December 12, 2014
Burlington City Hall, Vermont
My husband and I got engaged in December 2012, and our good friend Paul photographed the outdoor proposal in 5 below zero weather. The photos were so magical that while our friends and family were excited for our engagement, the most common response we got was “Who took that photo??”.
Looking at our calendars after the engagement, we realized that we had 12(!) other weddings to attend in 2014, including my sister’s wedding. So, since we didn’t want to cram another wedding into that, but also didn’t want to wait a year and half to get married, we decided to make it official at city hall and throw a big party in a year or so.
Figuring our big celebration would be during the summer months, we thought it would be nice to have a winter experience for our Vermont City Hall wedding. Once we knew that, the next thing we wanted to do was make sure Paul could photograph it! He confirmed on a Tuesday that he could photograph it that weekend, so we got a Justice of the Peace, I bought a dress, Nate bought a hat, my parents booked flights up to Burlington, and I booked a make-up appointment and a dinner reservation. Wedding planning in one day!At the time we were living about 40 minutes outside of Burlington, so I decided to go stay at my friend’s house in town the night before for a girl’s night and not see Nate until we were on the steps of City Hall. My parents got in town that evening and stopped by for a drink. Their flight from Atlanta to Charlotte had gotten cancelled so they had driven to Charlotte, stayed at a cousin’s, and flew up the next day. Talk about dedication! It was amazing that they could be there.
My friends, who are both medical residents and had never done someone else’s hair, did an amazing job crafting my hair into the Pinterest photo I showed them. My something borrowed and blue was a turquoise hair comb that my friend Annie had bought when we were doing a medical school rotation on the Navajo reservation in Shiprock, New Mexico. My something old was a faux fur coat I had bought at a vintage store in Edinburgh, Scotland in college, and my something new was the lace wedding dress from April Cornell. My co-worker moonlights as a wedding florist under the name Wild Hare Flowers and offered to make me a bouquet and flower crown, which ended up being even more amazing than I ever could have imagined!
We got married on the steps of City Hall, which is along the main pedestrian-only street in Burlington that day after a big snow storm. So the “aisle” my dad walked me down was a between two huge snow piles, and throughout the ceremony a crowd of people gathered to watch. I was totally unaware because I felt like I was in my own little bubble with Nate, but then they cheered when we kissed. Nate loved it. We had each of our moms do a reading of their own choosing, which was really special. A few of our friends who knew had gathered as well. One even brought me a bunch of daisies because he wasn’t sure if I had flowers!
After the ceremony we went around to the park on the other side of City Hall. My Dad had picked up some bottles of champagne and plastic cups while we were getting ready, so we toasted in the park. Nate’s Dad had found a song called City Hall by Vienna Teng that we had our impromptu first dance to. It was perfect.
Then we headed out to Shelburne Farms to take photos with Paul, and that is the magic you see. Lake Champlain was frozen over with several feet of snow on it, which made for an otherworldly scene. When we got to cold, we headed back into town to meet up with our parents and a few friends for dinner at Pizzeria Verita where we feasted and celebrated and enjoyed a surprise cake from Mirabelles dropped off by one of my coworkers. It was perfect.
I’d always imagined the big wedding, and I’m still looking forward to planning a larger celebration, but I am so grateful we got to do this too. When we decided we were going to go ahead with it, we wanted to make sure we could focus on just us and our relationship and commitment for this one, since we knew bigger weddings become about more than just the couple. So my parents figured out their whole trip and just showed up when we asked them to. We didn’t invite anyone, but some of our friends who knew about it came. It was fairly effortless, which made everyone’s contribution such a meaningful surprise. My friend contributing the beautiful flowers and flower crown. My dad buying the champagne to celebrate. The mason jar care package my friend made with homemade heart-shaped handwarmers and mints and glitter. The daisies Nate’s friend brought for me. The surprise cake from my work. Paul’s beautiful photos. We felt very, very lucky, which is a great way to start a marriage.
Photography by Paul Reynolds Photography