Krista and Tim met in the fall of 2004, during orientation at Goshen College, a Mennonite-affiliated school in Indiana where both studied religion.
"We were just friends that first year, but I was interested in him from the get-go," said Krista, who grew up in Dublin, Bucks County, and Bally, Berks County, on the farm that has been in her family for 10 generations.
Soon after they met, Krista invited Tim, who is now 26, on a bike ride. They had a great time. "Then," she said, "he started dating somebody else."
Both Krista, now 23, and Tim spent the first semester of their sophomore year in an off-campus program, living and studying in an old logging camp in Oregon. About 40 students participated, and they spent almost as much time backpacking as studying. "It was more of an intimate setting, and we were getting to know each other really well," Krista said. Up in the mountains, the two confessed that they had feelings for each other.
Early in the next semester, Tim and Krista began dating.
After graduating in 2008, Tim and Krista did an internship on a small organic farm in Kentucky. Both are one generation removed from people who farmed for a living, and both are considering a return to that profession. (Although Krista's parents live on the family farm, it's her aunt and uncle who do the farming. Her father is the athletic director at Lansdale's Christopher Dock High School. Her mother is a nurse at Bux-Mont Oncology in Sellersville.)
Tim and Krista discussed marriage long before graduation, but Krista wasn't ready to be engaged yet. So, "we had decided that I would be the one to propose, when I was ready," she said. "He didn't want me to feel forced into saying yes."
As they worked together alongside the Kentucky farmers, Krista realized she was ready. One beautiful evening in July, she asked Tim to go outside. "We should make some tea and sit outside and enjoy the sky," she suggested. She quickly brought out her guitar. "I was working on a song the other day. You want to hear it?"
Then she sang: "So now we're here, planting a garden, learning lessons of the soil and lessons of love. We have our dreams, thinking of the future. And now I'm ready, it seems, for your hand to be mine."
After Krista finished her song, she asked Tim to marry her. "He got a big smile on his face, and he said yes."
After four months, Krista left the Kentucky farm for London, where she did an internship through the Franconia Mennonite Conference, shadowing a pastor of an inner-city congregation. She and Tim met up again in January, at her family's farm in Bally.
Local, sustainably grown food is important to Tim and Krista, so for their wedding, the couple decided to stay as close to home as possible: They would raise the food their guests would eat. As Tim planned the size of the garden needed, he realized it would produce far, far more food throughout the season than what their 150 guests could eat on one day. So, he and Krista opened a community-supported-agriculture business of their own, providing boxes of vegetables weekly to 25 customers in Berks and Montgomery counties. An added bonus: The CSA venture provided income for Krista and Tim. "We were devoting all of our time to being on the farm," she said. "Our full-time jobs were running the CSA and planning our wedding."
Tim and Krista held their reception the day before the ceremony. Guests were invited to arrive whenever they could on Saturday, and teams of them assisted in food preparation. Krista's uncle, Ralph, and his children were in charge of roasting the two hogs the couple had raised. Friends Jeff and Lois were in charge of roasting eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. Tim's mother, Nancy, made rolls. Leona, a friend from Perkasie Mennonite Church, made the wedding cake.
The couple set up groups of hay bales and tables around the farm. "We wanted to make it feel like a picnic," Krista said. After the evening meal, the artistically inclined played bluegrass music, and everyone played croquet, horseshoes, and other outdoor games.
The ceremony began at 7:30 a.m. Sunday, so guests were invited to camp out on the farm. "I woke up Sunday morning," Krista remembered, "the mist was rising, and all of these tents were set up outside."
She and her mother, Sheryl, father Tim, and her sisters Angela and Lisa and their families waited in their home at the bottom of a hill. Tim, his mother, his father, Harry, and sisters Holly and Amy stood near the top. Their guests began to sing. When the first strains of "Morning Has Broken" began, the bride, the groom, and their families walked toward each other, to a meadow into which a seating area and aisle had been mowed.
The couple were married by Beth Yoder, who was Krista's childhood pastor and a good family friend.
At the beginning of the service, Tim and Krista made a brief statement expressing their sadness that couples of the same sex cannot marry.
They exchanged their vows beneath a trellis built by Tim and covered with hyacinth-bean vine. Rows of sunflowers and cosmos bloomed along either side.
The Ehsts left their beloved yellow Lab, Chloe, at the house because they thought the walk to the meadow would be too much for her. But when the Ehsts and Showalters joined Tim and Krista under the trellis for a family blessing, Chloe appeared from behind the chairs, sauntered up the aisle, and joined them.
"When Tim and I were walking toward each other, and everybody was singing, we realized that we were finally going to take this step of being married," Krista said.
A bargain: The couple spent a few dollars on basil seeds, then planted them in recycled soda cans that were cut in half. "It was a really colorful, cheap, and environmentally conscious wedding favor," Krista said.
The splurge: Raising two hogs for the meal. They spent about $100 to buy them, but with the cost of feed and renting the roasters, it was the couple's biggest single expense. Still, the entire wedding cost less than $4,000, Krista said.
Right after the wedding, Tim and Krista moved to Atlanta, where she is in seminary at the Candler School of Theology, part of Emory University. Tim is volunteering at urban farms while searching for a full-time job.
Tim and Krista spent a long weekend at a friend's cabin in northern Pennsylvania. They hope to take a longer trip later.
Beth Yoder, chaplain at Souderton Mennonite Homes in Souderton
The Ehst homestead, Bally, Pa.
Hog roasters were rented from Blooming Glen caterers, Blooming Glen, Pa. Food was raised by the couple and cooked by their families and friends
Friends and family members
Ehst family friends Beth, Jerry, Justin, Greg, and Kristina Yoder played during the ceremony. Other friends played throughout the weekend
Beaumont Organic, www.beaumontorganic.com
Made by the couple