Wedding bells did double duty Sunday, August 10, at Newtown Meeting House, when Chris Roberts and Laura Garcia-Dore, and Carolyn Roberts and Rob Poit were joined in marriage in back-to-back weddings there. It is the first time in her 22 years as administrator, said Sherry Paisley, that a double or back-to-back wedding had been scheduled at the Meeting House.
“It’s very unusual,” she said. With no set-up required between these two weddings and with both brief ceremonies performed by the same minister, it was actually no different from administering one wedding, Ms Paisley said.
Chris Roberts, a native of Newtown now living in Los Angeles, where he works as a sound recording engineer, is the youngest of Jeane and Skip Roberts’ five children.
Carolyn Roberts, a planetary geologist at the University of Buffalo, where she is working on her PhD, is the daughter of Sherie and Keith Roberts, Chris Roberts’ older brother. Although she grew up in Southbury, Carolyn has strong connections to her father’s hometown and Newtown Congregational Church.
Chris and Laura did not rush into getting married. They have been together for nine years, said sister-in-law Sherie Roberts. But three weeks ago, realizing that Chris’s parents were advancing in age, they decided the time was right. They asked Sherie to plan a wedding for them in Newtown. With no immediate family of her own, Laura was excited to have the wedding in her groom’s hometown — and be walked down the aisle by her father-in-law to be.
“They gave me free rein,” said Sherie, who quickly booked the meeting house, and found a minister. “Reverend Matt [Crebbin from Newtown Congregational Church] is away, so Reverend Walter Pittman of the UCC in Southbury is officiating,” she said a few days before the double wedding. Rev Pittman happens to be Keith’s best childhood friend, so they were thrilled to have him agree to officiate.
Next, she reserved The Pleasance as a gathering place for post-wedding photos, and the private dining room at Sal e Pepe for a wedding dinner, and The Dana Holcombe House on Main Street for a Monday morning family breakfast. Things fell into place — and then there was a little change in plans.
Two Wedding Parties Merging Plans
Carolyn and Rob were engaged in December 2012, and had been planning a February 2015 wedding. But with the scattered family (coming from Oregon, California, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina) all together for Chris and Laura’s wedding, they began to wonder if it might not be a good time for them to tie the knot, as well.
Carolyn felt fairly certain her uncle would be open to the idea of sharing his wedding day, “But you never know, even when you’re close,” she said. “I did want their blessing, so I was happy when they said ‘Yes,’ immediately, to the idea,” Carolyn said.
So Sherie put on her wedding planning hat again — one she would doff for that of matron of honor for Laura and mother of the bride for Carolyn — and jiggered the plans. She also called in Newtown artist Paula Brinkman to give her a hand with details and flowers.
Wedding guests would flow out of the meeting house for Chris and Laura’s receiving line, then circle back in to be reseated for Carolyn and Rob’s exchange of vows. The guest list jumped from 38 to 70, so the dinner at Sal e Pepe would be not in the private dining room, but the main dining room.
Chris and Laura’s white and purple decorations would be supplemented with Carolyn and Rob’s wedding colors of green and white. Shimmering translucent white and green bows twist bows created by Ms Brinkman would pick up the colors of Carolyn’s white gown and custom dyed green sandals. Purple gowns and green gowns for the bridesmaids — with all of the originally planned wedding party on hand — and green bowties for the groom and groomsmen incorporated the elements of both weddings nicely.
As Rob’s family hails mostly from Connecticut, a short notice for the wedding date turned out not to be an insurmountable problem, Carolyn said, nor was rounding up their local friends.
To pull off a stereo wedding that was twice the fun for all involved meant going into the planning with a relaxed attitude, and counting on Sherie’s ability to pull together the details, said Carolyn.
Last minute surprises turned up for Sherie, Laura, and Carolyn, though, doubling up the fun some more.
Unbeknown to Sherie, Carolyn had called her younger brother and, knowing that the August 10 date was not ideal, begged him to figure out a way to get off of work to be at her wedding.
“I couldn’t believe it when Matthew showed up,” said Sherie.
On Saturday evening, two of Laura’s closest friends from San Francisco surprised her by arriving in Newtown, and then — “Just in the knick of time” — Sherie’s brother arrived at Carolyn’s wedding, fresh off the red-eye flight from Oregon.
“It was magnificent,” declared Sherie, from the venue at the historic meeting house, to the dinner at Sal e Pepe, to the breakfast get together at The Dana Holcombe House.
“John and Jane [Vouros of Dana Holcombe House] really understand the art of spiritual hospitality,” said the new sister/mother-in-law.
The Meeting House may have hosted its first back-to-back wedding in memory, but one thing that will not be back-to-back, said Sherie, are the honeymoons. Carolyn and Rob headed back to Buffalo and their jobs on Monday, and Laura and Chris settled in to a week of visiting in Newtown; and the entire Roberts clan was left to enjoy happy memories of the weekend.