I love sharing weddings from Select vendor Jillian Mitchell! Not only does she take beautiful and timeless photos, but she has some of the most wonderfully thoughtful clients – I just love the way Megan and John talk about their wedding day, and why they made the choices that they did. Read on for the full story.
Megan’s advice for other brides? “Maybe get your makeup done a few times casually in the year leading up to the wedding, so that when you’re sitting for an official wedding makeup trial, it ain’t your first rodeo,” she says. “I never wear makeup, so it was a big step for me. I felt like I spent a pretty chunk of change at my first trial to look in the mirror and not recognize myself. It pays to grow accustomed to it if your plans involve wedding makeup. ”
“The ceremony was ‘IT’ for us. Finally getting to stand there on that day with each other was monumental. Our ceremony was where we wanted to evoke the feeling of intimacy and importance that comes with the commitment to marriage.”
Your ceremony in three words. Spiritual, carefree, non-traditional.
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary offered a seaside setting with no size limitations that was really close to our reception site at John’s parents’ home. Being outdoors and non-demoninational, the site allowed us to keep our ceremony plans open as our ideas evolved.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? The first thing we chose right off the bat was our officiant and he guided us the whole way and gave us such a secure feeling in the planning process. My Uncle Bill is a retired Episcopal priest, and he married my big sister and her husband and I always knew I wanted him to preside over my very own wedding one day. We had a meeting in person, and a couple of long-distance phone calls, and then a nice private meeting the evening before the rehearsal. We exchanged ideas, asked for some structure, and in the end we trusted him to conduct it the way he thought would be best.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? I had both my mom and dad walk me down the aisle. My mom played such an integral role in my upbringing that I couldn’t leave her out! We had our guests surround us in a circular format to really symbolize being surround by our network of loved ones – since we didn’t choose a building for our ceremony, we wouldn’t be limited to rows. We also so thoroughly enjoyed having a blessing of the rings – it was just right for us to have our dearest family members enclose our rings in their hands and give them a squeeze before we exchanged them for our life together. This was so symbolic and meaningful, as was the massive group blessing my uncle led. He asked us to turn around, breathe it in, and take a moment to stare out at everyone who meant the world to us standing in front of us, believing in our union and our future.
What was your ceremony music? Saxophone & guitar. Bridesmaid procession: Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty/John Mayer) // Brides’ procession: Have a Little Faith in Me (John Hiatt) // Recessional: Could You Be Loved (Bob Marley)
What were your ceremony readings? My uncle had creative freedom here and read something so poignant and beautiful, but I can’t recall the title.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own. My uncle gave us a wonderful exercise of writing freely. We shared our private writing with him and then he drew parallels between both our ‘vows’ and phrased them in a succinct way so that our ceremony wasn’t too long.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Groom: Watching Meg walk down the aisle towards me (Meg’s sister said Meg would have run into his arms if she could have!). // Bride: My favorite part was the secure feeling I had with my sisters beside me and my uncle next to us as we joined together in marriage. Also: Meg’s 95 year old grandma was able to make the trip from Syracuse, New York to the ceremony.
“A driving force in our planning was to NOT go over-the-top nautical since John is an offshore lobsterman and we lead that lifestyle day in and day out. No need to force it on our guests. We were thrilled to get dressed up (see note above about John’s career) so we knew we were still aiming for elegant and not a simple picnic or barbecue style reception. Inviting guests from out of town to celebrate with us gave us this chance to treat them and give them a glimpse into the area we love and the food/music/drink we enjoy in our relationship together.”
How would you describe your reception? Natural. Elegant but not formal. It felt inherent to the surroundings, a farming and fishing community.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We visited 3 or 4 venues in the Westport and nearby Rhode Island area, and discovered there always seem to be extra costs, limitations on capacity, or limited catering options. In the end we wanted to feel comfortable, and having the reception at John’s parents’ allowed us to make numerous decisions that felt good.
