The Couple That Water Skis Together, Stays Together
June 12, 2017
Tri State
DIY InspiredLakesideSummer Weddings
This couple met when they were just 13 years old, water skiing at their family's summer homes on Lake George. Fast forward several years later, when they went waterskiing together on the morning of their wedding and took their "getaway" photos in the very same boat they skied behind when they were teens. This Bride and Groom's wedding is as cute as their love story, so dig right in to the beautiful photos by Sweetwater Portraits.
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From the Groom... Our parents have summer houses down the street from one another on Lake George in the Adirondacks of New York, which lead to us meeting through a mutual friend when we were only 13 years old. We became fast friends, water-skiing and having all sorts of summer fun through the years. We were always smitten with one another (and may have even kissed on a wave runner in the middle of the lake when we were 15), but we lived 9 months out of the year in different parts of the State – I was in Albany and Janine on Long Island. As we went off to college, we drifted apart until we reconnected as adults in 2008. We began dating in the summer of 2010.

We dated for 5 years before the proposal. The first 2 years we lived apart from one another, with Janine working in NYC and me working in Albany. We then moved to Boston together in 2012. The proposal happened by the reflecting pool in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. It was a complete surprise to Janine. I had orchestrated a nice dinner out and suggested we stroll beforehand by the reflecting pool. As we approached the fountain that adorns the east side of the pool’s plaza, I began reminiscing with Janine on all that had transpired for us over the years. I pulled out the first letter I had ever written Janine, reading it in its entirety before connecting the dots to our shared future ahead: “with eternity left, we haven’t a moment to spare.” I then got down on one knee. Janine exclaimed, “Is this really happening?!?” and the rest is history!

From the Bride... For the wedding, we did it all “ourselves” – no consultants or wedding planner, but we had a lot of help from family, friends, and vendors along the way. It was important to us to have our wedding be a unique expression of our relationship and our shared vision for what that special day should entail. We spent the better part of a year slowly developing ideas and executing some of our handcrafted projects. It was less arduous planning and more shared experience. The day of can itself be so fleeting that we were mindful to savor all the moments leading up to the big day. We were so pleased with each and every one of our vendors: our photographer Sweetwater Portraits, our cinematographer 21 Summit Studios, our caterer Mazzone Catering, our Tent and Logistics vendor Rain or Shine, and our band The New York Players. The trick is to sample their work, speak with them before committing, and get feedback from past clients. We went the extra mile up front to choose the right people so we could focus our attention elsewhere and not worry about that particular piece anymore. That ultimately meant more time for us to spend crafting the unique elements of our event and purely enjoying the moment on the wedding day.

I have a small business, Paper Planes Studio, designing and printing paper goods for special events, so I designed all the stationery. Having designed invitations, thank you cards, and day of paper goods for so many others, I had a blast designing my own and made sure they all reflected the unique aesthetic of our event by incorporating hand-penned gold script, crisp elegance, and a warm blush palette with some campy iconography.

After looking at a number of venues, we chose to get married at Chris’s family house on Lake George where it all began for us 20 years prior. It required some family and friends to travel in order to attend, but we made an entire weekend celebration out of it. We rented out an Adirondack cabin resort next to the house so people were a short trail walk away for festivities that extended from Friday night through Sunday afternoon.

I ended up buying something completely different from what I had in mind. I went dress shopping in October, put on a dress that was part of a trunk show, and fell in love. It was an ivory, stretch charmeuse, fit-to-flare gown with sheer corset detailing and hand beaded appliqué. It was so different yet so comfortable. I ended up wearing a veil for the ceremony that matched the sheer corset of the dress. I wore my grandmothers bracelet, a pair of diamond drop earrings, and gold wedges that had nice details to relate to the dress.

I had seven Bridesmaids, and I wanted them to be comfortable the day of, so I left them pick the cut they liked from a designer that had over 20 styles to choose from. They all wore the same color (light mint), and each dress was made from chiffon and looked light, airy, garden and party-esque. 

