Venue Wishlist

At the beginning of our relationship (many moons ago… well about 44 moons ago) Mr. Veggie and I lived on his farm in Andover, New Hampshire. He had a 200 year old farm house on 36 acres of land. The property was at the end of a dirt road and butted up against a few thousand acres of forest. We lived off the grid, with a well for water, composting toilet, and photovoltaic power. We had an acre of cleared land around the house where we would grow veggies while Bruce the dog lazed in the sun and ate raspberries from the bushes.

(Personal Photo)

During this sun-drenched summer we lived in a bubble of new love. We talked about our future plans, our future babies, and even our future wedding. Funny how the wedding conversations tailed off as the prospect of actually getting married started to cross Mr. Veggie’s mind. Hmmm.

But anyway, we had decided that our house would be the perfect spot for a wedding. We could do the ceremony at a nearby lake and the reception at home. We could have people park at the log landing. We could rent out the Inn at the top of the hill. We could plant flowers in the spring that would be ready for late summer. Our best plan was that we would grow all of the food for the wedding ourselves. Heck, maybe even raise some animals for the big day. What better way to spend an engagement than working the land together in preparation for a marriage?

But plans changed. We quit our jobs. Mr. Veggie enrolled in a PhD program. Bruce the dog moved in with an auntie. We sold the farm and moved to New Zealand. Maybe the new owners will still let us have the wedding there? Probably not. We certainly can’t grow all the food anymore.
So, as I started looking for venues I had a rough idea of what I was looking for:
– A beautiful space for an outdoor ceremony.
– Willing to work with our desire for local organic food. Maybe some place that can grow the food, or has contact with a local farmer.
– Since we don’t get to see our family and friends very often, why not make this a full-weekend event. Let’s try to find a place where everyone can hang out all weekend.
– A relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
– A place that would work within our small budget.
What did I find? Stay tuned.

Where in the World?

Most people have a general idea of the wedding location pretty early on. For us it was a bit more difficult.

We are expats, living in New Zealand while Mr. Veggie pursues his PhD. We live in Raglan at an eco retreat. Gorgeous? Absolutely. But the idea of having the wedding here wasn’t really an option for us. The carbon footprint of having even just our immediate families fly around the world was too much to think about. Not to mention the price tag. Also, since we don’t get to see most of our friends very often, we want to be able to include as many people as possible in the wedding. So, New Zealand… out.
Once Mr. Veggie Farmer finishes his PhD we are planning to move to Nicaragua. We have lots of friends there already and just love it. Maybe we could have our wedding there. That’s a lot closer to home for most of our friends and family and would give them a chance to visit our future home. Gorgeous? Ummm, yes. While the flights might be a bit expensive, things are so cheap in Nicaragua, that the overall pricetag might actually be manageable. Oh, but there’s that little problem of malaria. Anti-malaria meds can’t be taken by kids under 5, and we have 3 neices and 2 nephews that fall into that category. Nicaragua… out.

So, we turn to the US. Before we left we lived in New Hampshire. Mr. Veggie’s parents live in Massachussetts and he has other family in Pennsylvania. My parents live in New Jersey and I have tons of family in Washington D.C. If we stick to the mid-atlantic we will be in driving distance for most folks, and possibly bike/bus distance for some. No shots or meds required (well, it might be wise to take some if you’re traveling to NJ -hehe). Gorgeous? Can be (and that picture is in New Jersey!). So that settles it. We will get married somewhere between D.C. and New Hampshire. Now to find a venue.

Things that we kept in mind in terms of the location of our wedding:
– Minimizing the total carbon footprint of travel for our wedding (not just for us, but for guests too). For us this meant finding a location that was drive-able for most guests and hopefully bike-able or bus-able for some. As we start to narrow down venues we will try to choose one that has public bus service.
-Natural beauty. We want an outdoor wedding in a gorgeous setting to celebrate our love for each other, but also to honor the earth.

A Bike Lock Key Chain Ring

Sometimes there are moments in my life that seem too perfect to be real.

I was having a stressful week and was about to leave for a three month trip to the States. Mr. Veggie suggested that we take a bike ride to one of our favorite spots, Te Toto Gorge. We laid down on the grass and looked up at the clouds. He sat up in the sun overlooking the Tasman Sea, handed me the key chain ring of our bike lock and asked me to be his wife.

(Personal Photos)

I don’t write in my journal very often, but here’s what I jotted down that night:

Pushbikes for 10k over a gravel road,
Te Toto gorge is so beautiful it gave you vertigo.
Hike down the trail, breakers in front and far below.
The Tasman Sea to our right.
Windblown tree and that would be a good spot to camp.
“So do you think we should get married?”
“I mean, [Miss Veggie], will you marry me?”
“Ask me again”
“Yes, yes, yes”
Lay back in the grass in your arms.
Two clouds in the sky, a double helix, no an ibex horn.
Three layers of clouds moving in opposite directions.
Can’t stop smiling.
We’re getting married!
“Sheep, you are all invited”.

Eco-friendly Engagement Ring

Mr. Veggie is good at many things. Ok, he’s so good at so many things that it can drive Miss Veggie a bit mad. But the one thing that he lacks is good common sense about fashion. His style might be best described as “Functional Salvation Army” (but that’s why I love him, right?).

