A homegrown wedding

Written by Alex Tower Ewers


When I started to share with Patrick the costs of some of the weddings we had attended, the look of panic and disgust that came over his face is something I won’t easily forget. I assured him that I had no such visions of grandeur or decadence because in all actuality I wanted hardwood floors in our apartment instead of a lavish wedding. But we agreed that it was important to celebrate our union and to be surrounded by our family and friends, so we simply started there.


The “us” sat down at our regular Sunday breakfast place and just started to talk. Brainstorm, dream, throw out ideas. No idea was too outrageous, too expensive or too unrealistic. And it all started to make sense on a little tiny beverage napkin.


An international destination wedding was not my fiancés vision and during that pivotal conversation one Sunday morning, we began to create our dream experience. He wanted a community celebration, in which our friends and family became participants instead of spectators, much like the vision of a barn raising in the Amish community. We began to design “our barn raising”. With a lot of out of the box thinking, some compromising, a few furrowed brows and a whole lot of help from our community we created a homegrown wedding.


Several Northern California retreat centers later, we happened upon Wilbur Hot Springs. Whether it was the long and winding country road one took to get there, the hand painted signs that suggested it was “time to slow down” or the slight odor of sulphur that tickled our noses, I am now not sure what made us unanimously say “Yes, this is it.” This charming and quirky sanctuary in the middle of nowhere would be the place for our quirky and unconventional wedding celebration.


We let the location and the charm of Wilbur dictate our planning. We would let the communal kitchen, the wild flowers and the simple rooms be our guide. Instead of bringing the traditional wedding to Wilbur, we let Wilbur dictate our wedding tradition. We only invited as many as could stay on the grounds for the entire weekend, we encouraged guests to contribute by setting the tables, washing dishes, baking muffins, teaching a yoga class, we asked our friends with children to leave them with grand-ma for the weeked and we let the wild flowers and visiting dear be our decoration. Not only did it lesson the cost of the whole affair dramatically, it made Wilbur more than just a location: it made it an experience. And that is what made leaving on Sunday afternoon so very difficult, for many of our guests.


Months after our wedding weekend, I realized that the three days of celebration that became our wedding celebration were actually a snapshot of how we aspire to live, everyday:

Consciously Aware of our environmental, retail, food and health choices

Communally In close relationship to family + friends, working collaboratively and in alignment with the individual talents and gifts we all posses

Simply In thought, in communication, in relationship, in lifestyle and in relationship to nature

It was easy to do this at Wilbur and it was easy to ask our guests to perhaps step out of their comfort zones and experience a few days off the grid.


Wilbur is one of the places that you find, that you hold dear to your heart and keep as a place to return to, over and over. It is a place in which I remember spending three days with the people that I like most and wearing my red cowboy boots and being myself.



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