A Joyful Beginning
Jesse & Peter
Peter and Jesse’s rustic DIY wedding was the perfect start to their happily ever after.
By Alyssa Kavanagh Planeta
Photography by Andree Kehn Wedding Photography
Peter Johnson and Jesse Keith met through a mutual college friend. It was the summer of 2005, and Peter had just returned home from studying abroad in Paris. He was visiting one of his best friends from high school, who also happened to be a friend of Jesse’s.
Though Peter and Jesse instantly hit it off, they waited to begin dating. “It may have been love at first sight, but that love had a few battles to conquer first,” Jesse says. “I spent the following months breaking through Peter’s quiet and tough exterior, winning his trust, and aiding his self-discovery.” Five months after the initial introduction, with a solid foundation built, Peter and Jesse officially started dating.
Peter and Jesse’s relationship began during a snowstorm, so it was fitting that the proposal took place during a snowstorm five years later. The couple was celebrating their anniversary with a romantic dinner at the Top of the Hub, a restaurant located on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Center in Boston.
“At that moment, sitting above the city, the snowstorm raging outside made us feel like we were sitting in the clouds,” Jesse says. “That night was magical and nothing else mattered, except the person sitting across the table.”
After dinner, the couple decided to forego a walk through the city because of the weather and returned to their hotel room. Once they were cozy inside, Jesse and Peter exchanged anniversary gifts. When Peter opened his gift, he found a postcard made especially for him.
“On the front were photos from past vacations together, along with the lyrics from our favorite song,” Jesse says. “When Peter flipped the card to the reverse side, he found himself reading one simple question: Will you marry me? The answer was yes!”
Though Peter and Jesse both grew up in Massachusetts, Peter’s family has a vacation home in Bethel, and some of their best memories as a couple were made in Maine.
Getting married in the state that means so much to them was an easy choice. Choosing a venue, however, was a little more challenging.
“All the reception and ceremony locations we had looked at were beautiful, but each was missing one piece or another that we wanted to include in our wedding,” Jesse says. The couple eventually decided to have a DIY (do it yourself) wedding in order to encompass all of the unique ideas they had been reading about in wedding magazines and on websites.
A fall wedding ceremony on the Artist’s Covered Bridge in Newry was the perfect choice.
“What better way to decorate our wedding than with the natural beauty of New England and the foliage in Maine,” Jesse says. With the setting decided, the couple decorated the covered bridge with a hanging altar of mason jars filled with candles and flowers.
The couple planned a very personal ceremony, from start to finish. “Our ceremony was about us as a couple, more than a traditional wedding ceremony,” Jesse says. And it started with the couple walking down the aisle together. Peter and Jesse included three readings from their favorite children’s books and also a reading from a landmark state court case by which Massachusetts, their home state, became the first state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
“There is still a long road ahead for those in the LGBT community. However, each time a state embraces same-sex marriage, more committed couples can experience the joy Peter and I did on our wedding day.” Jesse says.
Following the ceremony, Peter and Jesse treated their guests to a wine tasting to complement their wedding theme: Autumn in Wine Country. “We had four stations pouring our favorite wines, all from vineyards we had visited as a couple around New England and California,” Jesse says. “Our wedding favors were souvenir glasses we had etched with our initials and wedding date.”
The couple’s wedding reception was held under a tent in Bethel at the vacation home of Peter’s parents. The couple included many DIY decorations in their reception design, from the centerpieces to the menus.
“Small touches throughout helped us achieve our vision,” Jesse says. There was a Radio Flyer wagon at the base of the bar, filled with glass-bottled sodas, four types of flavored water made with fresh vegetables and fruits, and their bar menu displayed on an antique mirror.
Peter and Jesse wove in traditions and special touches from family members throughout the day. Since Jesse’s family typically celebrates birthdays and other special occasions with pie instead of cake, Jesse’s mother baked several pies to accompany the couple’s wedding cake. They also had a s’mores station around a fire pit for an added treat.
Peter and Jesse’s big day was a tremendous success, largely due to the support from family and friends. “We planned the entire wedding ourselves,” Jesse says, “but our vision and plan would never have come to be without the help of our amazing families and a handful of our best friends.”
In Their Words
We asked the couple more about their big day. Here’s what Jesse and Peter said . . .
I’m so glad that . . . we followed our hearts and had the wedding of our dreams, despite the many challenges we faced. (Jesse)
One of my favorite moments was . . . Walking into our reception and seeing everything as I had envisioned. I had been in law school until the afternoon before the wedding and had not seen anything until the day of. (Peter)
Hearing the enjoyment of our friends and family during our ceremony, laughing and crying and hanging intently on every word, and then entering the tent and seeing Peter’s face light up when he saw all that I and our friends and family had accomplished in the last week while he was in school. (Jesse)
I really liked . . . when our last song was announced and then we kept partying for over two more hours, it felt like our reception was never going to end! (Jesse)
My advice to other couples is . . . don’t settle for a pre-packaged wedding if that’s not what you want. It will pay off in the end if you’re willing to put in the effort and make it your own. (Jesse)
Photographer: Andree Kehn Wedding Photography
Caterer: The Good Food Store & Catering Company
Rentals: One Stop Party Shoppe
, South Portland
Florist: Pooh Corner Farm
Baker: Marta’s Bakery