When I first met Ryan, he told me didn’t really understand why anyone bothered with marriage. He didn’t need a party or a piece of paperwork to keep him loyal to the woman he loves. And he wanted me to feel “free” to leave or stay. I agreed wholeheartedly, but secretly I wanted to belong to his beautiful, beautiful
It takes time to figure things out.
And goddamnit, we got better at it. We forgave, we supported, we encouraged, we understood. We took long lingering baths together even when chaos charged in. Ryan was patient, loyal and forgiving. He loves me dizzy.
One day, Ryan sat me down ceremoniously on a park bench to announce, “You know what? I get it. I do see why people get married.” I smiled, taking it for a sweet romantic musing. But deeper down I knew what he really meant. My strengths are his weaknesses and my weaknesses are his strengths. We are only beginning to understand how best to love each other and marriage is just an official request for the patience required to keep getting better at it.
When he proposed another year later, I was definitely surprised. And after a lot of waffling, we decided to get married at our favorite place. Turns out we weren’t the only ones who thought throwing a wedding for 100+ cityslickers at our “rustic” family farm was just crazy enough to work.
There is no such thing as a DIY wedding. It’s DIO.
Our friends teamed up, drank beer and conquered. They carved our rugged, dusty, spiky, poisonous little farm into a gentle, lush garden with their bare hands. Andrew built a beautiful bench from locally sourced rocks, Casey spread gravel like a mad man, A pregnant Sonja helped babysit and declutter, Angie reorganized bookshelves, Phil worked the shovel and wheelbarrow like a boss. There was heavy lifting, acre after acre of weed whacking and bulldozing, all of us thoroughly dredged in sweat and red dust. To have a friend contribute his sweat and lower back comfort to the cause of your love was incredibly touching.
So if you want to have a lovely wedding on an impossible budget, all you have to do is put in years and years of fierce loyalty to a circle of friends and family who are amazing at everything. Show up to their weddings, their funerals, and especially their moving days. And if your nearest and dearest happen to live and love on a micro brewery/heritage pig farm with an Tolkienesque tree on a rolling hill overlooking a sunset-reflecting lake, you’re in luck.
Leading up to the date, my twin sister Eve and bro-in-law-of-my-dreams Danny (successful behaviorists/ Dragon Hour Farmers / armchair philosophers/parents of the most amazing kid / busiest couple in the land) grew us a 300 lb. sow from a piglet on a diet of organic veggies, raw milk and spent grain. I named her lovingly, Philipa Seymour Hoofman and Ryan fed her her first and final cupcake. Eve took note of my extensive wish list and Danny brewed a keg of pink saîson with a galaxy of stars as the secret ingredient (we named it after the cologne in Grand Budapest Hotel, “L’Air de Panåche”), made perfect playlists, freaking married us, and then went ahead and made sure every detail was perfect (down to personally editing our feature length wedding video – short version soon to come).
Jamaica, my bridesmaid and bestie (as you should very well know by now) weathered all my wildly fluctuating dream dress ideas and whittled them down to the perfect simplicity my heart craved. The pristine tiffany blue silk 1930s slip dress I bought at Desert Vintage was transformed, via $28 worth of vintage lingerie trim, art deco brooches and some meticulous hand-sewing by a love-filled human, into a zephyr of a gown perfect for a 100 degree day féte. Even my veil was vintage – a yard of pre-WWII lemon-hued millinery veiling.
Wearing that dress was like wearing a cool breeze.
My dear friend Lesli of La Curie, parfumier from Tucson with magically impeccable taste, handcrafted our wedding favors – little bottles of a botanical mosquito repellent Mosquito Non-Grata, which smells like heaven, camping and now, our wedding day.
My dad’s hard work was the grandest gesture of fatherly love I have ever seen from him. The man is a machine. He personally transformed the place with his feats of back-hoeing prowess and went about cutifying every last corner of farm. I get a little weepy just thinking about it.
By wedding time, my friends and family and I were all tan and ripped from manual labor, and our love had inspired the creation of a lovely garden, a legit fire pit, an outdoor kitchen with a huge roasting spit, a dance floor underneath a sheltering oak tree, 9 lbs of wedding cheese (Cypress Grove’s iconic Humbolt Fog cheese with a center layer of truffle chèvre) stacked like a 3 layer cake, four different styles of homebrew, and a whole pig butchered, trussed and guarded overnight by five of the very best men in my life. My friend Kelly died my hair and the kids decorated the “cake.”
A wedding can be a poignant occasion to pay homage to those we miss. The pair of star brooches adorning the back of my dress once belonged to my great grandmother, who has returned to the stars. My little brother Nik, who had died of brain cancer 6 months before the wedding, would have been proud to contribute his truck rack to the pork spit. My other brother Dell, my deceased father’s namesake, wore a vintage shirt with my father’s portrait embroidered on the back and walked me down the aisle.
In spite of a water shortage scare, mystery smells, and 100+ degree heat, July 5th 2014 is now a lush memory of friendly cooperation, pleasant surprises, comfortable comedy, creamy sunlight, and revelations of love from bosom friends. Not a cold nerve for miles. For about 6 hours, our disheveled little farm could almost pass for a schmancy winery party with Wes Anderson on the turntables.
There was an old rowboat filled with fairy lights, oddly colored chiffon hanging from trees like spanish moss, and the tables were decorated with sorbet-hued microscopes, vintage cameras, obscure antique books, California poppies, copper dinosaurs and napkins made from clashing vintage fabrics from the 60s.
Amanda and Joel, (Heroes of Hard Labor) our volunteer bartenders, mixed signature cocktails for our guests. “The Moonrise Kingsley” – rosemary, juniper and rose petal infused gin, made by my sister-friend Angie, with homemade grapefruit or raspberry soda made by Sonya, Andy, and Kim. We drank through paper straws resembling birch trunks.
The dance floor turned into a mini Burning Man for awhile there. People were crowd surfing, hoola-hooping. We were mad for love. To us, it was perfection. Absurd perfection.
It only cost us thrice what we hoped it would and as our bank account began to drain low, we fantasized about an easy elopement. But now we understand why people have weddings. Dear friends who would never have met otherwise now feel like one big curated family circle. Where else besides a wedding can you find your high school bestie and your favorite LA neighbor – strangers to each other, mutual support of our relationship their only bond – doing a running-man-off to your favorite William Onyeabar mash-up?
And for one day we are allowed to forget that life is not easy.
That love fades. That there is no happily ever after. That long term relationships require endless patience.
So far it’s true. Our relationship retains similar ratios of infuriating and blissful. I still have to bite my tongue every time Ryan leaves his beard pubes all over the sink, but he still tells me I look pretty even if I woke up on the wrong side of ugly. He kisses me passionately even when I’m wearing blood orange lipstick.
We know there will probably never come a disagreement-free day. But we have promised to keep trying, to stay true and in love, and to “always choose empathy over fairness” (as Ryan wrote in his vows). I accepted Ryan as my husband with unrepentant gusto because he is always learning, always getting really really good at everything he does. He is loyal because he is.
But something definitely feels different since the wedding.
Maybe we trust each other a little more. Maybe we have roles to fill now. Maybe it’s this:
Relationships are never easy, but now ours has its own little clan of believers.
Photos by Isaac Trumbo, Catherine Plein, Will Wells, and Ryan Flynn
Flowers by Rory Barlew
Hair by Aaron Clark
Makeup by Beck Trumbo
Dress from Desert Vintage
Bowtie from Zelma Rose
Kale Salad from Kale Cart
(not quite there yet!)