Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Place to Just Be - Orcas Island

Allyson's family introduced me to Orcas Island in June 2009 when we were there to celebrate the life of Allyson's great aunt Barbie. Although I never knew her, I feel like I have. And I completely understand why she chose to spend the last several decades of her life on Orcas Island. This place is simply magical. There is no other way to put it. As an artist and avid bird watcher, she was in the perfect place to indulge in her passions. I'm not much of an artist, but being on Orcas Island sure makes me want to be! I wasn't sure our friends and family would get it and was worried that people would be annoyed by making such a long trip to Orcas Island for our wedding. But unless people are just being really nice, I'm pretty sure Orcas had its effect on most of our friends/family too.

A person doesn't have to do anything to enjoy their time on Orcas Island. In fact, you should make sure you work in some time to just be....either sit on your porch looking out at the ocean, walk along the beach and look at the starfish in the water, stare out at the water looking for seals and porpoises, or take a casual walk down a dirt road. We spent our first few days of being married right here in Olga, a small small "town" that is perfect for just being. We stayed at Blackberry Beach waterfront cabin, which is small and quaint and nothing fancy, but you can see below what a magnificent view we had every morning while drinking our tea.

I ended up taking a million photos right from our deck or the dock down the street because it seemed every morning had a slightly different story to tell. This foggy morning with the sun breaking through was my favorite.

One of the best parts about Blackberry Beach cabin is the hot tub! That's right, there is a private hot tub looking out on the water. There was a meteor shower happening the week we were there, so our second night there we spent in the hot tub watching the most incredible night sky. Talk about an amazing mini-moon moment! This picture is the view from the hot tub and the amazing madrona tree that I definitely have way too many pictures of but I just couldn't stop appreciating.

Typically, I like to tell a story in chronological order, but I'm feeling like I want to save the outdoor adventures for another post. So, some of the other relaxing things we did on the island included lots of great local organic meals and pottery shopping. (Don't get me wrong, I believe a hike and kayaking can be very meditative and rejuvenating. However, I'm going to put anything that gets my heart rate up in the next blog post!)

A friend of Allyson's family owns Olga Pottery, which is just the most precious little yard and studio full of pottery he's created (he's pretty precious too). 

Then the day we headed over to San Juan Island, we stopped by Orcas Island Pottery. The location of this gallery is just breathtaking. Neither one of us had been here before we visited this time. Any person visiting the island should put this on your list. Although I wasn't blown away by the pottery, the view and the grounds are totally worth the trip. The drive from here to the ferry landing is one of the most beautiful there is! The water is what you seem to notice most about Orcas Island, but honestly the valley and farm land (which is what you are driving through from the pottery place to the ferry) is some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. 

There are some terrific places to eat on Orcas Island.  Blackberry Beach cabin had a little kitchen, so we tried to do some cooking at home while also heading out to enjoy the yummy, organic, local food the island has to offer. Cafe Olga shares an historic, renovated strawberry packing plant with Olga Artworks, so you can shop for local art before or after eating a meal you know came from sustainable, organic farms or right from the ocean! We went here for lunch the day after the wedding with some of our friends. I ordered baked eggs with veggies, but they only serve that meal with potatoes until 11am. Of course, it was after 11am but I can't eat the bread because I'm allergic to gluten. I asked if I could still have the potatoes, and they said sorry but all the potatoes have already been used to make the soup of the day. I was bummed until the server came out with a single serving of warm peach and apple crisp that was gluten-free just for me! How awesome is that?!

We went out to New Leaf Cafe for a romantic dinner and it couldn't have been more. Beforehand, we walked around Eastsound a little bit. The town was super mellow on Tuesday night, which was quite the contrast to the "crowds" of the weekend. After fooling around with the camera a bit by the water, we got seated at a sweet table by the window and enjoyed a bottle of wine and a great dinner. The salmon was fabulous, but I'm guessing there wasn't a bad thing on the menu. By far, the best part was dessert. The flour-less, chocolate torte with caramel and whipped cream was divine (as you can tell by our faces!)

