Fall flowers, family trees, and the bounty of the season inspire an Alabama wedding.
Most girls’ dreams of their wedding day are ripe with details. They want a strapless Vera Wang dress, “It’s a Wonderful World” for their first dance, and bridesmaids decked out in various shades of blush and bashful. Some even have a secret file stashed, filled with pages ripped from magazines.
Then there are the rest of us.
I proudly admit to the fact that, aside from random daydreaming about the foggy Big Day, I really did not have much of an idea about what sort of wedding I wanted. I didn’t care too much about the dress, the food, or the music. I was pretty blasé about those details, aside from one major deal breaker—the venue.
I was conceived in the late 70s by two post-era hippies on our family farm in the house my parents had built by hand. You heard me. By hand. I spent weekends, summers, Christmases, Thanksgivings, and many other landmark occasions at “the farm.” I threw secret parties there and not-so-secret parties. I swam in the pond and the river. We rode horses, chased cows, and drove the tractor. It was my own personal Eden.
So, when my blissfully unaware boyfriend Ned proposed to me, he had no idea what was coming. Sweet little Elizabeth was about to put her foot down in a very Bridezilla kind of way and demand a wedding on the farm.
This farm is a solid hour away from Birmingham, where we lived. It’s set on the Little Cahaba River on 800 or so acres. There’s a pond full of snakes and snapping turtles, a barn full of manure and more snakes, and two houses—one, a small, primitive cabin built by my parents, and the other, an old mule barn that my grandfather converted into a house.
To top it off, my fiancé Ned was in his final year of law school, and I was living in Scotland, finishing up my master’s degree in literature and theology.
What to do? In cases like these, you go to the best. So we went to our dear family friend and wedding planner extraordinaire, Sybil Sylvester of Wildflower Designs, for help with creating this wedding in the country.
Couples, I offer you one piece of advice for a wedding: rope in as many people who love you as you can, because whether you are planning a wedding in Siberia or in your own backyard, you are going to need all the help you can get.
Though I thought I was a mellow bride who only cared about the venue, the more decisions that came my way, the more I realized that not only did I have very definite ideas about things, my fiancé did, as well. We fought about everything: food, music, tuxes, registry. You name it, we fought about it—mainly via email, seeing as we were an ocean apart. We even had a horrific dance lesson that ended in tears. Those close friends I said you needed—though they were helpful with tasks like gutting the barn—the true help they provided was a sense of reality. When I got frustrated about Ned wanting to wear a tux because I wanted a more laid-back feel, one said, “Really? He wants to wear the nicest thing he can on the day you two are getting married. That’s awful.” Right. Sarcasm. Got it. Thank you.
Friends and family are also there to help you remember and to notice, because the whirlwind of a wedding is so important. My stepmother reminded me to watch how Ned and I fought, because how we fight and resolve issues about the wedding lays the foundation of our future. That, and how we deal with communication between ourselves and our two families is vital for the future of the relationship. It’s like boot camp for love.
Throughout it all, though, we managed to figure out what we wanted.