2.19.11 Alison and Steven

Cape Neddick, Maine ~ Greystone Manor

Steven and I met at Turducken VI, the sixth-annual Super Bowl party at my condo in Chicago. Turducken had started as a small get-together of my University of Chicago friends (we were all working on our Ph.D.s in Genetics) and grown into an annual meat-eating football extravaganza. It wasn’t uncommon for friends-of-friends or other stragglers to show up.

Steven had moved to Chicago more recently than we had–a few months before he showed up at my door. He was trying to grow his circle of friends, and as part of that goal, he joined several meet-up groups. At his backpacking group, he met a girl who was a friend-of-a-friend, and she invited him to my Super Bowl party. On his way there, he almost turned back several times, thinking he wasn’t too excited about going to a party where he only kind-of knew one person.

He made his way to my neighborhood but realized that he didn’t have my condo unit number. He called his mom, and she encouraged him to just go in and see what happened. So he did. He followed a random stranger who looked like he was going to a Super Bowl party, and it turned out to be the right one. I remember answering the door and immediately thinking he was cute. We talked throughout the party, and he was the last person to leave, along with my friend Latishya. Latishya didn’t want to leave me alone with a random guy we just met, so she wouldn’t leave until he did. They both headed to the elevator, and Steven circled back and asked for my number. He still has that slip of paper with my number written on it stuck to the magnetic board in our office.

He called the next day, and we talked for five hours. Our first date was that Thursday, and he cooked me dinner. He made spaghetti and a salad (unfortunately he burned the garlic bread), and his roommate Mark was there too for moral support. He didn’t know that I don’t eat vegetables, but I didn’t want to seem too weird at first, so I politely took a few bites.

We continued to hit it off, but unfortunately I got sick that weekend. He thought I was blowing him off, but really I just didn’t want him to see me when I was sick. We did get together for Valentine’s Day the next week. He cooked me dinner at my condo and brought me a Star Wars valentine with Yoda on it that said, “My trusted ally, you are.”  He had written “Will you be my valentine?” on the back.

Soon after, I discovered that my company’s annual ski trip to Jackson Hole had a few open slots, so I asked Steven if he wanted to come along. He did, and he brought what he said was “the best present I’ve ever given to a girl.”  I opened it up and it was a compass. He said that it was tradition to give someone you care about a compass so that they can always find their way back to you. Apparently he had been holding on to it for years (throughout other long-term relationships, even), waiting for the right person. He gave it to me within four weeks of the Super Bowl party.

The rest, as they say, is history. About a year and a half into dating he decided he wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, and I was not all that enthusiastic about him taking a six-month walk in the woods. He said he would never do something like that if we weren’t at least engaged first, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when he proposed at his grandfather’s house in Kentucky a few months later.

It was a fairly long engagement, as we decided to have the wedding be a transition from our life in Chicago to our new life somewhere else. Since the hike takes six months and has to start in the February/March time frame, we decided on a September wedding in Maine, which is the state where the Appalachian Trail ends.

So, at about the three year mark, he hit the trail to “hike to the wedding”.  The record of his hike can be found at www.thatsalongwalk.com. We both quit our jobs and left Chicago, and I stayed in Pennsylvania to spend time with my family while he was on the trail. The six month hiatus gave me a ton of time to work on DIY wedding items. I learned to screen print, and I designed and printed all of the wedding paper items (e.g., save the dates, invitations, program booklets, karaoke books, menu cards, CD favors, place cards, water bottle labels, etc…).  It was a family affair, as my dad helped us make the wooden candle holders for the centerpieces and served as a makeshift wedding coordinator when ours failed miserably, my mom sewed the burlap table runners and baked the Funfetti cupcakes, and my brother helped with assembling the paper lanterns and invitation packages while being a key go-to guy on the wedding day.

Steven and his hiking partner made it to Maine on time–my brother and I picked them up at the end of the trail a week before the wedding. And we reintroduced them to civilization by spending the last pre-wedding week at a rented cabin an hour or so from the wedding location. A few hikers even ended up joining us at the cabin and the wedding.  There was a lot to do that last week, including getting Steven’s suit tailored after losing all that weight from hiking. I couldn’t believe how much material they had to take off!  But it was great to see him again, and we really enjoyed that last relaxing week. Some of the hike and cabin time is even documented on our wedding video, as Steven met up with and stayed with our videographer, Meg, along the way and Meg and Sam (our photographer) visited us at the cabin.

Wedding time came and went *way* too fast, but I feel like we really achieved the atmosphere we were going for–upscale but casual and personal. We wanted it to be “our” wedding, so we ditched the traditions we didn’t want and added our own.  It was tough to come up with a plan that made both Steven and me happy–he’s more “rustic, nature guy” and I’m more “sleek mod anti-rustic girl”.  So the only thing that worked for us was doing everything from scratch rather than picking a pre-planned wedding package.  We rented an AMAZING and quirky seaside private residence that allowed many of our family and friends to stay with us for the wedding weekend and had a Lobster Bake rather than “traditional” wedding fare. Everyone that came to the wedding had to travel since neither of us had any connection to Maine before the trail, so we really wanted to make it something that would be memorable.

I wrote the ceremony, Steven and I both wrote our own vows, and my brother was ordained online at American Marriage Ministries so that he could perform our ceremony.  I walked down the aisle to “At My Most Beautiful” by R.E.M., and our two readings were “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton and an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Song of the Open Road. In addition to being the officiant, my brother was also the center of the entertainment. We called him the Pre-Jay (Priest + DJ). We planned on alternating dancing music with karaoke, but we’re not really dancers, and karaoke was so popular that it became all-karaoke-all-the-time once the first singer broke the ice.  The reception also featured beer exclusively from Dogfish Head Brewery (Steven’s favorite microbrewery), wine from Monogamy vineyard, and pink Nuvo champagne.

Fast forward about six months through an unforgettable two-week honeymoon at the Onion House in Hawaii and a few months of job hunting… We bought a house and moved to Oklahoma City (where Steven grew up), but we still have memories from the wedding throughout our home. From my clay bouquet to our spectacular custom-made guestbook/scrapbook to our walls of pictures decorating the hallway, it was a time we won’t soon forget!

videographer: Meg Simone
photographer: Samantha Warren Weddings
venue: Greystone Manor, Cape Neddick
officiant: Alison’s Brother, Seth Adams
tent: Sperry Tents

Posted in Love Stories

(4) COMMENTS Leave A Comment share the love

  1. Love and Lobster
    10/08/2011 at 10:14 pm Permalink

    What a beautiful story and wedding! I am so glad I watched your video. I saw your menus in Maine Weddings magazine and was wondering where they came from. I am having a lobster bake and they are perfect! Any tips on how to do it or where to get something like that? Thanks!

  2. Love and Lobster
    J Sandifer
    10/08/2011 at 10:27 pm Permalink

    Awesome! These two had such a great story and you captured it so well! Not often that I make it through a 30 minute wedding video 🙂

  3. Love and Lobster
    10/08/2011 at 10:33 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the compliments, Erin! I actually saw the lobster menu idea on another site and made my own from scratch in Illustrator. My best advice would be to find a general outline of the shape you’re going for, and just resize your text boxes to fit. Lots of trial and error, but a great result!


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