Jen and Dan
June 17, 2017
This fun-loving couple pulled out all the stops for their backyard affair.
How did you meet?
Dan: We met in college; we both went to Northeastern. We met through, I guess, mutual friends of ours.
Jen: We were at a party and we just started making really silly faces at each other… Before we even knew each other. I was like, “Well, this is it.”
How and when did you get engaged?
Jen: We were together seven years…
Dan: I proposed on Cadillac Mountain in Bar Harbor Maine — right at sunset.
Jen: It was awesome.
Dan: It was a little stressful, logistically. We drove up to the summit and the park was packed; it was Fourth of July weekend and also the 100th anniversary of the park. So, of course, there’s no parking at the top so we had to drive down maybe a quarter mile or so until we found a spot where we could pull over on the side of the road. I turned to her and I said, “Oh, we can hang out here and watch the sunset.” So it wasn’t quite the summit but it was still very high up.
Jen: And we had a little spot to ourselves.
Kait: Did you suspect anything?
Jen: I was half expecting it. We’re really big beer geeks and he had had a whole bunch of brewery stops planned on the way up. And I knew something was up when he wanted to cut a couple of them out. He was like, “We’re running out of time, we need to get to the top of Cadillac Mountain by sunset!” And I was like, “Huh, okay.”
Dan: And fun fact: One of the beers we had at our wedding was actually called Cadillac Mountain Stout.
Speaking of your wedding, what inspired you to host it in your backyard?
Dan: I think it was always Jen’s first pick. I thought it was a cool idea but I was a little afraid of contingencies. Like, what if there’s a storm? Or what if a vendor has to cancel last minute? We’re not experts in this kind of stuff, we might not be well equipped for emergencies. But we started looking at other places and nothing really felt special. We looked at farms and other types of venues and nothing really felt too unique or special to us. So we started thinking more seriously about the backyard wedding at Jen’s parent’s house, and eventually we realized we could pull it off pretty well. We just kinda dove in head first after that.
Kait: Everything looked amazing.
Dan: One of the good things was that Jen’s parents were incredible the whole time. Her father spent weeks building a lot of things for it, like there’s a pavilion in the back that he built entirely by himself and then the bar we built by hand.
Jen: And it was all wood from my parent’s property.
Dan: We were literally spending months dragging giant pine trees out of the woods and bringing up a saw and cutting everything down and then building stuff out of it. We would go down there pretty much every weekend leading up to the wedding to help out, but her parents spent so much time and work making everything perfect. Working on the yard and landscaping the flowers and all that. Their house always looks great, but they put in an extra amount of effort. They went above and beyond.
So, would you guys recommend other couples do the same?
Jen: If you have parents or friends who are able and willing and equipped to help… Then yeah, definitely have a backyard wedding! We would not have been able to pull it off without them.
Dan: And then it’s great because in a lot of ways you have fewer limitations. Even when it came to choosing our alcohol and how we were distributing, we wanted kegs and barrels of beer that we love, and the venues we had been looking at had a lot of rules. We started reading the contract and realizing, “Oh if we want to have this type of bar setup it’s going to cost us this much per person… And you know, I’ll be honest: Instead we did things like bought boxed wine and it worked out to be $2.25 per bottle. So we saved a lot of money, I think, in the long run.
Jen: Even though it doesn’t feel like it sometimes!
Dan: But people are still telling us how it was the best wedding they’d ever been to. So we’re happy with our choice.
How did you end up with Sara as your photographer?
Jen: I went to high school with Sara. We kinda grew up together. I was so happy she had our day off when I reached out — I didn’t know what I was going to do if she wasn’t available! Her work is amazing. And she’s amazing. She showed up early the morning and I was still doing a lot of things like arranging the flowers and what not, but she helped pull everything together, reign me in and and get me in the mindset of like, “You’re getting married in an hour! You need to have time for yourself!”
I saw you read your own vows at the ceremony, did you find that writing them came naturally?
Dan: It was pretty easy.
Jen: Oh yeah, easy.
Dan: I had been thinking of it for awhile and it was just a matter of putting pen to paper. It did not take very long.
Jen: I would definitely recommend it.
Kait: What would you say to couples who want to write their own vows?
Dan: Just be honest, I guess. I mean, it’s your wedding so you can be as sappy as you want. Let loose. If you just think about it a lot, what you want to say will just come to you. Just capture that and write it down.
Jen: His vows made me cry from the first word he said. I was crying the whole time. He did a very good job. He won the vows, I think.
Dan: No, her were awesome too! People were talking afterwards about both of our vows and everyone was saying they were both great.
So I also noticed that you guys took a selfie at the altar…
Dan: Yep! We pulled the phone out right after the officiant said, “I now pronounce you man and wife.”
Jen: Dan is big into taking group selfies. Anytime we’re with family or friends he’s the one who initiates the selfies. And he’s really good at it! So we were like of course we’ll take one at our wedding — it’ll be the best one we’ll ever take.
Dan: It was cool. We took one of just me, Jen, and Dave the officiant, and then we turned around and took one with everyone watching. Overall, the ceremony was pretty light-hearted.
Jen: The officiant was telling a lot of jokes, stuff like that… It was wonderful.
What was your first dance song?
Jen: It’s a great song, we love John Mayer.
Kait: I’m assuming the ukulele performance was separate, though?
