Today we have a unique story – a couple who not only shared their wedding and relationship story with us, but also participated in this inspirational shoot on a venue that their family started. One of the unique things about the venue, The Walker Homestead, is that they grow their own food & wine on site, making it a true farm-to-table wedding venue. We love the idea of this kind of working farm, and are even more in love with the things that this sweet couple shared with us!
from the photographer, Ivory & Bliss: “Claire & Clay are a recent wedding couple of ours, who’s family have recently built a venue on their land, called Walker Homestead. Walker Homestead is incredible for many reasons, but the idea of home shines throughout. The wine is from their vineyard, their food+meat is from livestock and food grown on the farm, and they offer floral, grown on the land as well. Every detail put into the venue feels so personal and so meaningful, it was a gorgeous location to be able to photograph!”
How did you two meet? What were your first impressions of one another?
We met during our first year of medical school. During our first semester, Clay was very studious and didn’t make time for dating, but I always found him (and his beard!) to be handsome and intriguing. We first became interested in each other after playing on the same intramural soccer team. At this point in the school year, Clay had struck more of a balance between his studies and socializing, and I finally worked up the courage to approach him after our first game. We quickly hit it off and found ourselves finding any excuse to study together. I was drawn to his humor, patience, and laid-back approach to life, and he was impressed by my passion for medicine and my extensive knowledge of Drake lyrics.
Tell us a funny story relating to your wedding day or relationship!
We both somehow managed to catch a viral illness that caused us to completely lose our voices the day of our wedding. I was barely able to form words above a whisper, whereas Clay was completely unable to speak. We whispered and croaked our way through our wedding vows much to the amusement of our guests, but it made for a light-hearted and memorable ceremony that helped everyone feel at ease.
Describe a hurdle you had to overcome in your relationship or during your wedding planning.
We decided to get married at the end of our fourth and final year of medical school, which meant that we had to juggle wedding planning with applying and interviewing for medical residency positions. For many months of our year-long engagement, we were forced to put thoughts of the wedding aside while we traveled across the country in an effort to secure residencies together in the same location. This was a trying time in our relationship that showed us the challenges of balancing wedding planning with real-life responsibilities. Through meticulous (and, if you ask Clay, excessive) organization, Excel spreadsheets, and time-management, we were eventually able to match into our dream residency programs in the same city and plan our amazing wedding.
Any special ways you incorporated your family or family history into your wedding day?
My father passed away from cancer when I was in high school, so the thought of getting married without him always made feel extremely emotional. We decided to plan our wedding in a way that subtly honored my father without ruminating on his absence. I walked down the aisle with Clay by my side because I knew my dad would want me to share such a special moment with someone who makes me feel comfortable, secure, and loved in the way that Clay does. We shared a playful first dance to Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl”– the song my father used to sing to me. Later in the evening, my mother gave an amazing toast that perfectly portrayed the special relationship my father and I had shared and brought tears to everyone’s eyes. Instead of feeling down about my father not being at my wedding, these special moments brought so much joy and reminded me of what an amazing father I had.
What part of your wedding day was/is most important to you?
The most important part of our wedding day was attending our pre-ceremony cocktail hour. We instantly fell in love with the idea of a pre-ceremony cocktail hour after our photographers mentioned the idea. We planned our timeline so that all photographs were done before cocktail hour. Clay and I will never forget how meaningful it was to personally greet each guest with a glass of champagne. Their surprise and excitement to see us mingling with guests before the ceremony was priceless, and we loved this special hour to catch up with everyone.
What is the best thing you’ve learned from one another?
Clay takes everything in stride and is able to use humor and his easy-going nature to tackle any hurdle that comes his way. He helps me to relax and think about the bigger picture when I get caught up in the details. Whereas Clay is laid-back, I’m often more Type A. I’ve helped him to become organized and diligent in his daily life.
What is your favorite thing about each other?
My favorite thing about Clay is his sense of humor. Even though we have been together for several years, he still manages to make me full-on belly laugh at least once a day. Clay’s favorite thing about me is that I am fun-spirited and easily excited by the little things in life. He says that my zest for life helps to turn mundane, everyday activities into enjoyable experiences for us both.
What was your favorite part about planning your wedding?
Clay’s parents are energetic, passionate, and extremely talented farmers, vintners, and entrepreneurs who decided to carry out their lifelong dream of building a winery– a decision that was made shortly before we became engaged. After hearing about their vision for the space, Clay and I immediately knew we wanted to get married there. Our favorite part of planning the wedding was getting to be a part of the dreaming, planning, and hard-work that goes in to building a space as beautiful as the Walker Homestead. There are no words to describe how it feels to stand on the plot of land that will become your venue, and then see the vision come to life on our wedding day. Clay’s parents have created a space that builds community and connection through great food, wine, and people, and we were blessed to get to experience that joy on our wedding day.
If you had one piece of advice for other couples, what would it be?
We would strongly advise all couples to read “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This book is considered a classic for a reason– it’s a short read that provides seemingly obvious yet truly eye-opening words of wisdom. This book helped us to learn so much about ourselves and each other, and it allowed us to understand why we each feel love, anger, or betrayal at certain behaviors. This is a great book to read amidst the stress of wedding planning, but also will provide valuable advice that will last a lifetime. We plan to re-read this book every anniversary to remind ourselves of what it means to give and receive love.
What is the most honest thing you can say about love?
We once came across a very honest quote about love that we repeat to ourselves frequently: “love is not enough.” We like this quote because it serves as an important reminder that relationships require more than the lofty, idealistic, passionate emotion we’ve come to equate with being in love. Building the foundation of a healthy relationship is contingent not only upon love, but also more challenging things like respect, humility, honesty, and patience. Through the good days and the bad, we strive to focus on these fundamental values.
Photographer: Ivory+Bliss / Venue: Walker Homestead / Stylist / Planner / Designer: Ivory+Bliss / Floral Designer: Studio Bloom / Dress Boutique: Rent The Runway / Cake Designer: Little Blackbird Bakery / Makeup Artist: Dollup Beauty / Hair Stylist: Haley Ann Herbst / Rentals: Unique Events Iowa / Accessories / Decor: Unique Events Iowa / Film Lab: Richard Photo Lab / Paper Suite: Kelsey Malie Calligraphy / Sign: Allegra Printing / Food+Wine: Walker Homestead