Wedding Bells Part 1... Meet Noah and Dana

The Mountain Farmgirl recently celebrated a very special wedding in her family! Come see how a lifetime of hopes and dreams for her son Noah, resulted in a day of dreams come true … in Wedding Bells Part 1: Meet Noah and Dana!

I awoke with the vague perception that something was ‘about to happen’.  The pre-dawn light illuminated the canvas of the tipi I was living in so that everything around me seemed to glow with an ethereal light.  Not even the birds had yet awakened. As I shook off sleep and full consciousness returned, I experienced what I can only describe as a deep, heavy feeling of ‘fullness’ and ‘expectation’ …  AND then, oh my … the sudden realization that I was about to go into labor!

Vivid as that scene is in my mind, it took place almost 23 years ago. It was to be my third (of five) births, and by that time I knew the signs of impending labor well. But unlike the first two, Noah’s birth was to be at home. Fortunately for me, my midwives had a rather liberal definition of what that meant, as the home we were building was nowhere near complete, and so this birth (and Noah’s first 3 months of life, actually) were to be in, well … a tipi! I got out of bed quietly that morning, letting my husband and oldest son Christopher sleep a little longer; it was bound to be a long day, filled with excitement and anticipation. I started a fire in the firepit, called the midwives (you should’ve seen the telephone guy scratch his head when he was told a few months earlier to hook up a phone in a tipi! “Which ‘pole’ do you want it on?”, he joked! “Which is the telephone pole?”). 

Excited as I was, I calmly brewed myself a mug of herbal tea with raspberry and nettle, peppermint and blue and black cohosh leaves. As I sat outside watching the sun come up and the world around me come to life, I got myself mentally and physically prepared to meet my little red-haired son that September 25th morning, 1989. It was a special day indeed … as was this extraordinary little boy we raised, who grew up to be a magnificent man, now about to get married to his childhood sweetheart on May 25, 2012! His engagement was amazing, too. (But you can read about that if you have time on his wedding website:

The wedding itself was to be held in the Hudson Valley of New York … an area of the lower Catskills where both my husband’s and my families are originally from.  We lived there ourselves until 8 years ago when we moved to New Hampshire to buy an inn.  But for Noah’s bride’s family it’s still ‘home’, and so that area was naturally to be the backdrop to the beautiful wedding of these two extraordinary young people I love so very much! But before I take you to their wedding, let me quickly introduce each of them to you.

Our son Noah is a Renaissance Man, and like all his siblings he was homeschooled his entire life. He is exceptionally bright, but also a natural athlete in every sport he’s ever participated in (from skiing to tennis, to basketball and hockey … and don’t even try to beat him at chess or ping pong!). When very young he became an awesome bagpipe player and belonged to an adult bagpipe band called Pipeline, playing in the West Point Tatoo and many other venues. Our Tuesday nights together on the way to his lesson and band practice (2 hours away) became treasured Mother-Son moments, and included a weekly stop at a favorite Italian restaurant for a salad and sautéed broccoli raab with garlic! (Funny, the memories we hold onto!).  By the age of 10 he was the world’s youngest chess master (at that time), beating even Bobby Fishers record, and winning the Gold Medal for the US Chess Team in Brazil. About that time he also joined the Civil Air Patrol, eventually achieving the Spaatz Award (their highest achievement), and it was through this connection that he met his future wife. He started his own business at age 15, an internet marketing business that won him Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce, as well as notice by one of the country’s leading Facial Recognition Software companies who recruited him as a Software Engineer. Five years later, Noah’s first day in a “real” classroom was his freshman day at Johns Hopkins University, where after 7 semesters majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science (and maintaining an A average throughout) he is about to receive both his Bachellor’s AND Master’s degrees simultaneously. Whew … I am exhausted even thinking about it … but certainly proud as punch!

Noah’s fiancé is named Dana … yes, the same as my husband … so there are now TWO ‘Dana Belchers’ in our family! THAT’S not confusing!!  Like Noah, Dana was also home schooled, and a very smart and highly motivated student. They met at CAP at the age of 13. After high school, Dana worked for Teen Mania Ministries in Texas before getting her 4-year degree from Patrick Henry College in Virginia. During that time she did an Internship for the Heritage Foundation in Washington, and is currently employed by the International Justice Mission in DC. Somehow in the space of the last month she was able to finish her final papers and exams, graduate Magna Cum Laude from college, move to a new apartment in VA, start a job with a fabulous organization and, oh yes, marry my son and take a two week honeymoon to Alaska! I think they are well-matched!

