Jess and Chris first met at Saint Michael's College, in Colchester, Vermont, and began dating soon after graduation. They fell in love in Burlington, and Jess grew up in Vermont, so the state had special meaning to them both. Even though they moved out of state they go back to Vermont every chance they get to play outside, eat, drink, and be with friends and family. The special meaning, and natural beauty of the Green Mountain State, made it an obvious choice for the location of their wedding.
Jess and Chris are relaxed and laid back so their celebration was the same. The cocktail hour was held outside on the lawn, compete with lawn games like stilts, corn hole, ladder ball, and bocce. An array of local cured meats and cheese from Vermont, and fresh shucked oysters from Massachusetts (where the couple now reside) were on hand as well. Having good food, drinks, and most importantly fun was the focus of the day.
To read more of Jess and Chris' love story and see more photos of their wedding, pick up a copy of the Summer/Fall issue of Vermont Bride Magazine, out at the end of May!
featured professionals | PHOTOGRAPHER: Ben Hudson Photography | VENUE: The Skinner Barn | CATERER: The Mad Taco | FLORIST: A Schoolhouse Garden | CAKE: Birchgrove Baking | DJ: DJ For Your Day | RENTALS: Vermont Tent Company | GOWN: Nicole Miller | TUX & FORMAL WEAR: Men’s Wearhouse | HAIR STYLIST: Kerry Armstrong Formal Hair Design | INVITATIONS: Meredith Lindsey Designs | JEWELRY: Harston’s Jewelers | REHEARSAL DINNER: The Common Man | ACCOMMODATIONS: The Waitsfield Inn, The Featherbed Inn, The Golden Lion Riverside Inn | SPA SERVICES: Complexions | OFFICIANT: Charles Shaw
Photo by Daria Bishop Photographers
What could be more romantic and inspiring than to be married under the open sky, with lush green (or vibrant red, orange and yellow) surroundings, breathtaking mountain views in the distance, surrounded by wildflowers and feeling at one with the natural Vermont beauty around you? I love outdoor weddings. In my youth, avid hiker that I was, I envisioned being married on top of Camel’s Hump. But, as a musician, I’ve seen the fear and trepidation that the simple words “outdoor wedding” can sometimes cause for my fellow musicians.
What do you, as a wedding couple, need to know about live music as you plan your outdoor ceremony?
First, it’s fabulous to hear live music wafting over the grounds, blending with the wind and the birds and the scenery to create that amazing and unique sound and feeling you’re craving. It’s all generally very manageable, and most musicians are willing to play outdoors. The key is clear communication up front with your musicians.
Second, if your musician doesn’t bring up the question of their needs for protection of their instrument from a variety of weather-related possibilities, you should double check weather details with them to make sure you’re not in for a last minute surprise.
I’ve heard many stories from both perspectives. The most common story goes roughly this way: “It rained. The musician played in the (garage; house; inside the Inn; you pick) and could not be heard from the ceremony site.” I’ve heard versions of this one from both the musician’s perspective and the bride’s perspective, and concluded that communication prior to and included in the contract about the conditions under which the musician will play outdoors are absolutely critical to avoid panic for musicians and terrible disappointment for the wedding couple.
Some other stories and experiences along these lines that may be helpful in understanding the situation from both sides:
- The father of the bride happens to see the violinist for the quartet a few days before the wedding. She casually mentions “You know we can’t play in sun?” Dad’s to-do list in the final days just got a lot longer with tracking down a tent.
- The shade from the gazebo gradually moves out of the gazebo by the beginning of the 5:00 ceremony on a 95 degree day. The harp goes out of tune and musicians panic that the glue holding the instrument together will begin to melt away, potentially shortening the life of the beloved $30,000 instrument.
- The oboist frantically warms the outside of her instrument with her hands to equalize the temperature between the 58 degree air outside of the instrument and the 98.6 degree air going in to prevent her $8,000 wooden instrument from cracking.
- I see beneath the well-rehearsed calm exterior to the pit of stomach reaction of the cellist, holding his $20,000 instrument, when told by the groom: “Yes, we lucked out with the weather, but we would have been outside even in a thunderstorm!”
- The wind picks up, and the music on the stand blows out of view during the recessional, stopping the music. Experienced outdoor musicians usually clip down the music to the stand ahead of time, and hold the base with feet or wire loops in the ground and around the base, combined with feet. If your musician hasn’t discussed weather ahead of time, they may lack this type of outdoor wedding experience. Then again, strong wind may not be manageable for anyone.
If your musician doesn’t mention weather, this doesn’t necessarily mean all will be well - different people have different assumptions about what is considered acceptable weather for making the choice to move indoors. Sometimes musicians may assume one thing while the wedding couple may not have thought about it, but would choose to be outdoors even if weather conditions are what a musician would simply assume would be unacceptable. So be sure you know what the musician is expecting and make sure it works with what you’re hoping for - and be prepared for some “unpredictable as weather” moments in all aspects of your outdoor wedding planning.
Here’s a list of weather conditions to discuss with your live musician to clarify their needs and your desires, and how to best ensure that everyone will be at their best on the day that counts. First, consider the listed possible weather conditions below and discuss with your partner under what conditions you would really want to stay outdoors. Next be completely up front with your musician about your interests and make sure they let you know under which conditions they might not be able to stay out in the open. And finally, discuss whether protection from the elements is something that you’re expected to provide or whether the musicians may provide some sort of protection, and specifically what conditions would ensure that they could provide that safely. Weather concerns for musicians may include: 1) rain - heavy, light, sprinkle or potential; 2) direct sun; 3) temperature - low or high; 4)wind conditions; 5) additional moisture (from wind, shade tree, leaking gazebo, even after the rain has stopped).
Most of the weddings I play are outdoor weddings. And most experienced wedding musicians will bring up weather concerns or stipulations and be clear and up front about their needs. With proper communication and precautions taken, during the late spring, summer and early fall, the exquisite experience of live wedding music wafting through the great outdoors is normally quite manageable in Vermont!
Lisa Carlson is a freelance flutist, performing for weddings and other occasions throughout Vermont and beyond, with musical offerings ranging from a quartet of flute with violin, viola and cello, to solo flute, to duos and trios of flute with harp, violin, piano, cello, oboe, and more. She also teaches flute in Montpelier, Vermont and online to students worldwide.