I don’t remember the name of the bride or groom. I barely knew their names at the time. Were they from Iowa? To me, the happy couple was mostly a blur on a tandem bicycle. Still, one of the most memorable weddings I ever attended was theirs, held at the beautiful YMCA Camp of Maine.

No formal invitations were issued. No gifts were given. The bride did not wear white, and many of the guests had T-shirts on. There was no best man, no flower girl, no bridesmaids, and after the short ceremony ended, no receiving line, either.

Unlike the weddings we have focused on in this issue of Source, theirs was a big wedding – with some 300 guests. Still, hands down, it was the most easygoing I’ve ever witnessed.

Earlier that day, I’d cycled 50 miles from Norway to Winthrop Center. So had the bride and groom and all the guests. It was September 2014, and we were on the annual weeklong Bike Maine trek. For two days, we’d been sharing meals, swapping tales, setting up tent cities and introducing ourselves to our neighbors. But we were relative strangers still.

That evening, as we finished up dinner, the couple walked to the front of the big camp dining hall and, to the utter astonishment of many in the room, invited us to their wedding, happening right there right then. A justice of the peace materialized out of nowhere, and vows were spoken. My sister, who was also cycling, remembers them comparing riding tandem to a marriage – both require that you simultaneously work independently and work together. The room burst into applause and laughter. We didn’t feel like strangers anymore.

Contradancing followed the ceremony – a Bike Maine activity. Like their “wedding dinner,” it was nothing the bride and groom had planned for months – nor worked for months to pay for. The next morning, the newlyweds hopped on their bicycle just like everyone else and rode another 50 miles to Gardiner. Their first date was a bicycle ride, they told me when I congratulated them the morning after.

You may not want a wedding quite this casual. Most couples probably prefer to be surrounded by family and friends than by newly minted biking buddies. In this issue of Source, we’ve lots of ideas for intimate, hyper-local Maine weddings that tread lightly on the earth and on the checkbook but require a little more planning than the surprise one I attended.

Weddings bring out the romantic softie in me. I love to see a decked-out bride and a cascading bouquet as much as the next former little girl. But the lack of all the usual wedding hoopla that evening in Winthrop Center left a lot of extra room for unvarnished joy.

– Peggy Grodinsky, Source editor

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