Whimsical and Elegant Summer Wedding at Lake Willoughby

This lakeside summer wedding at Lake Willoughby was right out of a dream! Jess and Jared’s love story began in Vermont over a cup of 802 coffee, and they’ve loved exploring Vermont together ever since. When they across Lake Willoughby together, they immediately fell in love. 

Jess and Jared knew this was the perfect place to invite their family and friends to celebrate their marriage. The summery pastel colors tied everything together and blended perfectly with the lake backdrop. All of the amazing florals were locally sourced by Blossoming Bough Flowers

Quintessential Vermont Summer Wedding

Of all the seasons, summer in the Northeast Kingdom is nothing short of magical. Jess and Jared aimed to curate a wedding weekend full of everything they love about Vermont. The venue and cabins at Willoughby Haven and the Willoughvale Inn brought everyone together in beautiful accommodations for all of their guests.

The weekend offered a delicate balance of whimsical elegance and a summer camp reunion. Jess and Jared made food and entertainment top priorities for their guests complete with kayaks, maple creemees, local beverages, wood-fired fare, campfires, and even a signature wild blueberry basil mocktail.

The welcome bags for their guests included gifts, jam, and maple candies sourced from Willey’s general store in Greensboro.

Breathtaking Lake Views at Lake Willoughby

This couple took advantage of the lake views whenever possible! They chose to do the first look out on the dock and had their ceremony on the beach overlooking the water and the mountains. The portraits on the beach at sunset are some of my favorites!  They hosted the reception under a beautifully decorated tent for dinner and dancing.  Amanda at Pine Events Co. offered invaluable support as the executive designer and planner to make everything perfect for this wedding! Check out the full gallery below. 

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Looking for another wedding with incredible florals? Check out this Maquam Barn Summer Wedding.

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Talking About Introducing and Gifting Sex Toys with Vermont Pleasure Store Earth and Salt

It’s pretty universally recognized that sexual satisfaction is a major part of relational satisfaction, but this is an area that’s largely overlooked when considering wedding gifts! In part, that’s understandable. We typically are private (or at least more reserved) about this area of our lives and because it’s so personal, it can be challenging to choose the right gift for someone else. Nevertheless, a gift focussed on intimacy and pleasure can be a wonderful surprise for a couple getting married! 

Beth Hankes, owner of the Burlington-based adult pleasure store Earth and Salt, sat down with Vermont Weddings to discuss some of the biggest misconceptions about sex toys and why gifting a sex toy or sex-themed gift may be the best wedding gift we could give!

This blog post is sponsored by Earth and Salt. We’re excited to partner with and share this Vermont business!

Photo: Isora Lithgow Creations

Not Your Average Adult Pleasure Store: Earth and Salt is a Mission-Driven Store You Can Feel Good About

Earth and Salt’s mission is to see all people free to live in their pleasure. “I was very intentional about the wording of that,” says Beth. “I want to be a resource for everyone who is looking to experience more pleasure in their lives, whether physically, emotionally, and/or interpersonally. And I want to be sure that I’m serving their individual vision of their pleasure, as it is different for all of us, and it changes through the course of our lives. The space to be who we are, as we are, right now, is so crucial, and that is what I want my store to be for folks.” I love that the shop is broad in its definition of pleasure and inclusive of the ways individuals may seek that. 

Social justice is also a cornerstone of Beth’s business model. “I intentionally find toy and accessory companies that are owned by women, BIPOC folks, trans and nonbinary folks, as investing in these businesses both gives money to these communities of people, and advances innovation by and for these folks in the sex toy and accessory space. I also aim to offer a wide range of educational resources (books, blog posts, workshops) on numerous intersectional topics, presented by educators from a diverse set of backgrounds. This allows me to support their work and give them a wider audience, and to again, provide that space for people to find community and be seen for who they are.” 

In short, Earth and Salt’s mission and offerings go well beyond any tired notions of a sex store, and supporting this business is supporting important social justice work. (Which is also something to feel good about!)

