Homestead Wed in a Field of Family: An organically grown love story

Due West Photography

BY: Holly Boname

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” –Masanobu Fukuoka.

               For young couple Monica and Jason Schnauber, agriculture has played a part in their deeply rooted connection since they first met one another in 2009. Monica’s father owns and operates certified organic dairy farm Homestead Fields in LaFargeville, and Jason, the farm’s now co-owner, has farming roots in his family’s history as well. It is these connections to the earth-the cultivation and understanding of how to nurture nature and the relationship it has with human life- which inspired and connected the couple to embark on a journey together, leading to an engagement and wedding that embraced a homesteading theme that wowed family and friends in a day that all will remember.

The Love Story

                The love story of Monica and Jason is similar to what many north country residents experience. They met through mutual friends that had been in the same social circles for years, but when their connection was made it became anything but ordinary.

                “Jason and I have known each other since high school. Going through old photos with our recent move, it’s so shocking to see evidence of him in the background at a house party or sitting next to me playing cards. I have to think, if the kids in those photos were told they would be getting married someday – what would their reactions be like?” said Monica.

                She was attending university at Queens College in Kingston, Ontario, when they met. She later learned that when the two officially were introduced to one another Jason had told a friend, “She’s my future wife,” and over buying her a simple beer the story began to unfold.

                A year later, Jason began working for Monica’s father at Homestead Fields and over the course of next four years with adventures to Buffalo Bills games, summers spent at Potters Beach on the St. Lawrence River, snowmobiling trips in Lewis County, and country music concerts scattered throughout, their love blossomed and Jason knew the time was right.

                “My mother has given me a ring; it was her mother’s that had been custom made in Sugarland, Texas,” said Jason.

                He sent the ring away and had it cleaned and when it returned both Monica and Jason said, “it was perfect.” With some alterations to the ring Jason knew it was time to pop the question. On Christmas morning, while out doing chores in the barn, Monica and Jason were sitting upon a bale of hay and he pulled out the ring and asked Monica to marry him.

Planning and Preparation

                For the couple, between Monica finishing nursing school and Jason working on the family farm while building their home next to Monica’s parents’ house, planning of the wedding was slow to begin. But once the pair set their mind to it they knew it would be something special, celebrating not only their love but the family heritage of sustainability and homesteading.

                “It took about a year of planning,” said Monica. “The wedding theme, if you will, was keeping it organic, local and green. Literally, sage green was our wedding color. We tried to substitute and provide food that was homegrown or produced here where we could.”

                They knew they wanted to have the wedding at the Walldroff family farm. With beautiful open fields, plenty of room to host the guest list of 325 to 350, and surrounding family and friends who could assist with the preparations; it was no question in their minds.

                “It meant everything to have the wedding at home. The venue in my opinion was supposed to reflect who we are, and this is where it all started,” said Monica. “We wanted it to be us, we wanted it to be home, we wanted it to be here and we wanted it to be the best of days ever. We wanted it to be what home was to us.”

                She continued that the couple had endured many years of long distance while she was completing school and Jason was working on the family farm, and in her heart it was the connection to her home that brought the two closest to family and friends.

                “We couldn’t really picture having it anywhere else,” said Jason. “The farm is home to us now.”

                As lives are busy, it was many helping hands and Pinterest that the couple attributes to the day’s success. Monica, the youngest of three, was the last in the family to get married and her mother worked tirelessly to ensure that the day be nothing but grand.

                “She put in everything,” said Monica, “she took the reins and we couldn’t have done it without her and my father. And it wasn’t just them, my aunts and their husbands pitched in, it was truly a DIY wedding.”

                She continued that it was a challenge that required little sleep and lots of ambition and admitting that she, with her busy nursing schedule and Jason’s hours on the farm early and late into the day, needed to delegate tasks and ask for help.

                “We couldn’t have done it without our mothers, my sister, our cousins, the caterers, our wedding planner AmberLee Clement, and our wedding parties,” said Monica. “They all provided a significant amount of manual labor, tactical support and headache relief.”

The Big Day-The Homestead Wedding

                As the day finally arrived, family and friends were still hustling and bustling to get all the details in place. With nearly 350 guests on the way everything had to be timed perfectly and executed with precision.

                “Picture the 20-plus family members and friends scurrying around trying to accomplish last-minute tasks, Jason and his party members undertaking small construction projects, the photographers trying to capture us not looking frantic, the girls from River Day Spa on-site working miracles – even braiding horse hair, my dad trying to hold it together with an enduring smile,” recalled Monica.

                The wedding ceremony would take place at the Grotto of Lourdes, St. John the Evangelist Church in LaFargeville, but that would not be where the couple would see each other for the first time.

                “We did our first sighting at the farm prior to the wedding. We did it in the horse paddock behind the house,” said Monica. “We were kind of surprised because our horses, which are not very obedient in the summer, were attentive to everything. They followed me right out to the pasture and escorted me right to Jason. He turned around and saw me and our breath was taken away.”

                At the church, arches adorned with flowers showed the walkway leading through beautiful white sculptures of angels and leading to an outdoor ceremony that took the breath away from guests, the stage couldn’t have been more perfectly set. Guests arrived to music by the Trillium Trio and soon Monica and Jason found themselves surrounded by their loved ones, taking the vows that would guide them through the rest of their journey.

                It was time for the party. Guests made their way to Eiss Road, where the reception was ready to welcome guests with locally sourced foods, paths cut through the woods with lanterns to light the way, music, memories of the couple were placed with precision throughout the decorated tent and grounds, and with amenities that you would find at a high-end catered indoor wedding.

                But the couple had one surprise that the father of the bride had up his sleeve.

                “There was an Amish buggy parked in front of the church,” said Monica. “Everyone kept joking that that was my ride back to the farm… and it was!”

                Moinca’s father had been working with Eli Hostettler throughout the summer completing house additions, barn additions and other project. He even had sold Jason his first horse.

                “Unknown to us, my father had asked Eli if he would buggy us from the ceremony back to the farm,” said Monica.

                Jason recalled, “He was in his best dress, with his best buggy, with the best horse he had. It was amazing.”

                The couple arrived at the reception in nothing but true homestead style.

                “There are beautiful flashbacks I have of everyone seated in grotto behind the church, of getting off a limo bus and into an Amish buggy, of the wood trails by the tent lit with paper lanterns, of our mother/son and father/daughter dances… For that one day flying by so fast, I feel like there are a lifetime of small details that made the day special to us,” said Monica.

                The reception went late into the evening with dancing to a DJ and a live band into the late night. The couple hand-in-hand, and heart-to-heart, with each other and their beloved family and friends and the farm that brought them all together says that there is nothing they would have changed- They will forever remain homestead wed.