Where to start…
We had been planning the big wedding since last year. A beautiful wedding for 130 guests in the Berkshires (Western MA), not too far from where the groom grew up, and where his parents currently live. Their welcome party was planned in the lush gardens of Zack’s parents property. The wedding was designed to the “T”, at one of the most gorgeous private properties in the Berkshires. The brunch was booked at the idyllic White Hart, a spot where some guests planned to stay. And then Covid-19 happened. At first we were all in denial… but then reality started to kick in. We realized we need to postpone the wedding and make other arrangements. That a 130 person wedding was just not in the cards. Our team got to work and hit the ground running. We started creating spreadsheets with vendor availabilities for the fall of 2020, as well as dates in 2021. Replanning involved countless zoom calls and brainstorming…and then one day Julie and Zack requested another call. They had thought long and hard and together came up with a plan that fit them best. They didn’t want to wait any longer, and decided to stick with the original date and scale it down to 10 ppl with the rest of guests witnessing the ceremony on zoom – at a new location, Zack’s parent’s house.
A New York Times Podcast featured Zack & Julie’s wedding – focusing on the uniqueness of this wedding during COVID19. When interviewed, they discussed a southern tradition passed on by their brother-in-law. One month prior to the wedding ceremony the couple buried a bottle of bourbon upside down near where they were planning to say their vows. Folklore says, by following this ceremonious burial, they’ll be graced with beautiful weather (with an additional prayer for reliable internet)! Fast Forward to post-ceremony, they had a shovel in hand and dug up the bottle to toast together with all the zoom guests.
It was a perfect day (sunny with a touch of June chill in the air) – the tradition definitely worked!
The ceremony was the main focus of the wedding, and to be completely honest, this was one of the most emotional ceremonies I have witnessed. I have a habit of crying at all of the weddings I am a part of, but this one was very special. It was truly from the heart. All of the extras were stripped away to focus on the central theme of two people in love, coming together and showing that love is a constant and is so crucial in such a crazy time.
As an added touch, all guests received envelopes prior to the date and were asked to open them just minutes before the ceremony. It was a personal letter to every single one of them. This special moment made all the guests (whether they were there in person or via wifi) that they were important in creating the perfect day for Julie and Zack.
The opening words were heartwarming: “You are getting married in the middle of one of the most remarkable times in our country–this precipice of change, hope, and a hopefully new order that will be more equally beneficial for everyone. I cannot think of a more exciting time to commit to LOVE over everything else, to stand up with Zack in front of your most loved ones and openly choose love.”
The Seven Blessings were next. Six of the blessings were given by both guests physically at the wedding and and guests over zoom. For the seventh blessing, zoom guests were asked to write down their personal prayer for the couple on a piece of paper in large letters. The officiant directed all guests to hold up their word(s) for the couple to see.
After the couple received their blessings they exchanged their vows – heartwarming and you could feel the love and trust they shared with one another (yes, I cried again). Cocktails and speeches followed.
After the cocktail hour guests sat down at little round tables, placed more than 6ft apart around the pool. They were surrounded with candles, cute bistro lights and lots of magic.
Festivities continued around the bonfire with stories, lots of laughter, love and cake (of course) baked by the bride’s maid of honor. The couple surprised the bride’s parents by choosing the same cake flavor as they had when they got married years ago.
Julie and Zack expressed the next day that this wedding was better than they could have ever imagined. They did dream about a big wedding but this one definitely exceeded everyone’s expectations. Although small – the intimacy created a day that was so memorable and special.
“Looking around and seeing that we are all still here together – in new ways – celebrating love and making the most of the moment – leaves no doubt in our minds. Thank you for loving us into this moment and for everything you’ve done to immeasurably enrich our lives.
Finally to our parents – thank you for your love, support, and superhuman patience over the years and especially recently as a long engagement somehow turned into a shotgun backyard wedding. We know it hasn’t always been easy, but one of the many silver linings of this situation has been getting to spend so much of these past few months with you.”
Vendors who made all of this happen: