This weekend, we went off the grid and flew to rural Ohio to celebrate two people very near and dear to our hearts.
We first met Layne and Brian through Semester at Sea, and they quickly rose the ranks in the category of Our Favorite People, Ever. It really only took a day in South Africa for us to know they were going to become our lifelong buddies, but international travel has a way of quickly cementing a friendship and we continued to have adventures with them, both abroad and domestic—from braving the traffic in Vietnam, diving in Honduras and frolicking in flower fields in Holland to visits in Virginia and birthday celebrations in North Carolina. In fact, other than SVV, Layne is the person with whom I’ve traveled the world the most!
When I say the wedding was perfect, that’s not a cliche; it truly was. The whole thing could have easily been sponsored by Pinterest with as much DIY-ing as Layne’s parents Sam and Adele and her sister Abby did leading up to the big day.
Layne and Brian secretly got engaged when our ship docked in Malaysia this very week two years ago, so some of us were wondering if they ever would tie the knot! Two years is a long time. I’m glad they waited for a time that felt right for them (even though it was killing the rest of us!). Selfishly, I’m also grateful they didn’t go with Layne’s initial idea of an intimate beachfront ceremony in Costa Rica and allowed the rest of us the honor of being a part of her big day.
The whole shebang was held on the homestead Layne’s family has owned in the beautiful, lush Hocking Hills since the 1800s. When she warned us we might not have service, she wasn’t kidding—from the time we neared Logan, Ohio on Friday until we got back in range on Sunday morning, we were logged off (both Wi-Fi and cell). Given that my conference is just 10 days away, I thought this might propel me into full-blown anxiety attack mode, but it was actually relaxing to be forced to remain present for a change.
All week long, the weather forecast was clear and called for 78 degrees. Then, we woke up on Saturday to overcast skies and a definitive fall chill. I worried all afternoon that the rain might start at any moment, but literally 15 minutes before Layne walked down the aisle of hay bales, the clouds parted and the sun peeked through the foliage, which had just started to turn overnight.
I think it’s Layne’s radiance (inside and out) that brought the sun; she emerged, and we all were wiping tears from our eyes—uh, suffering from seasonal allergies, I mean.
I know people say this for all brides, but seriously: Have you ever seen a prettier one? The answer is no, because never did one exist.
And then it was time for happy hour! (My favorite time of day.) There were His and Hers cocktails—whiskey and ginger, vodka and cranberry (no prizes for guessing which one got my order)—and a full bar. I’m not sure how they got all that catering and booze into the middle of the woods, but by God, it was a well-stocked affair.
For me, the wedding was a reunion of sorts, seeing ship friends old and new. Adele had booked several of us a cabin all together right behind the property, where we got to catch up, drink bourbon and indulge in some late night hot tub debauchery. It was also nice seeing the girls I met at the bachelorette party in Charleston once more. Weddings are a funny thing in that you often meet awesome people during all the festivities that build up to the big day itself, hit it off … and then never see them again. I guess that’s when Facebook comes in handy!
We got to meet a new ship friend, too, who was born to our former Semester at Sea colleagues Michelle and Andrew since the last time we all sailed around the world together.
His bow tie charmed the socks off of all of the wedding guests.
After the bride and groom had their portraits made bathed in the late afternoon autumn light, it was time for the speeches, dinner and a lil’ dancing. (Kudos to Abby for toasting to her new brother-in-law’s flatulence.)
Once people were finished eating, SVV and I set up a pop-up photo booth against the shed per Layne’s request.
It was a huge hit, I’d like to think.
I stupidly forgot my tripod attachment back in Tennessee, so I wound up shooting mobile the whole time with a light box that Spencer—my good friend and the official photog—had brought along, and I think the whole concept was a great addition to an already awesome wedding. Emilie had typed up 50 words—or wishes that the guests could send the bride and groom—and I loved the effect.
We printed out many of the photos afterward and let people take them home as wedding souvenirs. I would highly suggest that anyone having an outdoor wedding invest in an $80 wireless photo printer and set up their own photo booth as it really adds a whole new element of fun!
The whole weekend was over far too fast. I woke up Sunday with a fun hangover—you know the feeling, when you wish it were Groundhog Day and could relive the previous night all over again—and I’m already trying to figure out the next long weekend when I can plan a quick trip up to Charlottesville again.
We’re all wishing so much love and a century’s worth of happiness and adventure to our newlywed friends, as well as a huge thanks to Adele, Sam and Abby for throwing such a phenomenal wedding—you all really should consider a career change and go into the event-planning business, family-style!