Happy almost Christmas my sweet loves! We’re still a little puzzled how this crazy year sped by (in what seemed like a blink of an eye!) and is already coming to an end. Am I the only one thinking this?! Soon, we’ll be sharing our most memorable experiences of 2016, as well as our wonderful new team page, but for now, we are so very excited to be featuring yet another one of our favorite camp weddings – the wedding of Christina and Luke at the breathtaking Camp Wohelo in Raymond, Maine.
Christina and Luke’s story is certainly one for the books. These two remarkable individuals met in 2005 at what Christina jokingly likes to call “poetry camp” – more formally known as the New England Literature Program. This program immerses eager participants into the woods of New England, reading New England authors, perfecting their writing skills, and exploring the land, culture, and history around them. For Christina and Luke, this experience was much more than just a literature retreat, but a first glance at their loving relationship that lay ahead.
“From the first day of “poetry camp,” Luke stood out as a sharp-witted, intelligent and curious man, without any hesitation about being the center of attention,” recalled Christina. “On the other hand, I was reserved, feeling out of place as the science geek amongst the poetry nerds. Luke’s confidence, which first intimidated me, is also what intrigued me a few days later when we were sent out to get lost in the woods. He showed a kindness and warmth that I hadn’t expected, and was an absolutely delightful adventuring partner. All of the traits he revealed in those first few days – and so many others – are what endeared me to Luke and are what kept us connected.”
While Luke’s first memories of Christina also stem from this memorable and adventurous experience, his version of the story reveals just a hint of their fun and spontaneous personalities that I so adore.
“Three days in, our instructors got us deliberately lost and sent us out into the woods for eight hours with only the instructions that we find our way back,” said Luke. “We ended up walking up a mountain, sneaking into a resort to go skinny-dipping, and making it back to camp just in time. I was impressed with Christina’s toughness, first, and so many other things soon after.”
With such a profound, intense, and memorable first six weeks shared at “poetry camp”, it was only destined that Christina and Luke were forever bound together by this magical experience. Even more remarkable however, is that these two spent most of the next nine years apart, separated by thousands of miles and a bit of life. Christina spent these years in the Czech Republic, Michigan, and Chicago, while Luke traveled his way around the world, staying in Mongolia, Australia, and the Philippines.
“We stayed connected through periodic letters and more occasional meetings,” they recalled. “We didn’t really have a first date so much as we had a series of intense, shared experiences. We spent six weeks together as part of a group, came back and had drinks a couple times, met in Prague in 2008, and then reconnected in the Philippines in 2014. We’ve had what feels like three rounds of first dates on three different continents over 9 years.”
It was during their experience in the Philippines however when the two finally agreed to take the next step in their deeply connected, nine year friendship.
“During her weekend visit to a pair of islands called Camotes in the Philippines, I asked Christina to come to Cairo with me, and she told me she’d been waiting a long time for me to ask,” recalled Luke. “We figured out later that we’d probably need to get married for that to happen. We decided on the partnership first and the institution second. Nine years of letters, reminders and memories, and a weekend of reconnecting culminated in our shared certainty that we wanted to continue these adventures — and more prosaic ones — together.”
With a goal of a shared life in Cairo together finally in place, Christina and Luke began the process of planning their wedding, thankfully with the help and support of our team by their side. I knew right away that these two were special, and creating a day that embodied their genuine spirits and shared magical experiences was a top priority. By working together, we were able to bring all of their closest friends and loving family members to Camp Wohelo – the magical venue that sparked such an intense love for these two so many years ago. Thanks to the always talented Emily Delamater, we are honored to share this magic with all of you.
This adorable building, called Timahiya, housed the first part of the ceremony for Luke and Christina, and guests returned later for a night of dancing. This beautiful outdoor chimney was ablaze late in the evening for guests to snuggle by.
Christina absolutely glowed in her sleeveless, lace Sarah Seven dress.
Luke certainly looked handsome, impressing guests with his sharp style and grey suit from P. Johnson Tailors.
The excitement in Christina and Luke’s heartwarming first look was perfectly captured in these photos. And let’s not overlook that stunning bouquet Christina has in hand. Filled with fresh white roses and pops of lush greens, Little River Flower Farm was to thank for the simplistic beauty of this bridal bouquet.
After these precious moments shared together, Christina and Luke were ready to join their wedding party to ease the final wedding jitters and prepare for the ceremony.
How good looking is this group?! The lovely ladies wore complementary dresses from Joanna August, Jenny Yoo and Adrianna Papell, while the men sported suits from a range of sources, including Suit Supply.
More important than their good looks however, this tribe was there to support Christina and Luke throughout the entire day, and stand beside them during their thoughtful, unique ceremony.
