Downwind"A down-home, country wedding"
My brother and his wife live in what I consider one of the more remote areas in the state of Illinois, Brown County. Mount Sterling, the county seat, boasts a population of 2,100 or so and is the largest town in the county. The total population of Brown County is somewhere south of 7,000 residents. Adding in the deer population would likely double that number. The native standard dress attire is quite casual…mostly camouflage, flannel, and Carhartts. The deer are brown with white tails, also casual.
My brother moved to the Brown County area to start his career out of college, loved it, and has remained there to raise his family. This has provided a wonderful reason for me to visit. During those visits, I have enjoyed meeting my brother’s “people”, an eclectic group of friends and neighbors, bursting with true rural agricultural character and charm.
Over this past New Year’s holiday my brother’s daughter was married in Mount Sterling. Unfortunately, the pandemic circumstances required…
- preparations to be different (trimming the invitation list, changing locations from dream wedding/reception, postponing honeymoons, promising a proper reception at a later date)
- weddings to be different (limited attendees, masks distributed upon entry, sanitation station, spreading out through the church). It is difficult to whisper about people in a when you are 6 ft apart!
- receptions to be different (a short, small, gathering featuring pizza rather than music and dance and embarrassing moments)
However, young love remains the same!
My wife and I felt honored to make the cut despite the various restrictions and gathering rules.
Brown County is far enough away from Cook County to require an overnight stay. Rather than intrude upon my brother and sister-in-law (who had plenty of other things happening), my wife and I opted to seek a place to stay in Mount Sterling. Knowing the area, I anticipated limited options.
My suggestions of packing a tent or sleeping in the back of our SUV were vetoed. My wife went to work with her thumbs and discovered that Airbnb featured a tiny house listing in Mount Sterling. Approximately 200 sq. ft. of kitchen, bathroom, and loft for bedroom meets the definition of tiny. The listing indicated the tiny house was owned by Lexi and was nestled on the outskirts of Mount Sterling in the woods. I hope my “book it” projected the proper enthusiasm to my wife.
Driving down the day of the wedding, we decided to stop at the tiny house rental to shake off the road dust, drop our bags, and put on our fancy wedding duds. We found the tiny house by exiting the hard road to the gravel road to the narrow, snow-covered private drive (a dirt road?) flanked by brush and trees. Despite being tiny, I could still see it, a cute, oversized “box” sitting in a woodsy location. The “box” even had a trailer hitch.
During the “exploration” of the tiny house, I was fascinated by several things:
- the seating…one barstool and a giant pillow (oh, and a toilet seat)
- access to the loft (crawling on the kitchen counter)
- the loft height (4 feet might be pushing it)
My wife loved the décor and took lots of pictures.
Off to the wedding we went. My niece was beautiful and radiant. Her fiancé was fawning and charismatic. The ceremony was beautiful and intimate.
The friendly wedding party made up of family and friends wanted to know where we were staying. Just the mention of the tiny house lead everyone to say, “Lexi’s place!” Some attending the wedding were cousins of Lexi. Others attending the wedding were friends of Lexi. Certainly, everybody from Brown County must know Lexi.
Following quality sleep that night in the loft, successfully avoiding cracking our heads upon egress, my wife and I met my brother and sister-in-law for breakfast at a classic small-town café. Wisely, my wife let my brother and sister-in-law lead the way into the restaurant knowing that certain tables may be “claimed” by the locals.
On our way to an empty table, everyone in the restaurant waved and greeted my brother and sister-in-law while eyeballing the two strangers, my wife and me. The waitresses wanted to know all about the wedding. Various individuals and sets of couples stopped by the table throughout breakfast to inquire “how the wedding went” and rave about the wedding photos posted online. As a bonus, we also learned about deer harvest, field tile, hunting dogs, job offers, COVID health issues, house projects, law enforcement, and more.
I managed to stay focused throughout breakfast, plowing through the café’s terrific eggs, bacon, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, mugs of steaming hot coffee…heaven.
We enjoyed another awesome Brown County experience. There is something heartwarming and truly wonderful about a down-home, country wedding.