Everyone told us planning a wedding is one of the most stressful things in life. This made us even more determined to strike our own path and keep it upbeat and celebratory throughout. We also wanted it to be a different experience, both for us and our guests. The result was a memorable blend that might be best described as causal-exotic.

Given that ~120 people were coming from all over, we hoped to provide two days of activities (as well as a laundry list of local attractions should they want to stay longer). The wedding kicked off more traditional, with a casual stole through the marvelous Longwood Gardens. This performed the function of a reception, where people trickled in, and we could roam, catching up with people. Allowing time for people time to refresh and Amy to finish her preparations, the “Jubilee” kicked off at 5pm.

Owing to our love of travel, we aimed for an international vibe, drawing primarily on Middle Eastern and South East Asian motifs. Adding to the ambiance was our Moroccan jazz band, M'oudswing, who serenaded our guests with mesmerizing instrumentals. An equally impressive spread of food was created by Thai Chef Amporn (check out her amazing blog) and Lebonese Chef Andraos. From fiery salmon curry to right-off-the-grill shish kabobs, it was a real treat. To cool the taste buds, delicious hand crafted brews were supplied by the Kinnairds, backed up by Galer Estate wine, frozen mango margaritas, and homemade Limoncello. Our goal was to have drinks in everyone’s’ hands before the ceremony.

We really strived to make this a social event, with people mixing and otherwise engaged (HCI training!). To help this along, there was minimal fixed seating and tables, and lots of activities (checklist for guests in photos below). Food and drinks were also distributed around the grounds, as were several participatory art projects. For example, the wireframe elephant Amy and I built was progressively filled in with exotic thread and fabric – the beautiful result stands in our bedroom.

The theme was designed to come alive at sunset, when the ceremony kicked off. If you’ve ever been to the DevLab, you know I love lighting. In addition to landscape-centric color floodlighting, dozens of Moroccan lanterns were distributed and suspended across the ceremony area, as well as tea lights floating on the pool. Due to its strong Quaker influence, Pennsylvania allows for self-uniting marriages (no clergy necessary). Stephen guided us through a beautiful ceremony as our unofficial officiate.

Following the ceremony, we were treated to a number of special speeches – half toast, half roast. Amporn brought out Amy’s favorite dessert - mango sticky rice – this one dyed blue from special flowers brought back from Thailand. People started to trickle home once the speeches had ended, and Jason and Stephen took charge of kicking off the party. By about 1am, the hardcore had migrated to the pool; some were up until dawn apparently – I was in bed.

Second day activities were meant to be extremely chill, starting with a lazy brunch. We ate and caught up with people we didn’t get a chance to speak much with the night before (weddings are a serious time multiplexing problem). With most guests gone by noon, it was time to crack out the 150’ slip and slide, courtesy of Erin Walker. I took the obligatory trip down, before retiring to the pool. Mad props to Professor Aleven for braving the blue beast!

This wouldn’t have been possible without an army of people helping us. The Galer family opened their home to us, even cooking several meals. The Ogans and Harrisons helped with all aspects of planning and execution, which enabled us to enjoy our day. The Kinnairds supplied the beer, Ian our website, Sara the bouquet, LaVerne the Cookies, and the Garnetts the wedding favors. Jason MC-ed the whole event, with Stephen handling the ceremony. And finally, Chloe and John were our amazing and tireless photographers; a subset of their work is below.

© Chris Harrison