This dramatic garland was a last minute addition we felt compelled to create specifically for this day. Christina and Luke did not even see the piece until the day before! Needless to say, it was strung perfectly with our bistro lighting to add a romantic and fun element of design to the already dreamy, intimate room. Camp benches were made warm with cozy down pillows and blankets.
Christina and Luke’s memorable ceremony was deeply personal, romantic, and emotional, bringing tears to nearly every eye in the room.
“We created our ceremony from scratch, and were thoughtful about each spoken word and musical choice,” Luke explained. “Christina’s cousin started off the ceremony playing some of our favorite loving and longing songs on the piano. Our officiant, Francis Lam, who was our instructor during “poetry camp,” then provided a reflection on why the place we were in and the people we were sharing it with were an important part of confirming our marriage.”
“Rather than using traditional readings for the ceremony, we had our wedding party read excerpts from Wendell Berry’s “The Country of Marriage” and give short reflections on how the poem relates to our partnership,” added Christina. “For the final part of the ceremony, we had all of our guests walk outside with us to sing “The Water is Wide” and witness us exchanging rings and vows overlooking Sebago Lake.”
To complement their matching silver, custom engagement rings from Tinahdee (which had the longitude and latitude of where they met and reconnected by the way – swooning over here!), Christina and Luke found the perfect matching Wintercheck Factory rings to symbolize their love. Even more special was the small detail of the inscribed Ralph Waldo Emerson quote along the inside of the bands.
Their tenderness! Be prepared to see so much more of this throughout-we can’t get enough!
They’re official! These two basked in the joy and immense love of their ceremony, but were soon ready to enjoy the celebration.
Lobster eating instructions were necessary for many of these first time Mainers who traveled to Camp Wohelo from around the world to be part of Christina and Luke’s day. Maine Lobsterbake Company had the honor of presenting the delicious meal to awaiting guests.
The escort cards were attached to mugs at the ready for service of New England clam chowder, which we happily poured as guests found their seat. It was such a fun way for guests to be greeted into the beautiful sailcloth tent, and a lovely way for us to engage with their guests.
Delicious mussels were served family-style from our camp style pots and spoons.
If the ceremony didn’t bring tears of joy, this amazing welcome speech by both sets of parents certainly did! They sang a beautiful tribute that had the whole tent filled with sincerity and joy.
I mean! Can you even?? And look at these two!
The real Maine experience right here! Whole lobster dinner is served! Mussel pots were emptied and re-purposed for shell discard to keep the tables looking clean and pretty.
Heartfelt and hilarious toasting ensued, and of course, more of that tenderness I was talking about!
This family is so lovely! I am in awe of their precious love and close bond.
Tunes from the Tricky Britches continued an already joyous and exuberant mood from cocktail hour through dinner outdoors.
As the sun set, we created paths using luminary bags from the tent to the reception space and outdoor bathrooms.
As guests entered Timahiya, they were greeted with this beautiful display of various pies from Two Fat Cats and lots of sweet family memorabilia.
Christina and Luke’s fun and quirky personalities radiated throughout the day, clearly in synch as they navigated the twists and turns of the day’s events. Their unique relationship and love for one another created such a special aura about they day that I will never forget.
“We’re still pretty new to one another, but we’re having hard conversations very openly,” the two commented. “We read somewhere that the three hardest transitions are changing jobs, getting married, and moving. In a year, we’ve reconnected and done all of those – left or started new jobs, planned and had a wedding, moved to Egypt. That we’ve done all of that and still like each other strikes me as pretty special.”
“At the reception, a participant in New England Literature Program and a genius musician, Chris Bathgate, played our first dance and everyone got lobster mess all over themselves –those and so many other experiences made our history present, and have given us a foundation for our future,” recalled Christina.
The love and adoration continued times ten during parent dances.
Who says both parents can’t be a part of these moments?? That’s why we call them “parent dances”!
Major dancing to a playlist created by Christina and Luke quickly followed well into the night! Party time!
“After dancing we had a campfire, ate a monumental amount of Cheez-Its, and set off fireworks at the lakeshore,” the two added.
Christina and Luke – we love you! Your energy was truly infectious throughout your wedding day, spreading cheer, love, and smiles to everyone you came across. Especially us! We can never thank you enough for allowing us to be such a special part of your day. We so hope you are enjoying a full, joyful life in Cairo that is everything you imagined and more. Happy holidays and warm wishes from the entire team at AFA. Xoxo
We would also love to thank the following vendors for assisting us in creating such a memorable day.
** Hair and Make Up: Lisa Nale, Portland Hair Company ** Event Rentals: One Stop Event Rentals and A Family Affair of Maine ** Invitation Design: Rebecca Peplinski Design ** Wedding Favors: Field Notes – Maine Edition