Kristen & Charlie's farmyard, bluegrass, eco, afternoon affair

Updated Oct 12 2015

On day four of farm week we find ourselves headed to Siler City, North Carolina where Charlie and Kristen had quite the afternoon affair at Celebrity Dairy Goat Farm. Their day was filled with lawn games, a petting zoo, a photo booth and more! – Coco

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The offbeat bride: Kirsten, Communications for a nonprofit

Her offbeat partner: Charlie, Paramedic in training

Location & date of wedding: Celebrity Dairy Goat Farm B&B in Siler City, NC — November 7, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Neither of us are into the traditional dinner and dancing thing, so we immediately decided that we wanted an afternoon affair with games and lots of ways for our guests to entertain themselves. We had bocce, croquet, lawn bowling, a tree swing, goats and other animals to visit and pet, a photo booth with lots of props, and no seated dining to encourage guests to mingle and have fun.

We stuck to a very reasonable budget but managed to pull together an entire weekend of activities. Our families are all from out-of-town and we wanted to spend as much time together with them as possible. We had a out-of-town-guests dinner, the ceremony and reception, two bonfires, and a Sunday brunch of made-to-order crepes.

There were no traditional wedding flowers or a first dance or anything else we didn't consider extraneous. We are treehuggers, so we made sure our wedding reflected that (real plates and glasses, recycled paper invitations, local food, decorations from the local farmers' market, and we supported a great dairy farm by having our event there).

It was a very homemade affair. We bought a lot of things on Ebay or Craigslist. My dress was a simple J. Crew "Rebecca" dress. I did lots of things myself (invitations, corsages, boutonnieres, centerpieces, bridesmaids" gifts). Our families and friends were paramount to getting everything ready and everything turned out perfectly.

Our biggest challenge: Getting our families, friends, and the businesses we worked with to understand our vision. Our families really didn't understand why we wanted lawn games or why we chose to serve heavy hors d'ourves instead of a seated meal.

A groomsman with a croquet mallet in one hand a glass of wine in the other. Awesome.

We compromised on things that were unimportant to us, like the menu and flowers (our families wanted them but flowers are usually grown in a hot house or travel across the country or the world and that's not eco-friendly even if it is beautiful — we ended up letting them buy a few nice bouquets and putting them together into one big arrangement for the bar), but we saw our vision through and in the end everyone told us it was the most fun wedding they'd ever attended.

Interviewing potential vendors was difficult and hilarious. One hairdresser told me it would be easy to give me extensions… Why would I want to change something so drastic about myself for my wedding? Many vendors just didn't understand that we weren't going to have a black tie affair with a big band and dance floor. But when we found the vendors we clicked with, everything went smoothly.

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My favorite moment: The Thursday before the wedding when everyone started arriving (our bridal party and our families) was when I realized that all these people had traveled here for us. It was the only time that all the people from our different spheres of life came together and that made the whole weekend even more incredibly special (beyond the actual getting married part).

Guests gettin' down to bluegrass music.

Also, listening to our parents and other speakers imparting their wisdom during the ceremony was amazing. There was funny moments, touching moments, and moments when we looked at each other in awe. "This is it!"

My last favorite moment was a slide show my dad and my step-mom created for us. It was made up of pictures of Charlie and myself growing up and then us together. They are not the most technologically inclined people and they put a lot of time and effort into the slide show. It showed! And it made my cry.

My advice for offbeat brides: Think outside the box. So many weddings are ceremony, dinner, and then dancing for an hour before the venue closes down. I think that anything you can do to invite guests to entertain themselves is great. I know that this is your day, but your guests have traveled (sometimes great distances) to be there. They deserve lots of fun, "encourage them to mingle" things to do while you're busy cutting a cake and slow dancing.

Find a place and time and setting that really speaks to who you are as a couple. If that's casino night in "Monaco" — great; if its having a picnic in the park — great. Think about the mood you want to portray and then set about capturing that.

