A Maryland Farm Wedding: Jamie & McKenzie

This wedding is just too gorgeous for words…like literally. I just stared and stared at these amazing photos for (what seemed like) hours before I found the words to start writing this article. There really is something utterly breathtaking about this wedding and Lydia Jane‘s images that captured it. I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you today so please forgive my gushing…

Jamie & McKenzie were married at home. They love their lifestyle on their farm, living alongside the sheep and chickens, so a homespun wedding was really the only option. The couple have a hugely supportive family who all helped out to make the wedding happen.

“Initially our wedding budget was non-existent. Jamie had just broken his arm, had surgery with no insurance, was out of work, and I was supporting the both of us”, McKenzie told me. “Our families pulled together to make our wedding a completely different ‘animal’ than we’d initially imagined. We were going to do a modified potluck, put together a bunch of small 12×12 tents, clean out the garage and open the house up to guests if it was raining, pick our own wildflowers, etc. I think combined, our families spent about $6,000 on us. I’m not completely sure but I’ll be honest, this is a sore spot for us because $6,000 is an incredible amount of money and it’s challenging to say no to people who really just want your wedding to be beautiful and ‘normal’ and non-farmy and accessible to older relatives. We eventually gave up a lot of our original ideas because we realized that if our families were going to help us, we’d have to be flexible with our values (local food vs. Costco, etc.) It sounds like I’m complaining, but really it’s just out of concern for what people can really afford and a strong dislike for harmful consumerism. Spending even $100 to us is a BIG deal. We’re trying to start a farm and thinking about that money going towards one-day’s worth of non-local baby carrots was a little unnerving (I don’t actually know how much money was spent on carrots, I’m just saying…) Overall, it was a beautiful day, and everyone worked their butts off to make it so. We are lucky that our families care about us enough to wrangle sheep, brave potential poison ivy patches, build new stairways, and let go our non-traditional trash set-up. This was where the money spent on non-local food became okay in our eyes. We divided the set-up into recycling, trash, and chicken-scraps. After dinner, our guests scraped their own plates in a homemade ‘mess hall’ and were overall pretty respectful of us wanting to feed the food scraps to our chickens. Our chickens ate like royalty for the next few days!”

The bride wore a vintage dress that her Grandmother had found at an antique’s auction. It fit her perfected and needed no alternations, “I feel like it was definitely meant to be” McKenzie smiled. She wore $30 Kohl sandals and a white dahlia flower crown. Her bridesmaid’s picked their own dresses, “The girls picked them out with the guideline that they needed to be middle-waisted, garden party length, and in the pale blue or green color spectrum. At first I gave them those guidelines but it was challenging because they didn’t have any visuals to go off of in their searches. I made an Etsy favorites list for inspiration and it helped tremendously.”

As much as possible, family and friends donated time or money to pull together the added extras. Jamie’s mum made the cake and some friends paid for the flowers. “The cake was Jamie’s mom’s department. I told her we’d like a variety of flavors, no fondant, nothing too fancy, just roughly iced cakes that we could decorate with wildflowers or berries. She made strawberry buttermilk, lemon blueberry bundt, and a few more cakes. Jamie’s aunt surprised us with a ridiculously adorable sheep cake, and my aunt surprised us with homemade sugar cookies in alpaca and sheep shapes decorated with pretty pale blue designs. Everything was delicious.”

“We were planning on picking wild flowers and making simple bouquets and table arrangements. Instead, the families at the Montessori School I work at surprised us by pooling together cash so that one of the moms, Kerry, owner of Garden Bella Wedding and Event Design, could make everything for us. It was such an amazing gift. Families that had gardens at home picked everything they had and donated it to her. I gathered wild ferns, blackberry and wineberry branches, and daisies from the farm and dropped everything off at her house. My bouquet included a flower or two from every single family and the farm too. It was incredible and just radiated love, as corny as that sounds. It was nice to have the kids there with us in spirit. The boutonnieres were made with tiny sunflowers and rosemary. They smelled so good!”

“When I told one of my aunts that we wanted to do a modified potluck, I think she had a little ex-caterer-food-safety panic attack,” McKenzie continued. “She called back and offered to cater it as our wedding present. I don’t think she thought we were serious about inviting 200 people (For the record, we didn’t intend to invite that many people but our extended families are HUGE! In the end, about 150 people came). She recruited my other aunt, who also served as logistical planner in the last three weeks by calling everyone I had already talked to about who was doing what, etc. The two of them, with the help of two more aunts and Jamie’s mom put together a delicious meal. It wasn’t entirely local, but we weren’t paying for it, and local certainly would have cost more compared to the the prices at bulk food stores. I would recommend to couples that want to maintain local food at their wedding, to make sure they can either afford to buy or grow it all themselves. Had we been married this fall, that would have been possible. But early June on a (new) Maryland farm is not ideal in that respect. Our aunts are amazing cooks and really pulled off a tremendous feat. Cooking for 150 people is huge! They even decided at the last minute to play waitress and served everyone at the buffet. We owe them a lot. A lot, a lot.”

“My dad works for a catering company and was able to rent tablecloths, glasses, plates, forks, etc”, she explained when I asked about how they decorated their reception space. “However when I went to his company to pick things out, all I found were gaudy, glittery, shiny things. Finally I found a crumpled up burlap cloth in the corner. He was completely skeptical of it and even tried to trick me into thinking it was the only one. My stubbornness pulled through and one of his coworkers spilled the beans about having just ordered a bunch of them for another event. The rest of the decorations were handmade by my aunts. I had no time for any of it, though I did paint the signs with one of my aunts. That was about as creative as I was able to get. We had to finish the fencing, plant the garden, shear the sheep, clean up the alpaca poop peppering the lawn, unload mulch, and more. So I told them what I envisioned and they got creative for me. They even surprised me by bringing a ton of secondhand ceramic teacups, plates, and vases, and hot-glued them together to make whimsical Alice and Wonderland inspired centerpieces.”

“The ceremony, was by far, my favourite part of the day”, McKenzie concluded. “It was a magical and otherworldly experience and we’re both so glad that we wrote out own vows. Our friend Robin read The Summer Day by Mary Oliver and my grandma made dream catchers that decorated the trees. Kerry decorated the chairs with extra sunflowers. In order to get there, you had to walk through a winding path lined with chest-high grasses that my neighbor Cherokee cut for us. Almost every single person that we know who has made an impact on our lives, individually and together, was there to make those commitments with us. It was powerful. We’ve walked back to the pine grove a few times since and a strong energy of sorts still lingers there.”

AAAAAAH-MAZING. McKenzie & Jamie thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You may look back and wish you’d been able to do things a bit differently, but as an outsider looking in, all I see is love, family and friendship, pulling together to create something wonderful. It’s funny, as I was writing this up, the mantra I wrote when I first started this blog popped into my head, “Rock n Roll Bride is about ordinary people’s extraordinary weddings. It promotes individuality and general awesomeness within a cookie cutter, pastel and puke-worthy wedding world. Don’t let the wedding industry define your day – let you define your day.”

Also big love to photographer Lydia Jane for sending over her gorgeous images. SO BEEEAAAUTIFUL.