Real Wedding: Maie & James

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Windham , New York

A house brought Maie Vaga and Jim Webb together. Jim, a Massachusetts native, had fond memories of his first place in Mission Beach, California, and stopped by one day after he’d moved out to meet the home’s new inhabitants.

Maie, who’d been a year behind Jim moving from the East Coast to the West, immediately recognized the cute guy from the end of the street who was always outside fixing surfboards when she pedaled by on her bike.

The attraction was pretty much instant, and soon Maie and Jim were moving back and forth across the country together, first to a place in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe, then to Massachusetts, and finally back to San Diego. “You really know you can spend the rest of your life with someone after all those moves!” says Maie.

In 2006, Maie and Jim were camping in Northern California among the giant redwoods at Sequoia National Park. They were scruffy and none too fresh but totally delighted with life when they stopped for a riverside picnic. Maie sprawled on a boulder to soak up the sun while Jim hunted in the river for a rock to add to Maie’s collection. The water was so cold Jim had to catch his breath, but he reached down into it, saying he’d found the perfect rock for Maie…and brought out a ring.

Maie was so overwhelmed with emotion that she didn’t even register what he was saying. She was totally surprised — and even more surprised when Jim told her that he’d secretly flown to visit Maie’s dad in New Jersey to ask for his permission to propose to Maie and that he’d conspired with Maie’s best friend, a jewelry designer, to create a ring using a diamond that had been Maie’s great-grandmother’s.

Choosing a location for the wedding was easy. As much as they loved California, Maie and Jim had grown up in the Northeast and missed the change of seasons. The site they chose in Upstate New York — positioned almost exactly three hours from Jim’s family in Massachusetts and Maie’s family in New Jersey — felt like the perfect spot. “What’s better than the foliage in upstate New York in late September?” Maie asks.

Maie’s parents’ friends, the Popovics, generously volunteered their Windham home for the wedding celebration. Maie and Jim’s friends and family jumped in to contribute to the wedding: Maie’s uncle, a pastor, performed the ceremony; Maie’s mom, a floral designer, pulled out all the stops with arrangements for both the ceremony and the reception; a friend played the music; another friend, Noral Farrell, made all the wedding jewelry; Maie’s grandmother contributed two Polish statues and antique cut-glass vases for the décor; Jim and his groomsmen found vivid birch trees to decorate the tent; and Maie herself made the invitations and other paper goods. The wedding was intentionally eclectic: Maie likes the combination of traditional elements with more unexpected ones. Maie’s peach dress and the rich orange dresses of her bridesmaids were balanced by Jim’s chocolate-brown velvet suit and his groomsmen’s ties in various shades of orange.

The day itself was such a whirl that Maie didn’t stop until after midnight. “I put my dress on at 11 in the morning, and I didn’t go to the bathroom again until 2 the next morning,” she says. “I just forgot with everything going on! Once the day starts, it doesn’t stop — I didn’t stop for anything.”

For Maie and Jim, celebrating their love surrounded by friends and family was a beautiful experience. “You never know what the future holds,” says Maie. “It was an opportunity for all of us to live in that moment together. I feel like weddings really bring out the love for everyone.”

Special Touch: Maie's mom, a floral designer, pulled out all the stops with the arrangements.

Photography: Vallentyne Photography

Other Professionals: Cake:  Pastry Garden | Entertainment:  Chainsaw Trio | Event Rentals: Events Unlimited | Invitations: Noon Designs Jewelry: Noon Designs