Last June, Spring Grove couple Brian and Julia Towne joined their families with a home-based wedding.
The Towne nuptials and reception were unique, reaching back to ancient traditions while including some very modern and personal choices. One way to describe the day would be the ultimate “do-it-yourself” ceremony.
“It was us,” Julia said. “My husband made our rings, but we didn’t do a traditional exchanging of the rings. We did an Irish Handfasting. You have these cords and each of our kids carried one to the pastor, and then they bound our hands – which is where the term ‘tie the knot’ comes from.”
The cords used to gently bind the couple’s hands included multi-colored strands, with each tone symbolizing an aspect of marriage. The Towne wedding included 13 colors woven into five cords.
“The joining of the hands represents the lifelong bond of a man and a woman,” a program from the day states.
Brian, also known as Buck, said, “My brother played the bagpipes and I wanted to wear a full-dress kilt. I’m Irish and Scottish. We made our own list of what the cords represented. One of the cords represented our children, one of the cords represented us, another God – versus the typical wedding that’s so cliche anymore — to get married with the wedding rings. We thought we would be bound together.”
“We just liked the idea of having something simple,” Julia said, “which is why we wanted to keep it at home. We’d both been married before. And as far as the planning, it was about the same. But we didn’t do a lot of fancy stuff, like those small centerpieces that people don’t remember anyway.”
“For the bridesmaids (and best man), we had our good friends Shawn and Robin Bartell who stood up for us. And then we had our children,” she continued. “I have three and he has two. I ordered the bridesmaids dresses online. It was small and intimate, but it was so special. Not a lot of frills and unnecessary things.”
Brian works as a dental technician and has the skills required to create precise crown and bridgework. Making the rings was easy in comparison.
“I made Julia’s first,” he said. “She told me what she wanted. I waxed and cast them in fine silver... I kind of figured we could make our own rings versus (commercially produced items). People spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a piece of metal, but no one else has rings like these.”
Julia walked down the back steps to the sounds of Brian’s brother playing the bagpipe. She met her groom, dressed in full-dress kilt, and when the ceremony was over, the bagpipes played once again as the couple went into the backyard.
“It was a pretty special day,” he added.
Julia said they had opted to have the ceremony next to a big tree, in the backyard and both thought it was a nice place. “Then every day we get to visit our wedding site,” she said. “Every day we can remember that day. That’s just something you can do when you have it at home.”
Brian’s mother and sister made the wedding cakes, as well as side dishes for the reception. He slowly smoked 60 pounds of meats for the gathering, an effort that took 13 hours. Planning ahead, the couple also produced about four cases of homemade wine just for the event, beginning the previous December.
A brew-master friend from La Crosse donated two barrels of micro-brewery beer, complete with a specially-outfitted tap trailer.
“We kind of guesstimated how many would be there,” Brian said. “We did let all of our neighbors know, because of the live music. Both of us had been married previously, so we both knew how much could be spent on a wedding. We just wanted to make it more personable.”
Approximately 120 people enjoyed the reception, the couple recalled.
“We didn’t even do invitations,” Brian added. “It was all word of mouth. I’m a singer. My family are all singers. I had my band come out (A Hundred Sows n Bucks), and we had live music. We had a lot of musicians there.”
Julia found a seamstress on Ebay and she got her dress two weeks before the wedding. “I searched for a baby blue (traditional Irish) wedding gown,” she said. “I think our wedding cost less than $2,000.”
Brian grinned, “My kilt (entire dress outfit) cost more than her wedding dress.”
Both said they’d recommend a home wedding to others. “It just reflected us,” Julia said, “more than having it somewhere else. A wedding can be as difficult and challenging as you want it to be, or you can make it simple,” she added.
Brian agreed. “It just represented us,” he concluded.
For more wedding stories from throughout the Bluff Country region check out our Wedding Special Section.