We had our wedding at Nathaniel’s parents’ house in Black Forest, Colorado. We did a lot ourselves and with the gracious help of family members and friends. Nat and I hand-painted directions signs and I wrote the signs for the tables. Nat’s parents made the ceremony benches and the bases for the glass domes from trees from the Forest, and his mom made the arbor. Under the glass domes on each picnic table were felted things we’ve made for each other over the years, or animal skulls and bones. We made our table runners from tons of scraps of fabric, sewn together for length. Nat made the pink and blue buntings and our dessert stands, and our mothers and grandmothers made desserts from favorite recipes. We had a jackalope and rabbit cake-topper made for us by Sofie Skein. My dress was custom-made by Lawrence Aitken.
My friends Jenae, Megan, and Ashley did my hair and makeup. I made my headband from a choker necklace I found at an antique shop and painted it with Martha Stewart jewelry enamel. I made my girlfriends necklaces with embroidered trees and wrote all my closest friends letters. Nathaniel gave the boys knives with leather sheaths he made himself. Our favors were glass vials I spent whole seasons of Breaking Bad filling with pine needles and branches from the Forest, but as we were getting ready to head to Colorado, we realized they were growing mold. So my Mom and I filled them again just before the wedding, this time with ashy soil from the property.
We collected enough vintage hankies so half our guests could have one. Our programs were bags filled with wildflower seeds for people to scatter after our first kiss to help regrow the area where we had our ceremony, where the most trees had to be removed because of the fire. My best friend, Dan, read an A. A. Milne poem and prayed over us. My Dad read the Desiderata and Nathaniel’s dad gave a reading he prepared. We had a ring warming, and after our friends and family held our rings and thought or said well wishes for us, Nat’s Aunt Elaine sang us the song she and Nat’s mom sang at Nat’s parents’ wedding. It was truly an incredible moment. Nat and I self-solemnized and “led” our ceremony and said the vows that we wrote. After the ceremony, everyone signed a Quaker marriage certificate Nat and I made.
The meal was catered by Bird Dog BBQ, which, I admit, I was sold on as soon as I heard their name, and we brought beer from Free State in Lawrence. The tent (mostly the size of it) was something we struggled with for what felt like forever, and in the end it was a wise decision because it began to rain just after we cut our cake, and it rained all night long. Our friends were incredible at getting everything under shelter in time and everyone pitched in moving picnic tables to the edges of the tent so we could dance. The pictures of the two of us are from just after dinner, when we disappeared to take photos in some of the burn areas down the road. My Dad, Nat’s grandpa, and Nat’s best friend, Jeff, made toasts before dancing. Somehow, our careful playlist constructing was flawed and only about a quarter of our dancing songs got played. Mostly, we played the “late night dancing” playlist, complete with Fat Lip, Dark Blue, and Mr. Brightside.
Other important things: When I saw my dear friend Ron, like a father/grandfather to me, a plate in each hand, he held out his arms and said, “Come here, girl.” Jeff ushered nearly everyone from the house to the tent with an umbrella, and got soaked from the rain. Ian danced so hard he ripped his pants. The ground was so uneven, more so than we’d anticipated, and our first dance in particular was less than graceful. But the sound of the rain coming down on the tent during our song, that was a wonderful moment. It was a fantastic day.