Dan: Yes! The groomsmen and I did a surprise performance of Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” I play the ukulele and it started with just me singing to Jen even though I can’t sing to save my life… I have a terrible voice.
Jen: Oh, he did fine.
Dan: So after the first verse I had all of the groomsmen swoop in from the sides and all start singing together. With a whole group of us, the okay singers could drown out the not-so-good singers. It was more fun that way too.
Jen: I had no clue it was coming. It was an amazing surprise. I thought Dan was just getting everyone together to say a thank you for coming or something like that, but then he whipped out the ukulele. Definitely another tear-filled moment on my part.
Tell me about your potted basil favors.
Jen: I really love gardening and I just thought it would be nice to make something for everybody, to take time to grow it. And I also thought it was something that could keep giving through out the season. They could take it home and plant it and then they’d have basil throughout the year. I will say that we were left with a lot of leftover basil… But that just means I have a lot of basil now, so I’m not gonna complain!
Were you particularly impressed with any of your vendors?
Dan: Almost all of them. The food vendors were great; we had reached out to the Gilded Tomato a couple of months earlier and they’re not a very big company so we worked directly with the CEO. They were really great in helping us curate the exact menu that we wanted. They also run their own farm, so they had super fresh and seasonal ingredients They were super easy to work with and they even helped us out with pricing too — worked within our budget. At the wedding they had this little van that they worked out of, which brought a little bit of flair too. Their pizza oven has this beautiful copper top on it and they pop up their own tent and put up this display where they lay all the pizzas out, buffet-style. And all of the employees were all wearing chef’s outfits so it looked really professional.
Jen: And we definitely want to shout the DJ, Jurassic Sound and Light, who’s actually a friend of ours from college. But he’s also amazing. Any wedding that you go to there’s always a lull in dancing but he had a way of getting everybody onto the dance floor. My mom, for instance, never dances but she even was non-stop dancing.
Dan: The music was one of the more important parts of the wedding, from my perspective. He was really flexible. So I could make sure the songs and the moments were all there and he then filled in the gaps with his own stuff, he crushed it. And then we forgot to set up the uplighting but he just jumped in and got it all setup in five minutes. Super easy to work with. And it was cool because he’s our friend and he’s in the background of all our photos. He would set a playlist up and then come on the dance floor an dance with everyone.
What was each of your favorite moments from that day?
Jen: Mine, I think, might have been right before I came out for the ceremony. When I saw my dad for the first time… That was the first waterworks of the day for me. Just seeing him and then him walking me towards the front door and being able to see everybody, including Dan, out there waiting for me. My dad just said, “How lucky are you to be walking towards Dan?” It was a great moment. And then, of course, I loved walking down the aisle, too.
Dan: There’s a lot, obviously. It was just one of the happiest weddings I had ever been to too. During the last hour I would just constantly get stopped by people saying what an amazing time they were having. I couldn’t go five steps without someone else coming up to me and saying, “This is amazing, this is so much fun.” But my favorite moment… Well, my brother was the best man and his speech was incredible. He nailed it. He had people in stitches the whole time. I was dying laughing.
Jen: Another funny kind of standout moment for me was right after our first dance. As I was starting the father-daughter dance, somebody unplugged something and all of the lights went out. My dad actually had ended up fixing the situation right in the middle of our dance… But I don’t think he would have had it any other way, him having to fix something for me on my big day.
Did you run into any other hitches?
Dan: Small things went wrong, like we had forgotten to budget time for receiving line so we got a little behind… But it was fine. We still had an amazing time at the reception.
Jen: Oh and there were torrential downpours the day before the wedding, so couldn’t get any outside things done… And it was an outside wedding! But family and friends came together the next morning and helped set up chairs, our aunts helped with flowers, and so on. It all worked out just in time.
What advice would you give to engaged couples?
Jen: My biggest thing is to enjoy every moment of it. Not just the wedding day, but the planning process, too. And involve your significant other! Dan was involved in everything that we did, which I know is not always the standard, but it was important because it was our day and not just the bride’s day. Dan’s actually in marketing and he just kept joking, “As long as we stay on brand!”
Dan: The only advice I have is definitely make it your own. Be flexible with what yo can and try to put your mark on it. But at the end of the day, as long as your bringing together your friends and family and your mixing in good food and alcohol and good music… you’re probably going to have a good time. Don’t sweat it too much, but if you put in the work to make it your own it’s definitely going to be worthwhile.
Jen: Oh and involve everyone that’s important to you. Everyone will want to be helpful and to offer their services, so take advantage of it. Then they’ll have something to be proud of at the wedding, too. Like, “Hey, I set those chairs up!” or “I helped make that flower arrangement!”
Dan: Our wedding definitely had a “took a village” theme – all of our friends and family came together to pull this thing off and we could not be more grateful.
Photography: Sara Drew Photography // Ceremony and Reception: Bride’s parent’s backyard in Greene; tent provided by Quality Rental in Pawtucket // Catering: The Gilded Tomato // Cake: Bride’s Aunt // Cupcakes: Silver Spoon Bakery // Dress: Hayley Paige, The Bridal Garden // Groom’s and groomsmen suits: Jos. A. Bank // Bridesmaid dresses: J. Crew // Flowers: DIY, sourced from Robin Hollow Farm // Officiant: Dave Prada (friend of the couple) // Music: Jurassic Sound and Light // Day of coordinator: Robyn Bennett (Events by Robyn) // Outdoor Bathroom Rentals: C&S Portable Restrooms
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