By Anna T. Hirsh
Anna Hirsh, 31, and Chris Sachse, 33
Aug. 30, 2008
A friend’s farm in Cornelius, Ore.
Saying yes to Chris after he proposed to me with a stunning Art Deco emerald ring (“Green, like your eyes,” he said) in the middle of Central Park, was easy.
Even though we came from very different backgrounds – he was raised Catholic in Tulsa, Okla., by a family with money and etiquette; I grew up a hippie kid in Eugene, Ore., with Goodwill jeans and elbows on the table – agreeing on the kind of wedding we wanted, also was easy: a classy affair but full of heart, not too traditional, definitely a fabulous party for the guests, and, most importantly, at a location that felt like us.
Making this last part happen? Really, really hard.
Nine maddening months after our June 2007 engagement, we finally settled on a small farm outside of Portland that belonged to one of my oldest friends (I was her maid of honor 10 years earlier). She had recently purchased the place, and it needed work, but we figured it would simply be a few weekends of getting our hands a little dirty. Those weekends quickly turned into a full-scale remodel, including residing and painting the house and garage; ripping out and relaying a brick patio; laying walkways; building fences; tilling an entire field and then irrigating and reseeding it; mowing; weeding and more.
But all that blood, sweat and tears (literally) led up to four amazing days of events …
Thursday, August 28
Even up until the night before, I was out at the farm, planting flowers and raking gravel, but it was finally time to take off my muddy work boots and feel like a bride. While all the gentlemen in town joined Chris for a manly rafting trip down the Clackamas River, my mother-in-law-to-be and I went to a local Aveda spa and had facials, massages and pedicures. For three glorious hours, I let my brain stop trying to organize all the wedding minutiae.
We live in Portland, but we decided to stay downtown at the same Art Deco boutique hotel, the Hotel deLuxe, where most of our guests were staying, and where the Old Hollywood-themed rehearsal dinner would be held; packing our bags and leaving the normalcy of our house made it feel like a destination wedding! We made a date to meet in our hotel room that evening and spend an hour alone together, finalizing our ceremony. It was really important to us to have moments all weekend long in which we looked each other in the eye and remembered why we were here in the first place. Later we met up with friends at a local hipster hangout for pints of Oregon microbrew.
Friday, August 29
I felt like people were already spending gobs of money to attend my wedding, so I opted not to have a normal bridal shower. Instead, while the men played golf, two friends organized a tea party for 30 ladies at the historic Heathman Hotel which is known for its elegant tea court. After dining on cucumber sandwiches and Earl Grey, we gathered in front of the marble fire place and each woman gave me a tea cup of her choosing. Some had been in families for ages, some were funny, some were Asian-influenced and some were quite luxe – like a Hermes cup and saucer with a lily-pad motif. Now I have 30 beautiful and different tea cups with 30 stories to match.
Because the farm was 45 minutes outside the city, we held the rehearsal in one of the event rooms of the hotel. It went quickly because we wrote the entire ceremony ourselves, our wedding party was only siblings and our officiant was our friend Dustin, who had introduced us almost five years prior in Los Angeles. Fifteen minutes later the champagne was out and we eased right in to the glamorous rehearsal dinner extravaganza, to which all 100 guests were invited! The theme was inspired by our time in L.A., my past work in the film industry and our shared love of movies. The over-the-top cocktail hour included a tarot-card reader, the old “Father of the Bride” with Elizabeth Taylor playing on a movie screen, popcorn and movie candy and a paparazzi-style photo shoot that produced the best pictures of the whole weekend. Chris looked dashing in a tailored Zegna tux with no tie, while I wore a fantastic 50s-style black taffeta cocktail dress with a rhinestone broach from Rickie Freeman for Teri Jon. Everyone who attended looked like movie stars. At the close of dinner, guests were given black-and-white butter cookies in the shape of movie clapper boards.
