Equality Empowering Wedding at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville
The day I first met Libby and Sean, I showed up at their friend’s tiny-home-converted-school-bus in Asheville, North Carolina for their hillside elopement in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The moment I said hello, greeted with a warm hug, I knew I was in for a treat with these kindred spirits. I bragged in their first blog about the two knowing what partnership and marriage is all about. The way they expressed their love in their vows was soul-touching. On the drive home from the elopement, I kept thinking to myself that I wished I could remember all the words because they were so powerful and well written. Lo and behold I showed up to their wedding reception in Knoxville, TN and they had them displayed for their friends to read. I adored them so much that I’m sharing them further below for everyone to read.
The couple’s passion for life, acceptance, equality, with the list going on, is extraordinary. I’d be hard-pressed to find a more welcoming group of people than these. Each and every person gathered to celebrate the couple’s marriage was so warm and inviting. I was surrounded by so much love for humanity.
welcoming their dearest friends to the wedding celebration
Libby and Sean hosted a “not-ceremony” with many of their deeply cherished friends in attendance. They shared their gratitude for friendship, love, and partnership. At their elopement in Asheville, they chose to tie a ribbon around their clasped hands to signify joining in marriage rather than wedding bands and saved the ring exchange for this wedding at Ijams Nature Center. During the declaration, they passed around their rings (wrapped in the same ribbon from the elopement) around asking all the guests to hold them acknowledging each and every person was a part of their relationship.
The evening kept getting better as it continued. Defying standards, the couple chose to merge their existing last names together creating a whole new name for their union. In trivia format, Libby and Sean revealed their new last name one letter at a time with questions relative to each group of friends present.
Sean + Libby’s Wedding Vows
On August 6th, 2018, Sean and Libby eloped to get married. They read these vows to each other as their good friend Arik married them on top of a beautiful hillside in the mountains of Western Northern Carolina. [take a peek at their Asheville elopement photos]
Libby: You are my life partner.
Sean: You are my life partner.
Libby: I love you so much Sean. I love how you’re so caring and thoughtful and intentional in everything you do. I love your dedication and meticulousness. You show me how you love me by doing super sweet things, like spending hours sanding down the perfect piece of plywood for me or wrapping my sandwich in two halves because you know. Thank you for washing every dish. Those acts of everyday love are so meaningful. I love your hands and your slow, steady heartbeat. I love your playfulness. I love your face when you’re really having fun. I always look forward to seeing it. I love your dad jokes and your wiggles and your armpits! Thank you for being such an amazing project partner, adventure buddy and midwife husband. I’m grateful every single day that you’re my person. I’m so lucky to have you honey.
Sean: Libby. You are a fierce femme, out to change the world. You know how to speak your mind and how to listen. You’re pretty and not afraid to get dirty. Confident and self-aware. You have a hard punch and a soft touch, and a keep eye for when to use each. Anyone would swoon over you. I love you for all these big impressive things that make you you, and also all the details in between. I love you for the little moments when you’re singing to yourself. I love you through the hard times when you’re upset. I love that sometimes you get the giggles and snort beer through your nose. I love your sense of adventure and your fearlessness. I love you for your moral compass and appreciate how you use it to help guide us. You are an amazing partner and the most important part of my life. I’m so lucky to be marrying you and really looking forward to waking up next to you every morning as we grow old together.
Libby: I love that we communicate so well. I promise to continuing listening to you with interest and curiosity. I promise to share my thoughts and feelings with honesty and integrity.
Sean: I do too. I’m glad we’re both down to work hard. We’ve got lots of good work in front of us, from renovating our farmhouse, to raising goats, to succeeding in our careers. Love is hard work too. I promise I’ll put in the effort to nourish our relationship and help us grow together.
Libby: So do I. I know we’ll have conflict sometimes, and I’m committed to repairing things between us when they’re broken. We live in a world where we replace what’s broken. It’s my intention to resist that ethic and work hard to sustain our marriage.
Sean: Mine too. I like that we aim for interdependence and resist codependence. I’m your person. But you need other people too. I promise to encourage you to seek out your own friendships, interests, and passions.
Libby: Me too. We’ve each grown a lot over the past eight years, and we’re so lucky to have grown in ways that have brought our life goals into alignment and strengthened our relationship. Going forward, I promise I’ll give you enough space so that you can continue to grow personally, and I’ll give you enough closeness so that we continue growing together.
Sean: I will too. I’m excited about the idea of having babies together. If we do, I promise to do my part as a partner and a parent.
Libby: So do I. Even if the only kids we have are baby goats, I’m content knowing that you’re my family.
Sean: So am I. I’ll do everything I can to take care of myself physically and emotionally, which will strengthen my ability to care for you and our family. When you’re sick, I’ll help you get better. When you’re sad, I’ll help you cheer up. And when you can’t sleep, I’ll tell you a really boring story.
Libby: I will too. In our relationship, I will strike a balance between advocating for my own needs and compromising to meet your needs.
Sean: So will I. Within our relationship, I want us to equitably share power, knowledge, skills, and labor; and to that end, I will work towards identifying and resisting systems of oppression that manifest between us.
Libby: Me too. I will also help to steer us, as a couple, towards practices that affirm our anti-oppressive values. I will encourage us to use our privilege and resources to support marginalized communities.
Sean: I will too. As we marry each other, I would like to carry forward the romantic, familial, and commitment-building values of marriage as an institution, while recognizing and rejecting its sexist, homophobic, and dogmatic history.
Libby: I want that too. I promise to remain grateful for you, excited about you, and in love with you.
Sean: I promise to remain grateful for you, excited about you, and in love with you.
Libby: I love you so much.
Sean: I love you so much.
Arik: (ties ribbon around Sean and Libby’s hands, wishes them well)
Sean: Do you want to marry me?
Libby: I do! Do you want to marry me?
Sean: I do too!
Arik: (you’re married)
Sean and Libby: (un-tie ribbon, kiss)
I’m certain I have never shared this many reception photos in one blog post, but I cannot narrow down my favorites any further than this. The night was filled with laughter, tears (blame those on the heartfelt speeches from each and every person in Libby’s midwifery program), conversation, and mad dance skills. The night succeeded is exactly what it was meant to serve as: a fantastic time connecting with those that mean the most and the celebration of love.