[Images: Aimee Custis Photography]
SO many darling details from this real Maryland wedding from Aimee Custis Photography at Smokey Glen Farm. The couple took the farm theme to heart with so many handmade details that really came together beautifully! Meg shared SO many details on their wedding day (that are all below) but I always love when the couple makes it a point to create a wedding that is a reflection of them. It’s always so apparent too (and they always seem to be the MOST fun weddings as well!). Meg & Ray depended on family & friends alike to create this beautiful BBQ farm wedding and if nothing else, the summery weather will hopefully bring you some warmth on this chilly December day :)
From the bride:
It was important to both Ray and I that our wedding be a reflection of us, and most of all, we wanted the day to be super fun for all involved. Early on, Ray instituted the wedding planning motto “More fun, less formal!” Though there were plenty of traditional elements to our wedding, we did not want a cookie-cutter wedding ceremony & reception. And like the average bride & groom, we had to be extremely mindful of our budget when making decisions. What helped us out a lot was imagining the party we were throwing wasn’t a wedding. How would we go about spending our money to maximize fun? That helped us focus more on what we really wanted, and less on conventions.
We decided to DIY the wedding as much as possible, without driving ourselves crazy. We tried to keep it relatively simple, and enlisted the help of family and friends. My mom created the cloth banners to hang from the rafters and is turning them into a wedding quilt for us now. We created handstamped silverware pakcets using baker’s twine and kraft paper pouches. The bridesmaids and I also got together and created the centerpieces using dried flowers. My dad designed and built a wooden stand strung with twine for us to clip the seating cards onto. Ray got his Pinterest on and made wedding day madlibs for the guests, in lieu of a guest book (we are considering binding those into a keepsake book). My aunt Mary hand-painted pebbles as wedding favors for the guests – which was a nice family touch because Mary always handpaints gorgeous ornaments for the family every Christmas. Ray’s mom handpainted the table numbers, and also made an unforgettable pie-topper caricature of us out of clay. I have to admit, I was a little nervous about this one. She has made clay caricatures of a lot of family members, so we asked her to do a bride and groom one of us, maintaining veto power from the start. We laughed and laughed when we saw it, and the guests loved it. It will surely be a family treasure, even if Ray looks a little like Woody Allen and I a bit like Frida Kahlo! The whole event was a labor of love.
Click inside for the rest of Meg & Ray’s DIY summer farm wedding at Smokey Glen Farm in Maryland!
In the midst of an incredibly cold and snowy winter and early spring (we were convinced it would snow on our wedding day), we were blessed with a sunny, 85-degree day for our outdoor mid-April wedding. Our venue was indoor & outdoor, and we were thrilled to be able to utilize all the outdoor space & activities.
The morning of the wedding went smoothly. Some family members came to help setup, and hair & makeup was done at the venue. One of the groomsmen predictably forgot his shoes. We took care of our posed photos before the ceremony, and the whole photo shoot was fun and relaxed. Ray was being silly the whole time, and our photographers were very focused on keeping us happy in the moment. I had 7 bridesmaids and Ray had 3 groomsmen. I was nervous about being judged for having too many bridesmaids, and I also wondered if I should heed people’s advice in limiting the crowd. But I had decided early on it was going to be just my sister, or everybody on my list when it came to bridesmaids. I had a moment where I had decided it should just be me and my sister, but then I thought…. screw it, you are a grown ass woman, you know yourself, you know your friends, and this is going to be awesome. My bridal party included my sister, my sister-in-law, and 5 of my oldest friends, many of whom I’ve known for 20-30 years, and I was so thankful to have them there with me every step of the way. Who else could I trust to hold paper-towels under my armpits when I broke out into a full body sweat before the photo-shoot? I tend to surround myself with people who are just plain low-drama and nice, so having a big bridal party really was a great experience for me. This was the one area in the whole planning process that I felt pressure to conform to what others thought I should do, but I am 100% glad I trusted my gut on this one. It was very special to have them all there with me. My bridesmaids chose their own dresses and I asked them to walk down they aisle however they’d feel the most happy & comfortable.
Our ceremony was short & sweet, with an emphasis on the sweet, in my opinion! We had scouted out the biggest tree on the property to hold our ceremony under. My dad built and stained a simple wooden sign for us, and I hand-painted the sign to say “All You Need is Love,” the song our families & bridal party walked do the aisle to. The ceremony was un-seated, and all the guests gathered on a small hill under the tree. I was getting choked up waiting to walk down the aisle with my dad and kept telling everybody I was about to cry, so my bridesmaids busted out some ridiculous dance moves to keep me laughing and to calm my nerves. As I walked down the “aisle” (a rocky, dirt road down a hill), I clutched onto my dad’s arm and looked down the hill at all my friends and family, old and new, standing under that tree, with Ray at the end, and I felt an overwhelming since of love and acceptance. By the time I got to the crowd and could see everybody’s faces and hear the music (Catpower’s cover of “Sea of Love”) and see Ray standing there at the end, I was completely blissed out.
