Extravagant florals and antique touches completed this exotic celebration 18 years in the making.
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Stephen and Christopher
It was 1997, at a dance club in Florida, and Christopher was leaving when Stephen was walking in. Numbers were exchanged, and a serious relationship soon developed. Then, in 2013, Stephen was away visiting family in Canada for an extended period of time. When he finally returned to Rainbow Lake, New York, he wanted to surprise his boyfriend, Christopher, at their friends Jeff and Carole's home—Northbrook Lodge—during a dinner with pals. The pair helped sneak Stephen in since Christopher didn't think he'd be home yet, and he waited behind the bar until guests were arriving. When Christopher finally walked by, Stephen said, "Surprise!" and jumped out to hug him.
But Stephen was in for a surprise himself. Once everyone had moved to a spot overlooking the pond and were nibbling on hors d'oeuvres, Christopher welcomed Stephen home with a toast that ended with him on one knee. Though unexpected after 16 years together, Stephen's answer was a resounding "yes," and much celebration followed.
Two years later, on August 15, 2015, Stephen and Christopher were married in front of the glistening blue pond in that very same spot surrounded by 155 friends and family members. Co-owners of Antediluvian Antiques & Curiosities, a shop in Lake Placid, New York, the couple hosted a Moroccan-themed fête in the Adirondack Mountains where they had made a home together. It was filled with colorful tents, exotic foods, vivid florals, and (of course) some well-curated antiques.
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Created by the couple's friend Nadine of BlueDogz Design, the custom design on the save-the-dates featured two tuxedo-clad stags in the mountains. The invitation suite was designed by Gail Brill to set the mood for the couple's formal fête. "The black folder that the invitation was adhered to suggested the elegant, outdoor affair that was to come, and the hand-drawn map to the location in the Adirondacks added some rustic flare," says Gail. Black envelopes were addressed in white calligraphy and sealed with a gold wax seal sporting the pair's initials.
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The wedding was held at Northbrook Lodge, a private Adirondack-style estate located on Osgood Pond. Since Stephen and Christopher have been helping decorate the private home for the past four years, the owners (and the grooms' good friends) insisted that they host the wedding there. With two authentic Moroccan tents on the property, the theme hatched and exotic touches were then peppered in throughout the fête.
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Considering there was no bride at their wedding, Stephen and Christopher decided they both should wear white on their big day. Inspired by Humphrey Bogart's style in Casablanca, the grooms wore white J.Crew dinner jackets, black J.Crew tuxedo pants, Thomas Pink shirts, and The Tie Bar bow ties. Boutonnieres made of red cockscomb, nigella pod, and seeded eucalyptus gave their lapels a bit of color.
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Wearing all black, the wedding party consisted of Stephen's two nieces and nephew, Christopher's brother, four of Stephen's girlfriends that performed with him during his years as a professional dancer, and four additional close friends of the couple's.
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The ladies carried vividly-colored bouquets of gerber daisies, gladiola, amaranthus, dahlias, and freesias created by Melody Horn of Mad Crazy Flowers, who grew all of the flowers locally for the event.
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The programs featured the couple's signature wedding design: two stags dressed in tuxedos in the mountains. In addition to the program cover and save-the-dates, the wedding design was also used on the welcome bags and the labels of custom-poured candle favors.
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The pair's spiritual ceremony took place on the edge of the pond, under an arbor of zinnias, amaranthus, Asiatic lilies, and other bold blooms just as the cloudy sky cleared up and sunshine poured down. A young man the couple has been mentoring since he was 18 read the final paragraph of the Supreme Court's statement on the case of "Obergefell v. Hodges" that legalized gay marriage. Next, Stephen's friend Stephanie read Ruth 1:16, Corinthians 13:13, and Roy Croft's poem "Love." Lastly, the couple's friend Andrew read "Miracle" by Bill Wright.
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The newlyweds recessed to Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" as an ode to Stephen's time performing as Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
"I looked at my dad and he looked so happy and proud," says Christopher. "I thought, 'How amazing that we live in an era where I could get married to Stephen and he would not only happily accept it, but give his blessing and be there to walk me down the aisle?'"
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A Little Alone Time
After the ceremony, the newlyweds took some time to be alone with each other before greeting guests. "We left, just us two together, and sat on the balcony with a tray of snacks that the wedding planner had arranged for us. It was a great moment just for ourselves," says Stephen.
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Cocktail hour was held in the space between two buildings, nicknamed "The Breezeway." New York City classical musician Jeffrey Solow played pieces from Bach's Cello Suites and violinist Andrew Knebel joined for various duets.
The bar was inside the smaller of the authentic Moroccan tents, which was white with a black pattern on the outside and stripes of dark red, green, and gold on the inside. Private Chef Kevin McCarthy created an hors d'oeuvres menu with foods like sweet Andouille and onion tartlets; garden crudités with cumin spice chickpea purée; and cured salmon with cucumber and mint.
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The Wedding Flag
Three black-and-white wedding flags with the pair's initials and wedding date could be found throughout the property. Guests could take pictures with this one at the ceremony site, which was one of Stephen's favorite parts of the wedding.
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Patterned star lanterns and grapevine chandeliers hung from the ceiling of the white reception tent, while tables overflowed with garlands of eucalyptus and amaranthus.
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The couple sat in antique, inlaid, high-set Moroccan chairs at the head table, allowing them to see everyone in the room. Since the grooms are antique dealers, they were able to bring the chairs in from their own personal inventory.
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Moroccan lanterns and vases of zinnias, scabiosa, celosia, and Asiatic lilies topped the tables.
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The Place Settings
Covered in antique gold pin-tuck cloths, the tables featured pops of fuchsia in the runners and napkins. Gold flatware added a metallic accent, while glassware was kept simple. Menus were calligraphed with each guest's name by Gail Brill in fuchsia ink to keep with the exotic theme.
Dinner included a Moroccan feast of summer tomatoes with grilled walla walla onions and basil; chicken Marbella with toasted couscous and charred zucchini; and whole roasted leg of lamb with quinoa, tabbouleh, eggplant, and tzatziki.
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Gold Moravian stars of all sizes hung above the head table to bring life to the white tent ceiling.
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Three wrought-iron chandeliers hung from grapevine wreath chandeliers draped with amaranthus and holding votive candles. When deciding how to decorate the bowls within the chandeliers, a groomsman suggested goldfish rather than flowers or candles. The couple loved the idea, and added two live goldfish to each bowl, which they later kept as pets post-wedding.
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Simply Gourmet created tiers that alternated between a pink lemonade cake with a Meyer lemon curd filling and cream cheese frosting (Stephen's favorite) and spiced carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (Christopher's favorite). The bobblehead figurines of the grooms on top were a wedding gift that the couple decided to showcase last minute.
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Photography, Brian Hatton Photography
Event planning, Juniper Events & Design
Flowers, Mad Crazy Flowers
Videography, NewYork Filmworks
Stationery, BlueDogz Design; Paper Presentation
Calligraphy, Gail Brill Design
Wax seals, waxseals.com
Cake, Simply Gourmet
Music, Jeffrey Solow (cocktail hour cellist); Tim Martell (reception DJ)
Rentals and lighting, Taylor Rental
Grooms' hair, Dlala NYC
Groomsmaids' hair, River Rock Salon
Groomsmaids' lipstick, Guerlain
Grooms' suits, J.Crew
Grooms' accessories, The Tie Bar (bow ties); Thomas Pink (shirts, cummberbund); The Missing Link (cuff links); To Boot New York (shoes)
Wedding bands, David Yurman
Transportation, Polar Express Transportation Services
Photobooth, Saratoga Photobooth Company