Forever the nontraditionalists, we decided to spend the night together. We were a little overwhelmed by all the events, details and people, as well as a bit worried about the weather for our outdoor wedding the next day (the temperature forecast had plummeted from 79 degrees to 65 with chance of rain), but being together reconfirmed that we were 110-percent happy with each other.
Hair already professionally coifed, I descended on the farm with a group of friends who were there to help me with the last minute details: assembling heat lamps (it was 67 degrees and windy), hanging lights, pinning up fly paper, putting out games for the kids and placing small jars of bubbles on the chairs for the ceremony (people blew bubbles instead of throwing rice). I wrote the table assignments on the RSVP cards that people had signed and returned to us (it’s Portland; we recycle), and used wooden clothespins to attach them to a clothesline. The boys caught some stray chickens.
I needed to head inside to get dressed before the two large buses full of guests arrived, but first I looked around and saw the long family-style tables in the orchard, with chocolate brown tablecloths and crisp white linen napkins, the golden path of hay that cut through a field of delicate white flowers to our ceremony site, the lush garden and the 1930s jazz band we had hired assembling on the patio we built. I felt like Chris and I were present in every detail of our wedding.
The band set the mood to a T: casual elegance – a sort of Jay Gatsby meets Jed Clampett. We opened the bar early so that guests could enjoy a cocktail or glass of Oregon Pinot Noir as they took in the sweeping view of the green and golden hills and valleys. Through the upstairs window, I watched them check out the chicken coop as I donned my hemp silk and organza dress with an hour-glass silhouette, twisted straps and an asymmetrical swath of organza flowers across the neck and bust line (I had it made by local designer Terri Spaeth-Merrick). My sister wore a vibrant coral, silk cocktail dress. Chris was wearing a dark blue Zegna suit with an ivory tie, while his two brothers and my brother wore dark gray suits with blue striped ties.
Our ceremony was simple and simply incredible. I was so excited to give Chris a hug when I first reached him that I forgot to my hug my dad! That had people laughing, but then Chris and I would also periodically say things to the guests to keep the mood light and fun. As we progressed through three readings, the sun began to shine brighter and brighter and the sky became a brilliant blue. I would have said that the best part was when Dustin read heart-felt advice on marriage for us that had been sent to him by our parents, but then Chris said his vows. Let’s just say that this one moment is singlehandedly what made my wedding day the best day of my life. He was crying. Everyone was crying.
No more tears – it was time to party! Guests drank Don Julio margaritas and pomegranate martinis from the bar, wandered the property, met Nestle the cow and chatted, while the caterers grilled local, organic pork tenderloin, chicken and stuffed squash on the outdoor grill. At dinner, guests passed heaping platters of fresh pesto orzo, summer vegetables and bread from the best bakery in town – people are still saying how much they loved the food, and nobody ever says that about a wedding. “Oh, Anna! The whole thing is like something out of Town & Country!” gushed my now-official mother-in-law as she hugged me. It finally did get cold out, but people just bundled up in coats and fleece blankets and made new friends by the heat lamps. They also warmed up by dancing after we cut the four-tier, three-flavor cake made by my friend’s aunt. Chris and I spent our first dance, to “Comes Love” by Billie Holiday, commiserating about what terrible dancers we are and wishing it was over. People keep asking us where we took lessons; we think they’re just being nice.
It’s hard to believe we could wake up, seeing as how we met up with friends at a classy lounge downtown for a nightcap after we returned from the farm, but having a brunch was a great way to chat with anyone we might have missed during the festivities.
But I doubt we could have felt pain anyway, consumed as we were by shock and awe at how well everything turned out. There were plenty of times during our six months of manual labor when it didn’t feel worth it, but as we shaped that land, it also helped shape us. We worked toward a goal, we worked hard, and we worked as a team. And, in the end, our wedding was classy, unique and a blast for everyone involved. It was everything we had wanted – plus 30 chickens and some geese.
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