There’s not much better than a good love story. Maura, a trapeze artist, and Nikki, a librarian who plays guitar in a band, met in a small whiskey bar on bluegrass night. It was love at first sight. Their celebration was sweetly and uniquely their own without losing sight of what the day is truly about. We hope you love this celebration between two brides as much as we do!
Photography by Shannon Collins.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? No one gave us advice! Maura’s advice to herself: don’t fake smile.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Remember it’s supposed to be fun. We didn’t want to lose sight of what this day is really about, which is us, our love for each other, and our love for our friends and family. It was important to keep perspective on that while doing the less glamorous details (Costco trip, anyone?)
“It was important to the both of us that our wedding be in Philly. We’ve both been here for about ten years and wanted to bring our families together in the place we call home. We considered a few sites, but as soon as we saw Awbury Arboretum, we knew it was perfect. The Francis Cope house, built in 1852, was the perfect backdrop for our love of the city’s history, and we knew we’d have the freedom to make the day our own with a ton of DIY. Also, it was one of the few spots we looked at that was beautiful, historic, AND affordable for our size wedding. Many venues were priced per person, and at 150 guests they were way out of our price range. Awbury’s pricing was simple (small event, large event) and very reasonable.”
Your ceremony in three words. Romantic, grounded, and personal
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We sat down with our officiant on a snowy morning, in her living room while her toddler played nearby. She asked us questions, and we told her stories about ourselves, from our first meeting to the things that were important to us. It was a really lovely moment of reflection in the whirlwind of the planning process.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? No specific traditions other than vows. Beforehand, our officiant pointed out that vows are traditionally intended to be declarations of intention (“I will” statements) as opposed to straight-up gushing about the other person. That was helpful guidance when it came to sitting down and writing vows.
What was your ceremony music? We booked a solo violinist, Reina Inui, to play before and after the ceremony. Our only specific request was to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel’s “Canon in D”.
Who officiated your ceremony? Tara Rubinstein of Red Seeds—we met her through the recommendation of a friend after our first officiant told us she had been double-booked. It turned out to be an ideal match!
Officiated by Tara Rubinstein.
What were your ceremony readings? No specific readings, though we did have excerpts from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass printed on the verso of the program.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows. We kept them secret from one another until the ceremony, but there were a lot of parallels. We both emphasized how important independence is to us; independence for ourselves as much as for the other person, and how maintaining our creative, distinct personalities will only continue to make us stronger as a couple. We also both referenced our first couple of dates in our anecdotes; Nik used it to point out that we’ve been inseparable since then, and Maura used it to highlight how much we are cut from the same cloth (both arriving at second-date picnic with an extremely excessive amount of highly curated and aesthetically pleasing food and drink).
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? We both were really appreciative of how our officiant conducted the ceremony; her manner was graceful and poised and she helped us feel centered and calm in front of a relatively large gathering of people.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? It was important to us as secular humanists that we didn’t revert to any religious terminology out of a sense of tradition. Words like “blessed”, “miracle”, and “sacred” were carefully omitted and replaced with equally evocative words and phrases (such as “marvel of love” instead of “miracle of love”). After the wedding, we received a couple of comments from friends and family who specifically expressed appreciation for this language and who felt that it added a lot of depth and personality to the ceremony.
“We wanted everything to feel fancy but fun. We wanted everyone to get dressed up and for it to be in a beautiful setting, without feeling stuffy or generic.”
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We couldn’t have done it without our Wedding Action Committee. Instead of a traditional wedding party, we asked a small group of friends to help us with implementing the final logistics of the day. They arrived early, set up the tables and chairs, assembled the bud vase table decorations, checked in with our bartenders and food vendors, helped with clean-up, etc. If we didn’t have such wonderful people in our lives, we don’t think we could have pulled it off.
How would you describe your reception? Garden party dance party!
Did you have a signature cocktail? Two! Bourbon lemonade and a blood orange gin sparkler.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. Among some of our friends, it is a tradition to give a creative group wedding gift. They managed to surprise us completely with a book of photographs—they were photographs we had taken of each other throughout our courtship, right next to a duplicate photo hilariously recreated by our friends. It was amazing.
What was your wedding menu? Barbeque! Both meat and vegan.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Choose a venue with all the tables and chairs we needed. And maybe a better rain contingency plan. We were lucky we could book a tent at the last minute (and split the cost with another wedding the next day), and even luckier the forecast for rain was wrong.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a gorgeous three-tiered cake with champagne and chocolate almond cakes with raspberry icing. We also had a spread of small desserts: coconut lime mini pies, flourless chocolate cake bites, macaroons and chocolate dipped marshmallows.
What was your first dance song? “No One” by Alicia Keys.
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? One highlight is when one of the songs we had requested — “Oh!” by Sleater-Kinney — was played by the DJ, and we had a sudden whirlwind dance party with all of our friends. Some great photos of this moment were captured by our photographer!
Reception Music by No Macarena.