Ray’s brother and best man Chris was our “officiant” (we got legally married a few weeks earlier at the courthouse), which was great. We also built in a bunch of audience participation during the ceremony. As Chris welcomed everybody, he gestured towards some over-sized cue cards held up by another groomsmen that instructed audience members to “smile & nod” and “give a thumbs up.” That definitely lightened the mood. Then my bridesmaid Rachel led the audience in singing a beautiful call and response folk song about love and friendship (and I have to give her major props for doing this outside, with no mic, in front of 150 people!). Ray and I wrote our own vows and surprised each other with them, which added a really sweet element for us. I managed to get through mine without tears (just barely). After we exchanged rings, Chris signaled to the cue cards again and the entire audience pronounced us husband and wife and told Ray to kiss his bride! That was pretty awesome. As we made our way back down the aisle, a few of our friends started tossing cherry blossom petals they had collected in DC and brought to the ceremony in ziplock baggies. It was a completely magical moment! Ray & I walked arm & arm back up the hill to the reception hall while Ray read to me an extended version of his vows that he had chosen not to share with the entire audience. It was a very sweet moment, and he may have choked up, just a little.
The reception was a blast. It took place in an old chicken-coop! Because of the fantastic weather, we were able to slide open the barn doors and have the whole party open-air. Guests were able to hang out inside at the tables or outside on the picnic grounds. We hired a great, old-timey bluesgrass/New-Orleans jazz band who I’d seen at a festival (The Bumper Jacksons) to play all afternoon. There were horseshoe pits and a small putt putt course, which were a huge hit.
Ray & I were pretty low-key about the catering. The venue prepared BBQ’d meat, grilled on the site as the guests arrived, and a variety of picnic sides. We skipped the appetizers and went straight to the open buffet. We weren’t able to try any of the food beforehand, but it turned out to be delicious! Our guests couldn’t stop raving about the beef brisket (even months later). We also had a popcorn machine to satisfy any late-night drunken cravings, and it turned out to be a favorite amongst the kids in the crowd. We did put some special thought into our beer selection (this was Ray’s one major request!), which was surprisingly hard to pull together. We went through many version of the beer list, only to find out the distributors had never heard of our beers or that they mysteriously were no longer available. We ended up with a lot of great beers on the menu, but putting together a bar menu in a county that regulates all liquor and beer distribution was a bit of a challenge. Instead of a wedding cake, we had hearth-roasted pies, a la mode, cooked right there on site. I only tasted one bite, but from all reports, the pies were awesome. This also led to hysterical pie-eating contest amongst some of the guys later in the evening.
During the reception, we kept with the traditions we wanted to, which included speeches, first dances and a ceremonial cutting of the dessert (in our case, pie). I saw Ray cry for the second time that day during his brother’s speech. My father’s speech and the father-daughter dance were the most emotional part of the reception for me. He gave a heartfelt and moving toast. I’ve rarely seen him get choked up before, but he had to stop to recompose himself during the toast. I snuggled up into his shoulder for our first dance, and looked over to see my mom and best-friend clutching each other and bawling as they watched us. I really didn’t want that dance to end.
As it grew later, everybody began to drift inside, we cranked up my much toiled over and awesome dance playlist on Spotify, and danced the night away. The young kids took over the stage where the band had played, people sat around the campfire, the beer was flowing. When the party was over, we all loaded onto the bus back to the hotel and ended the evening in the bus with a fervent singalong to Bohemian Rhapsody piped through somebody’s iPhone speaker.
Photography & Video Timelapse: Aimee Custis Photography | Venue: Smokey Glen Farm | Centerpieces: DIYed by Bride, Mom & Bridesmaids | Bouquets & Boutonnieres: Smoky Mountain Woodcrafts (Etsy) | Pies: Cooked by the venue | Bride’s Dress: BHLDN | Dress Alterations: Anytime Alterations in Kensington, MD | Groom/groomsmen Suits: Jos A. Bank | Men’s Ties: MeAndMatilida | Hair & Makeup: Amy Rojas | Band: The Bumper Jacksons | Wedding Invitations: online invite only! | Meg’s Ring: Catbird | Necklace: BHLDN | Earrings: Vintage Miriam Haskell – found at Legendary Beast on U Street