There were four Groomsmen. They wore black tuxedos with braces, bow ties, and mint argyle socks. Chris wore black tuxedo pants, a white tailored dinner jacket with gold paisley braces, and a bowtie. He wore the same mint argyle socks as the Groomsmen and accessorized with gold cuff links from his deceased father to bring his spirit into the day. We all got ready on site the day of, but we brought out Chris’s late father’s British racing green 1952 Jaguar XK for pictures and some weekend fun.

We decided to do the ceremony right on the lawn between a large tree and a landscaped gazebo area on the property. The lawn slopes away to the water right behind where we were standing, so the backdrop was an unobstructed panoramic view of beautiful Lake George and the surrounding mountains that come to the water’s edge. The ceremony was designed to enhance and draw attention to the natural splendor that was already there, so we used natural wood folding chairs in a semi-circle setup with a few tasteful flower displays at the start of the aisle. We used dahlias, garden roses, garden spray roses, ranunculus, dusty miller, and seeded eucalyptus, which were placed atop sanded wooden stumps that we harvested from the woods of the property.

We had four long rows of farm tables that extended from the dance floor towards the water for the reception. To keep with our idea of accentuating the natural beauty vs. creating beauty from scratch, we kept the table decorations to carefully chosen essentials. We had custom sewn mint and gold polka dot napkins (thanks, Aunt Sue!), gold chargers, and hand-painted pots that housed a variety of succulents. The succulents provided some life to the tables, served as a place card, and then were taken home as favors at the end of the night. 

Cocktail hour included some special appetizer stations on the deck with special seating areas and access to the bar spilling onto the lawn. It was important to us that the entirety of the property be experienced by guests, from the lake wall to the gazebo, to the small beach, to the dock, to the fire pit, etc. As such, we wanted to create a very comfortable, accessible feel to the event that did not corral people to one specific place. The special cocktail, coined the “Summer Love Smash,” contained bourbon, muddled peach, mint, ginger, simple syrup, and ginger ale - YUM! It was a winner.

The most important decision we made regarding the menu was to serve mains family style on our long wooden farm tables. It created a shared experience for everyone there. We had to work with the caterer on selection and the details of timing so it would come together just right, but it was worth it. It was such a treat to have all of our cherished people there, overhearing things like, “Can you pass the ratatouille?” We made sure to create a mindful moment by giving a short speech prior to service as an intro to breaking bread together.

We wanted to hang out with everyone post reception by the fire and under the stars. We built a large bonfire, set up a late night photo booth, cracked open some bottles of champagne, and had a blast. We did sneak off during the reception to take "getaway" photos in my waterski boat (which is the same boat we skied behind when we were 13).

A few other special details: We built and painted a custom photo booth backdrop that was inspired by Wes Anderson’s quirky, campy design. We accumulated decorations and props from garage sales and antique stores leading up to the wedding. We built a large “LOVE” marquee out of stained, cut plywood and metal flashing that served, along with some string lighting, as a marvelous photo backdrop for all the couples that night. My parents were undergoing a kitchen remodel on their cabin the year before the wedding, so we saved some old cabinet doors, window panes, etc. and leveraged them as day-of signs and a table seating key. We acquired some wood pieces used in animal hide tanning, affixed them to a downed tree branch, hand-painted directional elements onto them and used it as a signpost for guests directing to activities such as “Ceremony" and “Dinner and Dancing”. We also stripped and sanded down tree stumps from the woods to serve as additional seats around the fire pit during cocktail hour and the after party.

Our desire was to blend the best of a rustic Adirondack aesthetic with a glamorous 20s-esque vibe. One of our good friends coined the phrase “the Gatsbys go camping,” and we think that about sums it up! 

Our advice to other Brides and Grooms is to manage your time, your budget, and your friends/family throughout the process. It’s important that you make this special day your own, so sit down with your partner to do a little dreaming together. Then figure out how to make it happen. A lot of couples get lost along the way because they don’t have a strategy for keeping each one of these pieces under control.