Chris and Rye’s wedding is a great example of how to personalize each detail to match your style for your wedding day!
I always love seeing my friends find love and get married. But I Love even more when I am the one they want to capture all the beautiful moments. It was so special capturing Chris and Rye’s wedding. It was a beautiful Fall day spent with family and friends. Meredith Manor was the perfect venue. they had a great outdoor ceremony area where guests could safely socially distance and they had a new air purification put into their barn area where receptions are held. They also did a wonderful job catering to the couples vegan lifestyle and everything was vegan and very yummy!
The grounds at Meredith Manor allowed for some stunning photo opportunities and we took full advantage of all it had to offer.
Another really important thing for the couple was to use friends as vendors as much as possible and also to have a variety of activities so that guests could spread out. A favorite moment was when their good friend (also in the wedding party) Jakeya Sanders sang their first dance song!! So magical. They also had a unique live painter (Sarah Kane) who was creating a painting from a photo of their wedding ceremony. It turned out beautifully and what a great piece of art to hang as a reminder of their day.
Q1: Tell us about your wedding!
A1: My wife and I have always felt a relational connection to the sun, moon, and stars, and as she’s a Taurus and I’m a Cleo (Cancer-Leo-cusp), earth, water, fire is what we bring to our relationship as our combination creates the air we need to breathe. We combined fall tones of navy, rust, and copper to represent earth (rust), fire (copper), and navy (water). It was important for our guests to feel comfortable in their attire so we wanted it to be a casual environment. We chose a venue that created a natural greenery and rust barn aesthetic (Meredith Manor in Pottstown, PA). This atmosphere allowed the romantic and casual ambience to empower our most casual guests while simultaneously resonating with our formal wedding attendees. My partner and I are not religious and neither are our families; however, we both envisioned a traditional wedding where we had wedding parties but they featured gender non-conforming apparel and the gender spectrum across both sides.
We had an officiant who but also had our own “vows” where I read a poem, “Royal Heart” by Andrea Gibson before I stated my vows that were directly driven by the words of the poem. Though she and I both were shades of white, she walked down with both of her parents to start the ceremony, and I walked with my father while my Maid of Honor and wedding musician sang “Fall For You” by Leela James and the audience stood. She and I performed a traditional First Dance after the wedding party and parents were introduced to “Beyond” by Leon Bridges and choreographed by myself. My father and I performed a traditional Dad and Daughter dance to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, as well. Both the First Dance and the Father/Daughter Dance were covered and performed live by Jakeya Sanders.
Q4: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
A4: We personalized the day from start to finish. Because of the significance of marriage equality back at the Supreme Court after legalized just 5 years ago, we wanted to make sure we spoke to our guests about the fight for equality we’re still on by making everyone feel comfortable. Moreover, because of the racial injustice that has infiltrated 2020 by the continuous black lives lost to uniforms and the incredible loss the global pandemic has caused all of us – we knew that this experience may be one of the only positive, happy, exciting experiences our guests would endure the entire year. Our guests were greeted by matching mask and earring-wearing gals who handed them personalized bottles of hand sanitizer, a letter recognizing the struggles of 2020, and their wedding order of events program.
Our ceremony was live-streamed via Zoom for so many folks who weren’t able to make it in person due to the pandemic, so the music began at 2:30 and was timed to create an ambience – whether physical or digital – leading up to the event. Each song impacted not only my wife’s and my journey – but the journey of 2020 that led us to where we are and embraced the incredible fight we’re all still fighting. The ceremony music was a surprise to my wife, so she heard each song in its order of importance for the first time that day. She walked down the aisle to “Green Eyes” by Coldplay, and she watched our wedding party walk down the aisle to “The Few Things” by JP Saxe.
She knew my Maid of Honor (an incredible local musician, vocal artist, and actress who just so happens to be my best friend) was singing me down the aisle, but she didn’t know she was singing “Fall for You” by Leela James – the song she proposed to me to. My wife and I are 100% vegan and crueltuy-free, so the cocktail hour and reception were completely vegan – but we know all of our guests weren’t vegan, so each hors d’oeuvres and course imitated a meat-lovers favorite (like Shepherd’s Pie and empanadas). Because of the severity of the pandemic, we chose a venue that had an outdoor ceremony site and an indoor reception hall that held up to 350 but planned to have no more than 100 in the building (including staff) so we only operated at 25-30% capacity in accordance with restaurant recommendations. In addition, we provided our entire wedding party and other with matching face masks, confirmed that the venue use Aeurus air scrubbers in the HVAC, added paper towels to all the bathrooms to remove use of hand air dryers, added hands-free hand sanitizer stations throughout the reception hall, provided hand sanitizer bottles at the ceremony and another personalized bottle at their seat at the reception, removed all trash can lids, didn’t reuse any glassware throughout the event, served all food during cocktail hour with each guests’s own tongs that were thrown away after each use, and decreased our guest count by using family and friends who are also professionals so that folks who would’ve been invited to the wedding were then working the wedding – reducing our count by about 25 people.
