A music festival wedding with two newlyweds as the main event

Jamon Deaver and Joey Lawton’s wedding can best be described as an immersive camping trip, music festival, and art exhibit, all rolled i...


Jamon Deaver and Joey Lawton’s wedding can best be described as an immersive camping trip, music festival, and art exhibit, all rolled into a long weekend in the wilderness outside of Berea, Ky. Big city fun meets country life; summer camp mixed with Bonnaroo and Coachella; an epic wedding weekend filled with love and wonder, the promised invitation.

The wedding was even given a name: Wonder Woods.

“For two men who grew up in small towns in conservative states and never thought they would be lucky enough to feel the same love and respect as those around them, this is literally a dream come true. reality, ”said Lawton, 37. design director at Media-Objectives, an experiential design studio he founded at the age of 26.

Mr. Lawton, raised in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, holds a degree in Architecture and Planning from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Mr. Deaver, 35, was born and raised in Berea, graduated with a communications degree from Hanover College and is the Associate Creative Director of Golin, a Chicago-based public relations firm.

The couple had spent the past 10 plus years in Chicago, where they met. But in November 2020, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic and working remotely, they moved to Berea, “to invest in the community, renovate an old house and prepare for Wonder Woods, our extravagant wedding festival,” Mr. Lawton said.

The two met the old-fashioned way – in a bar. They were attending a birthday party at the J Bar at the James Hotel in Chicago in November 2010. They were introduced by friends, then exchanged phone numbers, and met for lunch a few weeks later. They have been together ever since.

Mr Deaver proposed to Mr Lawton in 2016, on the anniversary of their first official date, December 16. As Mr Lawton explained: “In a same-sex relationship, people always ask, ‘Who proposes?’ We wanted to clarify this early in our relationship, with Jamon taking the decision in hand. He is such a Lion.

“Our engagement has been longer than expected for several reasons,” continued Mr. Lawton. “First, why the rush? Second, nothing that we immediately started planning looked right and we wanted everything we did for the wedding to give us those warm, fuzzy feelings. Third, Covid.

The proposal took place on the rooftop of Soho House Chicago, of which Mr. Deaver is a member. “When we got back from dinner I told Joey we should have a drink upstairs,” Mr. Deaver said. “When the elevator opened, the space was empty except for a bottle of champagne, a few hundred candles and a beautiful view of the snowy horizon. It took a moment for Joey to figure out what was going on. He assumed we were encroaching on someone’s event.

But once Mr. Deaver presented the ring, a simple sterling silver ring made by Berea jeweler and Deaver family friend Bobby Craig Thompson, Mr. Lawton knew it was all for him. After the offer, Mr. Deaver and Mr. Lawton were escorted through a private back entrance to a group of waiting friends.

Wonder Woods was being held on a 40-acre property owned by Mr. Deaver’s mother, Teresa Cole, and brother and sister-in-law, Strider Deaver and Laura Poulette, as well as part of the adjacent land of a neighbor . “The main campground, overnight parking and part of the volleyball court were located on the property of our neighbors, Mike and Lorna Deane, who graciously allowed us to use their land for the weekend event. Mr. Deaver said.

It was Mr. Deaver who first brought up the idea of ​​a hybrid music / wedding festival in the woods of Kentucky. “This was the place where we first said I love you under the stars,” he said.

The first major hurdle was getting Mr. Deaver’s family involved. “We literally brought marriage to the family,” Mr. Deaver said. They created a formal presentation, “complete with a Power Point deck of the vision, the vibe, the story, the story,” Lawton added.

Mr. Deaver’s family did not hesitate. “They were 100% from the first second,” he said. “My mom was so excited we wanted to do this on the property.”

When they told their friends about their plan, they were all in it too, although camping was outside of most of their comfort zones. “Everyone was excited, but no one wanted to camp,” Deaver said. “People told us, ‘We will do it because you ask us to.’ “

The original date of the wedding was Labor Day weekend 2020. The pandemic made sure that couldn’t happen. Instead, Wonder Woods took place in 2021, June 19-21, with the wedding ceremony on June 20, the night of the summer solstice.

The couple, along with their family and friends, built a stage, DJ booth, bar and outdoor shower pavilion. Porta-pots have been installed. Signs, maps and information sheets have been created. The guests made temporary tattoos. There were even personalized welcome bags with Wonder Woods loot and festival essentials, including a t-shirt with the performers who performed, a personalized Wonder Woods bandana, a festival grounds map, ear, sleep masks, homemade bug spray, and IV liquid electrolyte drink mix packets.

