The groom got in on the action by growing the ingredients for the reception's first course and the favor on his farm.
Photography: Fete Photography1 of 15
Claire and Evan
When she chatted up Evan Chender at a Vassar College party in 2007, Claire Salinda was flying by the seat of her pants. Actually, it was his pants: She complimented his jeans, which got them talking. But Evan basically ignored Claire for the rest of the semester. "I didn't know how to interact with someone I thought was out of my league," he explains. Claire gave him a second chance a year later, inviting him to an event in New York City, a two-hour train ride from school, and they've been an item ever since.
Six years later, on a trip to the Big Apple to visit Evan's parents, Claire, an operations manager for Venture Asheville, a business development organization, and Evan, owner of the Culinary Gardener farm in Asheville, North Carolina, ducked into Claire's favorite jewelry shop. There, he bought a ring and set a rule. "He made me promise not to ask when he would propose," she recalls. "Every slightly romantic moment, I wondered if it might happen." That moment came just a few weeks later, when, back in Asheville, he convinced her to hike up Black Balsam Knob, where he popped the question that began their 10-month engagement.
With Claire hailing from the West Coast and Evan from the East, they opted for a Labor Day weekend celebration so loved ones would have an extra day to explore the area between Asheville and Hot Springs, North Carolina, where they wed before 109 guests at the Mountain Magnolia Inn. On a Saturday, August 30, 2014, the friend who had invited them to the pivotal party seven years earlier officiated the ceremony, and the entire evening was filled with personal touches. To honor Evan's Jewish heritage, the pair exchanged self-penned vows beneath a chuppah made with material crocheted by Claire's late great–grandmother. The alfresco cocktail hour served up a St. Germain-based drink dubbed "The Mazzy" after the newlyweds' cat, dinner began with salad sourced from Evan's farm, and everyone danced to the couple's favorite hits. At the after-party, guests watched fireworks and released wish lanterns. As for Claire and Evan? Their wishes had already come true.
Photography: Fete Photography2 of 15
Spreading Good Cheer(wine)
3 of 15
The Bridal Party
Photography: Fete Photography4 of 15
A Monochromatic Boutonniere
Boutonnieres were made of white gomphrena, white astrantia, and dusty miller leaves.
5 of 15
The Bride's White Bouquet
Claire attached her grandmother's locket to her bouquet, which was made up of astilbes, lisianthus, astrantias, waxflowers, and gomphrenas.
Swipe here for next slide
6 of 15
Attendees were given a program, a pouch of lavender to toss during the recessional, and a wooden fan to beat the heat.
Photography: Fete Photography7 of 15
Evan honored his Jewish upbringing by proceeding with his parents on either arm. The trio walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of Cat Stevens's "Boy with the Moon and Star on His Head."
Photography: Fete Photography8 of 15
A Special Chuppah
Because Evan envisioned marrying beneath a tree, and Claire with a chuppah overhead, the pair opted for double coverage. Here, the two exchange vows under a chuppah fastened with material crocheted by Claire's late grandmother, a former costumer for Disney, and a Chinese walnut tree on the grounds of the Mountain Magnolia Inn.
9 of 15
A Celebratory Moment
"While stomping the glass, I was overcome by a feeling of sweet relief," says the groom. "After 10 months of planning, it was time to party!"
Photography: Fete Photography10 of 15
The New Mr. and Mrs.
Attendees tossed lavender on the newlyweds as they recessed to Van Morrison's "Sweet Thing." "The best part was coming back down the aisle," says Claire. "We looked so thrilled to be married to each other and were hit with feelings of sweet relief."
Swipe here for next slide
11 of 15
Black and White Escort Cards
Photography: Fete Photography12 of 15
Instead of a traditional guestbook, friends and family wrote notes on small pieces of paper and dropped them in bottles. The couple would break each bottle open on their 1st, 5th, and 10th, anniversary and read the well wishes on August 30th for years to come. Until the times come, the trio of vessels are on display in the newlyweds' living room.
13 of 15
Partygoers breaked for fruit sorbets and gluten-free cake made of Italian cream and raspberry-filled almond layers.
14 of 15
Made by the Groom
The homemade balm given as favors was a mix of beeswax, lavender essential oils, and almond oil infused with calendula that Evan grew on his farm.
15 of 15
Location and Catering: Mountain Magnolia Inn
Flowers: Enchanted Florist
Photography: Fête Photography
Calligraphy: Rob Morrison
Cake: Short Street Cakes
Rentals: Classic Event Rental
Bride's Gown: Pronovias
Groom's Suit: Requisite Custom Clothing
Ties: The Tie Bar
Groom's Shoes: Franceschetti
Wedding Rings: Jewels That Dance
Swipe here for next slide