A Week-Long Wedding off the Coast of Maine
Maine just wouldnâ€™t be Maine without the fog. Itâ€™s a fact of life thereâ€”as synonymous with the state as lobsters, lighthouses, and L.L. Bean. So on the morning of their September 16, 2017, wedding, when Greer Howell and Benjamin Bryant awoke to a dense mist blanketing the island of North Haven, they took it in stride. â€śSome people think fog is a bummer, but we donâ€™t,â€ť she says. â€śItâ€™s beautiful.â€ť An island celebration was practically inevitable for the New York Cityâ€“based couple, who met on an island (at a party on Block Island, Rhode Island, in the summer of 2009) and got engaged on one (in Naoshima, Japan, in 2016). â€śWe have an affinity for islands, maybe because we both grew up by the ocean,â€ť says Greer, a native of Westport, Connecticut, who now works in nonprofit fund-raising. (Benjamin, a creative director and designer, grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida.)
They chose their wedding location, a compound overlooking Penobscot Bay, not only for its lush natural beauty, but also the cluster of rentable homes that could accommodate their 120 guests for a full week leading up to the nuptials. They needed that time to pull off their vision of the wedding as a collaborative event: All the guests pitched in to hand-dye flags, carve potatoes into quirky (and compostable) candlesticks, and help assemble sculptural plywood tables, stools, and benches (which Benjamin built in Brooklyn and transported in a U-Haul). â€śWe wanted to make as little waste as we could and rent as little as possible,â€ť says Greer.
The week's events all took place on North Haven Island, which is an hour ferry from Rockland, Maine. Everyone stayed within walking distance from one another, in a variety of housesâ€”from a historic 1880s cottage to a modern masterpiece and a Norwegian-style home with a sod roof!
Greer found her dream dress at Shareen Bridal in New York City. "I adored Shareen. We really bonded in the process of me finding this dress, and I knew I wanted to support her business," she says. The design featured a lace halter top, an open back, and a silk skirt, which Greer says "made her feel incredibly elegant and sexy."
She completed her look with a flat-brimmed straw hat and a bouquet with a sweeping train of grasses.
A school bus made rounds around the island to pick up everyone for the ceremony.
The couple made sure to involve their loved ones in the affair. They included their families in the ceremony proceedings and two friends played banjo and guitar throughout the festivities.
The ceremony took place in an open field next to the shore. For the decor, Ben teamed up with his friends to make wooden benches, while Molly, the couple's planner, got together with another to create a path of hand-dyed indigo flags leading up to site. "We wanted all this to fall away and feel as though we were in a wide open field," Greer explains. But, as Greer notes, the unique decor isn't what made the setting so special. "The true magic of the ceremony was the dense white fog that lifted mid-ceremony, shifting the light and temperature in ways we never could have planned."
Greer's brother, Alex Howell, officiated the occasion. "He is my closest confidant and role model," says the bride.
Benjamin flaunted a graphic Comme des GarĂ§ons shirt under his Paul Smith suit. â€śBen has a super funky-fresh style, and always has,â€ť Greer says. As for his Comme des GarĂ§ons shirt, she says, â€śI didnâ€™t think of it as a skull. I like to think of it as a face.â€ť
During cocktail hour, two friends mixed drinks inspired by the menu at Greerâ€™s favorite bar in Brooklyn. When dinner was served, everyone loved Benjaminâ€™s avant-garde tables set up on the propertyâ€™s tennis court. (Most noticeable was the serpentine table where the meal was served buffet-style.)
The rest of the tables were dressed with eco-friendly paper plates, colorful hand-dipped candles, and bundles of potatoes. The couple skipped assigned seating and let their guests choose between three long tables and two smaller, lower rounds with cushions. (They ended up being perfect for kids and their parents.)
Then there was dancing in the barn until 3 a.m., where the night ended much as the day had begunâ€”with fog. â€śWe got a fog machine for the dance floor,â€ť Greer says, laughing. â€śThat way, people could feel free to get weird.â€ť