It was many and many a year ago, In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know By the name of Annabel Lee;
Annabel Lee is the hauntingly beautiful final poem from American Gothic writer, Edgar Allan Poe. As dark and tragic as his own life, Annabel Lee paints a portrait of young love that is more powerful than even death itself. It provokes a deep yearning for the kind of love that the author (likely Poe himself) and the muse share, yet you know that it ends tragically, with the authors sanity being pushed to the limits. It is this powerful imagery that prompted us to create the Annabel Lee wedding theme. Drawing from the intensity of the love affair along with organic images of a Kingdom by the Sea, we went on a hunt for a Midwest equivalent, and to our delight, we found The Vaile Mansion in Independence, MO.
Built in 1881 by lawyer Colonel Harvey Vaile, the Vaile Mansion was far and away the most illustrious home along the Three Trails (Santa Fe, Oregon, and California). The mansion was designed by the renowned Kansas City architect, Asa Beebe Cross who designed many Kansas City mansions and historic landmarks including the Wornall House, Jackson County Courthouse, and the Union Depot. It boasted 31 rooms, 9 fireplaces, flushing toilets, and a grand staircase that greeted visitors within the entryway. The Second Empire Style Victorian Mansion is dark and
lush. In true Second Empire fashion the colors are rich and every corner is highly ornate. It is perfect for our backdrop.
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven, Went envying her and me— Yes!—that was the reason (as all men know, In this kingdom by the sea) That the wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
Even beyond the architectural style and the gothic décor, Vaile Mansion feels melancholy. Beautiful to view and admire, the rooms seem to weep with a sadness that was explained through the parallels between Poe's narration and Colonel Vaile and his wife, Sophia. Like Annabel Lee, Sophia died young. Diagnosed with stomach cancer, Sophia took a lethal dose of morphine, whether intentionally or not, no one can say for sure. Colonel Vaile never recovered from the loss of his wife, and was seen at night wandering the halls of his empty home. He seemed to lose himself a bit and even commissioned an artist to hand paint eerie faces into the woodwork of one of the parlors which can still be seen today. Colonel Harvey Vaile lived in solitude until his own death in 1895.
But our love it was stronger by far than the love Of those who were older than we— Of many far wiser than we— And neither the angels in Heaven above Nor the demons down under the sea Can ever dissever my soul from the soul Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
The love demonstrated through the finality of Poe's last poem and the landscape of the Vaile Mansion may not have the "happily ever after" ending we all want from our love stories, but the passion of eternal longing is inspiration enough for this event planner and lover of all things historic. Building on the yearnings of both poet and lawyer we created a styled shoot that we hope will inspire more couples to look beyond the traditional wedding and create something stunning and moving. My partners in creation for these photos were:
Photographer: Juliana Noelle Jumper Photography
Florals: Perfect Petals
Attire: Amore Bridal and Tuxedo
MUAH: Stephen Dixon Studios