Every once in a while we get to experience a truly one-of-a-kind wedding experience. Melissa and Nicks’ intimate Wine Barn wedding was definitely one of those events. We are so thrilled to have received this beautiful account from the Bride herself. Read her beautiful words and see photos of their Big Day, captured by Cadwallader Photography.
Dancing down the aisle
by Melissa Crohn
Nick and I knew two things when we booked the Windmill Winery: we wanted our wedding to be “us,” and we wanted people to walk away from it thinking, “That was the best wedding EVER.” Well, a note about that last part…to be perfectly honest, Nick was the one who cared about our guests. I started out a little bridezilla: I cared how I walked away from my special day and everybody else had better get on the train and make choo-choo noises! But lucky for me, that feeling eroded away under the gentle pressure of a game-changing idea: that love is not just about the two people in it, but about the people and experiences that led them to love, and taught them to love well. My October 5th wedding at the Windmill was a celebration of that idea, and the 62 loved ones who brought it to life.
Picking a theme for the wedding was the hardest part for us. We are definitely a non-traditional couple, but not so much so that we were going to have a baseball, beer, or dinosaur-themed wedding – the best we could come up with according to our interests. The best decision we ever made was to make “family and friends” our theme, and to inject family memories and artifacts into every facet of the day. After a year of careful planning, I walked down the aisle carrying a bouquet of garden roses and dusty miller with sprigs of cotton intermixed, a tribute to my dad, who took me to pick cotton on the way to school when I was in kindergarten. Each of our centerpieces featured a lit antique lantern ringed by framed childhood and wedding photos we collected from our guests with their RSVPs. Our moms spent an entire summer gathering old family wedding photos, some four generations old, so that we could hang an emblem of their lifelong love on display. Our favors were antique keys tied with a hand-written tag describing why each person was “the key to our success” in life and love. I danced with my dad to a recording of him playing a piano piece my Grandpa composed, and we closed the evening with the song “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie, which Nick’s family watched religiously when he was young. Anything we brought in meant something to someone we loved; everywhere we went, people were telling stories and passing around photos, squealing “You remember that?!” and creating a kind of love snowball effect not just for me and Nick, but that we all got to play in all night long.
Now, we weren’t entirely selfless. Some elements were just for us. I’m not sure anyone could hear our vows, for example, and we were OK with keeping those words for ourselves.
But the elements that were totally “us” benefited everyone, I think. For one, Nick and I aren’t religious nor were we thrilled with the idea of having a stranger stand inches from us as we shared one of the most intimate moments of our lives. So we recruited Nick’s friend Andy, ordained online and unashamed to begin the ceremony a la Princess Bride. Andy’s ceremony sandwiched sweetness with the corniest of comedy, and we (and our guests) LOVED it. Instead of fighting nerves and tears (ok, maybe still tears), we hooted and howled with our guests. At one point I literally jumped up and down in my oh-so-serious lace gown, and Nick and I high-fived after Andy told us plainly that “love is being stupid together,” which we tooootally have covered.
And, well…our recession was case in point. We never really planned on cracking up over and over during our ceremony, but we did plan to end it with a bang. I mean, who wants to walk sedately into the future, especially when the immediate future is a party?! So as we had our first kiss as man and wife, our DJ Joel Gibbs dropped a beat (‘Everybody’ by Backstreet Boys), and as we were pronounced, I gathered my train and we launched into the aisle like the recently hitched rock stars we are.
Oh, there were awkward white boy moves. There was the hammer dance, or as close as one can get when wearing a mermaid-cut gown with a train. The best man and maid of honor rocked a lasso dance; the bridesmaids and groomsmen kicked it old school with the shopping cart and cabbage patch; my mom and dad tangoed and Nick’s parents got down with the flower girl. And as if it wasn’t enough fun in the moment, I now get to say truthfully that I held my husband’s hand and danced into married life.
With so much fun and meaning infused into our day, Nick and I felt disaster-proof on October 5th. It did not matter that our cake was round instead of square, that we’d left at home the 75 candles I’d hand-tagged with calligraphy for a special guest-participatory unity candle, or that one of Nick’s groomsmen had bought a blue vest instead of grey. We just laughed it off; our wedding was about people, not cake or candles or vests, so it didn’t matter if a few bits here or there didn’t pan out. Hell, it didn’t matter if NONE of them panned out! We were getting MARRIED, surrounded by the people we loved most in the world.
The tags on the forgotten candles our guests would have lit as they wound a trail of light up the aisle to our unity candle would have read, “You lit the path that led us to each other,” a phrase that perfectly captures the magic of our day. We got to celebrate not only our love, but the lives that led us to stand hand in hand under the Twisted Tree, all the people who taught us what it takes to foster lifelong love and family, and the light we will generate together – all of us – in the years to come, dancing all the way.
For information on hosting your big day at The Windmill Winery, please submit an inquiry HERE, or contact us at 480-313-2303.