Picture this: it’s the year 2020. There’s a global pandemic where toilet paper is scarce, lockdowns and quarantine are the norm, being social is a thing of the past and now….wait for it... YOU’RE ENGAGED.
For those of you who know me, it's pretty clear that my relationship with the concept of marriage is....um...complicated. I couldn't begin to count how many times I heard, "I never thought I'd see this day..." and that's a reflection of my complicated relationship with the concept, not Zack. The feel good emotions lasted all of 5 minutes. Then the stress barged in and made itself perfectly comfortable...money and venue and flowers and decorations and photographer and dress and food and drinks and favors and invitations and vows and time and date and family and friends and....pandemic. It was there, 5 minutes after the engagement, that I unknowingly gave my wedding away.
It appeared as if we navigated our wedding to do list efficiently and effectively. Fortunately we have so many amazing and wonderfully talented friends who were ready to jump-in and be our coordinators, DJ's, officiant, baker, etc. One big challenge to note was securing a venue. We reside in Asheville, NC which is a hub for destination weddings. Combine that with locals and rescheduled/postponed wedding dates related to the pandemic and it’s a triple whammy. Nevertheless, we persisted, with a plan to wed in our front yard. Take that-wedding venues and pandemic! At this point, I was feeling like Wonder Woman.
Turns out, we were on a rollercoaster. We had made it to the top of that initial steep hill with the expectation to coast downhill from there. However, when sharing our plans with others, more challenges arose that could have very well made our entire day tumble and crumble. Words were exchanged, (lots of) tears were shed, and hard feelings were felt. It was here, in this moment, that we realized our wedding wasn't ours.
So we re-centered and decided to honor ourselves first. This is no easy feat and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND any bride-to-be (and truly EVERYONE) to listen to Brene Brown's Podcast with Priya Parker, where "we dig into what it means to come together, why connection requires intention, and the often-invisible structures inside our most meaningful gatherings." This podcast beautifully articulated both the internal and external pressures I was feeling as a soon to be bride. Throughout the duration of the planning process, it was difficult for me to accept traditional bridal expectations. We kept what felt right and released what did not. Thus creating the most beautiful, individualized, non-traditional, and perfect experience.
(1/2) Spiritual Ceremony
Our first ceremony was facilitated by one of our dearest friends, Jen Worthen. Jen is an amazing healer that has assisted both Zack and I individually over recent years. We thought a ceremony at her Mesa would be a beautiful way to set intentions, ask for guidance/blessings, and release what was not serving us. It was more than beautiful. Being able to engage in what may be alternative to most, yet typical for us, we created an intimate interaction, in a magical space, and developed enlightened groundwork for our new beginning.
Company: Elope Asheville
Guests: 1 Friend, Photographer, Officiant
Buck Spring Gap
Blue Ridge Parkway; Milepost 407.6
near Mount Pisgah
OFFICIANT: As we gather to support the union of Kelsey and Zack, I ask that your presence is accompanied with loving energy. Today we call upon the divine elements - earth, water, air, and fire - to bring to this union the same harmony that they share. We know that coexistence is the key to a mutual, loving partnership. It is through these four elements we understand how one has the power to make another stronger. Today we ask the elements to share with Kelsey and Zack some of their most majestic features:
From Air, we ask for lightheartedness, curiosity, playfulness, and peace.
From Fire, we ask for courage, passion, radiance, and warmth.
From Water, we ask for stillness, strength, creativity, and flow.
From Earth, we ask for humility, friendship, gratitude, and growth.
We ask that these elements will continue to bless Kelsey and Zack forever more.
DECLARATION OF INTENT
OFFICIANT: We cannot deny Kelsey and Zack their passage into marriage any longer. We ask that each of you hold a blessing for this couple in your heart as they now say their vows.
ZACK: -read vows-
KELSEY: -read vows-
OFFICIANT (to Zack followed by Kelsey): Please repeat after me. I, (Zack/Kelsey), take you, (Zack/Kelsey) to be my wedded (husband/wife). To hold in the highest of light, day in and day out, through the storms, and the rain and the wonderful mysteries of this life. I promise you faithfulness, loyalty, compassion, and friendship from this day forward until we have no more days remaining.
OFFICIANT: It’s time to exchange rings. Each ring is a symbol of the never-ending trust and commitment you share. There is no beginning, and there is no end. For the shared experience of a lifetime is too great to limit to earthly terms.
(Couple exchanges rings)
OFFICIANT: By the power vested in me by the (ORDAINED ORGANIZATION) and the divine forces of nature, I now pronounce you lawfully and spiritually wed. You are joined now beyond love and into the heavens: you may kiss!
Immediately following our elopment, we returned to our home for a casual get together with an awesome playlist (created by our friend Matt Hammitt), minimal decorations (special thanks to informal bride tribe: Hannah Kiziah, Jasmine Cooper, and Becca Campbell), Little Caesar's Pizza, kegs filled with local beer, a blueberry lavender cocktail (courtesy of my now hubby), raspberry lemon rosemary cake free of processed sugar (baked to perfection by our friend Keaton Carpenter), a simple toast from my 11 year-old nephew, Anson, "we're all gonna die, so live it up!", chilly weather but a cozy fire for warmth, and most importantly, cherished company!
We ended our night bowling with a few of our guests at the same spot as our first date. A date that we both had been anticipating for quite some time. Zack truly sealed the deal then, on December 30/31, 2018, by playing N'sync on our way home. Hence, our wedding song (~"'Til the day my life is through, this I promise you"~).
If you are a bride or groom to be: If it doesn't feel good or doesn't make sense, say no.
STAY TRUE AND BE YOU.
So it is and so it shall be,