When a couple with a passion for organic farming ties the knot, you just know their wedding is going to be full of homegrown goodness. Josie and Shawn used plenty of local, seasonal foods and flowers at their wedding, but they also took the cozy feeling of home one step further–their venue was a farm where they, and many of their guests, had attended grade school functions over the years. The sentimental location was a natural choice, and the fact that it was a farm was a perfect fit for Josie and Shawn!
Thanks so much to Ashley Relvas for sharing this sweet day with us!
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? Yes. We had a Quaker ceremony and we entered together. Since we both work outside and have been farmers for a long time, we don’t get dressed up very often. We thought it would be fun for everyone to see the whole look all at once as a surprise! We were so glad we did it–it was exciting!
We knew we wanted to be married outside on a farm. Quailhill Farm is very special, as it has always been a part of our school community. Elizabeth and Peter were extremely generous in inviting us to have our wedding there! Elizabeth is the librarian at the school we grew up attending together, and their daughters went to school with us. Fun school-related events were often held at their farm, so it was a special place for a lot of people who attended our wedding.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Yes, and one of our favorite phrases was, “I will accept you for exactly who you are.” We have practiced this in our six years of dating and will continue to through our marriage. We will work to accept and support each other even as we change over time.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? Our wedding was all Maryland (yes, Maryland is technically the South)–the food and flowers were all grown, arranged, and prepared in Maryland! We were married on a working farm surrounded by mostly Marylanders, plus the occasional North Carolinian.
Our wedding flowers were gorgeous! Our friend Jackie from De La Tierra Gardens in Carroll County, Maryland grew and arranged them for us. We knew we wanted lots of texture, whites, greens, and little pops of color. She really blew us away. She used a beautiful mix of whites and greens with poppy pods, dusty miller, hydrangea, peonies, and so many other beautiful and seasonal flowers. They really made the tables special. Her dad even made the cedar boxes that the table arrangements were in!
What was one way you saved money or cut costs at your wedding? We made all the favors, place cards, signs, and other details for the day. We used hay bales that the farm already had for ceremony seating–we just had to help get them out of the barn and set them up! We decorated the ceremony with flowers in cheap metal bins from the hardware store and the caterer was able to provide cushions for the bales for a really low price per cushion. We only served beer and wine, and we were able to get a discount on both since we were working directly with the brewery and winery. Lastly, the dancing was going to go on for longer than the caterer was supposed to stay, so we had them put the beer and wine in a cooler and pack up on time so we didn’t get charged overtime for their staff! It worked out really well!
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met in middle school when we were 11 years old. We were good friends for all those years and went to separate colleges, but kept in touch on holidays back home in Maryland. After college, just before Shawn went into the Peace Corps (two and a half years in Morocco!), we started seeing a lot more of each other. We wrote a few letters back and forth the first year he was gone, and during the second year, we picked up the pace. I went to visit him for two weeks in May 2008 and we’ve been together ever since. Throughout our long-distance first year together, we sent a journal back and forth that we called “The Book,” where we wrote journal entries, letters, drew pictures, made collages, added photos and stickers–it was such a great way to stay close through all that time apart. When he returned, we apprenticed on a couple of organic farms together (spending as much time together as possible!) and we’ve both been in agriculture and farm education since then.
Tell us all about the proposal! We had recently moved and had been hoping for months to go on a camping trip. We finally got a date on the calendar to go for a hike in the mountains a few hours north. As we approached the peak, Shawn kept checking the map to make sure we were in the right place–which should have been a clue, since we usually just go with the flow! I kept saying, “I’m sure we’ll find it, we’ll just keep going up!” When we made it to the view he had in mind, we stood close to each other, side by side, just taking it in. He put his arm around me, held out the ring, and said, “What do you say we get married?” I saw the ring and my mind started racing–it was my grandmother’s engagement ring! How did he have it? When did he get it? That meant my parents knew! With my hands over my mouth, I looked up at him and said “WHAT??” He chuckled and went on to say so many nice things about me and us and how amazing it would be to get married after five years of dating and almost 20 years of friendship. We hugged, cried a little, jumped up and down, and I eventually remembered to actually SAY yes. After we bounced down the mountain on our way to celebrate, we signed out of the log book with the time and “We’re engaged!!”
When did y’all get married? June 14, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? About 150
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I knew the neckline and waistline I was looking for and found something affordable on Etsy! I had it fitted shortly after receiving it and I loved it!
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? During a Quaker ceremony, there is a period of silence after the couple says their promises where guests can share messages. We asked our mothers to end the ceremony with a reading or message that they wanted to share. They were both so special and meaningful, and they both quoted Wendell Berry (one of our favorite authors)!
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. Our first dance was to Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am.” Not only does this song speak to the part of our promises I mentioned before, but we also passed this song back and forth while Shawn was in Morocco, so it is a little bit nostalgic for us.
Describe your wedding cake or dessert. We had pies made with seasonal fruits, strawberry rhubarb and blueberry crumb. There was also a chocolate pie for folks who don’t love fruit pies. They were delicious!
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? It was a beautiful day with a bright blue sky and a cool breeze. The most memorable moment of this perfect day was sitting down after we finished exchanging promises and rings during the ceremony, and we looked around to see all our friends and family surrounding us. It was so exciting and comforting to have everyone there.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We recently moved to Brooklyn and both have jobs working with urban farms and gardens. We are looking forward to settling into our new lives here, but we miss our family down South!
Photographer: Ashley Relvas Photography / Venue: Quailhill Farm / Florist: De La Tierra Gardens / Catering and Pies: Ridgewells / Rentals and Lighting: ABC Party and Tent Rental / DJ: Josh Rhett of My Deejay / Invitations: Paperless Post / Bride’s Shoes: Modcloth / Groom’s Attire: J. Crew