August 20, 2016

Rich + Darrell

Courageous Sailing

Charlestown, Massachusetts

When Rich and Darrell met with Contagious Events, they had a crystal clear vision for what their wedding would be: a fantastic party on the pier with their favorite people eating good food, drinking good drink, and dancing to good music. And they had high hopes for the venue that would host the party of their life.

After searching high and low, they found that perfect venue in the Courageous Sailing Center, located in their home neighborhood of Charlestown, Mass. Right on Boston Harbor, the sailing center boasts a gorgeous view of the city skyline, and Rich and Darrell fell in love with it. Walking their basset hound Humphrey each day in the months leading up to their wedding, they could envision that party on the pier.

With a venue that was a blank slate — the sailing center hosts just ten weddings a year — I knew I could make their perfect venue perfectly Rich and Darrell.

Rich and Darrell wanted great food, but weren’t wedded to a traditional dinner service. They loved the idea of food trucks rolling up and serving their guests. But finding the best food trucks in the city wasn’t as simple as popping into a restaurant for a tasting. I knew I had to try something different to get the best selection of options for Rich and Darrell. Armed with a template letter with information about the wedding and Contagious’ contact information, I would hand them out to food trucks as I saw them on the street. I made connections with commercial kitchens that food truck operators use to reach as many chefs as possible. I was able to give Rich and Darrell almost 30 different options to feed their guests. In the end, Rich and Darrell chose The Dining Car and Mei Mei Street Kitchen.

With the venue and food in place, it was time to focus on Rich and Darrell’s vision and make it come to life. Rich and Darrell didn’t want typical floral wedding centerpieces (They wanted to make sure their guests could chat and laugh across the table). I also knew about their passion for travel and great wine. Contagious Events handmade custom centerpieces featuring a single stargazer lily and their favorite travel destinations. We worked with Kate Yenrick of Yennygrams to create a seating chart that played into the theme. Even before guests arrived, they were given a preview of the beautiful venue. Kate created a custom wedding invitation suite featuring a watercolor illustration of the exact view of the city skyline that guests would enjoy during the ceremony.

Even when Rich and Darrell had trouble making a decision on certain aspects of the wedding, their ultimate choice made the wedding fit their style even more. Touring Peterson Party Center for tables and chairs with Contagious, they fell in love with the long wooden farmhouse tables. But they didn’t want a structured set up, so they used both long tables and traditional round tables with linens. Torn between solid and striped soft-gray linens, they decided to go with both. Rich and Darrell didn’t feel required to follow the “rules” of weddings, and made their choices their own.

Contagious worked with Rich and Darrell to make sure all aspects of their wedding fit their style — even the dance floor. Rich and Darrell had a vision of a colorful, circular dance floor, and Contagious met it, finding BuzzRoar Interactive, a company that typically works with organizations to enhance their marketing and promotional endeavors by focusing on human interaction. We came up with a custom design that incorporated the nautical elements of the wedding and tied in Yennygrams’ design by mimicking the watercolor font and colors of Rich and Darrell’s invitations. This had never been done before — by Courageous, Contagious or Buzzroar — but we figured out how to make a dance floor that could hold up to a night of 100-plus guests’ dancing. After lots of testing, we quickly discovered that the chalk would get dusty and possibly stain clothes, so we switched to diluted tempera paint and did more test runs. It stayed great, and powerwashed off. We guarantee none of Rich and Darrell’s guests had ever boogied on a custom dance floor before.

During the planning process, Rich and Darrell asked me if I could find a way to work their dog Humphrey into the wedding ceremony somehow. Excited by a challenge, I enthusiastically said yes. Simultaneously, Rich and Darrell started working with Yennygrams to create their custom invitation suite, in which Humphrey would make an appearance. But before the wedding day, Humphrey passed away. Rich and Darrell were devastated, but still wanted to make Humphrey a part of their special day. They honored him by hanging a tiny basset hound charm on each of the wine bottles on the tables, and donating to the Angell Animal Medical Center in lieu of favors.

To capture Rich and Darrell’s fun style, I booked Danny Gorman Photography. Danny traveled from Florida to shoot the couple’s engagement photos. And Danny captured those low key moments between Rich and Darrel as the pair got ready for their big day in custom suits from Indochino. (They’d spent a Saturday trying out different attire options and took over the Contagious Instagram account for the day, posting about their suit shopping experience.)

The ceremony was held at the end of the pier, with the Boston skyline as a backdrop. Rich and Darrell wanted to keep the ceremony short yet meaningful, and chose two of their close friends to serve as co-officiants. Darrel’s niece sang a capella, as her uncles walked down the aisle. Each said vows he had written. Rich even unearthed old emails from the early stages of their relationship. Readings were Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda and an excerpt from Obergefell vs. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage legal across the country.

Rich and Darrell also opted to incorporate a ring warming into the ceremony. Their wedding bands — tied to a clamshell — were passed from guest to guest during the ceremony. Guests were asked to think of well wishes and blessings for Rich and Darrell, so by the time the grooms slipped the rings on their fingers, they were well warmed with the love of their friends and family present on their wedding day.

Darrell’s Hawaiian heritage was honored with the tradition of exchanging leis. The green part of the lei is the Maile, which symbolizes love, strength and devotion. The flower is called the Pikake and represents love and divine hope.

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Wedding Planning Services + Vendors:

Food Trucks:

Mei Mei
The Dining Car


Ryan Grow

Calligraphy + Signage: