Real Wedding: Piper & Mark
Piper Warlick swears that the only reason she became a paying member of Match.com was to get in touch with Mark Dunn, whose profile on the popular online dating site had caught her eye. But she never even got a chance to finish a message introducing herself before Mark, having spotted her profile, took the initiative.
Though their first date wasn’t perfect—“Piper went home that night thinking I was a nice guy who she’d probably tear to pieces in an actual relationship,” says Mark. “I went home thinking Piper was a sweet girl who laughed loud enough to be heard six city blocks away”—the second date was better. The third date was better still. And in a little more than three months, introverted Mark and brash Piper had moved in together. In fact, Mark says that their three dogs had more trouble adjusting to the new relationship than they did.
After Christmas, when Mark gave her a pretty diamond and sapphire ring at a quaint restaurant in Bangor, Maine, Piper was confused. Was this a present, or a proposal? Observing Piper’s puzzlement with a smile, Mark then dropped to a knee and presented her with a second ring—a vintage emerald and diamond ring that Piper’s sister had made a case for after Mark had already purchased the sapphire. “It was a cheap trick, the old bait and switch, but in the end, Piper got two engagement rings so I figured she would forgive me,” says Mark.
As they planned their wedding, they knew that they wanted to celebrate in New England, where Mark had grown up and attended college and graduate school. Piper’s family had been vacationing in Nantucket, where her sister’s husband’s family had a summer house, since 1994, and the island seemed like the perfect location for their wedding. Plus, it would be something new for Mark, who had never been there before the wedding week!
Piper also knew she wanted an environmentally friendly celebration. Before studying photography in graduate school and becoming a professional photographer, Piper had done her undergraduate work in renewable energy technology. Having a green wedding was important to Mark, too. Instead of traditional invitations, Piper mailed their small guest list vintage-y Nantucket postcards that directed them to the wedding website for ceremony details.
The wedding décor relied heavily on recycled elements. Piper spent months scouring eBay and antique stores for vintage tablecloths and antique Mason jars to hold the flowers and candles. She even made the cake stand herself, attaching martini glasses to mismatched crystal platters with glue. Piper and her friends also incorporated found elements into their design plan, including seashells from the beach, letters from a Scrabble board game and a fallen tree. The menu for the reception highlighted seasonal, local produce and seafood from the area, and instead of a traditional wedding cake, Piper and Mark opted for a seasonal berry pie. Piper chose clothing for her wedding party that they could wear after the wedding, and borrowed her sister’s wedding veil for her own walk down the aisle.
Piper’s brother performed the ceremony, which Mark and Piper had written with help from a friend who is a reverend, and her niece walked one of their dogs down the aisle during the procession. Piper and Mark also had a blessing stone ceremony, in which guests were given sea-smoothed stones to carry to the beach, where they made silent wishes for Mark and Piper, and then—on cue—hurled their stones into the ocean. “As the stones hit the water and the ripples crossed, the good wishes are supposed to spread to everyone present,” says Piper.