Ali and Jeffrey met for the first time as preschoolers in Brunswick, Maine. They met again as 19-year-olds hanging out at the same coffee shop. “My mother recognized Jeffrey the very first time I introduced them,” Ali says. “At the time, we weren’t aware that we had been friends as children!”
The couple had been dating for nearly 11 years before Jeffrey surprised Ali with a proposal. During a camping trip in September 2012 to celebrate their anniversary, Jeffrey handed Ali a small book he had made and illustrated while the couple sat around the campfire. On the last page, Jeffrey asked Ali to marry him. He created a simple birch bark ring for the occasion, knowing Ali wasn’t interested in a traditional diamond engagement ring.
“Jeffrey and I were both lucky enough to grow up in Maine, and we both cherish it for the place that it is,” Ali says. “Getting married here was a simple decision.”
The couple decided to get married at Ali’s parent’s home in Bowdoinham, Maine. Their ceremony was in the backyard, overlooking a meadow, and the reception was held in a 150 year old barn. “We worked with my parents all winter and spring to clean up the barn and decorate it,” Ali says. “My parents use the barn, plus it had accumulated a lot of stuff over its lifetime, so it was a monumental task. My mother is now a pro with a power washer! In the end, the barn looked as lovely as it ever had, without looking generic or overly preened like many other barn weddings we had seen in magazines or on Pinterest.”
The couple hung white paper lanterns overhead and wrapped the main posts with lights and grapevines harvested from the property. Ali and her mother made a chandelier with grapevines and lights as well. A carpenter friend of the family was making wooden tables for his daughter’s wedding later that year. He let Ali and Jeffrey use them for their own wedding in exchange for storing them in the barn all summer. “We topped them with burlap runners that my mom cut to size,” Ali says.
The couple also built a simple wooden arch for their ceremony and grew hyacinth beans up the sides of it all summer. “We planted two ceremony gardens with a tall, purple verbena and apricot zinnias,” Ali says. “Jeffrey and I both love plants and gardening, so it was a perfect project for us to work on together.” The couple grew many of the flowers for their wedding. “The day before the wedding we harvested buckets and buckets of flowers from our garden, and supplemented them with flowers from a couple of farms,” Ali says. Their team of flower arrangers included Ali’s mother, sister, brother in law, and aunt. “We put together bouquets, boutonnieres, and plenty of arrangements for the tables and reception area.”
Jeffrey, a potter, made all of the cups for their guests to take home as wedding favors. Ali stamped the bottom of all the cups with their initials and their wedding date. Guests got to choose their own cup to use at the reception and take home.
Ali and Jeffrey decided to have a “first look” on the porch before their ceremony. “We ended up walking around the back pasture and taking some great pictures,” Ali says. “Seeing each other before the ceremony was wonderful. It relaxed us and gave us some nice time together.”
In Her Words
We asked the bride more about her wedding day. Here’s what Ali said…
…I had had more time to see all of my friends and family.
I didn’t realize
…how challenging wedding planning can be, even for two very laid back people. We also didn’t realize just how expensive weddings are. Even when you try to contain the costs, they multiply!
One of my favorite moments was
…walking through the backyard with my father, both of us trying to relax the other as everyone watched us approach. I loved seeing Jeffrey beaming out at me, tears in his eyes, as I came down the aisle.
I really liked
…ditching some of the traditions associated with weddings and doing things that felt good for us.
My advice for other couples is
…when you get overwhelmed, focus on the details that are important to you. It’s easy to get bogged down in the multitude of small, silly decisions you have to make. Just make them and move on.
Photography by Brendan Bullock Photography
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Family barn, Bowdoinham
Catering: El Camino Cantina
Wedding Gown: Andrea’s Bridal
Florist: Flowers from family farm; Kennebec Flower Farm
, Bowdoinham; and Snell Family Farm
, Buxton. Arranged by friends and family.
Hair: Bubbas Hairstyling
Rentals: One Stop Event Rentals
, South Portland