Charlottesville, VA | Erin & Kendall's Wedding at Woodstock Hall Tavern
They went to their high school prom together 6 years ago. They started dating, much of it long-distance as they traveled back and forth across the country for school and careers. But on this warm Friday evening, Kendall came back to the 18th century tavern home where he grew up and married his high school sweetheart in the backyard.
In the hours leading up to the wedding, the men were in the guesthouse, having their last moments together with their comrade Kendall before he became a married man. You could hear their music as you walked by the guesthouse on the way to the beautifully decorated barn out back, where an old canoe was being filled with enormous quantities of ice and drinks for the reception.
Meanwhile in the tavern kitchen, Mitch the caterer was putting final touches on the hors d'oeuvres for cocktail hour, and the family dog tried to steal cupcakes off the table behind Mitch's back. Upstairs, Erin and her bridesmaids took a champagne break from hair and makeup and prayed for the rain to stop in time for the ceremony. And in the attic, Kendall's mother furiously dug through old boxes looking for her best shoes to wear.
As soon as the rain let up, the ladies ran downstairs for their portraits. Guests started to take their seats, and Kendall and Christian both paced the guest house. Christian was a close mutual friend, but more urgently, he was about to perform his first ever wedding ceremony.
As the men walked down the aisle, the girls clustered on the side porch and waited for their cue. The entrance song was "Lava" from the new Pixar short film about two volcanos falling in love, beautifully performed on a ukulele by her cousin. As her little sister sang, "Now she was so ready, to meet him above the sea," Erin came around the corner, and Kendall was completely overcome at the sight of her.
The ceremony was brief but deeply emotional, for the entire wedding party. Erin and Kendall wrote their own vows. He read a poem he had written for her, she read a letter for him. And as all wedding vows should, it ended with a Friends reference: "As Phoebe would say, you're my lobster. And I'm so happy to have found my lobster in life." As soon as the ceremony was over, the wedding party escaped inside the house for a few minutes to shed tears of absolute joy together.
While the guests enjoyed cocktail hour, we grabbed a bottle of champagne and stole Erin and Kendall away for their first portraits as husband and wife together. Kendall had spent his young life running through these fields; now he was a husband escorting his beautiful new bride through them.
We made our way back to the barn to join the celebration already in progress. This barn, though. It was built by Kendall's parents as a game room for him and his siblings, but today it had gone through months of cleaning and decorating to host this wedding. If you looked closely at the roof support beams, each one was engraved with the kids' initials. It was designed and built to last forever, and I know that many grandkids will grow up and maybe even get married in that barn.
You two. You have so many people who love you wildly and could not be more excited that you're married. Don't ever forget that. When life gets hard, you're never alone; and like a volcano, your love will stand for generations to come.