Our Own Rustic Canoe Wedding

[pp_gallery id=”29268″ style-id=”456fc83b-d4c9-4958-82e6-966e5a8ea231″] 

So, the photographers behind the Dreamlove lens have finally found themselves on the other side!  :)  Max and I had a rustic canoe wedding on Snow Pond (which also happens to be in our backyard) on October 15th of 2011 and we’re just now getting around to sharing some of our favorite pictures from the day. Of course, the first obvious question is, “Who was YOUR photographer?!?”… and for us, it was the easiest decision of all. Our friend and fabulous photographer Yoon Byun documented our day. The majority of photos in this post are his, although family and friends also contributed… all credits will be listed at the bottom of this post.

Getting married, after years of photographing other people getting married, made our own wedding day incredibly insightful and magical… in a Cinderella sort of way. Max proposed to me the day before my birthday in December of 2010. We had spent the day in the White Mountain National Forest with our new 8 week old puppy Zelda, in search of the perfect Christmas tree to chop down, Clark Griswald style. Once we were home, with holiday music playing and a good fire going in the wood stove, we started to decorate the tree with our VERY eclectic mix of ornaments, that I imagine are typical of a couple’s first ornament collection. I grabbed a chair to tie a white ribbon on the very top of the tree, and apparently, Max saw me up on the chair and was overwhelmed with proposal emotion. He had secretly been hiding the ring for months, and went to get it. When I came down off the chair, I turned around, and there he was… down on one knee. It was all so perfect. We celebrated with lots of phone calls, and lots of champagne.  :)  I can honestly say, it was the happiest day of my life.

We spent a few months just being blissfully engaged… and then started wrapping our heads around having an actual wedding. We knew that we wanted a smaller wedding, and after looking at venue after venue, we decided that everything we were looking for was literally, right in our own backyard. Usually when people ask us about our own wedding, we tell them we were married on the pond behind our house.  Then they say, “Oh that’s nice!  On the shore of the pond…” and we reply, “Actually, no…. we really got married ON the pond.  On a dock, with our guests in canoes!” Our good friends and neighbors Tom and Hili offered their large dock for our ceremonial vessel… and everyone helped decorate the dock with arched trees and gorgeous bows of colorful leaves and berries from our property. We had guests pair off and canoe out to the dock… and we even had Max’s guitar teacher canoe out and play some of our favorite songs as my dad rowed me to the dock in our neighbor’s vintage wooden rowboat! It certainly was an alternative ceremony, and despite being blown from the center of the pond all the way to the end, we wouldn’t dream of having done it any other way.  Everyone at our wedding helped make our day amazing in one way or another, and we are so grateful for that.

Some of the Details

I had been subconsciously collecting details and ideas that I loved from previous weddings, and incorporated a few of our own too. One of my favorite details were the vintage Viewmasters on tables, with guests having to find their seat based on finding the “reel” of where they were coming from… my bouquet which Max’s mom created from vintage brooch pins (found on Etsy and in antique shops), and my robin’s egg (or turquoise blue?) cowboy boots.

I also loved setting off the wish lanterns that a good friend brought as a surprise for the night! We tried to source all of the food locally, and found a great local lobstermen’s association in Maine for our main course. Sarah Hipple, an amazing personal chef, who catered our event was so helpful in trying to buy as many local and organic ingredients as possible.

And although I could go on about detail after detail that I loved about our day… when I look back on everything, the one thing that makes my heart swoon the most, were hearing Max’s vows to me. It’s amazing how much work I felt like I put into every little detail… the decoration, the food, the invitations… and looking back, I now realize that this one tiny thing – deciding to write our own vows – is what meant the most to me on our wedding day. Which just goes to show that a wedding is about two people promising to take on the world together, and professing their love out loud. The Viewmasters were cool, but nothing compared to that.

More about our rustic canoe wedding on Snow Pond in NH:

Max and I are very outdoorsy folks, so we knew that we wanted our wedding to reflect that. We happen to live on a beautiful pond in Concord, NH. After a bit of searching for an outdoor space with a tented reception, we realized it was right in our own backyard! We also love canoeing, and figured, why not ask our guests to hop in canoes and watch us tie the knot on the center dock?!

Our biggest fear, obviously, was someone falling in. We thought it would for sure be one of Max’s parents, who hadn’t ever been in a canoe before, but it ended up being Katie’s brother. An avid backpacker and canoeist, leader of Moondance backpacking trips and white water rafting, he learned a quick lesson not to goof around in a canoe that day. “You can thank me later for this great story that will be told for years to come”, he told us while stripping off wet clothes and laughing. :)

Our neighbor and close friend Tom Fredenburg helped create the bent wood arbor over the dock. October provided the beautiful fall colored backdrop. It really was perfection.

Vendor Credits:

Photography – Yoon Byun
More photographers – Fred Barnes, Chris Barnes, Mike Lising, Joel Sager, Max Bittle
Videographer – Travis Haas
Officiant – Tom Fredenburg
Tent decoration help – Hili Thomson
Caterer – Welcome Home
Ceremony coordination – Chadd Meerbergen
Bride’s dress – All For Dress
Bride’s shoes – Corral
Bride’s ring – Tiffany & Co.
Hair and makeup – Molly Van Rheen
Groom’s suit – Zara
Groom’s ring – Down the Wire
Florist – D. McCleod
Brooch bouquet – Lynn Bittle
Music – Hannah P. Johnson
Live music – Chris Barnes & Nora Kennedy
Itinerary card design – Andrea Martucci
Paper circle signs – Dreamlove on Etsy
Cake toppers and handyman extraordinaire – Fred Barnes
Wedding Quilt – Jeanne Barnes