Some ideas are fleeting. Other ideas nestle and nudge in my brain, begging to be transformed into something real and tangible. This idea was the latter.
PARK(ing) Day is an annual, open-source global event. The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!
After creating a pie themed PARK(ing) Day installation ages ago, I thought it would be fun to create a wedding in a parking space. This was finally the year to put the idea in motion. I shifted the focus to wedding vow renewals as a way to celebrate continued love and romance. What truly brought the idea to life were the seven couples who shared their big loves in the tiny space, and the many creatives involved who added their special touches!
In keeping with (PARK)ing Day’s greening initiatives, the feel of the ceremony/parking space was very natural and wild. Jessi Evans of Orchard & Co. created the custom altar backdrop, which read “Our One Wild Love.” I mixed wild touches of foraged greens, tree trunks, wildflowers and mulch from Hazelwood Urban Farms with gold and mercury glass candle holders for a bit of shimmer.
The event took place at Bayardstown Social Club, “a members only outdoor social club in the the Strip District of Pittsburgh that offers a backyard space to gather, eat, and drink.” Its outdoor gathering space added plenty of community spirit, and the location on a busy thoroughfare meant the wedding ceremonies would draw their fair share of attention, including a fire truck that honked in response to the festivities.
I couldn’t have asked for a better officiant. Rachel Carlson, the Yelp Community Manager for Pittsburgh, has so much Pittsburgh love and enthusiasm to share. She made each ceremony unique and special, even offering a “holler” when a passing car’s rap music interrupted.
I invited couples to bring their beverage of choice to toast in vintage glasses after their vows.
Lauren, of The Farmer’s Daughter Flowers, created the stunning florals for each couple. They had their choice of bouquets or floral crowns, boutonnieres and even baby boutonnieres for the little ones in attendance. Lauren sources her flowers from local farms, including her family’s farm, so her work was a perfect fit for the green focus of the event.
After renewing their vows, each couple adjourned to the “Reception Space,” the grassy area in front of the Bayardstown entrance. I decorated this space with brighter touches, including handmade paper floral garlands and a ribbon curtain.
Once seated, each couple received and signed a Wedding Vow Renewal Certificate, also designed by Jessi Evans, including a Parking Meter illustration I used in promoting the event. Then they split a Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwich!
As a play on the official (PARK)ing Day poster, I created the decorative toy cars for the table centerpieces.
The festivities trickled into Bayardstown, which I decorated for the occasion with more handmade paper flowers, a play on the traditional tin cans and the “Just Married” banner (hand lettered by Jessi as well) on the club’s vintage Scotty camper.
There are too few occasions to stand before an audience and declare your love anew, but this celebration inspired my inner romantic beyond my wildest dreams. I asked all the brides and grooms to select their procession songs, write their own introductions and renewal vows. I thought there might be hesitation or shyness, but each couple responded with the sentiment and sincerity that made the event a true celebration. They all reminded me why I love weddings!
Alex and Jena Pattison
“Jena has known Alex half her life! They met when Alex was 17, and Jena was 15, in the halls of Springdale High School. After making it through high school, college and a few other events, they decided to move to Iowa. Shortly after, they thought it would be fun to live in 4 states in the same year, finally settling back in Pennsylvania. Through all their moves and life events, their love has only grown stronger and stronger. After recently celebrating their 6th wedding anniversary and the birth of their sweet baby boy, Knox, they are ready to confess their love all over again in front of you today!”
Alex & Jena’s Procession Song: “Crazy Love” by Van Morrison
Inspired by Alex and Jena’s long-lasting friendship, I included this excerpt from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis:
“[In the marriage ceremony], we pronounce a special blessing that renders the couple loving, kind friends, always at each other’s side, always encouraging each other, and when necessary, criticizing and gently showing where the other erred. God has endowed each of us with unique gifts. When our mates become our best friends, we pool our spiritual resources and strengthen each other. In such a relationship, life’s trials become less threatening, and even the most formidable challenges become manageable. ‘Two are better than one’ is the wise teaching of King Solomon. If one falls, the other is there to pick him/her up. If one is attacked, the other is there to rescue him; if one is depressed, the other is there to buoy her spirits. When husband and wife are loving, kind friends, they perceive each other’s feelings so totally that there is no need for explanations. Their relationship is virtually symbiotic. There is total empathy with the needs of the other.”
