At the time of this writing, I am in a drive-up motel in the center of New Hampshire. A body of water on one side of the Inn, the landscape has diminished in blazing autumnal hues of fiery reds and oranges. Now, the trees are mostly barren, my eyes somewhat heavy: I'm tired, but happy to be back in New England.
At the time of this wedding in May, I had just worked two long days (but good days) of production, rushed back to 181st Street in Manhattan, packed a bag of clothes and camera equipment, and set a two hour timer at 9pm, for 11pm that night. Promptly with that alarm, I set out for Lincoln Center; I picked up Amanda from her restaurant. From there, we drove south on 2nd Ave to the East Village; we picked up an excitable Ben from his apartment. Without further ado, we leave New York City at 12:00am on Wednesday morning, and arrive in Charleston, SC at 12:30pm that afternoon.
This effectively began my summer of being rather "ambulatory," as I like to say - and it was mostly for weddings from Los Angeles to Maine. Scattered in the middle was a trip to Guatemala - whose fruits you will see soon enough; a woodworking art and craft retreat in the midcoast of Maine; and a move back to Portland, Maine. If it weren't for all of the time spent traveling for weddings, these work opportunities, and 7401 miles of driving cross-country for the 2016 Avocado Festival in Carpinteria, CA, you might have seen many more weddings churn through the door of this one-on-one conversation we are having right now.
But on this day-after Election Day - one very disorienting, saddening, and thought-provoking - it feels like a welcome distraction to share with you the story of Liz and Thom's Plum Hill wedding.
Liz grew up in Charleston, with access to land in "the country" about an hour to the south. She attended the notable Ashley Hall, her parents are both doctors, her sister is a farmer, one brother is en route to a career in medicine, and the other a furniture-maker.
I'm sure she'd rather you not first come to know her family's property as a location for the film Forrest Gump, but for the garden patch behind the house, or the Civil War history of the home. But the magnificent live oak tree under which Forrest Gump becomes so enamored with Jenny lives on the property.
The Wall Street Journal did a nice feature on the property, and provides history and imagery I can't, here: http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-future-of-the-forrest-gump-plantation-1420737259
Before festivities at the Plum Hill Plantation began, we ended our half-day sojourn at The Westendorff for lunch, per a recommendation from an old employee of theirs (who happens to be a good friend, living in Charleston).
After lunch, we head down toward "the country" to begin the weekend. What followed was a wonderful story of homegrown foods, family-driven hospitality, and a month's worth of entertainment packed into three short days.
Lucie was responsible for the paella, whipped-up and finished on the fire pit outside, with the help of her friend and chef Sean. She was also responsible for the delicious batch of homemade kombucha served with the meal. Did I mention she grew the rice on the family property? She just was named a big deal in Charleston here.
Among all her great friends and family, Liz got to marry Thom on her family's property, surrounded by birds chirping and sun-a-shining. She just won a great award in fiction, which you can read about here.
Everything at this wedding was as locally-supported as possible. Olivia Rae James is a lovely photographer, and came down from Charleston for the morning of the afternoon wedding and shot some wonderful images that I've seen thus far. She does some amazing things with colors, and I recommend you leaf through her travel and editorial work on her site as well.
Lastly, I must note that Benoit, Liz's friend from Boston College who officiated the wedding, presented what I think to be one of the most beautiful ceremonies I've seen yet. Non-church wedding ceremonies have the likelihood of being deeply intimate and far more engaging than the church ceremony, and I am thankful for his words on love and commitment. Benoit, if you're reading this, my hat is off to you, wherever you are right now.
So many activities happened at the wedding occurred, it was easy to forget a moment here, a meal there. The scope and history of these southern plantations are both fascinating and of course, troubling. But it is our history, and this family has gone great lengths to share the fruits and joys of this land with friends and family, alike.
The song I chose for this video is "Wild With You" by the High Divers, and for several reasons. The lyrics match both physical elements to the wedding's location, but to the spirit of the couple. The High Divers hail from Charleston, and I enjoy pitting their lyricism and energy together with the activity, energy, and loving sentiment of Liz and Thom's marriage. I also hope that by listening and enjoying this tune, you might gain that much more of a well-rounded understanding of the place, and support a smaller band from the Lowcountry who makes good old-fashioned Americana rock music.
As Liz and Thom have settled in Laramie, Wyoming for the time-being, they are happy there, together, and innately a little more wild (cf: "impromptu slip-n-slip").
Filmed at Plum Hill, in Yemassee, SC.
Photographer: Olivia Rae James - http://www.oliviaraejames.com
Floral: Charleston Floral - http://outofthegarden.com
Catering: Salthouse Catering - http://salthousecatering.com
Rentals: Snyder Events - http://snyderevents.com
Design/Planning: Premier Weddings & Events - http://oohevents.com
Song: "Wild With You" The High Divers - http://www.thehighdivers.com