Rebecca & Tim’s Hootenanny

I’ve had this wedding in my inbox for a sinfully long time, and I’m so glad I finally sorted myself out (New Orleans will do that to a girl) and am getting to share it with you. Every time I look this wedding, it makes me grin my head off (I love me a hootenanny too. That’s my kind of *thing.*) But as I put this post together, what made my heart catch in my throat was not the amazing party, it was the emotion. Because that last bit? That bit about the wedding ring? That picture with Rebecca and Tim hugging each other fiercely? That’s what getting married is like. The more time I have to look back at the married-getting, the more that is was stays with me. So here is to you, Rebecca and Tim. To many more years of drinking, of dancing, of singing, of hugging, of loving. And now, the lady herself:
Our ceremony and reception was the Narrows Center for the Arts, which is non-profit organization. Located in Fall River, Massachusetts’ waterfront district, the Narrows Center for the Arts is on the top floor of an old mill building with spectacular views. We choose this venue because our first date was at a local open mic where my future husband sang some of his original songs (I fell for the heartthrob channeling Bruce Springsteen instantly).The Narrows is a well-known open-mic and music venue in Southeastern Mass. We love the space and the folks that work hard to keep it running. We have spent many evenings there enjoying live music when we were dating. We were surprised to find out that we were the very first wedding to take place at the Narrows.

During the wedding planning we decided that the principle parts of our wedding would be: love, family, and music. We knew that everything else were just details that we could probably buy from Ikea. So, we set out to write a ceremony and throw a party that embodied our own personal trinity for an unforgettable wedding filled with revelry.We wrote our own ceremony and Tim’s sister Annie married us. She applied through the state for the justice-of-the-peace-for-a-day-thing. We wanted our ceremony to center around family and the connectedness of our community as well as equal rights. This is how Annie began our ceremony:“As we gather here to solidify the commitment of Tim and Rebecca to each other, we would also like to celebrate the fact that Massachusetts has lead the way in extending the rights and privileges of marriage to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. It moves us one step closer to fulfilling our nation’s promise to provide liberty and justice for all.” It was important to us that we address this injustice upfront in our ceremony. We feel as you do, it is a right and not a privilege to be married.We included all of Tim’s 6 siblings in the ceremony. They were ushers, readers, singers, officiant, co-officiant. They were truly the ones that drove the ceremony forward and made it so beautiful. Tim’s younger sister Susie said a blessing of the hands that connected all of our family and friends to us by placing hands on each other’s shoulders. Many wedding guests shared that this was their favorite part of the ceremony. It was also the part that I could not choke back my tears.We did include a few traditions in our nontraditional ceremony. My father walked me down the aisle and we chose to say traditional vows. The other tradition we choose to be a part of the celebration was the German Wedding Cup as a nod to my grandfather who is part German. My grandparents presented the legend of the German Wedding Cup then Tim and I attempted to drink from the same cup without spilling drop. Luckily, we managed not to spill, as a precaution the cup was filled with beer not red wine. We enjoyed having the freedom to choose which traditions we would honor.We love us a hootenanny. Music, dancing, and sing-a-longs were woven throughout the night. Tim’s cousin Mike and sister Sarah sang during the ceremony and we hired a local band called Whiskey on Sunday we knew through a mutual friend to play the reception. During the band’s break family jumped on the stage and played together, very hootenanny.We had an evening cocktail reception at a non-profit with 150 guests. We came in under budget, here’s how: We love the Narrows the way it is and did not want to fuss with fabric or flowers. We purchased some lighting from Ikea and rented some tablecloths, that was it for décor. We knew that the music and view would be lovelier then anything we could buy. Other things that didn’t relate to our trinity we did not brother with. These included: letterpress invitations, expensive wedding gown, favors, programs, seating charts, tons of flowers, matching bridesmaids dresses, and champagne toasts. We provided our own labor and liquor to be budget-friendly. Mostly, we are fortunate to have had a great team of family members willing to roll up their sleeves and help out.Our splurge was Liz Linder. She is an incredible Boston based photographer who is well-known for her work with musicians. We knew that she was the one to capture the mood and hootenanny-ness of the celebration.I just stayed focused on what was truly important, love, family, and music and let the small stuff slide— Even when the best man called my sister the morning of the wedding and we discovered that Tim’s wedding band was missing. In the end he borrowed a friends ring and no one knew. Today he wears a coconut band we bought on our honeymoon that was $1.60. I like it more.Photos: Liz Linder Photography

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  • My mom went to this wedding! (My family of six kids grew up with Tim's family of six kids.) I am so glad you posted this. They are an incredible family and host bonfire sing-a-longs at holidays a couple times a year. Their invitation was awesome. It looked like a concert poster and said something like: Rebecca and Tim, one night only. Now I have to give my friend, the best man, a hard time about losing the ring! So funny.

    P.S. I am a regular (not planning a wedding) reader. You know you have those, right? Your writing is great.

  • sam

    I love this wedding! The focus on family (I have six siblings too) the simplicity and honest-ness of it… it made me feel warm and happy. And reminded me of our wedding. I love that they were able to use a venue that was a place they've enjoyed spending time together.
    PS – this also reminded me that I owe you photos :)

  • I love this wedding and how the bride and groom focused on what was really important to them.

  • LPC

    Wonderful. Wonderful. I love those lighting fixtures. I love all the people having fun. I love the way it is all an entire event – rather than a series of isolated details.

  • Oh my goodness, I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see a Fall River wedding up here!! I'm a Tiverton girl (next town over) and saw my first concert at The Narrows. And what a great wedding! I'm aiming for a hootenanny myself, maybe it's a regional thing ;)

  • I love the minimalism that lets that fierce hug shine through! Gorgeous gorgeous.

  • I love it! Weddings that reflect the couple so perfectly are the ones that make me melt. Plus the last picture? *TEAR*

    And I love hootenanny's (hootenannies??) I even love then word… Reminds me of one of my favorite Buffy moments.

    Oz: We should figure out what kind of deal this is. I mean, is it a gathering, a shindig, or a hootenanny?
    Cordelia: What's the difference?
    Oz: Well, a gathering is brie, mellow song stylings. Shindig: dip, less mellow song stylings, perhaps a large amount of malt beverage. And hootenanny? Well it's chock full'a hoot, just a little bit o' nanny.

  • Oh how I love that last photo too. And the bit about the $1.60 ring – classic.

    I'd love to know more about that blessing of the hands – sounds like a great way to tie everyone into the ceremony.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Meg

    @Miss T – Oh, we did that too, it was just way too personal to share here. Of course since we roll Jewish style, we did not call it the blessing of the hands, we just called it a blessing (it's tradition in our shul, so it happened over us at our Afruf as well). But it was far and away the most intense part of the wedding. Unlike Rebecca, I did not cry then, though I almost cried before. When it was happening it was way way way way way too intense to cry. It's part of why I looked like I'd been through the wringer walking back down the aisle.

  • wow, wow, WOW. Now that is what I want to have — it's so beautiful and filled with feeling. And dancing! I love that they had their first date there.

  • Meg and Rebecca – love this! I'm getting married in January and think the blessing is a beautiful idea that makes me wish we were Jewish. Can anyone give me any ideas about what sort of prayer/words are said while everyone is so physically connected? I would really appreciate it!

  • so sweet. i love this wedding & their emphasis on family & equal rights.

    made me cry at work. dammit.