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue… all in one! The officiant tucked her script inside this Yiddish Folk Songs book from my vintage book collection. Each couple’s ceremony began with a welcome and their intro, followed by a quote I found inspired by their story.
Ross & Sara Addler
“Ross and Sara have been married for 5 years and have a 1-year-old son, Abram. They met in college and travelled around the country and world together for school, jobs and finally to come back to Sara’s hometown of Pittsburgh.”
Ross & Sara’s Procession Song: “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds Five
Inspired by Ross and Sara’s steadfast love and friendship, I included this excerpt from “The Bridge Across Forever” by Richard Bach.
“A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out, and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.”
At the moment in the planning stages, when I feared there might not be enough hopeless romantics out there to make this idea work, Amanda signed up to renew her vows. What made her ceremony extra thoughtful was the fact that it was a surprise for her husband! She even made a secret Facebook event, so she could invite close friends and family members to join in the surprise celebration!
Shawn & Amanda Meredith
“Shawn and Amanda met in 2007 at work. It wasn’t love at first sight; it wasn’t even like. But down the road, after they each had resolved some personal stuff, sparks flew and there was LOVE! Shawn proposed via a love letter in October 2012, and they were married in March of 2013. They’re both convinced their wedding was one of the best parties they’ve ever attended and hoping everyone has just as much fun tonight. After the wedding, they bought a house, got a dog, got another dog, and welcomed baby Isaac last October. Life has been moving fast, but the love keeps growing. When Amanda heard about this opportunity, she couldn’t resist surprising Shawn with it– up until getting here today, he didn’t know what was happening. The vows they’re saying today are a recommitment of their love, and are adapted from a different love letter Shawn wrote just this week and tucked into Amanda’s lunch.”
Shawn & Amanda’s Procession Song: “Bully” by Lissie
Inspired by Amanda and Shawn’s love, I included this excerpt from Les Mis by Victor Hugo:
Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burning even to the very marrow of our bones, and we see it beaming in the very depths of heaven…
What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests on anything that is not elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more germinate in it, than a nettle on a glacier. The serene and lofty soul, inaccessible to vulgar passions and emotions, dominating the clouds and the shades of this world, its follies, its lies, its hatreds, its vanities, its miseries, inhabits the blue of heaven, and no longer feels anything but profound and subterranean shocks of destiny, as the crests of mountains feel the shocks of earthquake.
If there did not exist some one who loved, the sun would become extinct.”
Amanda and Shawn’s vows were inspired by a note he sent her in her lunch. How’s that for romance?!?
You are the best tag-team partner I could ask for.
You’re quick to jump in when I need help,
Smart at problem solving when I need it,
And you’re easy on the eyes.
I promise to keep on loving you,
Partnering with you,
And problem solving with you.
I can’t promise that I’ll look like this forever,
But I can promise that I’m excited to grow old with you.
I love you, always, the most.
[at this point, I was already weeping on the sidelines!]
Morgan and Terri Pattison happen to be my boyfriend’s parents, and since day one, they’ve welcomed me with such warmth and generosity. Knowing they’d been through their fair share of health issues and obstacles, yet stood by each other as the best of friends, I had really hoped they’d walk down the aisle all over again. Luckily for me, they did, and when they shared their vows, hardly a dry eye remained!
Morgan & Terri Pattison
In Terri’s words:
“37 years in one introduction is not easy but here goes! Morgan and I met in 1976, high-school sweethearts. We have been married 37 years. I remember the first time I thought, “hey I want to go out with this guy.” It was in history class when he came up to me and blew shredded paper in my face. It was like it was yesterday! He made me laugh and has kept me laughing ever since.
Our oldest son Alex married his high-school sweetheart, Jena. Jena is like the daughter we never had. They have a son Knox who is the light of the whole family. Our youngest son Kyle is with a wonderful girl Quelcy (who created this event). We are all so very happy she has joined our family. I must say our boys are our greatest accomplishment. It has been so much fun watching them grow to be the wonderful men they are today.
Morgan and I have been through our share of health issues, so when we said in sickness and in health we really meant it. Neither cancer, nor heart disease can bring us down. “How do you get through it? everyone asks. First, you have no choice. Second, you keep each other laughing. I guess that is the secret to our marriage LOVE and laughter. The one hope I have for both our boys is they have the love their father and I have.”
Morgan & Terri’s Procession Song: “My Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
In honor of the love and laughter that has propelled Morgan & Terri’s marriage, I included an excerpt from Sister Joan Chittister’s book entitled There is a Season.