You might say that Mr. Veggie’s proposal was a bit of a surprise for both of us. So much of a surprise that the day he popped the question he hadn’t bought an engagement ring yet. Riding bikes back to our house Miss Veggie found herself wearing a big smile and the ring from the key chain of our bike lock.

We are simple folks who like simple things, but even Mr. Veggie could see that we needed a slightly more suitable engagement ring. The only criteria we had was that we wanted something ethically and environmentally sound. I also wanted something that I could wear every day without worrying about getting bits of compost stuck in it, or snagging it on a chicken feather as I put the girls back in the coop.

He wanted to go out himself and find something special, but in my mind all I could think about was the aforementioned affliction that Mr. Veggie has when it comes to fashion. Is there a tactful way to say “That flourescent orange rock may be eco, but it doesn’t go with my eyes?”.

Luckily we live in a town full of artists with several jewelry boutiques. We decided ride down to town together, and then split up to see what we found. We went into stores that were right next to each other and five minutes later Mr. Veggie came to find me. He had found the perfect ring. I was skeptical, to say the least, but when I saw what he had found I knew it was perfect. Of course I still had to go to every other boutique in town to see what they had to offer, but he was right. He had found the perfect ring in five minutes (how did he do that?).

My ring is made by Ash Hilton from Nelson, NZ, which is about 300 miles from where we live in Raglan, New Zealand. He crafts the jewelry himself using ethical metal that he has either reclaimed and melted down or mined himself from the black sand beaches on the South Island. Mr. Veggie was drawn to a silver ring etched with a design of wind-blown grasses because it reminded him of the spot where he proposed (cute!). I loved the silver, but that particular ring was a bit too big for me. Because Ash is a somewhat local artist, we easily could have had him make us that ring in my size, but we were on a bit of a time crunch since I was traveling home to see my family in just three days and wanted to have the ring before I left. Also, I was more drawn to another ring that had trees etched into it. And so without further ado here is my ring (it might be familiar to you!):

(Personal Photo)

Things we learned about buying a green ring:

– Finding a local artist not only reduces the carbon footprint of your ring, but can help remind you of a special place.

– Ethical metal does not have to be expensive.

– A diamond doesn’t make an engagement ring. Although we ended opting for no stone at all, we thought about having a greenstone ring (a locally-available and culturally significant stone in NZ).

– And finally, Mr. Veggie does have some fashion sense! He was just waiting until the right time to let it show.

Have I mentioned…

…that I love inspiration boards?

This was my first attempt at an inspiration board for our “green” wedding. It was actually the first bit of planning that I did for the wedding. I think I started it about 2 days after Mr. Veggie proposed. He scoffed.Image Credits: Top row (l-r): Bridge, Dresses, Ceremony. Middle Row (l-r): Centerpieces (a la Mrs. Cowboyboot), Tea, Lanterns, Flowergirl, Groom, Bride, Cake Topper, Hankie.

Bottom Row (l-r): Chair, Card Tree, Personal Photo, Birds, Lanterns, Bouquet, Bikes.

I was going for a late summery-rustic-relaxed vibe. We’ll be getting married at a summer camp, but at the time I just knew that we would be outdoors. Colors that have been popping up all over my life lately are saffron/grey/brown. They seem like perfect end of summer colors.

The little one on the trike is my niece Annie. I thought she might have fun riding down the aisle, plus since we are bikers (of the non-motorized variety) it would incorporate biking into our wedding in a interesting way. That was pretty much my only original idea, the rest of these gems were swiped from wedding websites.

Since then some of my ideas have changed a bit. We’ve firmed up a venue and I think I bought a dress (YAY!). Seems like its time to update this board. I think I’ll work on inspiration 2.0 in the next few weeks. Keep your eyes peeled.

Is it possible?

Dresses, invitations, flowers, food, venue, honeymoon. Yikes.

When I got engaged, I didn’t have the slightest idea about the world I would suddenly be thrown into. And I love it.

I’m not afraid to say it. I love it! The inspiration boards, color pallets, dress shopping. I love it!

But wait, this isn’t how we live. We are compost-loving, veggie-growing, non-profit-working farmers. We live in a house truck. We wear jandals more often than shoes. Let’s face it, we are dirt-lovin’ tree-huggers. We know more about PV (photo-voltaic) than STD’s (Save-the-dates)…

But those inspiration boards are just so pretty. I can’t get enough.

Mr. Veggie Farmer is a bit ambivalent about the whole wedding thing. Excited to be a husband? Yes. Excited to have me as his wife? Yes. Not so excited about the planning of an event. Less excited every minute that he sees me spend drooling over pictures found on wedding sites of people’s beautiful weddings. There has been many an eyes rolled at my excitement over invitation suites and hair accessories.

His main concern is that we would cast aside our values to put on a celebration, just on the day when we should be vowing to help each other work to uphold our values. His other concern is financial. We are starting up a non-profit, and we just are the kind of people who enjoy simple things. No need to spend tons of money when what we really love are our family, friends, good food, and fun times. He has a point. Well, he has two points.

But I’m convinced that we can have pretty and simple. Relaxed and amazing. Eco and affordable.

Is it possible? Absolutely. We invite you to join us as we enter the treacherous world of wedding planning.