My own preparations for the Big Even started months ago. As someone who practices the art of calligraphy, I was asked by Noah and Dana to create a special marriage certificate for them, as well as make their wedding cake. I was so delighted to have been asked! And as Mother-of-the-Groom, I also had the honor of hosting the ‘night before’ party. Traditionally a dinner for immediate family members and the bridal party after a wedding rehearsal, this one very quickly morphed into a BBQ for all of our out-of-town guests; long-lost local friends and family we hadn’t seen since our move to NH; and for the folks who for one reason or another could not be at the wedding the following day. Also, the bride comes from a very large family, (most of whom we had never met), and I wanted to have an informal mixer prior to the BIG DAY to serve as an ice breaker and make introductions. My ‘Before’ party (for about 75 people) accomplished all of the above and was everything I had hoped it to be … but took a considerable amount of planning to actually pull it off from 400+ miles away!

My middle initial is an ‘A’, but my middle name is actually “Planner” with a Capital ‘P’.  An illustration of just how true this is (or of how much of an OCD problem I actually have, take your pick!!!) can be illustrated by the 3-ring binder I created to keep track of all the planning details. Laugh if you will, but I highly recommend this system to keep track of the myriad details that go into making any sort of event “appear” to be effortless, and come off smoothly without a hitch.Lists, Lists ... LISTS!!!  My binder had dividers, with sections such as “Overview”, “Master To Do List”, “Invitations”, “Food”, “Decorations”, “Shopping Lists”, “Hotel Reservations”, “The Cake”, “Marriage Certificate”, “Wedding Bags for Hotel Guests”, and “Misc.”  This way, anything I ever needed during the planning process was always conveniently together in one place, right at my fingertips. The book gave me great peace of mind as the event got close, because I didn’t have to worry about whether or not I had forgotten anything. Each detail was thoroughly outlined, a schedule made up, and all I had to do was follow it.  By working on just one or two things a day for about two months, I never felt pressured or overwhelmed, and I could relax and thoroughly enjoy the process … which I did to the fullest!

Let’s start with the invitations … making them was fun! As the myriad RSVPs started coming in, I KNEW this party was going to be wonderful!! During quiet moments this spring I started planning the layout of the marriage certificate. I included each of their favorite bible verses, chose a calligraphy script (based on a font I discovered and liked on my computer), and then (da-dum!!) I ventured to put pen to paper. The first few letters are the most intimidating; -- starting is always the hardest part -- but from there it gets less tense!  Noah and Dana’s wedding colors were a celadon green and brown. Once it was completed, I chose similar matting for the certificate and had a frame custom made for it that brought out those colors. I was very happy with how it actually turned out. All the guests signed it at the wedding and now they can hang it on their wall.


Seventy-five hungry people can eat a lot of food! Some of it obviously needs to be prepared at the very last moment, but fortunately much of it could be made ahead and frozen, such as many of the hors d’ouevres, casseroles and even the wedding cake layers.


Our “Before” party was to be held in the fellowship hall of our old church, and our Pastor and his wife (my friend Barbara) are still  pastors in residence there. Since our move to NH, however, the church has undergone a huge renovation and an enormous, very efficient kitchen has been put in.  It was a dream to work in.


I drove down to New York a week before the event with my son Josh in our pick-up truck, packed to the hilt. (My husband and daughter met us there a few days before the wedding).


My mom lives only about 20 minutes from the church, and so we stayed with her, along with a growing entourage as the week progressed. Our group ranged from my son Noah (The Groom) and his good college friend Juneki who was to be a Groomsman, to my sister, her daughter and new baby; and my own sweet daughter Alida and son Joshua. Mom, a very active Senior in her 80s, was a real champ as we all descended upon her home.  She welcomed us, fed us, stayed up late with us playing games … all with grace and making it seem ‘effortless.  HA!  … I knew better! She is one of my heroes … and a true SuperWoman. Thank you, Mom! (Here she is with my youngest son, Joshua).

As family and friends started arriving, my excitement continued to grow!


The wedding was to be on Friday, so Thursday was the day of the BBQ. Friends and family helped me the day before decorating the fellowship hall and preparing last minute food items. By late afternoon on the day of the party, we were good to go! Thanks, guys … you were great.


Each table had a centerpiece made of wheat grass and fresh flowers.

 As guests began to arrive, they picked up a name tag on the welcome table, which in addition to stating their first name, also identified them in relation to either the bride or groom.  For example, here is a photo of one of my favorite people from high school, whom I hadn’t seen in 40 years, although we exchang lengthy letters each Christmas.  His name tag read:  “The Groom’s Mother’s Favorite High School History Teacher”!  I was so delighted that Mr. Engle and his wife Pat could come!