Busting The Biggest Myth About Sex Toys

Beth says the biggest misconception about sex toys is that they’re taboo or rare. In fact, sex toys are normal and common! “So many different people use them for numerous reasons,” explains Beth. “They are not replacements, but enhancements to what folks are already doing.” 

Isora Lithgow Creations

How to Choose a Sex Toy

When you’re looking to purchase a toy, there are three things to consider: thee function, shape, and material. 

First, consider the function of the toy – what is it designed to do, and where? Does that sound awesome to you or not? 

Then, consider the shape. Does the shape work with your or your partner’s body? Does the base of the toy allow you to hold it easily? 

Thirdly, consider the material. Beth explains, “Sex toys are unregulated in the US, and not all toy makers use body-safe materials.” She recommends silicone, stainless steel, glass, and ABS plastic.

While some folks are uncomfortable shopping for these items in person, a progressive adult store like Earth and Salt can be very helpful. The staff at Earth and Salt are knowledgeable about the products and trained in talking to folks about these products and sex. Beth adds, “it’s really difficult to judge the size, weight, and noise level of a lot of toys without seeing and touching them in person.”

How To Broach the Topic of Sex Toys with Your Partner

While we’ve already busted the myth that sex toys are weird or unusual, it’s understandable that if this is new to your relationship, bringing it up may feel a bit scary and vulnerable. 

One approach is to set a meeting to discuss the topic so both parties can prepare. This doesn’t have to be formal, but agree on a specific time and topic ahead of time, rather than ambushing your partner. This allows each party time to process emotions and prepare questions. 

Frame the conversation about your personal needs, desires, and interests instead of any perceived lack in the sex you’re having, or in your partner’s performance. 

Also, propose it as an experiment. Beth suggests the idea of a “willingness window”, a concept from author Emily Nagoski. Propose that you try out the toy together for only 5 or 10 minutes, and then decide if you want to continue using it or not in that session. This way neither party feels locked into something. 

If you decide to try something, talk about it again after. Give each partner time to reflect if you liked it and if you’re willing to try it again. This kind of open communication is key to a healthy sex life (and marriage!).

Isora Lithgow Creations

Let’s Talk Gifts! How Do you Gift a Sex Toy to a Friend Getting Married? 

Maybe you’re looking to purchase a unique gift for a friend and want something that they’ll really enjoy. (We’re willing to bet the right sex toy is more enjoyable than even the most beautiful set of silverware – ha!) If you’re thinking about gifting a sex toy to a friend getting married, Beth has some tips to keep in mind. 

First, “you’ll want to choose a toy that could be enjoyed by a wide range of people, so look for something that is relatively simple in its design, that has a number of speeds, and can be used just about anywhere on the body.” She recommends a bullet vibrator or a finger vibrator

If you want to gift something sex-related but not a specific toy, Beth recommends massage oil or massage candles, a silky blindfold, a feather teaser, a book, or (Beth’s favorite option) a sex wedge. Also, gift cards are a lovely option as they encourage couples to explore the possibilities for themselves! 

Finally, ask an expert like the team at Earth and Salt! “They will know what the best sellers have been in the store, which are better bets for gifting than choosing a toy at random, says Beth.” 

If you’re worried about your friend opening the gift publicly (say at a bridal shower), add a bright tag that says something like “open in private” or “a sexy little something” to tip them off. Or just ship the gift directly to the couple so they can open it in private. (You could bring a card to the shower explaining the gift has been sent separately.)

Educational Parties at Earth and Salt for Bachelorette Parties, Birthday Parties, and More 

Ready to take your knowledge to the next level? Earth & Salt offers private parties, which include a 30 minute educational workshop and the chance to shop the store with your crew. This would be such a fun addition to any Burlington-area bachelorette party or bachelor party (or for any occasion, really!).

“It is so fun and so rare to get to learn about sex as a friend group,” says Beth. “And it can be both a fun and meaningful way to spend time together.”