Next Up: Outdoor Adventures on Orcas Island AND Adventures on San Juan Island....

Monday, August 27, 2012

A is for Acknowledgement

We thought long and hard about how we wanted to acknowledge the struggle for equal rights that we and many others are dealing with in our country at our wedding. We didn't want to be overly political because the ceremony was about our love and commitment to one another. However, it felt uncomfortable not to acknowledge it in some way.

I discovered while searching on the internet that many gay and straight couples alike are using a reading from the November 18, 2003 ruling in Goodridge versus the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, majority opinion written by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall regarding what marriage means. One might immediately think that a court reading is too political for a wedding, but read on and let me know what you think.

Family and friends, we welcome you today to witness the marriage of Allyson and Anne. You each have shared and contributed to their lives in important ways up until this, and by witnessing their marriage ceremony today. Allyson and Anne ask you to continue this journey with them and share together in their future. 

According to Margaret Marshall of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in the 2003 ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in that state, "Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a 'civil right'. Without the right to marry, one is excluded from the full range of human experience." 

Anne and Allyson found in one another the person with whom they want to forever share the values of companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. They believe, like Margaret Marshall, that by getting married they are committing to a lifetime of love and support for one another, and declaring to all of their loved ones this faith in their connection.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

DIY Projects Part II

As if you didn't get enough DIY ideas from the first post, here's several more ideas that we ended up pulling together for the wedding.

My sister-in-law, Lynsey, my mom, and I spent an evening about a month before the wedding making these awesome lace and twine candles. We all spent months collecting different shaped bottles from salsa, olives, jam, pasta sauce, etc. Talk about eco-friendly! If that isn't enough re-using for you, the catering staff liked the candles so much they took them for another wedding that was coming up for them in a few weeks. Nothing seems to go to waste on Orcas Island anyway. Any food that was left over was donated to the food bank. Not to mention, we placed a box of leftover lavender on the corner of what seemed to be a fairly quiet area on the island, and within 15 minutes the whole box was gone!

We used a artist sketchbook for our guestbook and simply tied some burlap ribbon (given to us by a fabric store owner in Carrboro, NC as a wedding gift!) around the front. We set a polaroid camera out for people to take pictures and got some decorative tape in our wedding colors from for people to tape their photos in the guestbook. One piece of advice....have a person designated to man the guestbook for at least the first part of the evening. At the beginning, people didn't get it and just signed the book. 

We also hung photos from twine at various spots around the hall. People really enjoyed looking through the pictures of us together, us as kids, as well as the pictures we posted of us with the family and friends that were at the wedding. 

Our friend, Dani, designed the most awesome invitations for us. All materials were recycled and we had guests RSVP at our website to save paper and cost on postage. She used a photo I took of a Madrona tree (which are all over the island and happen to be the trees the surround the patio on which we got married) as a starting point. We found the perfect font for the invitations by exploring free fonts on the internet. We had them printed by an eco-friendly printing company here in the Triangle area, Barefoot Press. As a final touch, we tied some hemp cord in a bow around the invitations. Super pleased with the end product and our invites (plus recycled envelopes) ended up costing about $1.54 a piece! Granted they aren't letterpress and super fancy, but they were unique and totally fit with the personality of our wedding. 

Also, we ended up using Dani's Madrona tree image on all the wedding menus, as well as our trail mix thank you/wedding favors for our guests. We had a trail mix bar at our welcome picnic at Moran State Park, but ended up having a lot left over. We put some trail mix favor bags out on the guestbook table at the wedding and still had some left over!!

Whew! I'm exhausted thinking about all these DIY projects but it was definitely worth it! People seemed to enjoy the personal touch of the decorations and it was just fun to see my creativity at work (because, unfortunately, my day job doesn't allow for much creativity!)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wedding DIY Projects Part 1

I know this has been said many times by many brides, but DIY definitely does not mean inexpensive. These projects really add up! But I just got so darn excited about some of these ideas, I couldn't let them go. I'm lucky that my wife was supportive of me exploring my creative side.