Also, be very wary of the industrial wedding machine! Just because so-and-so has a ring that costs $$$, that doesn't mean you need to follow, starry-eyed and tripping, down the same path. You are a bride and you're planning a wedding, but be yourself too! Be who you are as a couple and don't look back.

Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • I made my birdcage veil using DIY tutorials I found online.
  • I also made all the corsages for myself and the ladies, as well as the boutonnieres for the groom and the men.
  • The Inn at Celebrity Dairy is fabulous! Brooke was amazingly helpful and couldn't have been friendlier.
  • The Q Shack in Durham, NC, catered our rehearsal dinner and was insanely delicious.
  • Coffee and Crepes in Cary, NC did the Sunday morning brunch and was lots of fun and sooo good.
  • We used the Raleigh farmers' market to purchase pumpkins, mums, apple cider, and other decorations and goodies.
  • Shane Snider was our photographer. His photos are incredible and working with him was a pleasure.
  • Down River Bluegrass Band is great. They kept the whole crowd tapping their feet. They're out of Durham, NC.
  • The photobooth was run by Celebration Photobooth and we would highly recommend them as well. They're out of Cary, NC.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Everything looks so beautiful, the care and attention that went into it really shows!

    I'm glad you mentioned dealing with vendors who don't understand your vision as well. We've only booked a venue so far but I can already imagine that being a problem after she kept going on about big flower arrangements and string quartets. But it's good to know other people have been through the same and it worked out so wonderfully. Even if our particular vendors haven't been asked to do it before at least we know it can be done!

  2. OMG! I love the Q shack! man I miss Carolina BBQ 🙁 Looks like an awesome wedding, we are also going to try to encourage guests to play lawn games instead of dancing, I'm nervous about the older folks getting into it, so we are also leaving dominos on the tables for them to play (my family is cuban and puerto rican, and they can play the heck out of some dominos)

  3. What a lovely wedding! This Durhamite thinks your wedding was fit for a royal couple. I love Celebrity Dairy (who doesn't?!) and Q Shack. Congratulations on a lovely wedding and best wishes for many many years together.

  4. As one who was at this wedding, I have to say it was the most fun and cleverly put together wedding I have ever attended! Rustic, homemade, down-to-earth, with splashes of sparkle and extravagance subtly making its presence known.
    On every face was genuine expressions, from smiles to occasional frowns (the frowns were only apparent when missing the bocci ball shot, or noticing the wine glass was empty!)
    The homemade/handmade touch made a stranger to this family feel like a long-lost family member reunited; bringing a closeness to a once-in-a-lifetime event that commercialization has taken away.
    The Bride was lovely, the Groom was nervous and the guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves….at the end, the Bride and Groom were calm and happy, the guests were smiling and lingering over goodbyes and everyone had a touch of "we had a good time tiredness"…..what an event to mark the laying of a foundation for a lifetime of smiles together.

    • Thank you for your sweet words! It wouldn't have been the same without you!! (or the surprise wheelbarrow ride ;D

  5. Sounds amazing. We are planning a small ceremony and party and I wanted to avoid the seated dinner as well. What was on your menu for heavy appies.

    • We focused a lot on vegetarian food, mostly without realizing it, even thought we're not vegetarian 🙂 We had lots of bruchettas and crustinis, fun snacks like kettle corn and various dips for the crudités. We had a goat cheese platter full of the farm's yummy goat cheese. My father got nervous about the food (that there wouldn't be enough) so we bought a pre-sliced ham at the last minute.

      We also have 6 or 7 different cakes; family and friends made some and we purchased our favorites from local bakeries. We had a whole cake bar instead of the traditional stacked confection (my husband made cake stands from this cute tutorial: http://www.oncewed.com/8448/wedding-blog/diy-wedding/diy-tree-pedestal-cake-stand/).

      We ended up having lots of leftovers and many of the guests stayed and ate them for dinner (we'd originally planned to go to a nearby restaurant, but no one was hungry after the snacks!).

