I always thought the hype around a wedding day was overplayed. So did Jon. Man were we wrong.
When we set out on our wedding planning journey, we knew that we wanted to do something different. We desperately didn’t want to get married in a banquet hall, and longed for an experience with our guests that lasted longer than 6 hours. Our goal was to create a summer camp vibe for everyone that lasted all weekend. I’d like to think we were pretty successful!
For our venue we chose Long Lake, NY- right in the heart of the Adirondacks, it’s a place where Jon and I spend a lot of time all year round. His family has a house there, and we are lucky enough to come and go as we please. As you enter the park, you can feel your blood pressure drop. Theres really nothing like it. The clean air, the mountain views, the pristine water of the lakes, just beautiful. Long Lake is about a 4.5 hour drive from Buffalo, so we knew we had to make it a weekend event for it to be worth it to our guests the travel that far.
Our venue was at a public pavilion, on top of a hill overlooking Long Lake. The venue itself was free, (SCORE!) but needed a lot of work to bring it to my standards. I knew I wasn’t going to be a bridezilla, but there were times where it peaked through because coordinating a wedding is stressful AF. We chose the last weekend in July to celebrate. Two days before the wedding it rained like I had never seen before, and I was worried all week as there was a forecast for rain - but luckily for the weekend the sun was shining and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Some sort of higher power above arranged that for us and we are grateful.
The prep that goes into a wedding is maddening. My mom helped a TON with all the decorations, thoughtful things for our guests like making huge food baskets for everyone at the hotel?! Blankets, bubbles, bathroom baskets, smores station, signs, pie stands, you name it and my mom thought of it! So really, when I say wedding planning is stressful it may have been in combination with opening a new business and making approximately two thousand decisions a day, LOL. In the end, the party was worth all the preparation.
Truthfully, the one piece of advice that we listened to from everyone was to not spend a lot of money. We stuck to that and made sure when we were making decisions that we took into consideration what would really matter for the weekend. We knew the most important things were food, beer, and ambiance, so thats where we focused our time and money.
Our guests arrived on Friday through out the day. We rented out three cabins next to Jon’s house on the lake and all of our friends stayed there. It was great to be able to walk from house to house, barefoot, with beer in hand and see all of our closest friends. That was one of my favorite parts.
Jon’s parents threw our rehearsal dinner with our bridal party and close family - picnic style. Paninis, salad, coleslaw, potato salad, just straight up good camp food! It was delicious and prepped us to party for the night ahead.
On Friday night we met everyone at the hotel where the majority of our guests were staying. There is a huge porch that overlooks Long Lake, and we jammed about 100 people onto it. The place was alive and rockin’! It was great to be able to see everyone the night before and took the pressure off to mingle on our wedding day.
On Saturday morning, we spent a few hours at the venue getting ready for the party! We had a crew of family and friends about 20 people strong who helped us prep everything. This was such a huge help and we wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. From moving all the picnic tables, hanging the globes, stringing the lights, setting the chairs and tables, the bar, the food tables - there was a lot to do! We are so thankful that everyone pitched in and did a fantastic job.
For the set up, I had always pictured how the pavilion would look at sunset and at night. We didn’t want to use the overhead fluorescent lights that the pavilion, so we strung lights from one end to the other to make it glow. The lights mixed in with all the paper lanterns we hung really gave it a beautiful ambience.
For the flowers, my mom and I went shopping in early June and bought a ton of potted plants. She replanted them and kept them alive until the event, and thats what we used to fill the canoe for the backdrop of our ceremony. The canoe, visually, was my favorite thing at the wedding. It came out even better than I had imagined and framed us perfectly as we said our vows. The only flowers that we had professionally done were the flower crowns, bouquets, and boutonnieres. My mother in law bought wholesale flowers and spent the morning in town with a florist putting them together. They came out GREAT! For the centerpieces we chose to do ferns, which we picked on their property and stapled them to the table. It was super windy up there during the day, so I was afraid if I just left them they’d all blown away. Come time for the reception some of them were crinkly - but whatever, it was perfect to me!
The last thing I did was set the tables and the greenery and then I was off to get ready!
My bridal party and I got ready at a beautiful camp right next to Jon’s house, and the boys got ready a few doors down. It was super informal, and we played music and drank mimosas and did each others hair and makeup. If you know me, I am not glitzy and glam so I didn’t want to do full blown hair and makeup on my wedding day because thats just not who I am.
Jon and I knew that we wanted to read our vows to each other prior to reading to them at the ceremony. We chose the end of his dock to do so, after a game of rock, paper, scissors for who went first. I’m glad we did this first, because we couldn’t get through them without sobbing and it was one of the most special moments to me to have that to ourselves. After the sob fest, we took some pictures by ourself and with our wedding party and got ready to head to the venue.
We reserved the drunk bus in town to take our guests to and from where they were staying. No drinking and driving, ever! Jon and I stayed behind with Milo and made our way to the venue with Jon’s dad.
When we arrived the venue, I was so excited to see all of our friends and family sitting there waiting for us. It was really perfect.
Our vows covered a recap of what we’ve learned from each other, the experiences we cherished through out our relationship, and our promises to each other. When I say everyone was crying, there was not a dry eye in sight. At one point we looked over at everyone sitting and had to chuckle at how hard everyone was crying. We took it as a compliment.
After our vows, it was time to party! We had Dino BBQ roast a whole pig. Milo followed me the entire day until the pig was served, then he sat under it the entire time LOL! We had local beers from the Adirondack region, and wine for our guests. By the end of the night, we kicked all the kegs and the wine, and even went through all the bottles of liquor my father-in-law snuck in LOL it was quite the party!
Dancing the night away with all of our friends and family was my favorite part. Jon and I created the playlist over the past 6 months, and let it play through to the very end. I loved this way of doing it because we were in total control of what was playing, and we are not into the typical wedding playlists (sorry… no black eyed peas lol).
(warning, we like to party shown in the pictures below)
The end of the night ended with a gathering at the hotel with everyone who wanted to keep partying! I have to admit this part is a little foggy for me, but hey! I know it was a good time!
Overall, we walked away feeling so much love, so grateful, and appreciative. People always say that it’s the best day of your life, and I don’t think that we believed that until we were in it. I couldn’t imagine it going any better. The only thing that makes me upset is that we only got to do it once. However, we are thinking that a renewal of our vows is due every year on the same weekend so we always have an excuse to party.