Thank you, Beth! We’re so excited to promote this amazing Vermont brand and business. Earth and Salt was part of our 2022 Vermont Weddings Gift Guide, a collection of gift ideas from Vermont makers. To learn more about Earth and Salt, visit their website or shop in store in Burlington. 

Photographer: Isora Lithgow Creations


Lauren and Dusty are native Vermonters who have been together for 10 years. The timeless, historical, and elegant Hildene was the perfect backdrop for their summer wedding. Lauren and Dusty actually attended a prom at Hildene (as friends) when they were still in high school so they knew it was a perfect place to tie the knot. 

Gorgeous Vermont Mountain Views at Hildene Wedding

Nestled between the Taconic and Green Mountains in Vermont is the glorious Hildene Estate. Hildene was the summer home of Abraham Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln, and it is where Lauren and Dusty chose to begin their marriage with breathtaking mountain views and sweeping valleys below. 

Hildene is located right at the center of historic Manchester Village and encompasses everything charming and classic New England. It is full of interesting shops, excellent restaurants, and beautiful churches. So, even native Vermonters, like Lauren and Dusty, gravitate to it for celebrations.  

The Ideal Tented Wedding Venue

Lauren and Dusty had the perfect summer day for an outdoor tented wedding. They chose a beautiful pastel pink color that was used throughout all of the details, including the flowers and bridesmaid dresses. The sail cloth tent for the reception looked so gorgeous and romantic for all of their guests to enjoy dinner and dancing to celebrate this wonderful couple!

Be sure to check out more posts of our real summer Vermont weddings here.




You likely are envisioning your wedding day being surrounded by loved ones. But what about family and friends who cannot be there to physically celebrate, like loved ones who are ill or deceased? Couples often want to honor loved ones who aren’t present on their wedding day and who have been an important part of their life. These actions and words can help couples feel connected to these people on such an important occasion. 

Officiant and Life-Cycle Celebrant Janet Dunn provided a variety of ideas for how to remember loved ones who aren’t present on your wedding day and wrote sample scripts you can use in your ceremony.


As the focal point of your wedding day, your wedding ceremony is a natural place to honor loved ones who can’t participate in person. Janet Dunn provided a few ideas to place this moment of remembrance and some sample language to inspire you. 

Wedding Ceremony Welcome

The officiant’s welcome to your wedding is one place to mention a word of remembrance. As you welcome those who are physically present, it’s easy to take a moment to acknowledge those who are not. Here’s some sample language for a welcome statement that honors loved ones:

Sample Welcome Script 1:

Welcome. We appreciate that you’ve come from near and far to join us for this joyful ceremony. PARTNER and PARTNER are thrilled that you could be here to share their most special day with them. They also remember other loved ones who cannot be here to share this moment with them today. Both those who were simply unable to attend and those who have passed away. We hold these people dear in our hearts today.

Sample Welcome Script 2:

Welcome everyone. PARTNER and PARTNER thank you for your presence here today. They ask for your blessing, encouragement, and lifelong support for their decision to be married. They would also like to acknowledge those who could not be here but would have loved to share in this occasion, particularly LOVED ONE. We hold their memories close to our hearts today.

A Moment of Silence in Your Wedding Ceremony

Janet crafted some beautiful sample scripts that you could use to honor loved ones during your wedding ceremony with a moment of silence. This may directly follow the welcome, or go before your vows or recessional. Note that there is no “right” place for this; it’s what feels most natural for your specific wedding ceremony. 

Moment of Silence Script 1:

At this time, we’d like to take a moment of silence to remember those who are not here with us. Even though they are not here physically, they are a part of the foundation that makes PARTNER and PARTNER the people they are today. May we always remember NAMES. Though they are absent physically, we invoke, through our thoughts and prayers, their loving presence.

Moment of Silence Script 2:

We would like to take a moment to recognize those that could not be here today. While they may not physically be with us, PARTNER and PARTNER feel their love and support.