How did your family help with your wedding? Without an official event planner, our family rose to EVERY OCCASION to get this thing off the ground. John’s parents inspired us with all their devotion to their home and their property. My sisters inspired me with their devotion to the tasks at hand, and my parents inspired me to focus on the best part which was marrying John. No chance we would have arrived at the unbelievably beautiful event without each of their contributions. Immeasurable. Special Note: My identical twin sister Emily was my rock when John was offshore fishing. Emily kept me on task, encouraged me, and consistantly brought the fun of wedding planning into my life. A planning binder, a folder to bring to the bridal gown boutiques that was covered in colorful donuts, wedding mags, nail polish, massive orders of dresses and jewelry and honeymoon attire to try out – you name it, she did it. I look forward to reciprocating when it’s her turn.
Cocktail Hour: Signature Pickles (Bourbon Pickled Peaches, Fuchsia Eggs, Curried Zucchini, Dill-Spiked Kirbies) / Aged Cheese / Orchard Fruits / Breads & Crackers // Passed Hors d’Oeuvres: Grilled Lamb Kofta / Spice-Rubbed Bruschetta // Lobster Roll Bar (with fresh Georges Bank lobster caught by the groom himself and crew from F/V Direction, John’s father’s boat) // Dinner Buffet: Skinny Dip Farm Plated Green Salad with Nasturtium Flowers / Barrel Cut Steak / Swordfish / Red Onion Jam / Chive Vinaigrette / Grilled Summer Vegetables / Fire Box Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary / Grilled Corn on the Cob // Dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb and Mixed Berry Pies from Beach Plum Cafe with Gray’s Ice Cream / Chocolate Chip Cookies / Gluten Free Oreos from Flour Bakery
Did you include any special traditions in your wedding? I kept a handkerchief of my maternal grandmother’s wrapped around my bridal bouquet. I gifted the flower girls, three of my nieces, some custom-printed handkerchiefs for them to use as their “something old” when they marry.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? John built a corn hole set and his niece and I painted it for our guests to play (especially the young kids!). We had an awesome “memory box” instead of a guest book, and we asked guests to snap instant photos with a Fuji Instax camera, and write notes on each one and drop in them. I’m an in-house graphic designer for a Boston-based sporting goods company, and I poured my whole heart into the most personal work of my life. I created everything from the save-the-date to the wedding invitation suite, the ceremony program and our thank you notes.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? My lovely bridesmaids joined me and 7 other friends of mine on a bachelorette weekend last May that will never be beat! We ran the Cape Cod Ragnar Relay – a 200-mile “overnight running relay race that makes testing your limits a team sport”! We trained, we ran, we conquered. My friends got to know each other, my sisters got to know my friends, and after spending 30+ hours together in a van, by the time my wedding day arrived they definitely deserved a party!
First Dance: Into the Mystic (Van Morrison)
Father/Daughter: The Way You Look Tonight (Frank Sinatra)
Mother/Son: You’ll Be in My Heart (Phil Collins)
Stepfather/Daughter: Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I wish we’d found a way to hire a videographer. I realized a little late in the planning process that I wanted to have soundbites from the day to cherish forever, but if I had figured that out sooner, and worked some magic with numbers, I wonder if we could have found a way. When else do you have all the people you love in life in one place! Weddings are amazing!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? There’s nothing like having the blessing and financial support of both sides of our families from the get go. With that being said, the emotions ran high and the stress was through the roof at points since all were invested financially and emotionally in our once-in-a-lifetime event. Hindsight being 20/20, John and I would easily trade our at-home wedding for an alternative if it meant eliminating those stress-filled months for all involved. And those petty fights at midnight on a week night when your fiance is home from offshore fishing, about whether or not to have twinkle lights for decor or gluten free cookies for guests? Just don’t have those arguments. Save it for a better time or avoid them entirely!
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. The yard was SO gorgeous with all the gardens planned and grown by John’s parents. They have a small apple orchard that was unreal for photos and Jillian used the light in the most magical way to capture some stunning moments. John’s grandfather has a small cannon that they set off as tradition throughout John’s childhood; his godfather planned to set off the cannon to mark the entrance to the reception tent for dinner and dancing. We did dedicate ample time to family photographs and they were worth it. Family is everything. Since that day 7.5 months ago, we’ve lost John’s uncle and grandmother and we are counting our blessings that they were able to celebrate with our whole family and that we have such beautiful photos all together.