From the kindergarten classroom to the altar

(Photo by David Welch)

When Lauren Townes and Noah Scheffer said “I do” before some 125 guests at Edgartown’s Old Whaling Church on Saturday, Dec. 17, it marked a new chapter in a friendship that began more than two decades ago. The bride and groom, both now 27, met in kindergarten at the Edgartown School in 1994.

“I don’t remember too much of Noah,” Lauren admitted, “but my mom says that he was very quiet.”

They continued at the Edgartown School through second grade, when Lauren moved out of town. Shared activities included Christmas and Valentine’s Day plays in Chloe Nolan’s classroom.

“Noah always teases me and tells me I was a teacher’s pet,” Lauren said. “I totally was.”

—David Welch
—David Welch

“She was always the first to say she wanted to grade papers when Mrs. Nolan asked,” Noah said.

Their friendly acquaintance resumed at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, but romance didn’t blossom yet. The teens had different interests, but saw one another often.

“I remember we had our sophomore-year biology class together,” Lauren said. “Noah was always quiet, I was loud and obnoxious.”

After graduating in 2007, Lauren enrolled at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Although she enjoyed the area, she realized college wasn’t the right fit for her just yet.

She headed back to the East Coast, and landed in Fall River as a merchandising manager at Old Navy.

Noah also spent a year away, at culinary school in Montpelier, Vt., before returning to the Island to work in restaurants and learn cooking skills hands-on in kitchens. Then he joined his father Roy Scheffer working on his Katama Bay oyster farm. Today he shares ownership of the farm with his dad, and fishes for scallops in season.

In the spring of 2013, Lauren also returned home to the Island, leaving a bad breakup behind. She found a job at the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank and settled down.

In June, the fireworks began glowing. Lauren attended a birthday party for her best girlfriend, Leandra Seward. Noah was there with his buddy Sean Gilpin.

—David Welch
—David Welch

Suddenly it was some enchanted evening right here on Martha’s Vineyard. When each of them saw that appealing stranger across a crowded room, it was a new but familiar face. Schoolday memories dissolved.

“I honestly saw him from across the room and just felt something different. Like I had never looked at him that way before, even though I knew exactly who he was,” Lauren said.

One late summer evening they got together with Leandra and Sean for dinner, a movie, Uno. “We laughed all night,” Lauren said. “I remember thinking how effortless being around him was.”

They shared a goodnight kiss, and Noah asked her out. After a movie and stargazing at the Edgartown Lighthouse, they were together all the time, living with Noah’s dad and stepmom Tricia Bergeron.

In April 2015, as they were preparing for a trip to Disney World, Lauren’s childhood vacation favorite, Noah asked Lauren to marry him.

“I decided to pop the question the night before we got on the plane to Disney,” Noah said. “I had to do it when she was least expecting it.”

The couple’s Island relatives were pleased to hear the news. “Our parents were happy once they saw us together, and how much we love each other,” Noah said.

“My grandma was excited that I was finally with a ‘good Island boy,’” Lauren

Noah and Lauren enjoyed a trip to Disney World in April 2015 after getting engaged. Courtesy Lauren Townes.
Noah and Lauren enjoyed a trip to Disney World in April 2015 after getting engaged. Courtesy Lauren Townes.

said. Noah’s dad asked if she liked oysters: “When I said yes, I was in.”

“I am blessed. Not every mother is lucky enough to have her daughter find her true happiness, her ‘happily ever after,’” Lauren’s mother Sarah Townes wrote in an email.

“I knew after the first year of living together, I wanted to marry this girl,” Noah said. “She makes my life whole, something I never knew before in a relationship. She is my best friend. Our senses of humor match so well. We can both make each other laugh. I didn’t know how important that is to keep pressure off the relationship.”

For Lauren, being silly together is one of the best things about their relationship. “Noah is the first man I’ve ever dated that I truly feel like I am myself with. He helps me not take life too seriously, but also pushes me to better myself,” she said. “I knew I wanted to spend my life with Noah when I realized I didn’t have to always be ‘on’ around him. I can relax and be silly, I can be a moody and a mess. It does not matter. The look he gets in his eyes when I walk into the room tells me everything I need to know.”

Both bride and groom said the relationship could never have succeeded when they were younger, that they needed to grow as individuals to appreciate each other and become so well suited.

Settled in the ranch-style Edgartown home they purchased from Lauren’s mom, Noah and Lauren say they are destined to be Vineyard “lifers.” “There’s something about here,” Lauren said. Their love of the place they grew up, its traditions and strong, supportive community creates an important bond between them.

“Our families instilled in us similar values, a love of all things ocean and the importance of family and home,” Lauren said. “We are both proud to be Vineyarders and understand what that means. I can’t wait to start our family and keep those Island longstanding traditions alive.”

On their wedding day, those family ties were strong.

Lauren received a red beaded wedding shawl crocheted by her grandmother, Lynne Silva. “The shawl had over 2,000 beads hand-sewn into it. It was utterly breathtaking,” Lauren said. “It was made with the idea of passing it down to my daughters when they get married, which just makes it even more special.”

—David Welch
—David Welch

She also had a heart-shaped patch from her late grandfather George Silva’s favorite shirt sewn into her gown. “It was from the shirt,” she said. “The one that’s in all of the pictures, all of the memories I have of him. He was a woodworker, and when we took the front pocket off the shirt to make the patch, there was sawdust in the seams.”

Lauren also shared a special dance with grandfather Gene Townes.

About 90 percent of the guests were family members. Stepmother Tricia officiated the ceremony; Lauren’s father, Todd Silva, traveled from his home in Washington State; Noah’s mom Jessica Burnham attended, and so did throngs of other relatives.

“At the reception, my dad said, ‘Noah may not be Lauren’s knight in shining armor, but he’s my knight in shining armor,’” Lauren said. “The wedding was also our families accepting us as a couple. I’m a part of Noah’s family and he’s a part of mine.”

Adding a romantic postscript, Lauren’s maid of honor, Leandra, and Noah’s best man, Sean, announced their own engagement last year.

Along with vows they wrote themselves, and Scheffer oysters at the Chilmark Community Center reception, there were sparklers, and a moving group singing of “Silent Night.” Finally, a rope-tying ceremony created an unbreakable sailor’s knot to signify the importance of the ocean in their lives, and the solidity of their already well-established love, “There wasn’t a dry eye in the place,” Lauren said. Then they were off, not surprisingly, to an enchanted Disney World honeymoon.