Light a Candle 

Candles are a common symbol of remembrance. They’re also readily available and simple to add to a ceremony. Be sure to check with your venue for restrictions around candles first! Here’s a heartfelt sample script for this act: 

Candle Lighting Script:

Love has gathered us here today to witness the joining of PARTNER and PARTNER. Had NAME been here today, they would have been incredibly proud to be celebrating this marriage with us. Still, we feel their presence with us, as they surround us with their spirit and shower us with their love. It is in their memory that we now light this candle. Let us all bow our heads for a brief moment of reflection to acknowledge NAME’S presence here with us.

A Memorial Chair During the Ceremony

Saving a chair for your loved ones is a physical reminder of their presence and love. To make it more personal, you could put a framed photo of them on the chair and something small that reminds you of them. (Ex. A stuffed fish for your grandfather who loved to fish.) Or you may choose to hang a sign on the chair that says “In Memory Of NAME” with a flower. 

You could also hang photos from loved ones’ weddings down the aisle. This is a wonderful way to acknowledge the marriages that came before you.

Choose Readings That Remind You of Your Loved Ones

Incorporate meaningful readings into your ceremony that remind you of your loved ones. At my wedding, we read a modified version of a book about love my grandma used to read to me. She was ill and unable to attend in person, and this felt like a special way to honor her. 

You don’t have to explicitly say why each reading was chosen, so this can be a subtle way to honor a loved one if that feels more true to you.

In addition to your ceremony, there are several ways to honor your loved ones throughout your day. 


Wearing something that reminds you of your loved one can be a tangible way to feel a connection to them.

For example, making a pin with a photo charm of a loved one pinned to the inside of a suit coat is a simple way to keep their memory close. This can be displayed in a shadowbox frame after the wedding too. 

Using an item of clothing from your loved one, you could create a variety of accessories, including a pocket square and flowers to pin to your hair. I’ve also seen couples sew a heart-shaped piece of fabric into the bottom of a dress, or inside of a suit coat. 

If you have access to a loved one’s wedding dress, I highly recommend looking into Ceci Leibovitz’s jewelry. Her pieces are truly lovely and you can create a necklace or cufflinks for your own wedding day (and beyond). (Ceci Leibovitz is part of our 2022 Vermont Weddings Gift Guide.) 

You may also choose to wear a piece of your loved one’s jewelry, such as a pair of earrings.


A pre-dinner blessing or prayer is another natural place for a moment of silence and/or an acknowledgement of the loved ones who aren’t physically present. 


Many couples create a photo display with pictures of their love story and from parents’ and grandparents’ weddings. If you’re doing something similar, you can include photos of loved ones in this display as well. 

You could select their wedding photos (if applicable) or photos of you with them. This collection is often displayed on the welcome table, a guest book or favor table (if different), or dessert table. Sometimes couples will also add a remembrance candle to the display. 


Janet suggests displaying a bouquet of flowers at your ceremony spot or altar with flowers symbolizing your loved ones. You could also include symbolic flowers in your bouquet, such as their birth month flower or a favorite bloom. Either of these options is a beautiful way to subtly pay tribute to your loved ones.  

A third option is to tie a ring, charm, or a ribbon of lace (from a loved one’s dress) around your bouquet. (I recommend having someone in charge of removing this and safely storing it after your ceremony.)


Preserving your bouquet after your wedding is a wonderful way to remember both your wedding day and your tribute to your loved one. Tanglewood Floral Preservation creates custom keepsakes such as trays, ornaments, and decor pieces using your flowers and resin. 


No matter how you choose to honor your loved ones, what matters is that it feels authentic to you and helps you connect with their love and your partner. “Whether you use words, candles, flowers, or moment of silence…remembrance is what affirms the connection. On a day when two hearts join, focus on the love,” says Janet. It’s up to you if you choose to do something explicit, or if you’d prefer to keep the remembrance more private and personal.

Finally, it’s natural to feel sadness or disappointment that they’re not able to physically celebrate with you. While weddings are a joyful occasion, it’s natural to feel a range of emotions during such a momentous occasion. Focus on the love, and do what feels right for you.

We hope these ideas help you to authentically celebrate your loved ones and feel their loving presence on your wedding day.