We personalized social distancing stations and activities including separated dance floors to enjoy the DJ and live musician, a live artist who attended the ceremony for inspiration and then painted canvas during the cocktail hour and reception for folks to watch in real time, had Date Night and Bucket List stations for folks to share their suggestions of experiences with us, had a live guest book where folks could take Polaroids to sign with their faces, and a large photo wall to use as a step-and-repeat like they were walking the red carpet. The entire venue grounds were open for the wedding guests to tour, so they could venture to the multiple gazebos, bridges, koi pond, water fountains, garden wall, and more.
Q6: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.
A6: Rye and I met through an online dating site – only to realize we had been in the same room with the same folks many times before. One of our wedding party members – who actually ended up being our officiant – has been a long time friend to us both and we fought over whose side he would be on – haha. On our first date, she described it as an interview – I interviewed her. I tried to cancel the second date because I told her it just would never work out – I mean, 100% of each of our relationships hadn’t worked out at that point, so why would this be any different?
I made her meet up with me on a Monday (though we already had plans on that Saturday) for a “first” date because I didn’t want to waste “prime real estate” (Saturday night) on someone who I wasn’t that interested in – haha, I’m ridiculous! Our proposal… well, she had planned to propose to me in April of 2020, and she did, but not on the original date she intended or in the original way she planned. The global pandemic definitely impacted her hard work, but it couldn’t have been any more perfect. I have an obsession with bridges – and the Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia was the first bridge I saw as I drove into Philly for the first time. Seeing it for the first time is the sole reason I decided to move here from Texas five years ago. She connected with one of my best friends, Cathie – who is the photographer and owner of BeauMonde Originals. She told me she planned a surprise date and drove us to and parked near the Ben Frank. I had no idea what was happening at all. She got out of the car and told me to wait there. Then, she and Cathie walked up to the car and Cathie told me that Rye asked her to do a social distancing photoshoot with us to get us out of the house and try to perk my spirits (I had been down during quarantine because of being stuck in the house with no clear end in site).
So we walked around took photos together and individually near the bridge and then continued across the bridge. About half way across the bridge between New Jersey and PA, Rye dropped down to her knee and asked me to spend forever with her with her grandmother’s engagement ring. It was exactly the kind of ring I had always wanted – gold band, single diamond. And her grandmother was her most favorite person who passed away in 2018, and I never got the chance to meet her. Getting this ring on that bridge was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever experienced – until I married her, I suppose. She proposed on Saturday, April 4, so we chose October 4, 2020 as our wedding date to keep the power of fours alive.
Q7: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
A7: The most special moment of our wedding day wasn’t just one moment. It was each moment she looked at me after that. Something just changed after we committed to each other and watching her look at me and the energy of that love it created for our friends and family to see and feel was the most beautiful thing that can never be recreated or replaced. And we all need that kind of love in our lives right now.
Q8: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
A8: Be prepared – use a wedding planner if you’re not an event planner yourself. I’ve worked as an event planner and ended up resigning from my corporate job a couple months before our wedding to focus on finalizing wedding plans (among other reasons, as well, of course). Be creative – get inspired by what you find on Instagram or Pinterest but add your own personal touches – combine ideas. Be resourceful – you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get what you want and you don’t have to trash it all afterward. Think about what you already have or what you’d like to have in your home and connect the dots. Ask your friends and family – they want to help and some of them have hidden talents you didn’t even know about. Weddings are expensive and wasteful… be a part of the change in making it about the moment while also telling a story that you can tell forever. Be intentional – connect with your partner on what he/she/they want and find the common ground between the two of you. Make each decision impactful because you’ll never get to do any of it again. Each song in your ceremony will forever be a part of your story; make sure all the words resonate with your love story – not just the Top 40, for example. Be authentic – don’t do any part of the wedding for anyone else but the two of you. That’s the most beautiful gift you can give to those around you. We wanted everyone to enjoy our day and the way we achieved that was by staying true to who we are, what we believe, and how we choose to live.
Other: Sarah Kane Productions
Apparel: eros leroi
Hair Stylist: Jackie Sykes
Makeup Artist: Makeup Artistry by Amanda DeSouza
Makeup Artist: Makeup by Gnarly
DJ: Nice Rack
Officiant: Reverend Josh Moon
Reception Venue: Meredith manor
Cinema and Video: BeauMonde Originals
Dress Designer: Essence of Australia
Musicians: Jakeya Sanders
Floral Designer: Flowers on a Whim
Photographer: BeauMonde Originals