“A Time to Laugh”
“Laugh when people tell a joke. Otherwise you might make them feel bad.
Laugh when you look into a mirror. Otherwise you might feel bad.
Laugh when you make a mistake. If you don’t, you’re liable to forget how ultimately unimportant the whole thing really is, whatever it is.
Laugh with small children… They laugh at mashed bananas on their faces, mud in their hair, a dog nuzzling their ears, the sight of their bottoms as bare as silk. It renews your perspective. Clearly nothing is as bad as it could be.
Laugh at situations that are out of your control. When the best man comes to the altar without the wedding ring, laugh. When the dog jumps through the window screen at the dinner guests on your doorstep, sit down and laugh awhile.
Finally, laugh when all your carefully laid plans get changed; when the plane is late and the restaurant is closed and the last day’s screening of the movie of the year was yesterday. You’re free now to do something else, to be spontaneous… to take a piece of life and treat it with outrageous abandon.”
Carlos Badenes & Christine Graziano
“Christine and Carlos’s relationship began in Princeton, NJ one fall day when Christine’s housemate, Caroline, who had just arrived from South Africa, invited Carlos to a welcoming party at our shared house. Five months of coffee, movies, friendly gatherings, walks on campus, emails, and facebook messages led to their first officially romantic dinner in February. In March, Carlos learned he would be moving to Israel in September for work.
The news didn’t stop them from love, and a long distance relationship ensued a good part of the next year. They spoke over Skype daily and saw each other for 10 day stints, in either Princeton or Israel, nearly every 3 months. In July, on a trip to Tel Aviv, Carlos took Christine to dinner the day after her arrival, stopping along the Mediterranean sea at sunset to propose. She moved to Tel Aviv shortly thereafter.
In July 2011, the following year they were married by an officiant in Australia, on the deck of the Sydney Observatory overlooking Botany Bay. Their adored son was born in 2013 in Pittsburgh, PA.”
Carlos & Christine’s Procession Song: “Maria Elena” by Ry Cooder
“We chose this song because it is a family song we love to sing and jam out to together, and we think our baby boy would appreciate it!”
Inspired by the many journeys Carlos and Christine’s love has taken, I included this excerpt from “Wild Awake” by Hilary T. Smith:
“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.”
BJ & Kelly Mathieu
“BJ and I have been together since January 2010. We actually met in 2009, but he was dating someone else, and I spent a year hoping that wouldn’t work out! We have been best of friends since we got together and happily tied the knot on September 15, 2012. We enjoy traveling as often as we can…..seeing new places, making memories with friends. We are fortunate enough to reside in Mt Lebo near 4 of our best friends. And of course we have a great support system of family and friends in the Burgh. Our little motto, even when we get in a fight, is ‘Love is Spoken Here’…..little joke that even our friends know.”
BJ & Kelly’s Procession Song: “This Life” by Ryan Huston
Inspired by BJ and Kelly’s shared sense of adventure, I shared this quote from James Bertolino:
“May your love be firm, and may your dream of life together be a river between two shores — by day bathed in sunlight, and by night illuminated from within. May the heron carry news of you to the heavens, and the salmon bring the sea’s blue grace. May your twin thoughts spiral upward like leafy vines, like fiddle strings in the wind, and be as noble as the Douglas fir. May you never find yourselves back to back without love pulling you around into each other’s arms.”
Eric Cohen & Melissa Cohen-Muniz
Last but not least, a special couple asked to be included. Regular attendees of Bayardstown, they were inspired to renew their vows. Even though their vows were completely impromptu, they were just as sincere and moving as the couples before them.
Their daughter was especially thrilled to join this ceremony and helped them exchange rings. She had always lamented missing her parents’ wedding, the fault of not yet being born. Hopefully her night was complete!
Author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.” This was an idea that begged to be born, but what really brought this idea to life was the seven couples who made the choice to celebrate their love!
Event Concept & Event Design by Quelcy.
Photography by Mandy Fierens.
Venue: Bayardstown Social Club
Hand Lettered Banners & Certificate by Jessica Evans of Orchard & Co.
Couples’ Florals by The Farmer’s Daughter Flowers
Large Floral Installations by Quelcy.
Officiant: Rachel Carlson, Yelp Pittsburgh Community Manager
Couples’ Ice Cream Treats provided by Leona’s Ice Cream Sandwiches.
Chairs & Tables provided by All Occasions Party Rental.
Music by DJ Ondo.