Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Once Upon A Time...A Fairy Tale Wedding come true!

This is a story of a beautiful bride and a handsome groom and how they single (or double) handedly assembled about 90 - 100 of their closest friends and family at a faraway destination to celebrate the happiest day of their life with them.   Amazingly, with all of the logistics of a true destination wedding - boats, islands, castle, guests and wedding party members coming from distant places.....it was FLAWLESS!

The story unfolds on the shores of Alexandria Bay, New York.  The characters have all assembled, the gowns and other apparel have been tried on and altered to fit, and the weather gods have come through on the request for a beautiful weekend!

But before we begin, let me tell all who read, that this story is being told through the eyes of a guest, and mother of the two Junior Bridesmaids.

The Rahn family loves to go on adventures and we were thrilled when Dave and Jen asked Carleigh and Katie to be part of the wedding - almost 17 months ago.  For a very LONG 17 months, the two girls (at the time were 6 and brand new 9) have been dreaming about the "wedding in a castle."  The pretty dresses, the fancy boats, the hotel, the river....and they were actually going to be IN a wedding!  Try explaining to two young girls that you can't go dress shopping yet because you will grow A LOT in the next 17 months!   Well, they turned 8 and 10, we tried on and picked out dresses, we had breakfast with the bride and the big day had FINALLY arrived!

It all starts in Virginia...Friday morning came, the red gowns and golden slippers were packed.  Anything else could be replaced if forgotten. Don and Laura had written sub plans (as they are both teachers), the minivan was packed, Patty had arrived to be part of this exciting road trip and at 6:00 a.m. the Rahnmobile started up Interstate 81 bound for Alex Bay - to arrive hopefully 8-9 hours later.  And that we did!!

I grew up a military brat, but Northern New York (Watertown to be exact) was my home away from home.  My grandparents lived there, as did my aunt and uncle Pam and Dave, and two cousins Chris and Dave (the groom). I LOVED visiting that area, and I have many happy childhood memories of going out in my grandfather's boat on the St. Lawrence River in Alex Bay with extended family.  So when I saw this sign, I almost cried....so excited for my girls, but also so excited for me!!

 The area is known as the 1000 Islands, but Don did his research (yay for free WiFi in the hotel) and there are actually 1,800 islands on the St. Lawrence.

We drove straight to Riveredge Resort Hotel.  This was where the reception would be held, as well as the hotel for all of the guests.  It was a great hotel, and was right on the St. Lawrence River, across from Boldt Castle (another river icon that I grew up admiring, but never got to go into).  The Wedding Ceremony would be held at Singer Castle - another castle on the St. Lawrence River, located on Dark Island, further down the river from the hotel.

I knew there would be limited sightseeing time, so I had already planned that we would arrive early enough that the girls and I could wander through Alex Bay for a while before having to get cleaned and ready for the rehearsal dinner.  After a quick check in, we were off!  Don stayed back to relax and Patty went straight to her room to regroup before her busy weekend also.  She would be in charge of all hair and makeup for the entire bridal party.

We found my mom (who had arrived with dad the day before) and we headed to the "tacky tourist" area with the souvenir shops and fun stuff.

We saw this sign on the side of one of the buildings and the girls were very excited!
And that is 9 miles by boat.....tomorrow afternoon....can't wait!!

We then wandered towards the water again, and realized that we could see the hotel from where we were.
Behind the girls is Riveredge Resort Hotel where we stayed.  They are armed with their purchases...t shirts, bookmarks and magnets.  Now back to begin getting ready for the Rehearsal dinner.

The dinner was being held at "Foxy's," a restaurant about 10 minutes away.  It was beautiful. Right on the water, a very casual and fun place.

The girls wanted to dress up, so we did!
Some pics at the hotel before we left:

We headed over to the restaurant with Patty, and one of the first people we saw was my long lost cousin, Chris (brother of the groom, and best man).  He has transplanted to Oregon and the last time I saw him was when Carleigh was about 1.  He had never met Katie before.  He's a great guy!
 We had a lot of fun at the outdoor cocktail hour and then inside for the dinner.  There was no official rehearsal, because the weren't able to get to the castle until the day of the ceremony.  So, just the dinner.  We laughed a lot and had a great time!!

While there, we witnessed a spectacular sunset on the St. Lawrence and of course Don excused himself from the table to go capture the beauty on film.

Dinner was fun and we returned to the hotel.  Jen and Dave were meeting anyone in the lounge in the lobby for more fun, but we bypassed that and headed up to the room. Tomorrow would be a big day!!

Saturday.....WEDDING DAY!!

We woke early, headed to breakfast downstairs and were to meet Patty to go to find Jen and begin the hair and makeup extravaganza.  What a fun and girly almost 5 hours we had.  We landed in Jen's mom's room and Patty plugged in, unpacked and began - 7 heads in under 5 hours....she's a miracle worker!!

Carleigh was first.....

Then Katie.....

After they were done, we stayed and had a great time getting to know Jen's sister "big" Katie and also her mom, Susan.  The other two bridesmaids, Kristy and Sotheany, also hung out and it was fun.