Our wedding ceremony and reception took place at Odd Fellows Hall in Eastsound, WA. The hall doesn't look like much from outside, but the view from the patio and balcony is the best there is and there is just something magical about the hall. We wanted the wedding and the decorations to reflect the natural beauty of the islands, as well as the island's commitment to its local farms, stores, and community. The Cindy Morgan, of Nest, did all of our flowers and she was incredible. The lavender was from Pelindaba Lavender Farm on San Juan Island - Ally and I biked there from Friday Harbor later in the week. Gorgeous!

Photo courtesy of Joann Chang

Wedding themes kind of developed as we went, rather than starting out with a particular theme. Luckily, they all kind of came together. One major theme was lavender, which made sense since it grows so well on the islands. Our caterer was super awesome, and helped us out with the lavender theme. Without going overboard, they made an awesome blackberry and lavender cobbler and a lavender lemonade for the bar. One of the owners brought lavender from his own yard and placed a sprig of lavender on each napkin. Super sweet! We also made our wedding party bouquets and boutonnieres with flower wire, flower tape, lavender, and twine.

Additionally, music and song lyrics naturally wove their way into our wedding because we are both musicians (Allyson won't admit it, but it's true). One of our readings was a selection of our favorite song lyrics, including lyrics from Bob Dylan, Iron and Wine, Death Cab for Cutie, Mumford & Sons, and Led Zeppelin. We also decided to sing and play a song (I've Just Seen a Face by the Beatles) together for our guests. From Etsy, I splurged and bought two items that really pulled the music theme together. 1) Hang tags on which we wrote more love song lyrics and attached them to mason jars. These jars held some of the flowers at each table. 2) Paper hearts cut from vintage sheet music that we spread out on the cake table. We would've placed these more places, but they were blowing away outside. 

I collected driftwood (shhhh) from one of the beaches on the island and painted island names as the tables at the wedding. We then put up an antique-looking map of the San Juan Islands so people could see where their island was in relation to Orcas. Of course, we and some of the wedding party sat at the Orcas table! We stuck with the driftwood theme and bought a bunch of frames when Aaron Brothers was having there Buy 1, Get 1 for a penny sale. All the frames were driftwood-like and held the bar, dinner, and dessert menus, as well as the program and thank you (we tried to make our wedding as eco-friendly as possible, so opted not to print out a bunch of menus and programs).

A is for Appreciation

This past Saturday, August 11th, I married the woman I love more than anything on this planet. I meant to start a blog back when the planning began. Well, I actually meant to start a blog years before the planning to share our outdoor adventures with friends and family and whoever else cared to read. But sigh...I never got around to it and then was too busy looking at other blogs and making decisions about every little detail that would make our wedding absolutely perfect to start this blog. And you might think, Anne, you shouldn't strive for perfection or you'll just get let down. But that's not true! Our day could not have been more perfect.

 Well, it maybe could have been more perfect if our marriage was legally recognized, but that will come. In the meantime, I intend to share our story with as many people as I can. As so many of our friends and family said this past weekend, "anyone that saw our ceremony or heard our story and still fights against gay marriage is insane." We had almost 100 people come from 16 states all over the country to Orcas Island by plane, ferry and car to celebrate our marriage and commitment to one another. Many of our friends and family are Christian and believe we have a right to marry each other because we love each other, respect each other, and make each other better people. More than you can say about a lot of people who get married legally every day.

 So...enough ranting about the legal crap. It is crap and it needs to change. But in the meantime, I am going to appreciate (A is for appreciation) all of the good things I have in my life and that includes my love, Allyson, and our amazing adventures together. It also includes the deep appreciation I have for the our friends and family who continue to support us and made our wedding weekend the most magical we've had yet.

 We wrote our vows together and wrote something special for one another to say before the vows. Those were a surprise. 

 The day could not have been more beautiful in Eastsound, WA.

The kiss!
Singing "I've Just Seen A Face" by The Beatles for our family and friends
Photos courtesy of: Joann Chang