In the Pines

November 19, 2012 in handmade and vintage goods

Heather Burkman
Heather Burkman

Heather Burkman is a Buffalo native, now living in the opposite corner of the state: Brooklyn. She’s also an Etsy Admin working to develop new features on the site, one day at a time. Outside of working hours, she loves biking, gardening, and adventuring with her husband, Zack.

On August 25, I married my best friend. It will be a day I’ll always treasure. Zack and I began dating our last semester at college, but those four months were some of the happiest of my first 22 years, with more surprises, fun, and love than I thought possible.

After an amazing post-grad adventure to Peru, we parted ways to Philadelphia and New York, deciding to stick together as long as our motto, “so far, so good,” rung true. A couple of years later, I landed a once-in-a-lifetime internship and moved to New York to work on the Etsy Blog. As I planted roots for my career and life in the Big Apple, we tested our relationship in a 400-sq-ft East Village studio, complete with a Murphy bed.

Luckily we turned out to be two peas in a pod, and after three-and-a-half years of dating, we got engaged. True to form, Zack surprised me with a poem chronicling our relationship, turned into an artful book illustrated by Attic of Curiosities. The simple ring held the diamond that had engaged his mother and grandmother, which we later complemented with a 1920s setting.

As we began planning the wedding of our dreams, we realized how important it was to us that the experience reflect who we are. We wanted to set the tone with a ceremony that was honest and heartfelt, in a setting that highlighted our love of nature and sense of adventure. We wanted to create a joyful atmosphere for friends and family that would extend throughout the weekend, encouraging mingling and fun.

We found the perfect setting in Roxbury, New York, a charming historic town in the Catskill Mountains. We made our invites from scratch, with commissioned stamps made locally. We reduced paper waste by folding the invite to be the envelope itself, and included the RSVP form and other important information on our website. The many bed and breakfasts and private rentals in the area provided lodging for our guests, who had fun exploring neighboring towns and a local farmers’ market. An informal rehearsal dinner at the local performing arts center, with lighthearted “acts” by friends, family and a local bluegrass band, kicked things off and set the tone for a jovial weekend.

We got ready at the historic Roxbury Village Inn, where we later held our Sunday brunch. My bridesmaids were able to roll out of bed and mosey over to the bridal suite to prep for the wedding. I gave them each a necklace from The Whirlwind, choosing unique designs to match their individual styles. To wrap the stems of our bouquets, I found vintage scarves in tonal colors from zaama, Ethel and Annie Scarves, sunsprite2011, Sarara Vintage, and Luv Me Two Times.

Our wedding was held at The Roxbury Barn, whose beautiful grounds provided a flexible canvas for our special day. We chose to have our ceremony in an intimate grove of tall, lodgepole pines that felt magical from the first time we visited it. We framed the ceremony with tall curtains we made ourselves, and the addition of flowers at the base completed the simple look. My nephews were our ring bearers, with pillows from whichgoose and cute bowties made by bloombyarissia. We developed a heartfelt ceremony with the rabbi, a family friend, and each wrote our own vows that made the moment sincere and personal. After sealing our marriage with a kiss, thousands of maple leaf “helicopters” floated from above — our own version of bubbles.

After cocktail hour overlooking the Catskills, we moved downhill to have dinner on the lawn outside of the barn. The decor elements we added included place cards (with twine from fromlosttofound) and table runners, which were quick and easy since we simply tore the woven fabric and left the edges raw to fit the rustic setting. We purchased bulk frames, and made some into reusable menus, with chalkboard paint and pens. Our table “numbers” were actually places that held significance in our relationship; guests could move around, meeting people and learn more about our history. Finally, the flowers, mercury glass, candles and string lights from the venue and florist made the scene transition beautifully as the sun set. We paused during dinner to take in the wonderful moment.

When dinner and speeches were complete, we began the real party in the barn. The dancing didn’t stop for hours. With such a beautiful structure, hardly any decor was needed. I created garlands out of scraps of fabric, and we hung childhood and family photos upstairs. We had a Magnolia photo booth upstairs, and asked our guests to paste in a print of themselves and add message to our guest book, which was created by Three Trees Bindery. It is a keepsake we will treasure forever.

If there are any takeaways we can share from our experience, they’d be:

There are no rules. Just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it’s right for you. We carefully made decisions based on whether doing (blank) meant a lot to us — and in the end, everything we said and did felt genuine to us.

Spend thoughtfully. Chances are, this is the largest amount of money you will spend thus far in your lives. Your dollars can go far in contributing to both a beautiful day, and to supporting the livelihood of artisans and small, local businesses.

Create your own vows. We wrote ours a week before our wedding, and the process forced us to get off the high-speed-planning train, and focus on why we were doing this. Reading them in our ceremony was unforgettable, and they will help guide us throughout our many years ahead

The night ended with a bonfire on the hill, where we wound down and reflected on what a beautiful day it had been. Several months later, we’re still pinching ourselves, and we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

All photographs by Inbal Sivan. Video by Josh Gooden.