Today’s wedding is special to us, not just because it’s meaningful and lovely, but because it took place in our neighboring city, Durham! Erika + Jon knew right away that they would get married in Erika’s mother’s back yard. The decision just “felt right” and another venue never even occurred to them! According to the bride, “With all the memories that we share in that yard, that house, that neighborhood and that town, there really was no other place that could have compared. Choosing a look or style for the wedding wasn’t quite as easy… so, I didn’t.” The hodge-podge of elements that E + J used put the groom at unease at first, but we think it came together marvelously! We’re sending out big thanks to Oh, Darling Photography for sharing this wedding with us.
Tell us about finding your wedding dress: Ugh, wedding dresses are the worst, right? They’re heavy, they’re uncomfortable, they all look the same and they’re so expensive. I swore to myself that I’d find an interesting dress that was comfortable, affordable, and had straps so I could dance all night and not bat an eyelash. Turns out, that doesn’t exist. After scouring the internet and even a few bridal boutiques, I settled on the next best thing. I bought a 1950s eyelet dress off of www.poshgirlvintage.com without trying it on. I worked with a seamstress to rework the bodice so it would fit me better. Comfort aside, it was all I ever wanted. It was lovely — right for the environment and right for me.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? We didn’t write our own vows mostly because we’re lazy but also because we’re secretly traditional. The old fashion vows are pretty good and they’ve certainly stood the test of time.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? Jon’s mom is an elementary school librarian with a reading voice so sugary-sweet it’ll give you a toothache. She has a gentle, Southern tone that I could listen to all day, so she was a shoo-in for the reader position. We let (read: forced) her to choose the literature herself and she picked the perfect thing. She read Mark Twain’s letter to his fiancé Olivia about their wedding day and it made me melt.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding. Michael Cumella, our Antique Phonograph DJ, chose our processional and recessional songs from his library of frisky 78s. They were early 1900s tunes that were perfect for our garden-like wedding. Walking down the aisle is already an awkward moment, and having a romantic or somber song would have only amplified that for me, so I shook it up a bit with a silly song. I opted for “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Wanna Do It)” by Al Jolson for my down-the-aisle-stroll. We danced our first dance to Beirut’s “Elephant Gun” because we both love it and we never got sick of it. After much debate, my dad and I settled on “Unforgettable” by Nat & Natalie Cole. That was a good choice because we could easily sway along to it without much need for steps or fancy moves.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? I call it DDIY, Delegated DIY. I have the privilege of being surrounded by a ton of truly talented, patient and inspired people. My amazing Aunt Laura spontaneously free-hand-lettered the chalkboard menu, my brother-in-law Owen designed our logo from his home in Japan, my sister-in-law revealed her hidden lettering talent when she offered to paint all the directional signs, my best friend and co-worker Theresa designed the incredible carnival cut-out, and my mom and her friends hand tied all the ribbon dancers. I’d have the say that the ultimate DIY was more of a DIN — Do It, Neighborhood! In the week leading up to the wedding, my mom posted on the neighborhood Listserv that two local lovers would be tying the knot in her backyard. She explained that people from all over the country would be visiting her home to celebrate and she wanted to show her friends and loved ones what spirit and community her neighborhood has. She asked our friendly neighbors to collect any blooming flowers from their yard and drop a bundle in the mason jars that she would be leaving on her front porch overnight. When we woke up in the morning of the wedding, the jars on the porch were filled with the most incredible array of flowers, every different kind and color imaginable. It was like Christmas morning. We used the flowers all over, in various spots. They were like little tufts of love and support scattered around. There is amazing spirit in Durham.
What is the one thing you are most happy you splurged on? I LOVED the Phonograph DJ, Michael Cumella. He came all the way from NYC to DJ our wedding in North Carolina and I think it was worth every penny. Having sounds from the early 1900’s emanate from those great big horns really set the mood like nothing else could. It was quirky, it was fun, it was entertaining and original and the responses from the guests confirmed our decision. The splurge with the most lasting impact was the photography. Having a great photographer to capture your day just the way you remember it is priceless. Though I’d say that the photographers were less of a splurge and more of a necessary expense.
How much do you love this next set of photos? I can just feel the warm air and the clinking of glasses as the toasts are made!
In what month did you get married? April
How many guests attended your wedding? 110
Describe your wedding cake or dessert: Jon and I agreed that wedding cake is overrated so we went with pie. My mom, apparently, was not keen on this idea so she surprised both of us with the most incredible wedding cake imaginable. Jon’s last name is Ham, so my mom commissioned Sweet Flamingo Cakes to sculpt an anatomically perfect ham out of carrot cake and frosting. Not only was this thing a masterpiece that could fool the naked eye, but I heard it was tasty, too. (I wouldn’t know cause I gorged myself on coconut cream pie from Once in a Blue Moon Bakery all night.)
What range did your wedding budget fall into? I think we were in the middle of $25,000 and $50,000. It was totally worth it.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? At about 10pm, the gods relented, the skies opened up and the water of a thousand oceans came pouring down on the dance floor. Hot summer rain fell, off and on, for the rest of the night, but the dancing never stopped. At one point, Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson” came on and the whole wet wedding party hollered “you can plan a pretty picnic BUT YOU CAN”T PREDICT THE WEATHER!” in unison. It was amazing.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? My advice to women planning weddings is to do what you like, have fun and ignore the rules. Don’t fall for the idea that you can only have flowers as centerpieces. You can put whatever you want in the middle of that table. Anything. We had a crate full of toys, trinket and magic tricks because that’s what I like. As for the venue, our decision was based primarily on feelings and memories, but there were some practical elements that played a small role. We wanted a wedding that could go on all night (we didn’t want to be forced out of a venue at ten), we wanted a cozy-homey feel, and we wanted a place that had some sentimental significance to us. Fortunately, my mom’s house matched all the criteria, so we got lucky there. But the advice remains the same: do what you like.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you looking forward to in the future? We’re heading to Japan in September for our Honey-plus-one-y-moon. The plus one is Jon’s brother who lives in Japan… not a baby.
Oh, Darling Photo is a fabulous member of our Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory!