When we started asking brides and grooms for more information about their weddings, with the hope of offering even more inspiration to our dear readers, I was a little afraid that no one would want to take the time to share so much! I have been pleasantly surprised by all of the amazing stories we’ve received, like this thoughtful wedding from Maura and Aidan. Not only did they share tons of information about their planning and the day, they also shared their full budget breakdown and wedding ceremony! Get ready to be inspired to create a beautiful, meaningful wedding day…
“We wanted to get married in Western Massachusetts, where Aidan grew up. We also were interested in having a barn wedding on a farm with historic, beautiful buildings. We also liked the idea of having multiple locations all within one venue, such as the apple orchard, farmhouse, barn, and patio. We knew that we wanted a very big wedding and it was difficult to find a farm with all of these elements. Quonquont Farm had all of the things we were looking for, and as soon as we saw it we knew we wanted to get married there.”
“We wanted to incorporate some of the wonderful traditions of a Jewish wedding ceremony,” share Maura and Aidan. “We had a lovely and intimate Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) signing in the farmhouse with a small circle of close friends and family who surrounded us as we signed the document that formally married us according to Jewish law. Our officiant, Ben, in his wonderful way said to the folks in the room, ‘Shh, don’t tell the others but this is the real wedding!’ It was incredibly special and emotional for all of us, especially since the words on the Ketubah were so wonderful.”
Your ceremony in three words. Personal, Emotional, Hand-crafted.
How did you go about planning your wedding ceremony? Maura’s cousin, Ben, officiated our wedding, and we worked with him to craft a ceremony that felt meaningful to us. Ben is insightful and compassionate while maintaining levity and humor, and he has a unique way of connecting people and bringing them together. We knew he would be wonderful to work with. We also worked with a local rabbi in Boston who helped advise us on our wedding and preparing for marriage. It felt important to bring in traditional Jewish wedding elements, while honoring people in both of our families and connecting with each other. Our ceremony involved several objects of significance to both of us, including a chuppah that was handmade by Aidan’s mother, a tallis that was given to Aidan on the day he converted to Judaism, a prayer book that was handed down from Maura’s relatives, and a kiddush cup that Maura and Aidan purchased together.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Surprisingly being indoors at the last minute wound up being so wonderful. The day was muggy and buggy and threatening to storm, and the barn was beautiful – and air-conditioned. Beyond the sheer comfort of this last-minute decision, the barn had been completely set up for just the dinner reception, not for a seated ceremony. Orchestrated by our amazing day-of coordinator, Jen, and venue manager, Jenelle, all of the guests chipped in to move the room around to fill the space with seating. By the time we walked down the aisle, less than 30 minutes later, the room was filled with this wonderful energy and feeling of real community. There was a point in the ceremony, just after our vows, where we turned to face our guests for them to affirm our commitment to one another and their commitment to stand by us to support our marriage. Looking through the room at this wonderful array of our community of friends and family was simply perfection.
Processional: “Kneel Before Him” by Chris Thile
Recessional: “All I Want Is You” by Barry Louis Polisar
What were your ceremony readings? No readings, but we revamped the seven blessings tradition. Each prayer was recited in Hebrew by our officiant, and then a close friend or family member shared a blessing in English that they had written for us, wishing us a marriage filled with: Stewardship, Balance, Partnership, Nourishment, Friendship, Adventure, and Learning. We hadn’t heard the words that people had written before they were said aloud during the ceremony and it was an incredibly touching and intimate experience.
What were your vows like? We each wrote our own vows. There was no real formula except that we began by affirming our love for one another. We didn’t rehearse them, so we heard each others’ words for the first time under the chuppah.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? There’s a wonderful Jewish wedding custom that right after the ceremony, the couple sneaks off to enjoy their first moments of marriage privately by sharing a small meal. Having the wonderful interlude in the midst of the hubbub of this crazy-amazing day was an incredible treat. We shared some delicious snacks and popped open a bottle of champagne to celebrate during our private little picnic in the middle of the orchard. It was really magical to spend a few quiet moments just the two of us.
“We thought a lot about just how special it is to have all of the important people in each of our lives together to witness and celebrate our commitment to one another. We really wanted it to feel like a celebration of love and of our communities coming together. We’re lucky to have so many incredibly talented people among our friends and family so we didn’t have to look far to accomplish a ‘do-it-OURselves’ wedding – a far more collective version of DIY. Our wedding was really and truly a team effort with almost every guest lending a hand in some way to make the day a reality. From lending skills as a floral designer, to arriving early the morning of the wedding to help us set the tables, to serving as an amateur (if amazingly natural) emcee/DJ for the night, to baking a pie to share, we had so many people involved in one way or another. To us, that was really special.”
Your reception in three words. Hand-crafted, Playful, Lively.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We were super inspired by the naked beauty of the spaces at Quonquont Farm. We had the farmhouse to get ready, the gorgeous early fall apple orchard for pictures, a lovely patio for cocktail hour and the beautiful restored dairy barn for the ceremony and reception. The “bones” of all of these spaces were breathtaking and all our decor choices were intended to showcase the architecture in its wonderful simplicity.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? We did include something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. For something old, we each held embroidered handkerchiefs hand-sewn by Maura’s great-grandmother throughout our day. For something new, Maura had a new lace headpiece and Aidan had a new yarmulke. For something borrowed, Maura wore pearl earrings from her aunt. And for something blue, Aidan’s father drove him to the farm in his vintage restored 1940 Ford Truck, painted in Bahama Blue.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Oh, so many! It all began with our Save the Date, a stop-motion animation made with Bananagrams, and continued through the whole wedding! Aidan designed several large rubber stamps that we used to hand print our invitations. Aidan’s mom sewed our chuppah, which she is in the process of making into a quilt for us, and she also cut and hemmed beautiful cloth napkins. We made bags for the kids in attendance (each contained a personalized coloring and activity book, bubbles, crayons, farm animal tattoos, and handmade pinwheels). Maura’s aunt has long-adored family collection of kooky salt shakers which she passed on to us in the lead up to the wedding and we carefully selected a shakers to place on each of the tables. And all the beer – finding used bottles which was quite the group effort, removing labels and sanitizing, and then on to the fun part of brewing the beer and Aidan putting his graphic design skills to work creating amazing “limited edition” labels. Not to mention the flowers, favors, mismatched silverware, pie buffet…
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We both agree that our favorite moment of the reception was at the end of the Hora, which is a dance where the couple is raised above the guests on chairs. After the dance ends, there is a Jewish tradition where the couple is entertained by the guests. Picture a large crowd surrounding the couple, and every few seconds one of the guests spontaneously juggles, does a crazy dance move, or performs a magic trick! And the entire time, loud, fast music is playing and people are laughing and clapping. It all happened so fast that it was a blur, but we’ll never forget it.
First Dance Song: “One Voice” by The Wailin’ Jennys. During the last verse we invited all the couples who celebrate an anniversary around ours to join us on the dance floor. We didn’t have a father/daughter or mother/son dance per se, but we had a wonderful special performance that took its place. Our fathers are both musicians and they played together – Aidan’s dad on guitar, Maura’s on mandolin. They played “To the Love of My Life” by Jay Ungar.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We brewed all of our own beer for the wedding, and designed custom labels for each type of beer. We had four types of beer (Barnhouse Brown, 1940 Ford I.P.A., Lovebird Lager, and Orchard Red Ale), and a friend also brewed two signature non-alcoholic drinks: a delicious ginger beer and root beer.
Tell us about the food served at your wedding? Having really flavorful, locally-sourced appetizers and dinner was really important to us, especially Maura who works to promote local, sustainable food systems. We had a beautiful menu featuring seasonal produce available in Massachusetts and honored our farmers by listing them on a chalkboard along the buffet line.
What about dessert? In addition to a small cake for a ceremonial cake cutting (and to freeze for a one year anniversary treat), a group of our guests put together a gorgeous spread of potluck pies from our guests for dessert. Maura’s best friend Leigh compiled a book of all the recipes and gave it to us for our one year anniversary. Highlights included Salted Honey Pie, Blueberry Peach Pie, Whole Wheat Triple Berry Pie and Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Pie. Not that we got to taste any of them, we were far too busy having fun to take a break! We’re baking our way through the cookbook as a way to relive the wonderful day.
Any other details? From the locally-sourced food to the use of compostable materials, we’re proud to say that our wedding was very close to being zero waste!
What was the best advice you received as a bride (as a couple)? In the throes of planning, when I was concerned about ensuring that everyone will have a good time, someone finally mentioned that people will have a good time – as long as you’re happy and there’s enough food!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Have a day-of wedding coordinator, no matter how DIY your wedding is. This could be someone you hire, we had a friend who’s done a bunch of event planning and really loves it. We comped her hotel room and paid for her travel to the wedding. She was amazing! Just make sure it’s a friend who’ll enjoy this role. (If it’s a friend, make sure it’s someone who’ll embrace and enjoy this duty and build in time/space for them to experience the wedding for themselves too!)
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Not stress about the weather so much! We had a good rain plan in place, and in the end, it was so much better that we ended up inside, so we really didn’t need to spend so much time in the week leading up to the wedding worrying about whether or not the ceremony could be held outdoors.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? As we were thinking of starting our own little family, we really felt like we wanted to share a name that we both felt connected to and we happened upon the name Ackerman which felt right from the start! On the most basic level Ackerman is an amalgam of Aidan’s patrilinial name (Acker) and my matrilinial name (Feldman). Honoring both sides of our new family and the lineage of both our mothers and our fathers feels very powerful to us. / Ackerman has a meaning that rings true for both of us. Literally, Acker comes from the German for “field” or “acre,” thus Ackerman has the connotation of caretaker or steward of the land which jives well with each of our life’s work (Maura’s in agriculture and Aidan’s in landscape architecture). / Finally, Ackerman has a decidedly Jewish ring to it which feels good as we approach building a Jewish home and life together. Choosing a shared Jewish last name will also serve as a reminder of the choice we have made to embrace Judaism.