CULINARY COORDINATOR: MARIE TOURNAUD
CAKE: A PIECE OF CAKE BY BAYLOW
ENTERTAINMENT: JASON BERGMAN AND FRIENDS
FLORAL DESIGN: ALL ABOUT FLOWERS
LANDSCAPE AND DÉCOR: HYDRANGEA HILL FARM
OFFICIANT: CHIEF SPIRITWATER OF THE CLAN OF THE HAWK OF THE ABENAKI
IT WAS ALEXA KENDALL’S SISTER, ERIN, WHO INTRODUCED her to the ski racer working up in the Northeast Kingdom for the summer. Alexa was home from college in Colorado; Aaron Airoldi was on break from the University of Massachusetts. “We were both skiers and racers and that would have been enough to get the conversation going,” says Alexa. But a weekend trip to Boston together “sank the hook,” and the next year, Alexa transferred to Green Mountain
College, in Poultney, Vermont. The couple racked up phone bills and serious mileage on the roads between Massachusetts and Vermont until, in the second semester, Aaron also transferred to Green Mountain College.
Post-graduation, Alexa and Aaron moved into the carriage house on her family’s farm in St. Johnsbury. She focused on interior design, and Aaron began a career in timber-frame construction. In their spare time, they made rustic furniture and hit the slopes every chance they got. It was a good life, but a ski trip to Park City during the Sundance Film Festival changed everything. Blown away, Alexa and Aaron sent out resumes to potential employers in Utah. When the job offers came in, they said good-bye to Vermont.
On a snowy November night six years later, celebrating Alexa’s 26th birthday at Snowbird resort, Aaron proposed over dinner. The snow fell through the night, and the newly engaged couple woke to some of the best powder skiing of the year. “It was a great way to kick off the season, and the rest of our lives together,” says Alexa.
Planning–and building–for the wedding took almost two years. Using Aaron’s talent for timber frame-construction and Alexa’s for interior design, the couple set about building their own “wedding barn” on the family’s property, naming it “The Alerin Barn” after the Tomlinson sisters, Alexa and Erin. To create a “haute hoedown” feeling for the reception inside the barn, Alexa chose old hickory-style chairs to complement the barn’s natural wood interior, faux-painted the floor to resemble marble, and had the tables set in white and cappuccino linens. Hand-cut birch trees flanked the center aisle, and the whole family helped strip tree branches to create twig chandeliers. “Soft greens, rich chocolates and golden tones flowed through every detail of the day,” says Alexa.
Alexa’s golden shantung silk wedding gown and the bridesmaids’ black taffeta ball gowns evoked “the grand old days of Vermont,” as did the antique cars that transported guests and the wedding party. The antique
tractor and wagon that brought guests to the hilltop ceremony were a link to the area’s agricultural roots and the ceremony itself acknowledged other traditions: Beneath an arch built by Aaron just days before, the couple
were married by an Abenaki chief in a Native American ceremony that included traditional chants, a blessing of the hilltop and the ritual burning of sage. The bride, bridesmaids and mothers all wore feather headpieces;
the groom and groomsmen wore handcrafted feather boutonnieres.
Following the ceremony, the bride and groom led their guests down a meadow path to the musical accompaniment of a fiddle player. At the barn, they personally handed out champagne to each guest as they entered for dinner. Inside, as “Moonlight in Vermont” played, formally dressed guests marveled at photos documenting the barn’s construction, and the amazing journey the whole family had shared. A fairy-tale mood prevailed over the entire evening�”the best man’s performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” on guitar expressed the magical feeling perfectly. Surprise fireworks set off by her Uncle Howard, “made the party,” says Alexa.
Alexa’s biggest regret was not hiring a videographer: “It went so quickly and I’d love to see it again.” Alexa urges other brides to savor the process of creating the wedding, as the experience leading up to it can be “as spectacular as the day itself.” And, while great wedding professionals will help to realize your vision, Alexa says, the bride should never be simply a bystander. “Speak up, and don’t let your ideas go unheard. This is your day.”