My mom likes to tell people that we are having a dinner party with a wedding attached to it. Their faces look a bit flummoxed by the idea.
Our parents were too at first. But to understand the event is to understand the purpose behind our choices.
I’m a designer by trade and Chris is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent people I know. Over the course of our 3.5 year relationship, we have created a deeply rooted life together.
Admittedly, I started dreaming about our wedding about 5 months before we were engaged. That version is long gone, thank the heavens. What lives in its place is a gathering so rich in meaning and thought that I can hardly believe it’s ours.
Here’s how it all went down:
Winter 2021: Chris finds a guy on Twitter building his own house using traditional methods and we stumble across some YouTube videos about permaculture. We begin dreaming about what it could be like to own our own land. It’s a lofty idea but exciting nonetheless. The deeper we go down the rabbit hole, the more interested we became.
Spring 2022: We decide to move our travels to Tennessee. We pit stop in Chattanooga for 2.5 weeks which happened to land during the Garden Expo. The passion grows. I won an azalea, now proudly planted in the front yard. We learn a lot about trees.
Then we visited my parents who just moved to our family farm that sits on 22 acres in southern Tennessee.
The land, looking ragged and wild (not a compliment), was in its second succession after being farmed as a monoculture for decades. It wasn’t pretty. Overgrown with invasive species, dangerous uneven ground and generally unkempt.
We decided to make it our project.
One day as we are walking down the street in Chattanooga, I lament about my concern over paying for a wedding. I dreamt of renting a big house where we could host a weekend. But between the rental and vendors and every travel expense in between, I was feeling ~overwhelmed~. And that’s when Chris casually mentioned “We could get married at the farm”.
At the farm…in the middle of nowhere where the closest town of any size is 30 minutes away…
Where would guests stay? The place was unsightly. What about vendors? What, what, what?
Not to mention, neither of us are “country people”. We aren’t rustic, we aren’t backroads types. How do you turn the county into the idyllic countryside?
I told him I would do some research. Look into some things. Adjust my plan.
And that I did. Down a Pinterest and Google rabbit hole only to emerge with a nervous “yes”.
So that was it. We had a venue. We were getting married at the farm.
What’s in a name?
In those late April days we were sitting around the fire chatting while Chris grilled. My mom exclaimed, “well we’re going to need a name for the farm”. Surely we did but how in the world do you name a fifth generation farm that you know hardly anything about?
Mom pulled out a hand written story by my grandmother about the farms history.
And in the cursive lied our answer.
“A mare named Mable and a mule named Jack”
There it was: Mable and Jack Farmstead was born.
It took me about 6 months to work up the courage to publicly announce this new venture, not knowing the reaction. Like I said, this is a departure for me. No one knows this side of me: the small town girl.
Yet for me, this felt like coming back to myself. This entire year has felt like coming back to myself. Like I’m getting back to my core being. She never left, she just got covered up.
We keep finding treasures of the past generations. Daffodils, lilys, bearded irises, old barn wood. All holding stories of this farm’s past.
I feel a deep honor being the fifth generation to steward this land. I feel a deep sense of obligation to give back to the land what we’ve taken from it over the years.
To replenish what’s been lost and breath new life into these fields.
So what was once a scary proposition feels like the only natural decision: we are getting married on the farm.
Anywhere else wouldn’t be true to us. This land that we’ve partnered with is exactly where we are meant to be.
Our vision was clear.
We wanted to create an intentional weekend for our family and friends incorporating the things that make our life meaningful: good conversation, locally sourced food and wine, rich friendships, nature and beauty.
Inspired by the English countryside and infused with our southern and Italian heritages, we plan to transform our space into a lush, inviting space for 50 of our closest friends.
From the moment our guests receive their invitation, to the moment they leave, each detail is woven into a single story.
This isn’t about a wedding for us. It’s so much more than that. It’s an opportunity to open our home, our land, and our lives to those we love most. To invite them into an unhurried, unrushed weekend.
During this process I have two guides: my incredible partner Chris and a book that has become my gathering guide, “The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker.
Every decision, every detail, every piece of this experience is decided through the lens of our purpose and the result is something beyond our wildest dreams.
We started with our purpose before we ever reached out to our vendors. It’s interesting to see how much our purpose hasn’t wavered, not even a little during this whole process. That’s hard to do in the wedding industry which has such a strong influence.
Here’s the way we approached our vendor inquiries:
The purpose surrounding our wedding weekend is a celebration of our love with those who are most dear to our every day lives, an invitation into what we value and cherish, and an opportunity to connect with friends in an intentional and meaningful way. Every detail is intentionally chosen from the people attending (around 50) to the way we want the weekend to unfold. The aesthetic is English countryside with many of the pieces and items used coming from our personal antiques collection. We love the character of antiques and want to bring that into our wedding as well.
We are leaving a lot of tradition behind and creating a space that is quintessentially “us”. ***I added details about the weekend but since our guests may be reading this, I’ve removed them for now***
When I consider the flow of the wedding day, I don’t want us to feel caught up in a certain schedule or traditional rhythm but rather for everything to flow seamlessly like we were at someone’s home for dinner: abundant conversation, good food and flowing wine.
We are being very thoughtful about each vendor we work with, curating a team of people who align with our values and feel connected to what we are planning.
And that we have, our vendor team are best in class and bought into the vision. In a future post I will dive into our selection process and how I found each of our vendors.
As we approach our wedding in just a few months, I’ve been reflecting about this season. It’s been one filled with so much joy and almost no stress, quite the opposite of the expectation when planning a wedding. When I think about why that is, I’m brought back to our purpose. When we are rooted in our values, clear about our purpose and intentional with our choices, we live in clear alignment. Living in alignment doesn’t mean you don’t experience stress, it simply means that your choices don’t knock you off course. They keep you in the flow, the keep you moving forward, they take the pressure off.
During this season, wedding planning hasn’t taken over our life. It’s simply a story line of our life. I’m still running my business (and making big career moves), managing our farm, and building a new community. It’s a beautiful ebb and flow.