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Big Day On The Farm

A long engagement, a COVID delay, and a year of planning bring the community and one special couple together for a day to remember.

“We just decided to go BIG,” Erik Van Buskirk states regarding his recent wedding to Deb Lemire Hazard. The Sandwich couple who met at a local nightlife establishment in 2010 have both been married before and seemingly weren’t in any hurry to make it official. Unless of course you talked to Deb’s daughter Whitney. “She was constantly setting Erik up, asking him when he would make an honest woman out of me, or saying things like, ‘Not until you marry my mother,’” Deb explains. At an annual 3rd of July party at the substantial rural setting where Van Buskirk and his family grew up, Erik finally popped the question in 2018. A wedding was planned for the summer of 2020 that, like so many other special plans across the planet, was cancelled due to the global pandemic.

Around the dawn of the New Year in January of 2021, Deb and Whitney decided on a date in July, Whitney created spreadsheets to keep everyone organized and Erik started making calls and arranging deals. “I called at just the right time. People hadn’t really booked anything yet, so there was availability. No one knew what the capacity restrictions might have been this summer, but I knew it was going to be easier to scale back than scale up. So we just decided to go big,” he says.

Big indeed, on July 17th at the pastoral setting of Percival Lane Farm, a beautiful horse farm in Sandwich, 250 guests that included the couple’s substantial list of local friends, family and acquaintances, gathered together in a cleared and decorated meadow the heart of the farm. As guests pulled in, they were greeted by a valet service managed by Matt Gardner who has a long history parking many of the guests cars at places like the Hyannis Yacht Club and The Ocean House restaurant in Dennis. “Matt was so awesome, it was almost impossible for him to find people to work for this event, but he got it done,” Erik recalls. “He thought it was funny that he recognized the license plate of some of our guests!” 

Van Buskirk is the Assistant Superintendent of the Sandwich Water District where he has worked for years. As a result, he crosses paths with countless individuals from all walks of life, and many of those connections came in handy for the big day in July. Deb also has a long list of friends and both have scores of extended family. In the tradition of what is often found in mid-western farm communities, people came together and created a day of joy and celebration for everyone.

Hay bales, draped with homespun vintage tablecloths served as pews and seating for the casual ceremony, “That was my friend Nicole Prairie’s idea,” Deb shares. “And the sunflowers, I mentioned to my friend Laurie Ray that I wanted sunflowers and she grows a bunch every year. Of course it was so cool early in the summer, they weren’t ready for the wedding, but the day before she arrived with armfuls of beautiful sunflowers that she had purchased just for us. And my mother (Jeanne Lemire) created 35 centerpieces for all of the tables. Everyone was so amazing in the way they pitched in. From setting up to breaking down, it really took a village!”

Everywhere one looked across the massive field, the personal and homey touches were evident. The kids had a bounce house in the shape of a chapel provided by ABB Moonwalk in Pocasset. Cape Cod Mobile Mixers, a portable bar service served a full selection of custom craft cocktails from a 1960s camper. The bar was staffed by close friends Stefani Celata (who owned the bar where Deb and Erik first met) and Hanna Gnong of the famed the British Beer Company

The couple was married by a family friend, Andy Esborn, who upon pronouncing them legally united, broke into his rendition of a “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen, a repeat performance from a memorable get together over the the winter. Deb’s daughter Whitney served as Maid of Honor in a lavender dress that coordinated with Erik’s casual button down shirt as well as Jed’s, Deb’s son who stood up as the Best Man.

Chariot Pizza from Sandwich brought their wood-fired mobile pizza oven and turned out flatbread pizza for the crowd along with fresh garden salads and other delights. As the sun started to set, the jingling notes of an ice cream truck from Cape Cod Slush & Ice Cream rambled its way onto the field and served up novelties for the enthusiastic crowd. And as dusk started to settle in, the tent, supplied by American Tent and Table in Marstons Mills, lit-up and was embraced by the thousands of twinkle lights Tony DiBiasio (Whitney’s boyfriend) and his father Roger had strung around the tree trunks that surrounded the field and farm. DJ Michael Hennessy played and friends and family danced until almost midnight, and the story goes that it was Deb and a few friends were the last to leave at about 3:30 in the morning. 

Like most couples that look back at their wedding day, a missed opportunity to spend more time connecting with a long list of their guests is the only regret that this couple shares. The day was hot, the sun was strong, the night was sultry and the party was the ultimate convergence of friends, family and forever memories. It was a long time coming, but as Erik says, they decided to go big, indeed.

Julie Craven Wagner is the editor of Cape Cod Life Publications.



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