Stephanie Birr: Be true to yourself

Your names: Stephanie Birr and Carson Maule
Where do you live: We just moved from Madison, WI to Waiheke Island - a little island off of the north island of New Zealand. We're about a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland.
What do we do: We just left our life in Madison, I worked at a non-profit there called Canopy Center. We helped families who have experienced abuse, as well as work with families to prevent abuse. I worked specifically with teens who had been sexually abused. Carson was working a very intense job at EPIC software - he was traveling the U.S. helping implement hospital software.

We now work as farm managers on a little farm called Uma Rapiti. We are slowly wrapping our head around what that means and what the next year of our life will entail. We will be overseeing WWOOFers that come. Right now we are taking in the wonder and beauty that is New Zealand and trying to learn quickly what it means to run a little farm.

We are also musicians and working on new material for an album. I also dabble in photography.

Isobel: I love how fun and carefree your wedding seems from the pics. If you were to give once advice to a bride-to-be for wedding planning, what would it be?

Stephanie: Don't compare. There will always be a million people doing cool things. (Pinterest, wedding blogs, Facebook...urgh!) There will always be people who have way more money than you who have a giraffe at their wedding. At the end of the day you're going to be marrying your best friend. What more could you want?

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF AND WHO YOU ARE AS A COUPLE. You will get pressure and suggestions and all you can do is check in with yourself and say "is this what we would do?" When I sat down with our new friend Evan who did our food he asked what kind of dessert we wanted. I love all desserts and wasn't against cake or cupcakes but it didn't feel like us... I jokily said, "We love chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches but that will never happen..." He said, let's do it and that one of his good friends who owned a bakery in Madison does awesome ice cream sandwiches. They ended up being super cost effective and delicious. They were a huge hit.

We wanted things to be simple, thoughtful, local and done by ourselves and our friends/family as much as possible.

Ask for help. Ask questions (see the ice cream sandwich example from above) You probably have everything you need in your friend group and family. We wanted a giant jenga for people to play - our uncle makes them in his spare time but I didn't know that until I put the question out to people. FORGET THAT PRIDE. FORGET DOING IT ALL YOURSELF.

I kept asking - is this necessary? Yes, new and shiny things are beautiful and fun to buy, but why for something you'll only use once? I wanted a photo booth, but couldn't bring myself to fork out that money. A polaroid camera was the perfect solution, people loved it and we could use it again and again. We drink beer, let's use the bottles for vases. There is so much wasted on a few hours and that felt bad to me. Splurge on fun things.

This is just one day. Enjoy yourself. YOU'RE MARRYING YOUR BEST FRIEND. Your life is what you want to make special.

Have a lot of snacks around your house the week of. You won't eat real meals or you'll find it's 3 in the morning and you're starving. You know, snacks are just good to have all the time, for life, especially for a happy marriage.

Isobel: Where did the ceremony and reception take place, and did you guys do your own decorating?

Stephanie: Our wedding (ceremony and reception) was just outside of Madison at a farm named Barn at Windy Pine. It was the first place I contacted and it just.. worked. We didn't have to do much decorating because the land and the barn were beautiful already. We became fast friends with the family who owned it, they even talk of visiting us in New Zealand.

When folks arrived, we had them grab a beer brewed specially for the wedding or an old fashioned made by some of our best friends who bartend-ed. My talented friend Alice did my hair and make up - my mom had a little spiff up of her hair too. My father and steph-dad walked me down the aisle. Our friends played "Wildflowers" by Tom Petty as I met Carson. My brother officiated and our sisters stood beside us as we said "i do" under a line of pines in the front lawn. We kissed as "When I Paint My Masterpiece" was starting. The rest of the night was spent playing yard games on the yard or dancing in the barn. We had pork tacos and ice cream sandwiches. Carson and I played two songs "Moon River" and "Cake and Eggs into In Spite of Ourselves" It was very us, very relaxed and carefree. Lots of joy.

Our decorations were flowers (from markets and stores alone the highway) in old beer bottles, twinkle lights in random jars and tissue paper turned into tassels that Carson and I made together. We didn't pick colors. There were lights up in the barn and a chandelier too so what else do you need? All signage was made by me on found materials like windows or wood I found around my yard.

Comfy/casualness: These were both very important to us. I had tried on a few traditional dresses (and even bought one on sale) but nothing felt like me. I was uncomfortable. I felt like when you have new sneakers and they are too clean and bright. I wanted to "mud it up". I happened to borrow my dress from my dear friend Stephanie. She brought it to me in a garbage bag at a bar one night as Carson sat beside me. She's a beautiful soul and mom to 4 boys, so the dress had been worn climbing in trees and traveling the world. That's what I wanted to wear. It was a perfect balance of me: a little bohemian, a little vintage, a little tom boy. It flowed for dancing and fit snug around my lady curves. My mom made me a belt to bring it in around my waist out of pearls and lace. I wore my grandmothers pearl earrings which was very important - she was in the hospital during our wedding (but skyped in!) and sadly passed away a few days after the wedding.

My brother (who is very stylish) took Carson suit shopping in Milwaukee. All he knew was he wanted it to be gray and comfy. Done and done.
I don't know how I found your shoes, but it was meant to be. I knew I wanted clogs and I knew I wanted them to be a color that would be romantic, fun and inspiring.
Thus, the Annabelle in Neon.
When I read your mission and about what your brand is about, it just sealed the deal for me. Adventure. Finding your people. Quitting what you think you should do and following your heart. Caring about people around you and what you are putting out in to this world.
When they arrived in the mail I was in joy and awe. I could tell immediately that they were well made and that a lot of heart and sweat went into them. They were new, but felt like they already had a history. That seems to be my theme here, celebrating a new journey, new path, but holding it's history safe and sound.

They were so comfy. They were the first shoes I became a wife in. The shoes I danced in as Carson's bride to "La Vie En Rose" by Louie Armstrong. Because you cared, I didn't have a care in the world.
Lastly, if our wedding and the shoes look good, it's because one of my best friends, Anda Marie, documented our day. She nailed it. She is one of the most talented, thoughtful and beautiful souls I know. I miss her so much already. Please check out her work -
Oh, and you can follow our adventures here:
Here are the links to other vendors:
Photos: Anda Marie //
Food: 4 & 20 Cafe //
Dessert: Honey Bee Bakery //
Beer: Hydro Street Brewing Company //
Hair/Makeup: Alice Ezrow //


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