We tied the knot on October 01, 2011!

Inspiration and Theme

When we thought of what we wanted for our wedding, we knew that first and foremost we wanted it to be a reflection of our love and commitment to each other, and of the support we’ve received from our friends and family. We wanted it to be casual and comfortable and fun. Ultimately, we wanted it to be about the most important aspects of our decision: our love, our family and friends, and spending the rest of our lives together.

We didn’t have a ton of money to spend on a wedding considering we bought a house and fixed up the yard in the same year, And we were okay with that. Therefore, the ceremony and reception took place in our own back yard and was mostly DIY. My dress was almost 30 years old (you’ll learn more about this in a minute) and my engagement/wedding ring came from an estate collection from the 1930’s, which screamed ‘vintage.” And because we were in our back yard with our closest friends and family, we wanted a garden party feel. And so ‘Vintage Garden Party’ was born.

We used minimal decoration to allow the natural beauty of our back yard and all the hard work we put into it. We spent several months before the wedding mulching, weeding, and building new steps into the lower part of the yard. My parents made several trips to help us out and, in the end, it was totally worth it because the yard looked amazing, which made the ceremony even more beautiful, too. Thanks, Mom & Dad!

Some Decor

I made a string of photos of Nick and me starting from early childhood and ending with us just a few years ago at my brother’s wedding, which we hung from the porch railings.

We made a “Just Married” banner out of burlap and white acrylic paint and hung it on the fence behind the food table to enjoy during the reception.

To keep the ceremony short, we chose one reading – Union by Robert Fulghum — which we added in between the acknowledgement of our parents and our vows. However, I found several other readings that perfectly described our sentiments of the day and I incorporated them into the wedding by printing them and placing them in frames for our guests to read.

Union by Robert Fulghum – You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks – all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will” – those late night talks that included “someday and somehow and maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this is my husband, this is my wife.

Love is a decision – Most of the time we think of love as a warm feeling that pulls two people together. However, that feeling is actually romance. Love is a decision. When you share your vows, you’ll be saying “I choose to love you. I will love you during the good days: the days of contentment, of companionship, and of happiness. I also choose to love you during the days of heartache, confusion, frustration, and yes, even days of stress.” No retreats and no regrets.

Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition. Tangible as well as intangible benefits flow from marriage. The benefits accessible only by way of a marriage license are enormous, touching nearly every aspect of life and death. It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a civil right.” Massachusetts State Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality

We set up our guestbook table with photos from our engagement shoot and with White Knots. Nick and I support marriage equality — and all human rights — so we found a nice, subtle way to showcase this in the wedding with the white knot. It wasn’t in your face, but it let everyone know our beliefs and values, if they didn’t already, and that was very important to us. We set it up so that anyone who chose to could wear a ribbon to show their support.

The message in the frame about White Knots says: Everyone should have the right to tie the knot. While we will forever look upon this day with great joy, we cannot help but feel sadness for our friends and loved ones who, under current legislation, have had their right to marry stripped away. The White Knot is a symbol of marriage equality. If you choose, please wear this knot to show your support for basic human rights. We hope that one day soon everyone will have the chance to experience the love and happiness of their wedding day. We believe in marriage equality! Nick and Nikki

The morning of, my parents and I purchased a bunch of supermarket flowers and made small bouquets (with the help of my amazing bridesmaids & groomsmaid) and tied them to the chairs that lined the aisle. We also made a few bouquets to add floral happiness to the yard. For the reception on our deck, Nick strung up some pretty lights and hung white paper lanterns from them.

Wedding attire

Even before we were engaged I knew I wanted to wear the dress my great-aunt made for my mother for her own wedding. I remember finding out that mom still had the dress in a box in her closet and I wanted to try it on, mostly just to see if it would fit. It was just a tad too big, but knowing that it was made with love by a family member made me realize that if I ever got married, I was going to wear this dress. With a few alterations, of course.

I redesigned the top into a simple, deep V in both the front and the back. I added a sash of ivory ribbon and a fabric flower just under the bust. We didn’t do anything to the bottom because the lace was so beautiful on its own, and my awesome seamstress snipped it so that it swished when I walked.  After attempting to make my own birdcage veil and not being able to get it quite right (and realizing that I didn’t want anything covering my face – nor did I like the origin behind the veil in the first place) I gave up and bought this veil piece from Etsy. It was perfect — folded French netting on a comb (I added extra pearls). The finished look was beautiful, if I may say so myself.