As the wedding party arrived from their Rehearsal, we had already started in on the finger foods, canapés and snacks. The party was rolling!
We set up a drink station for lemonade, fruit punch and iced tea.
The Dinner Menu consisted of BBQ Chicken, BBQ Whiskey Sliders, Veggie burgers, Macaroni and Cheese, Vegetarian Chili with all the toppings, Texas cornbread, Caesar salad, potato salad, cole slaw, and jello salad. At the dessert station we had fruit, fudgy chocolate brownies, Mexican wedding cakes, chocolate chip cookies and blueberry peach cobbler with whipped cream. Our daughter had taken charge of the music for the occasion … great choices!



I made a Blessing Tree ... Everyone wrote a blessing or a wish for Noah and Dana and hung it on a branch.  Afterwards I gave them all the tags to read on their honeymoon!

At one point during the evening Noah and Dana made a little speech, welcoming everyone to the rehearsal dinner and thanking them for coming. Then they surprised me with a huge card signed by all the guests, as they sang Happy Birthday … to ME!! (It just so happened to also be my birthday that day!). Thank you guys!


We all had a wonderful, relaxing and fun time seeing old friends and meeting new ones (some of them actually quite new!!

Loyal friends and family helped us with clean up and taking down the decorations.  By 10 pm you would never have known we were there! We couldn’t have done it without you!


But for my sister and me, the night was still young.  There was a wedding cake to make … as well as cupcakes and mini cheesecake fruit tarts!
The cake layers had already been made of course; we ‘just’ had to decorate them! Adrenaline kept us going, but by 2 am we were tired and starting to fade, so we cleaned up and my sister dropped me off at the hotel that we stayed at for the next two nights with all of our out-of-town friends.


Morning came around VERY quickly, as I was meeting my future daughter-in-law at 9 am at the beauty parlor so that we could get our hair done for the wedding. As you can see, this is the “BEFORE’ photo!  YIKES!!! Next time I will show you the end results, and photos of the BIG DAY!


The Mountain Farmgirl
Cordially ‘invites’ you to her son Noah’s Wedding
In her next Blog.
Hope you can make it!

Until next time,
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from Cathi,
The Mountain Farmgirl



By: Debbi Fair
On: 06/25/2012 13:19:38
It is so wonderful to see the photos. I remember them from a couple years ago when we stayed at The Lodge.
By: Betty Benesi
On: 06/25/2012 13:26:27
That was quite an undertaking. Your binder idea is excellent. I made one for my own wedding, 30 years ago 6/12, and I still have it along with my card box of guest addresses. I loved your blessing tree. I think it could be adopted for a variety of occassions including a baby shower.
Oh by the way, you look tooo cute with your hair up. A girl can use a little glamour now and then.
By: Donna Coburn
On: 06/25/2012 13:30:43
Thanks for weddings...I did my two daughters weddings,of course with their planning...soooo much fun! Some great memories. I have a son in a relationship with a great girl and I can't wait to help them!! Also can't wait to hear more...
By: Sallie Dee Walker
On: 06/25/2012 15:11:32
Oh my goodness Cathy! You are quite a woman! I am exhausted just reading your post. It is amazing that you pulled all the lovely details together and created such a wonderful "before party" in such an organized way. You had a good time, had a smile on your face and still had so much to do!!! What a treasure your son has in you! I can't wait to read about the wedding! Sallie Dee Farmgirl #441
By: Heather :) :) :)
On: 06/25/2012 18:25:29
Wow, Cathi,

You know I love a good wedding, right? This is much love and work fora beautiful and deserving couple :) :) :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)
By: Nicole Christensen
On: 06/26/2012 05:19:22
Congratulations, Cathi! It looks like you pulled off a wonderful, happy event! Thanks for sharing it with all of us. Such lovely pictures. Sounds like you raised an amazing son, as well. Can't wait to see the wedding pics! Hugs to you! Your blogging sis, Nicole (Suburban Farmgirl)
By: Alex
On: 06/26/2012 22:42:55
How Exciting, Cathi!

I love all your pictures and your stories--especially the amazing intro. The birth of your son in a tipi is amazing and inspiring!

Thanks for sharing this story with us,
Alex (your Rural Farmgirl sister)
By: Michelle
On: 07/15/2012 23:48:13
I used this curriculum when I was a Director of Children's Ministries. I am now atentding a new church that is very small and needs lots of help in their children's ministries. I wanted to set them up using this by using supplies I currently own. I own plenty to do the Noah series first but I can't seem to figure out how to access it? This site is totally changed. I can't figure out what I am doing wrong. I can only access the 4 listed under early childhood education. Thank you! You were always so helpful when I was first using this curriculum. Appreciate your ministry so much.

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir