One Couple's Winter Wedding on a Family Farm in Maryland
Gene and Brian
"I had so much fun talking with him," Gene Campbell says of the night he met Brian Watson, at a New Year's Eve party of mutual friends. "We had so much in common and I had an overwhelming sense that I just knew it. It was like talking to myself in another form." Nearly exactly thirteen years later, on December 27, 2016, the Florida-based event designers tied the knot.
Planned within the space of one month, the outdoor ceremony was followed by a bonfire celebration with just two dozen friends and family members. "The elements we chose to include were either a favorite thing or something very close to our hearts," Brian explains. "The entire event: ceremony words, music, food selection, the guest book, the candle light…it was all so special to us." Adds Gene, "Our wedding reflects our personal style and taste. Earthy with a bit of whimsy."
Brian grew up visiting his family's farm in Prince Frederick, Maryland, and making memories there. It was being sold and he and Gene thought it would be a great finale for the property—and a start of their married lives—to hold their wedding there. Gene fell in love with his in-laws and the farm during the couple's years together and agreed that the location was the perfect spot to reflect on their relationship.
"Being on a farm that has existed well over a hundred years, there's bound to be fun and funky things about," Gene says. "For example, we found two large round wood wire spool ends and attached them to old iron bases, and used those as tables. I think combining the many elements the farm offered up to us with the things we brought with us melded to make magic."
"Velvet anything is a favorite of mine," Brian says. "So one of my velvet blazers had to be part of the wedding ensemble." He paired it with a Joseph Abboud vest, Levi's jeans, Frye boots, and a plaid Banana Republic shirt.
The Colors and Textures
Of their mismatched attire, he also says, "We wanted to combine a sense of the rustic environment, the elegance of a wedding, and our eclectic sense of all things us." The color palette was based on winter and the holiday season without being too thematic. Deep greens, burgundy, blue, and gold came together in a decidedly rustic and antique way.
Brian made their boutonnieres using fern, hemlock, holly, boxwood, and holly berries—all foraged from the farm and originally planted by his grandparents. Velvet ribbon was the finishing touch.
An Irish Tradition
In old Irish lore, couples traditionally drank honey mead for the month of their wedding, and nowadays it's common to toast and celebrate with the sweet beverage. Brian and Gene (who is a quarter Irish) found a bottle on the farm and drank it in the spirit of the tradition—and it also kept them warm as they set up for the festivities.
Love and Light
As guests arrived they lit a candle in honor of the occasion. "We loved the idea of all of our guests being part of surrounding us with love and light," Brian says. It was particularly meaningful as "light and love" was part of a line in a poem Brian wrote for Gene years ago when they met.
The ceremony was set in the middle of Brian's family's old Christmas tree growing field. An old workbench that once belonged to Brian's grandfather—which was used to make and repair items on the farm, and was made using found wood and metal—anchored the ceremony space. A plaid runner and berry-and-greenery arrangement added a bit of color.
The couple walked teary-eyed down the aisle as Ennio Morricone's "Gabriel's Oboe" was played by a five-piece string quintet of students from Brian's high school alma mater. The ceremony was a collaboration between the grooms and their officiant, Hannah Nielsen-Jones of River and Root Ceremonies.
The candles that guests lit upon arrival were carried down the aisle and placed in a semi-circular arrangement to surround the couple as a physical representation as the love each attendee provides.
The couple also tied one another's hands with lariats finished off with hand-blown glass beads as a take on the hand-tying ritual and Victorian tradition of exchanging locks of hair. They were a gift from an acquaintance when the couple first met, and Gene held them in a music box for years, thinking they would be used when the day came for them to get married.
The Wedding Rings
Platinum bands were exchanged during the ceremony. Post nuptials, the couple plans to melt those rings and combine them with other bands they've collected, and design a matching set using the metals and some stones. They'll then have a small ceremony in the spirit of their wedding to bless them.
Gene also wore his Victorian mine-cut diamond pinky ring, which is a family heirloom.
A Group Photo
All 25 guests (in their "smart rustic" attire) and the newlyweds posed for a photo together.
"When we learned that the option for the blue star tent was available, the choice was obvious," Brian says of their reception tent.
Following the ceremony, the lariats were tied around the grooms' champagne coupes.
On the Menu
After passed chicken piccata bites (Gene loves Brian's) and mini crab cakes (Brian is a big fan), guests enjoyed a hearty turkey chili made with a recipe Brian developed and has cooked for most in attendance previously. Macaroni-and-cheese and a spinach and butternut squash salad were also on offer. Cutlery was rolled up in plaid napkins, as guests meandered around the tent and enjoyed their meal.
Assorted patterned mugs were used for the chili and macaroni-and-cheese.
There was also a station to make hobo pies on the fire—using two slices of buttered local bread and a variety of savory (cheese and tomatoes) and sweet (cherry pie filling) ingredients to melt together in an iron.
An Old Book
Dear friends of the couple gifted them A History of Calvert County Maryland by Charles Francis Stein, in which they found Brian's family names from centuries prior.
A Traditional Cake
On April 24, 2008, Smith Island cake was designated as the official dessert of the state of Maryland. Smith Island is a 400-year-old fishing village of about 250 residents, accessible only by ferry boat. In the 1800s, when Smith Island men went on the autumn oyster harvest, their wives would send cakes as a treat to remind them of their families and the community they had left behind. According to Smith Island Cakes (who made this confection), the bakers took pride in using the thinnest possible layers and fudge instead of buttercream frosting, as fudge lasted longer.
One Enchanted Evening
Bistro bulbs strung overhead as friends old and new from all over shared conversation and celebrated the newlyweds.
Photography, Lauren Kinsey
Event planning and flowers, Myrtie Blue
Catering, Dream Weaver Events and Catering
Cake, Smith Island Cakes
Officiant, Hannah Nielsen-Jones of River and Root Ceremonies
Stationery, Paperless Post
Chalk Signs, Avis Glenister
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