Weddings: Stay relaxed through the planning stages

SHOREHAM — Abby Goodrich and Joe Murphy grew up one town away from each other. She in Shoreham, he in Orwell. Abby’s mother, Leslie Goodrich, was Joe’s teacher in elementary school.
But despite their proximity, Abby and Joe never knew each other growing up. Kids from Shoreham travel to Middlebury for middle school and high school, those from Orwell go to Fair Haven.
Instead, the two met years later at a wedding.
Abby had been hired as a wedding photographer for the event. Joe was the best man.
The two saw a lot of each other throughout the day and enjoyed the easy conversations that struck up between them.
When Abby went home her mother asked her how the wedding went.
“It was good,” she said. “I think I might have met a guy there.”
Abby gave her mom Joe’s name and her mother shrieked with glee. “I love Joe Murphy. You could definitely marry him!”
And she was right. Four years later, that unknowing statement became reality.
The two were engaged on September 23, 2015. They both loved the idea of a fall wedding, so set a date for October 1 of the following year. At the time Abby was back in school studying to become a massage therapist and was also working, so she needed a lot of planning time.
The site
The couple started their planning by touring wedding barns and sites where they might like to host their special event. But most were out of their budget and didn’t feel quite right.
One day Abby came across a Facebook post from a local friend who was recently married and raved about an inexpensive rental option for tents, tables and chairs. She learned about Calvin Loven, who runs a small rental business supplying tents with clear sides, handmade tables, folding white event chairs and dance floors perfect for weddings.
“I realized we could have our wedding right at my parents’ farm for less money than we could have it anywhere else. So it was a go.”
Sweet Butter Churn Farm in Shoreham was a dairy farm originally, but when Abby was growing up it also housed 200 head of sheep. Abby grew up actively involved in the farm and a committed member of her local 4-H chapter.
But the farm work took its toll on Abby’s father, Stephen Goodrich, and after back surgery he decided to sell all the animals and retire to a new job (he is now a mail carrier for Shoreham).
When the farm was deemed the site for Abby and Joe’s wedding, a new purpose was given to the property. The Goodrich family worked to clean up the area, removing an underused pool and a dilapidating barn to open a wide and beautiful view over the valley.
The help
Abby and Joe were fortunate to have very supportive family members willing to help out with all steps of the planning process, so they decided not to hire a wedding planner or much outside help.
“We had both my mom and my mother-in-law, as well as his sister, cousins, his grandma and a lot of aunts and uncles willing to help out,” Abby said. “We really saw this as a blending of two families and so everyone was willing to take part.”
As a result, sending out over 200 save the date announcements and invitations turned into an evening of getting together with a bunch of family and forming an assembly line where each person had a task and together they quickly worked their way to completion.
For the day-of, Abby and Joe worked to delegate tasks to as many extended family members as they could, relieving themselves of the details so they could enjoy the day.
Abby’s mother prepared the drinks. She had all the fixings prepared ahead of time and was ready to go. Her aunts took care of appetizers, prepping them ahead of time and skirting off immediately following the ceremony to get them out and ready for guests at the reception.
The couple did hire The Wheel in Benson to cater the reception dinner, but guests were responsible for tossing their own paper plates and plastic silverware following the meal. Trash collection was delegated to uncles.
“In the end it really flowed pretty nicely and was just what we wanted. It had a real family vibe, which worked well for us.”
The dress
 In the search for her perfect dress, Abby made an appointment at Vows Bridal Outlet outside of Boston, Mass. But a week or so before her appointment, Abby found herself on other errands in Burlington and decided to stop into David’s Bridal just for a peek.
She tried on several gowns and found one she really liked.
In her excitement, Abby called her mom, sister-in-law and mother-in-law and the four of them returned to David’s the following day to view Abby’s dress.
No one liked it.
But they encouraged Abby to try on some others and, lo and behold, they found the perfect one!
She cancelled her appointment at Vows, but the four decided to go to Boston anyway — just for fun.
It all comes together
The day of the wedding started our foggy and romantic, Abby recalled. As the sun rose the fog lifted and it was clear their outdoor ceremony was going to come off without a hitch.
Around 160 guests traveled to Sweet Butter Churn Farm, many from Vermont, but others from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire as well.
The ceremony site was decorated with mums, pumpkins, hay bales and fall flowers in the day’s colors of cranberry, cream and sage. The tents stood on the ridge behind the ceremony site, overlooking the stunning pastoral views. Handmade signs welcomed guests to the site and directed them to the open seating.
The six bridesmaids were split wearing either short cranberry dresses, or long grey gowns, but perhaps not for the aesthetic reasons you might assume with contrasting colors to enhance the visual pop of the wedding party.
Instead, midway through the planning process, three of the six bridesmaids announced to Abby that they were pregnant.
Now, this might have stressed some brides out. Abby had already picked out six matching cranberry dresses for all the bridesmaids and these announcements forced her to scrap that vision.
“But I just said, ‘Oh crud, three of the girls are now pregnant. What do we do?’ Of course the answer was we buy new dresses and try to make it look intentional.”
She decided rather than try to match a specific color cranberry, she could match the groomsmen’s grey suits.
“I kind of went with what happened and got OK with it all.”
The groomsmen and fathers of the wedding couple were dressed in sharp grey suits from Rutland’s McNeil & Reedy, with cranberry ties to match the ladies.
Abby’s hair and makeup was done by her cousin, and she carried a formal bouquet crafted by florist Karen Hescock at Bloomers Garden Flowers.
The cake was made by Abby’s best friend and to accompany it her mother and mother-in-law made 300 homemade whoopee pies.
They also built a fire outside of the tent for roasting marshmallows to enjoy while the autumn evening chill set in. Stephen Goodrich offered wagon and tractor rides until dark.
Guests each received a small container of maple syrup to commemorate the occasion, prepared and donated by a friend of Joe’s who is a local sugarer.
“That’s kinda how we wanted it,” Abby said. “Just a celebration of us becoming one and celebrating the new and what’s to come.”
One piece of advice
“I tried not to stress, that was my biggest thing,” Abby said, reflecting back on the process. “I could have panicked along the way, but I was able to let things go and get around them.”
In the end, Abby and Joe felt they got exactly what they had wanted and were able to avoid much of the anxiety that some couples feel around their wedding.
The one time Abby nearly lost that calm and cool was the day of the wedding when her father called her into his room before the ceremony.
He couldn’t find his pants.
“He’s probably only worn a suit a couple of times in his life, so he’s not really used to it. But in that moment I just starting thinking, ‘Oh no. This can’t really be happening right now.’
“But then Mom came in and found the pants right there on the hanger, hiding under the suit coat.”

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