In keeping with our casual theme, we knew we wouldn’t put Nick in a tux or a suit, so he opted for dark brown trousers, a white button down, and a gorgeous brown vest and purple tie. Simple yet elegant. And besides, I think he’s extremely handsome in a vest!

Wedding Party attire: The girls wore their own green dresses that they picked out themselves. I asked them to choose a dress that was pretty and green but, most importantly, that they felt comfortable in. The guys wore white button downs with khakis and various green ties. Aren’t they all so gorgeous?

Ceremony

I know I’m a little biased but I have to say that I absolutely LOVED our ceremony. We practiced the processional twice the night before and got a little bit of a rehearsal in before guests started arriving the day of, but I was still nervous that we wouldn’t time ourselves to the music very well. But, like the rock stars we are, we did! It was perfect. I gave my dad a kiss, handed my flowers to my mom, and joined hands with Nick right as the music came to an end. It couldn’t have been any better!

The ceremony was also my favorite part because we wrote the entire thing ourselves. Here it is, in its entirety. *If you’re researching and reading this blog to try to write your own ceremony, please feel free to use any or all parts (except for my photos, those are mine and you can’t have them!).

Processional (music: Islands by The XX)

Opening Words & Acknowledgement of Parents

Family and friends, I welcome you to this day of celebration. Nick and Nikki have invited us here to their home to share in their declaration of lifelong commitment to each other. Your blessings, support, and encouragement are important to this union, not only now, but in the days and years to come.
Marriage is the promise of hope between two people who love each other, who trust that love, who honor one another as individuals even in that togetherness, and who wish to share the future together. It enables two separate people to share their desires, longings, dreams, and memories, their joys and laughter, and to help each other through their uncertainties. In the years that Nick and Nikki have been together, their love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and now they have decided to forever live their lives together as partners.
This union brings together two family traditions and two systems of roots in the hope that a new family tree may become strong and fruitful. Theirs is a personal choice and a decision for which they are responsible. However, their lives will be enriched by the support of their individual families. They offer their profound gratitude to their parents for all the love and care they have shown in raising them. The unconditional gifts of love and support that you have continually offered have inspired them to become who they are today, and they thank you for guiding them to this celebration of their love. Without you, this day would not be possible.
 
Parents, will you encourage and support Nick and Nikki in their relationship?
Response: We will.

Do you celebrate with them the decision they have made to choose each other?
Response: We do.
 
Will you continue to stand beside them, yet not between them?
Response: We will.
 
Nick and Nikki, you have come together from your varied life experiences to make public the commitment you have made to each other. You are combining your two separate lives into one. Although you will be sharing one life, don’t forget that you are two separate people. Cherish and affirm your differences. Love each other. Keep your commitment foremost in your minds and hearts. Together you will laugh and cry, be sick and well, be happy and angry, share and grow. Grow sometimes together, sometimes separately. But never remain stagnant. Love and life are always changing, always new.

Reading of ‘Union’ by Robert Fulghum

We offer a reading of the short passage ‘Union’ by Robert Fulghum to express the couple’s feelings about today:
“You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks – all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will” – those late night talks that included “someday and somehow and maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.”
Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this is my husband, this is my wife.”

Wedding Vows

Nick and Nikki will now exchange their vows:
 
NICK: “Nikki, In the presence of our family and friends, I take you to be my wife
I promise to be your partner, lover, companion, and friend;
I’ll be your greatest ally, your biggest fan, and your toughest critic,
Your comrade in adventure and your accomplice in mischief.
I vow to laugh with you in joy,
To be your comfort in sorrow and to turn to you in my times of need.
I promise to grow with you,
And to pay more attention to all of the little things
And to love, respect, and cherish you through all of our days.
 
NIKKI: “Nick, In the presence of our family and friends, I take you to be my husband
I promise to be your partner, lover, companion, and friend;
I’ll be your greatest ally, your biggest fan, and your toughest critic,
Your comrade in adventure and your accomplice in mischief.
I vow to laugh with you in joy,
To be your comfort in sorrow and to turn to you in my times of need.
I promise to grow with you,
To be slow to anger and quick to forgive,
And to love, respect, and cherish you through all of our days.

