An Outdoor Barn Wedding in Iowa

couple sitting on porch
Photo: Rebekah Molloy

These hands-on grooms made their wedding their own—from the invites, to a ceremonial bread, to the fashions.

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Drew and Chase

Rebekah Molloy

You know a couple are in sync when they each find the same wedding venue while browsing Pinterest separately. When Drew Jaz and Chase Cecil started planning their nuptials, a shared love of the outdoors—along with Chase's family roots in small-town Iowa—hatched the idea for a barn wedding. Then each came upon the picturesque Secrest 1883 Octagonal Barn, near Iowa City and less than two hours from Chase's hometown, and the details of their day fell into place with a little help from loving family members. Chase's grandfather built a "sweetheart" reception table that now resides in the duo's new home in Oakland, California; Drew's cousin-in-law at Sprout Creek Farm, in Poughkeepsie, New York, sent cheese for cocktail hour; and Chase's mother altered a flower girl dress she had worn as a child to fit Drew's niece.

An outdoor wedding was a given for these two. Ever since they met at a New York City bar in 2012, they've put their feelings out in the open—literally. On one of their first dates, Chase, a birder who now works for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in San Francisco, suggested a hike in New York's Hudson Valley. Drew, a New Jersey-bred advertising creative director, started feeling sick in the heat but powered through it. Then, in November 2013, Drew visited Chase, who was studying conservation science in London, and a hike in the Cotswolds led to another heart-racing occasion. "The sun came out, and I thought, 'This is the moment,'" says Drew, who was hiding an engagement ring in his pocket. "I got down on one knee and read a poem I'd written."

The sun was beaming on them again the following spring, on May 30, 2015, as they exchanged self-penned vows, standing on antique oriental rugs under a vintage chandelier hung from a piece of farm machinery. One hundred guests witnessed the ceremony, feasted on a locally grown dinner as Drew's best friend played classical guitar, and danced to DJ-spun tunes. Revelers then moved off the farm and on to an after-party in Iowa City. It was a blast, but for their anniversary the pair will get back to nature—returning to the Cotswolds, their own place in the sun.

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The Invitations

Rebekah Molloy

The Book of Palms, a centuries-old folio of illustrations of botanicals native to the Amazon, inspired the pair's stationery suite, which they designed together.

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The Barn

Rebekah Molloy

The 19th-century barn that was their venue "still had farm equipment, tools, and grains, but that was all the better to us," says Drew.

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Style Profiles

Rebekah Photography

"We did everything together, including getting ready," says Chase (right). "We knew we'd miss out on that moment of tying each other's ties if we didn't."

As a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and accustomed to "quirky fashion," Chase sought an ensemble that was "a little bit out there but nothing extreme" without clashing with Drew's selection. The guys found the answer in two J.Crew suits: Chase's, a subtle floral print, and Drew's, chambray (that he accented with a Stag Handmade tie and pocket square, reminiscent of vintage Liberty London prints). Chase completed his look with a Fox & Brie bow tie.

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The Wedding Party

Rebekah Molloy

For wardrobe inspiration, the couple sent their 11-­person wedding party of friends and siblings a color palette with six shades.

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With These Rings

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The pair purchased their Victorian-era signet bands—Chase's features a moss agate, while Drew's has an elk tooth—at Esqueleto in Oakland, California. Drew's sister gifted the pair this wooden board, featuring an etching of the same image that the couple produced for some of their paper goods.

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The Processional

Rebekah Molloy

Drew's nephews acted as ring bearers, and his niece, the flower girl, was not far behind.

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The Ceremony

Rebekah Photography

After reciting self-penned vows, receiving a Polish blessing from Drew's father (involving bread, salt, and wine), and listening to a reading from Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, the duo's marriage was official!

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A Nod to Heritage

Rebekah Molloy

Specially decorated loaves were used for the "bread and salt" blessing, led by Drew's father, to honor their Polish heritage.

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Toss Cones

Rebekah Molloy

During the recessional, invitees tossed birdseed on the newlyweds from cones Chase's mother made out of pages of vintage books.

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The Escort Cards

Rebekah Molloy

Chase's love of lithographs and Audubon prints led to tables labeled not by number butby animal. Framed cards helped guests find their seats.

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The Reception Décor

Rebekah Photography

Chase grew up "hunting geodes" along the Mississippi River near his town in a park called Wild Cat Springs. After meeting Drew, he realized that they shared the childhood hobby in common (though, Drew collected them in New Jersey). The two decided to incorporate the minerals into the reception tablescapes, with Chase's parents buying an assortment of sizes and shapes at local shops (about 120 total) to round out the collection. A cluster sat in front of the pair's sweetheart table, too.

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The Wedding Cake

Rebekah Photography

Drew and Chase admit that a formal cake cutting would have been too much fuss for them and the barn setting. Instead, they stepped away with their parents to break into this carrot confection topped with cream cheese frosting, while guests helped themselves to a dessert bar of fruit pies and tarts as the last course.

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Rebekah Photography

Location, Secrest 1883 Octagonal Barn
Event planning, design, and styling, South Social & Home
Catering, The Motley Cow Café
Flowers, The Foxglove Studio
Photography, Rebekah Molloy
Officiant, Cathy Bolkcom of Life Rituals
Stationery, moss + bone
Stationery printing, Jakprints (save-the-dates and invites); Minuteman Press (day-of paper)
Cake, DeLuxe Cakes and Pastries
Ceremony and reception music, Ruby Des Jardins of Toast & Jam
Cocktail hour music, The Mayflies
Rentals, Aero Rental
Drew's and Chase's suits, J.Crew
Drew's shoes, Steve Madden
Drew's tie and pocket square, Stag Handmade
Drew's tie clip, Fired Up Ladies Hammer
Drew's and Chase's belts, Johnston & Murphy
Chase's shoes, Cole Haan
Chase's bow tie, Fox & Brie
Mothers' and bridal party's hair and makeup, Buzz Salon
Wedding bands, Esqueleto
Lighting, Unique Events
Transportation, Durham Charter
Polish wedding bread, Kolatek's Bakery and Deli

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