April and Claire in Richmond, VT | July 1, 2012
Infusing Jewish traditions with their own flair, this couple created a wedding day sprinkled with personal touches, making it truly their own.
With a rustic barn already in their venue vision, the Massachusetts couple headed north, searching for the perfect locale. “We knew that we wanted to get married in Vermont because April went to college at UVM and since we’ve been together we’ve spent a lot of time in up there. We also knew that we wanted to get married in a barn. We actually didn’t look anywhere else,” says Claire. Filled with the charm of a traditional dairy barn, the event space at The West Monitor Barn provided plenty of room for their 130 guest list. “This particular barn is home to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps which hires young people to work and study together under adult leadership to complete high-priority conservation projects such as state park management, trail maintenance, and backcountry construction,” she explains.
Thanks to April’s Jewish upbringing, the culture’s traditions had become an integral piece of their relationship. The lovebirds exchanged vows beneath a beautiful chuppah handcrafted by April’s dad and his college friends. Their dear friend presided over the ceremony, even incorporating the Shehecheyanu, a blessing that is recited during a long-awaited occasion. "In many of the weddings I’ve been to, the ceremony is either too religious or lacking religious and grasping at meaning,” explains Claire. “Every piece of our ceremony had meaning to it, and a meaning that was apt to two people starting their lives together. Our officiant and friend was largely responsible for this, as she did a great job explaining how each piece of the ceremony had meaning.” The ring exchange was very traditional, and at the end of the ceremony, Claire stomped on the glass that April’s mom had given to them for the occasion.
April wore an elegant form-fitting strapless Nicole Miller gown featuring a sweetheart neckline, paired with TOMS wedges, “They were so comfortable!” she says with a laugh. Her veil and earrings were both purchased from Etsy. Meanwhile, Claire looked striking in a custom charcoal grey three-piece suit from 9Tailors in Boston, paired with handsome Frye wingtips. “I wanted a gray suit so I could wear it again to other events. I’ve already worn it to another wedding,” she says.
After a blissful two-year romance, Claire proposed at the beach in Provincetown, Mass., with a custom palladium ring featuring a stunning ruby stone that April had previously created by a jeweler on Etsy. “She’s a unique individual and I was happy that this ring matched her personality,” says Claire. The pastoral barn featuring rough-hewn lumber and carriage barn lamps, gave the couple all of the inspiration they desired. “We tried not to get too carried away with the tiny details because the barn is so incredibly beautiful,” says April. Tables were swathed in rustic sage green cloth and cream-colored napkins, and highlighted with freshly picked wildflowers in mason jars, plucked from Raven Ridge Farm. “Fortunately we were able to find some family members that were willing to help create the centerpieces,” says Claire. “Picking our own flowers was a fun activity and a major cost savings.”
To educate guests on their same-sex wedding terminology, they created a glossary on their wedding website. Listed in the dictionary, with definitions, were broom (butch bride), bridesman (April’s man of honor) and broomsmaids (Claire’s female attendants). “We got great feedback from everyone!” says Claire. “I think it really helped friends and family we were still trying to figure out what this wedding was going to look like.” Knowing that their wedding party attendants’ style and budget varied, they merely gave them a color and left the rest up to them. “They’re all so different as people and in their style that it was easier for them to do the dirty work,” explains April. “We wanted them to buy and wear whatever was their style and in their budget. Plus, we think it’s semi-ridiculous to ask friends to buy a specific dress that they will never wear again and like the idea of having people wearing similar outfits but still slightly different.”
Guests were served a menu straight from the heart of New England with an elegant twist. Passed hors d’oeuvres consisted of savory tartlets, cheesy quinoa bites and mini grilled cheese with Vermont cheddar served with chilled gazpacho sippers set guests up for the feast that followed. Family-style salads with farm fresh field greens, summer sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and feta, drizzled with a summer herb vinaigrette were set on the tables, followed by a buffet for the main course. Guests enjoyed Caprese salad, couscous and summer vegetable salad, marinated and roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes with garlic and fresh herbs, mouthwatering flank steak expertly marinated with soy, Thai chili and lemongrass dressing, and grilled chicken served with a trio of sauces. An old mailbox was set up for guests to place their cards, and jelly jars featuring guests’ names doubled as a seat assignment and water glass. For dessert, and in lieu of a wedding cake, mini cupcakes were passed out in an array of flavors to choose from: red velvet, carrot cake, chocolate and vanilla.
The bride and broom found their DJ through a friend. “He was not your typical wedding DJ … he played some sick music!” exclaims Claire. They kept it simple, choosing to limit the traditions to the hora, father-daughter dances, and the couple’s first dance, which they swayed to the tune of Lovely Day by Bill Withers. “We didn’t want anything else to interfere with the dance floor.”
Throughout the evening, guests snapped silly shots in the photo booth, provided by Photobooth Planet, and as pictures came out, they were put into a guestbook which the guests then signed. “We loved going in it with all of our friends and family and we used the pictures for our guest book,” says Claire. “I think everyone who came wanted to be especially supportive because it was a gay wedding, and for most people, including April and I, it was our first gay wedding,” Claire explains. “So everyone was wearing their heart on their sleeve. When the ceremony turned out to be an emotional cry-fest, those outward facing hearts just opened up and became soggy with tears.” At the end of the day, the couple knew what was important and made that priority. “Don’t adhere to traditions if they don’t fit you. Seriously keep it simple. Focus on the ceremony, that’s really what you are there for,” advises Claire. “Then crush it with open bar,” she adds with a smile.