  6. Kirsten (or anyone out there with a suggestion),

    I am in the very beginning stages of planning what I hope will be an outdoor festival of love that's more like a family reunion than a traditional wedding. I am so inspired by what you guys have done (it's amazing!!) but I seem to be stuck in “Choosing a Venue” Hell. Every nature-y place I look is beautiful but has a price tag that makes me want to cry, or scream, or both.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to find a local park, farm, or other simple outdoor venue that isn’t priced as a wedding venue? I’m looking in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin areas of Texas so I don’t expect specific suggestions but was there a certain phrase you typed into your search engine? What’s the magical trick to finding the outdoor-with-trees-and-a-decent-rain-plan-nonprofit-ecofriendly-fun-and-simple venue??

    Thanks for your help!!

    Sincerely,
    Ready to Get on with the Fun Part

    • The finding-the-perfect-venue part was definitely a challenge, but don't despair, it will happen! I was in your same boat, getting quotes that were 3 times what we ended up paying — but research on the internet and talking to like-minded vendors or brides really paid off.

      If you're going for a farm in particular, I would suggest checking out a local farmers market. If a certain farm doesn't have the facilities, they might be able to point you in the direction of a one that does. Along those lines if there is a local list serve for farmers or for agricultural issues get on there and send an inquiry or two to the group.

      If you haven't already, check out some state or national parks — I found one in my area that rented a pavilion that seated 100 for only $80 per day! (this is a little more of a hassle in terms of getting electricity and stuff, but if you're organized and willing to take this on you can save lots of $$) We ended up going with Celebrity Dairy because our families and bridal party could stay there over the weekend — and that was key for us, but Lake Crabtree State Park in Raleigh was a serious option.

      One last way to go about it is if you've spoken to any other vendors who you click with, ask them if they know of a local secret venue.

      Good luck! I'm sure you'll find the perfect place hiding somewhere!

  7. LOVE YOU WEDDING! My fiance and I are planning a backyard, farm wedding for next summer and you have given me so many great ideas. I'm completely convinced that I need croquet now. You looked beautiful. Congrats and thanks!

  8. What a great wedding, couple and post! Documented beautifully and showing original taste, this wedding is (yet another) breath of fresh air on this site. Thanks for sharing!

  9. This wedding inspires me and gives me joy. You can feel the love coming through in the photos. So low-key and easy, just the way it should be!

    • Thanks! I saw a few pictures of satin and organza flowers and did a bunch of experimenting. I created so many I was inspired to sell them on Etsy; they're addicting to make 🙂

  10. Hi,
    I saw your wedding and it looks great – similar to what i am thinking about. I saw you are married under a huppah – i was wondering who conducted your ceremony. We are jewish and looking to have a jewish ceremony, but I'm not really sure how to begin looking for someone in the area.
    Thanks so much,
    Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks for your comment about the huppah! My sister knit it, which makes it doubly special 🙂 We actually had my godmother officiate our ceremony. Neither of us have strong religious faiths so we included the huppah as a nod to my family and because we love what it stands for.

      Have you checked with local organizations for help? I have a friend who is very involved with NC Hillel at the UNC campus. They should be able to send you in the right direction.

      Good luck!
      -Kirsten

      • Thats a great idea –

        Also curious – did you actually pick up your flowers from the farmers market on the day of, or work with a specific farm that delivered them? They are lovely!

        • Thanks! The flowers are a combination of the Raleigh Farmer's market and greenery around my house (a little sprig of rosemary was in every little vase because there is a huge plant in my front yard, now whenever I smell rosemary it reminds me of my wedding!)

          We actually got the mums, pumpkins, and gourds the week before at the Raleigh Farmer's Market. It was Halloween day so they were all on sale and I knew there wouldn't be many of them going forward because I researched them the year before.

          My wonderful helpers arranged the flowers into little vases (actually salt and pepper shakers) for the tables and then we put the potted mums around the ceremony area and reception area. We also used pumpkins and gourds in stacked arrangements around the grounds to compliment the autumn colors of the day.

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