The doors opened at noon on Saturday. Guests spent the day swimming in Cedar Moon Lake, a nearly two acre lake added to the property by the Deaver family, filled with oversized fancy floats. They explored the vast grounds, hooped on the lawn, and played volleyball. Jenga Giant, Corn Hole and Frisbee games were available. Everyone enjoyed dinner that night and the official kick-off with performances by drag queens Izzie Contagious and Nita Bevvy, folk group Zoe Speaks and DJ Matt Suave.

Food and drinks were readily available throughout the weekend, from vendors like the Epic Cure food truck, Rooster’s Whistle coffee cart, the Native Bagel Company (owner Katie Startzman, is the twin sister of the beautiful -sister of Mr. Deaver), and the kitchen of Noland Creek Farm.

Around 230 guests were in attendance, from family and university friends to work colleagues and Berea residents, and around 125 of them camped on the festival grounds for two nights in the 75 tents set up. . Two of the couple’s friends drove away and stayed in their RVs (the majority of guests at the outdoor event were vaccinated and guests wore masks if they preferred).

And none of this would have been possible without their families and event team Ali Blair and his team, the couple agreed.

Some friends wore rompers and matching flower crowns with solar system patterns and braided their hair. People who had never met before became quick friends, laughing and crying and playing and dancing together all weekend.

“There was a feeling that everyone cares and everyone understands, and everyone wants these two to live the longest and happiest lives possible,” said Betty Who, a singer who also performed at Wonder Woods.

On Sunday, the day of the wedding ceremony, guests listened to performances by singer and songwriter Ellie Grace and Kelley Jakle and Jeff Hortillosa, the musical duo of singers / songwriters known as Robin Alice. (They were also in the “Pitch Perfect” movies.) Throughout the day, Wylie Caudill, a Kentucky-based mural artist, painted live on a vintage BMW with a unicorn and the Wonder Woods logo.

There was also the opportunity to practice yoga by the lake; take a training course; craft beaded energy bracelets and mini terrariums with a creative coach and an intuitive energy guide Amethyst forest; create iron hooks with blacksmith and longtime friend of the Deaver family, Bob Montgomery; and even try a potter’s wheel with Mr. Deaver’s mother, a ceramic artist.

Late in the afternoon, “American Idol” Season 14 finalist Rayvon Owen performed, entering the audience dramatically and commanding the stage in an electric yellow jacket. Then the wedding ceremony began, which included performances by Mr. Deaver’s sister, Virginia Deaver, who sang an acoustic version of “Silk City” and “Electricity” by Dua Lipa, as well as Mr. Owen and Mrs. Jakle. , who performed a cover of “Latch” by Disclosure with Sam Smith.

Reverend Kent Gilbert, ordained in the United Church of Christ, performed the ceremony. He currently serves at Union Church in Berea. “It is the first abolitionist and interfaith church established in a slave county in Kentucky,” he said.

After the ceremony, everyone surrounded the couple and held hands. Guests then enjoyed a lawn dinner that included mini tacos and Asian pork samosas from Noland Creek Farm’s kitchen and coconut rice balls with jerk chicken or shrimp and a watermelon salad. grilled from the Epic Cure food truck. A concert by Australian pop singer Betty Who got everyone dancing and singing.

“There was something really special about everyone wanting to go along with these people,” the singer said. “I was like, ‘I don’t even know these people and I’m sobbing.’ I felt really moved.

After the show, Megan Taylor, a DJ, kept everyone on the dance floor until late at night despite the heat and the hour. At the start of filming, the bride and groom even took the stage for a spontaneous first dance to “Electricity” by Silk City and Dua Lipa, during which the guests sang and danced.

“Jamon and Joey really put forward the idea of ​​what love can be – I think we’ve all changed,” Ms. Taylor said. “Marriage was an expression of – when we truly present ourselves with love – what is possible in our lives.”


When June 20, 2021

Or A family owned property outside of Berea, Ky.

A million dreams Mr. Deaver’s only brother, Strider Deaver, and Mr. Lawton’s brother, Chris Lawton, seriously read the lyrics to “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman”, as part of the wedding ceremony . When singer Betty Who performed later that night, she gave an impromptu rendition of the song.

Breaking down stereotypes The couple hoped that marriage was not only about their hearts, but also about changing the hearts and minds of others. “I wanted people to come away with a different opinion of Kentucky,” Mr. Deaver said. “Over the years, I have learned how much misinformation circulates. And how places like Kentucky get stuck because of people’s attitudes.

The Wonder Woods effect Wonder Woods certainly kept the promise of the invitation, said Kyle Hadley, whose alter ego is drag queen Nita Bevvy. “Everyone seemed so taken with the Wonder Woods effect. A weekend so intensely filled with love and a sense of community that I left on a high. When friends asked, “How was the wedding? I put my hands up in the air and shook my head with a giant smile and just said “Fool”. A drag queen at a loss for words speaks volumes, ”Mr. Hadley said.

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