Last September I sang at the wedding of my dear friends, gorgeous young permaculture teachers and environmental activists Tara Robinson and Ryan Holt, who I met through performing music and stories during courses at La’akea Gardens Permaculture School in Puna, Hawaii.

Tara and Ryan carefully planned every aspect of the wedding to harmonize with their ethics and principles. The invitations arrived wrapped in rich crimson recycled paper. They chose a ceremony site on a high hill overlooking forested slopes and a lake in northern Vermont.

The bridal party dressed in natural fiber clothing and arrived in a horsedrawn carriage. The congregation sat on biodegradable haybales, and the altar included offerings to all of the directions and elements of nature. Tara and Ryan’s friend Sarah Sullivan, a fellow permaculture teacher and environmental activist, co-wrote the ceremony with Tara and Ryan and conducted it. Another wonderful friend from La’akea Gardens, Liz, sang a song she wrote in honor of their wedding. I played an hour of slack key guitar before the ceremony, sang two songs I wrote during the ceremony, and performed an hour of jazz standards after the ceremony. After the reception dinner (in a barn) everyone danced to an eight piece funk band that accommodated Tara and Ryan’s request for a Michael Franti tune with the mantra “All the freaky people make the beauty of the world.”

All of the food was organically grown by local farmers, many of them friends of the bride and groom. The groom and his family personally prepared the rehearsal dinner.

I loved the wedding cake, decorated with fresh glazed fruits. Organically grown grapes in the wine, organically grown apples in the cider; even the flowers (lots of amaranth and sunflowers) were locally and organically grown, and arranged by friends (including me). They used pumpkins for centerpiece vases!

Ryan’s brother Sean, a glassblower, provided wonderful bridal goblets.
Tara’s female relatives and friends each created patches with poems and pictures on them, and sewed them together into celebratory bridal quilt that hung on a wall during the reception.

The day after the wedding, the family gathered for a bonfire by the lake to enjoy the luscious leftovers. Nothing goes to waste in this family!