Jerith Bailey and Jason Groom knew each other for quite a while before they officially met — they had mutual friends where they lived in Chicago. They bonded one night during dinner with the group, and the sparks began to fly. Their initial conversation started as they bonded over their mutual small-town backgrounds: Jerith is originally from Patten and Silver Ridge, ME, and Jason from Penn Yan, NY. “Jason and I were in similar social circles for a while, just casual acquaintances. One night we were out to dinner with a large group of friends, and we found ourselves engaged in a passionate discussion about how we both loved living in the city but missed the rural, small-town areas where we grew up. It was loud at the restaurant, so we snuck away to our own table to continue talking. The next weekend he made his move to see if I was interested!”
After getting to know each other, Jerith and Jason developed a friendship that quickly turned into something more profound. Jerith realized at a pivotal time in her life that Jason was quickly becoming her soulmate. “I knew Jason was “the one” early in our relationship. I was going through a hard time in life, and I felt at rock bottom. I was upset one night, trying to figure out how to handle a big life problem on my own, when he approached me and said, ‘I see you suffering right now. I know this is hard. I know you can do it. I’m here to help if you need me.’ At that moment, I knew that he would always have my back. He is the man who provides for me when I am at my lowest, so we can thrive when I am at my best.”
As the years went by, Jerith and Jason settled into their happy life together. His proposal was anything but traditional. It wasn’t a proposal at all! “Jason and I had been living together for about two years, and we were on an annual camping trip. One night around a campfire with our friends — he just leaned over and casually said, ‘You are going to be my wife one day.’ I will admit that I raised an eyebrow, but he was right, so I didn’t contradict him. I did, however, make him wait. I never verbally agreed and instead just planned a wedding I knew he would love and invited him to it!”
Jerith and Jason’s love of their small-town roots influenced their wedding plans, which led them to Maine — back to Jerith’s hometown of Silver Ridge. Jerith, her mother, and grandmother all grew up planning in the same woods in northeastern Maine. They planned their wedding ceremony and reception in these same woods and orchards that have been in Jerith’s family for generations.
“When I was planning the wedding, I toyed with a lot of different ideas — eloping on our own to Iceland, renting out the brewery Jason works at for a big shindig, you name it, I thought of it. But in the end, the opportunity to get married presented itself. A bunch of our friends, our chosen family really, got together to travel to Maine for a two-week trip. I decided to do it then, and I didn’t tell anyone in advance. When folks arrived for the vacation, I handed them an invitation for the wedding, two days away, and asked them to come.”
The couple decided not to have a specific theme for their wedding and instead chose to make decisions that made them the happiest. “Our location was so gorgeous that we didn’t need a specific decor theme, but overall, I made decisions that prioritized being happy,” Jerith remembers. “If something felt stressful, I cut it from the day. Whenever I had a choice, I made the one that would allow us to focus on how much we loved each other. So maybe the theme was stress-free!”As their planning progressed, Jerith’s family pitched in and helped the couple inte-grate important memories into the day. “My aunt and cousins, who all live in Maine, helped me plan everything from afar. They produced it all that day so that I could have a quiet, stress-free day. It was such an incredible gift! All of the decor for our wedding was sourced from my grandmother’s house that sits on the property. We brought out antique tables, artwork, teacups for the wine, and dishes from her china set. My aunt and cousins decorated the space for us with flowers from their gardens and even set up a small altar with pictures of my late mother and candles so that we could feel her with us. She loved Jason!”Additional meaningful touches included whimsical things like Jason’s favorite birds printed on his socks, tie, and pocket square, and Jerith’s special Cartier love bracelet to which Jason holds the screwdriver. Jerith also realized her dream of a velvet wedding dress —in a beautiful rich red that matched the colors of the forest and fields.
Ultimately, they kept things stress-free and simple and let the location and atmosphere itself set the tone for the day. “Because we were married during the pandemic, we kept our reception small and held it in the same location. We didn’t have a traditional reception with dinner and dancing but instead hosted those who could attend for a very casual picnic outside in the apple orchard. The whole affair lasted only two hours, and it was perfect. We took our pictures in a lane behind the house filled with pine trees and old cars that I grew up playing on as a kid. And I went barefoot just like I did as a child.”
Jerith and Jason’s wedding day finally arrived. Jerith remembers it being peaceful and full of special memories. “Our day was so stress-free it was glorious. In the morning, I went for a swim in the frigid water in Island Falls with some girlfriends and then ate a lovely breakfast our best man prepared for us. We went into town to pick up my flowers, drove to my grandmother’s house, and got ready separately. I did my hair and makeup by myself, in the same room I’d used to get ready as a child for many years. I liked that, and it felt like tons of my female ancestors were with me.”
“When it was time for the ceremony, things went off so easily, with nothing but joy! I was thankful to be able to savor the moment and listen with an open and carefree heart to our officiant’s words and Jason’s vows to care for me”. I asked my grandmother to walk me down the aisle. She had a big smile on her face, and I’ll never forget it.” Then walked down the aisle to their favorite song, “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell, performed by their friends Addison and Clara.
Afterward, the small group gathered on picnic blankets to relax and enjoy the food prepared by Jerith and Jason. “I’m well known in our group of friends for my charcuterie boards, so I catered the wedding myself, and made an elaborate spread, and included all of my man’s favorites. I served it on a cutting board that I made Jason for Christmas a few years prior.” As a special treat for Jerith, Jason made the wedding cake himself. “Jason made our wedding cake, a pavlova, from scratch the evening before. It is my favorite dessert, and I’ve never successfully been able to make one, so he learned how to do it for me as a sign that we will always help each other.” Not to be outdone, Jerith surprised Jason with six bottles of wine from his favorite winery in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Despite the challenges posed by 2020, Jerith and Jason’s wedding was exactly how they envisioned it, and they wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Photographer: Morgan Lynn Portraits
Caterer: Jerith, with Ellis Family Market from Patten, Maine
Florist: Georgia Bragdon McNally, Patten Drug Store Florals