Exchanging of Rings

Now, our couple will seal their pledge by exchanging rings. Let the seamless circle of these rings become the symbol of your endless love and commitment. Your wedding rings are special because they say to everyone that even in your uniqueness you have chosen to be bonded and to allow the presence of another human being to enhance who you are. Your rings carry a potent double message: We are individuals and yet we belong; we are together. As you wear them through time, they will reflect not only who you are but also the union that you are now creating.
 
Nick, please place this ring on Nikki’s finger and repeat after me:
“I give you this ring to wear as a symbol of our unity. Wear it as a reminder that I love you every day of your life.”
 
Nikki, please place this ring on Nick‘s finger and repeat after me:
“I give you this ring to wear as a symbol of our unity. Wear it as a reminder that I love you every day of your life.”

Closing Words & Declaration of Marriage

Now, in the days ahead of you, there will be stormy times and good times, times of conflict and times of joy. I ask you to remember this advice: Always remember to do the simple and beautiful things that will make this love a treasure. Play. Communicate with each other. Laugh often.  Focus on what you want and bring it to fruition.  Together, plan for the things that are important to both of you and do them. Let your love be stronger than your anger. Learn the wisdom of compromise as it is better to bend than to break. Look for the best in each other rather than the worst. Confide in each other and ask for help when you need it. Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship. Say “I love you” every day.
 
Nick and Nikki, you have chosen to be joined in marriage and have declared your choice to each other and in the presence of this company. You have given each other your promises and have made your pledge by giving and receiving rings. Therefore, I now pronounce you partners for life.
 
You may now seal your union with a kiss!
 
Friends and family, I present to you the newly married Nick Castillo and Nikki Crews, husband and wife!

Recessional (music: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by The Darkness)

The ceremony was short, simple, and sweet. Definitely us!

We send a very special thank you to our friend, Brian, for agreeing to officiate the wedding and read the ceremony we wrote without judgement or complaint.

Reception

In keeping with our theme, the centerpieces were old mason jars, bottles, and vases of various shapes and sizes that we filled with more supermarket flowers. My mother, bridesmaids and I (they did most of the work, bless ‘em!) put together all of the flowers. As you can see from the photos below, we set up four rows of tables, each row consisting of two eight-foot tables pushed together and covered in white linens and a burlap runner. Each table contained two centerpieces for a total of four pieces per row. We arranged three jars (one small, one medium, and one large) together on one white lace doily and placed a few flower stems in each one. Simple elegance.

We had food catered from two places: Sweet Tomatoes supplied the delicious salads, baked potatoes, cookies and muffins, and The Q-Shack provided the meat: pulled pork and pulled chicken BBQ.

Now, here’s the best part: Nick made the cheesecake cupcakes himself! We had Raspberry Swirl, Blueberry, Plain, and Key Lime. He did such a great job on them that now he makes me all kinds of scrumptious cheesecake cupcakes!

We decided we didn’t want to do some of the traditional reception things like the bouquet & garter toss, cutting the cake and shoving it in each other’s faces, etc., so we didn’t. BUT the one thing I did want to keep was the first dance.

Nick and I danced to “You are the best thing” by Ray Lamontagne

My dad and I danced to “Father and Daughter” by Paul Simon (it was the only one that wouldn’t make me cry!)

Nick and his mom danced to “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men.

Then we had some amazing speeches, which we’re still getting complements on, so thanks to Karissa and Maria! And then everyone danced and mingled and hung out by the fire pit and it truly was the backyard garden soirée that we had wanted and worked so hard to plan.

You can read about the proposal here. We’re also super cool (or nerdy, depending on  how you look at it) and streamed our ceremony and parts of the reception live, which you’re welcome to watch on our Ustream page.

So, thanks for virtually attending our wedding! We hope you enjoyed what you saw and that we were able to inspire you to make your wedding what you truly want it to be, regardless of how “unconventional” that is. We’re still getting compliments on how great it was and how much fun our guests had and how it was definitely our style. And that made it all worth it!

We send another special thanks to Thad and Sarah Lawrence of 2 & 3 Photography for taking these amazing photos!