the beach, I realized I hadn't said them as show, but that I'd really, truly meant them.
What one thing could top waking up every.single.day to a cappuccino by the bed, patterned with that perfect pinch of crushed cinnamon, or the freshly-blended smoothie sitting in wait in the refrigerator each morning, always with a colorful bendy straw already inserted? What one thing would spoil me more than having to have made just seven trips to the gas station in the past year, because my tank is always filled, as is my sock drawer, the dog food bowls, the wine rack but not the garbage cans? What one thing would make me feel as valued as having read out loud to me the thank-you notes I receive from clients, because my husband wants to make sure I really stop and hear them?
That's not to say I don't adore shiny things. Because do I ever (and anything from Cole Haan)! But day by day for the last 1,460 of them, Kyle has given me every thing I need to truly believe I am beloved: smiles and smoothies and safety and sincerity and smooches and sense of self and shennigans and seriousness and strength and serenity and stability and simplicity and straws that bend and when I make him unabashedly laugh, well, it shuts up that cynical side of me that sometimes whispers wonders of worry about whether this great gig of contented life is just about up and makes me feel like I am the sexiest, smartest, awesomiest, wittiest woman in the whole wide world.
He didn't buy me that gel wrist pad to show me he loved me. He already knew it and had I known then what I do now, I would have too. He bought it for me because I'd complained of "carpal tunnel" (severe self diagnosis is a specialty of mine) brought about by typing too many loquacious grad school papers and editing wedding images by the thousands each week. He'd heard me, and he'd taken me seriously and he cares for me so deeply that he just wanted to help me- to make it all better. Three years later, I get that.
And I think we're starting to get this whole marriage thing and you know what, it's pretty damn fun. Except when it's not because something sad happens like loosing your first grandparent within a month of each other and then instead of laughing together, you're mourning together, but that's ok, because it's shared and that makes it somehow safe and if you don't want to speak about your sorrow because you don't want to cry again in front of everyone, you don't have to because you don't need to because the other person already knows anyway. Those are the moments when marriage seems so seamless and you couldn't imagine wanting a better gift than maintaining eye contact.
Kyle's parents sent us an anniversary card in which they noted "It's been fun to watch you enjoy life together" and it made us both so proud of what we have built these past four years. And so, for this anniversary, I am giving Kyle a coffee cup that looks like it's made of paper but it's really made of porcelain. Not because it's what I want to give him or because I think he needs it. But because he asked for it and sometimes it really is just that simple (even though I always try to complicate things). And because it's silly. And because it cost exactly $19.95. And because our marriage isn't predicated on a present whether paper or porcelain or platinum but on our daily practice, and so in that sense, it really doesn't matter what I get for him, as long as I give him me.
Who: Rebecca and Ryan
What: An elegant, classic coastal Maine Labor Day weekend wedding
Where: Harborside ceremony and tented reception at the lovely landmark Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor
When: Sunday, September 6, 2009
How: Monique Lhullier bridal gown from New York's famed Kleinfield Bridal; bridesmaids convertible wrap dresses from Butter by Nadia; onsite hair and makeup by the Northeast Harbor based Bella Skin and Body Salon; stunning florals by Laurie Riddell of Bar Harbor's Cottage Flowers; ceremony music by cellist Noreen Silver; elegant tent by the one-and-only Sperry Tents; rocking reception music by The Delta Knights; and cake by Bar Harbor's Morning Glory Bakery.
Why: Ryan and Rebecca met through Becca's friend, Jana, at the swim test on the first day of school at Cornell. They became friends in the summer of 2001, when Becca visited Ryan in New York City, just before she left for a year abroad.
He fast followed.
Ryan, based in London, and Becca, in Paris, explored Europe together, attending the opera in Vienna, making friends in Germany and Italy, and sampling local confections, as sweet as they were becoming on each other. Rebecca loved Ryan’s sense of humor and knowledge of art history, and she charmed him with her continental chic. When they returned to the US, they began a new life together. After a few years together in Ithaca and Philadelphia, where Ryan pursued his degree in law, and Becca in biology, they decided to make the next step together. Ryan proposed to Becca in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia in December of 2008. Next, a marriage in Maine, where both had summered with their families, and a new life together in New York, where they first fell in love.
I arrived at the Asticou to find Becca's graceful Monique Lhullier gown tucked in a tiny hallway. Photographing it through the doorway was the only way I could get the whole dress in the frame!
A funny detail shot. I don't know what makes me laugh more- the two Blackberry's at the ready and lined up just so, or the directions on tying the bridesmaids' wrap dresses. (I love their look, but am I the only one who can never quite figure out how to tie those right?)
Signing the ketubah.
This is a favorite image from the 2009 wedding season. The ring on her right hand. Cautiously checking the necklace. Her hair curled just so. Love!
The rolling lawn of the Asticou allows for a bride and her father to truly take in that magnitude of the moment. Flats recommended though!
A look of adoration from Rebecca to Ryan underneath that charming twig chuppah. Though they are equals, they are always look up at each other.
Married. And overjoyed! How cute is that little head drop and shoulder shrug of giddiness from Becca. If you've been in bliss, you know the feeling.
They spontanously stopped for a quick kiss.
And then continued up the lawn together. I love the light on Rebecca in this image.
Taking a moment to enjoy the moment at the water's edge.
The afternoon light on the water was certainly beautiful, but blinding nonetheless, so we headed over to the Asticou Azalea Gardens for some portraits of the couple. Rebecca explained to me before the wedding that the constant in their relationship from the moment they met was a deep friendship and a sense of playfulness that has kept them young at heart as they've grown from college chums into accomplished adults. I think their images reflect that intimacy and peace that comes when you marry someone who truly is your best friend.
The reception was held waterside in a stunning Sperry Tent. As I've said before on my blog, there is no better backdrop than a Sperry, which are made of canvas sailcloth and defined by their signature peaks and pennants. This tent was situated wonderfully on the water, and has since been used in multiple mediums by Sperry to showcase their tents.
If you thought the outside was good, check out the inside. A small detail, the lanterns add so much to this look, both fun and functional.
The first dance.
And after the toasting and dinner, we popped outside for a few sunset shots.
The Sperry Tent at twilight.
And after the sun had completely set.
Taking in a touching toast from friends, sung rather than said.
Followed by an emotional kiss.
A little hora induced hilarity.
And some dancing to round out a delightful day.
Becca and Ryan, all my best on your Bali honeymoon and may you always remain the most beloved of friends.
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