While we were having our girly time, Don had his own adventure.  He went out on the river with my mom, dad and my uncle Dave.  One of Dave's friends had their boat in Alex Bay for the weekend, so they toured around for about an hour and found the island that mom and Dave grew up spending their summers on.  They convinced the current owner to let them dock and look around a bit.

Everyone had their own adventures on Saturday morning!

The girls ordered in lunch and at 12:30 I took the girls down to finish the princess attire and finally put on the red dresses FOR REAL! Jen had given them beautiful earrings and necklaces to wear with the dresses - they looked beautiful!

It was now time for me to say goodbye to the girls and head out.  I delivered them back up to Jen's room and actually felt confident that they would be fine.  If you had asked me the day before, I don't know if Katie would have stayed.  She thoroughly enjoyed getting to know "big" Katie (Jen's sister and maid of honor) and the other two girls  were also wonderful.  So between the ladies and my cousin, Chris...I knew my girls would be fine! Here are all of the ladies right before I left, yep...I think Carleigh and "little" Katie will be just fine! :)

I quickly checked my appearance, collected Don and Patty and headed down to the dock.  The guests were leaving at 1:15 on a chartered river boat to take the one hour cruise to Dark Island and Singer Castle.  The wedding party would leave shortly after us and would travel in a smaller, antique boat.  It was also a faster boat, and they would arrive at the island well before us.

Here are the two boats waiting to be boarded:
The white two level boat was what the guests traveled on and the smaller, brown boat in the front was for the wedding party.

Here's a closeup of the small boat with the "guys" waiting for the ladies:

The one hour cruise was a lot of fun. We found more extened family as we discovered that my mom's cousin Sandy and his wife Nancy were also guests at the wedding.  I also grew up playing with Sandy and Nancy's kids (my 2nd cousins, I guess?)  whenever we visited NY.  So much fun!
 My aunt and uncle, Pam and Dave - parents of the groom

My mom and dad!
Don and his sense of humor with Patty and dad.
Sandy and Nancy in front visiting with all of us.

We knew at some point, that the smaller boat would overtake us....I kept looking...a little nervous about my girls being on that boat without me (just being an overprotective "mama bear."), and then it appeared.....

Dave, the groom standing
Ok, so I guess I have nothing to worry about!!!  They are so grown up!!
And there's Jen and "big" Katie, her sister and maid of honor.

And just like that they zoomed past us and headed towards the island!
Who needs a limo, when you've got an antique speed boat! Wow!!!!!

Soon the castle and island was within sight...

We arrived as the wedding party was finishing up some pictures down by the dock area and were heading to the Rose Garden to take a few more pictures before the ceremony.  Most of the pictures were taken before the ceremony, as the wedding party would be coming back on the boat with us, and Jen and Dave would have the antique boat to themselves after a few more pics of them inside the castle.

Part of the festivities included a tour of the castle for the guests before the ceremony started.  So off they went to tour this great place.  Patty and I headed up to find the girls.  Patty to make sure they didn't need any final hair or makeup adjustments and me...to make sure my girls were "pottied" and ready before the ceremony started.

Here are some shots from inside the castle.  Don took the tour and snapped a few photos while on the tour:

Here are some shots of the "before" in the Rose Garden.

It was a beautiful day...Jen and Dave definitely worked some kind of magic for September in Northern New York.  Except for the fact that when the sun went behind the clouds it was a bit breezy and chilly.  Patty and I tried to remedy that problem a bit by heading down to the Castle Gift Shop by the dock and getting hot chocolate for all of the ladies.
Then the guests started arriving in the Rose Garden from the tour, and the Bride and the rest of the wedding party went into hiding.  There was a neat "Ice House" which had been converted into a single bedroom and had a bathroom very close to the Rose Garden.  That was the holding area for the bridal party.
The ceremony began with the seating of the grandmothers and the parents.

Here are the parents of the groom, my Aunt and Uncle:
 Then came Katie...

Then Carleigh....

The bridesmaids were next, escorted by the groomsmen and then Best Man (my cousin Chris) and Maid of Honor (sister of the bride, "Big" Katie):

The ceremony was short and beautiful.  It was perfect.  A Princess and her court, A  Prince Charming and his court...in the Rose Garden of Singer Castle on the shores of the St. Lawrence River.

We snapped a few more pics as we made our way back to the boat and the reception...
 Here are the original "4 Wests" before half of them became Bernardo and Rahn.

After the ceremony, the guests and the wedding party made our way to our River Boat and headed back to Riveredge Resort for the Reception.  The boat ride back was great because it was the cocktail hour and the had an open bar and all sorts of h'orsdeuvres.  We all had a great time sitting, visiting and again enjoying the beautiful scenery of the river.  We actually traveled through Canadian water on the way back, so we could say we went to Canada this weekend also.
Eventually the little boat did overpower us again, and the new Mr. and Mrs. Knowlton were beaming and waving as they beat us back to the reception.

The reception was a great time!!  Lots of really good food and lots of crazy dancing and visiting with friends (old and new) and family.

Here are a collection of shots taken on the dance floor through the evening.....

It was a wonderful time, but the girls were finally fading by early evening, so we made our exit and put our little princesses to bed.  I think they were asleep before their heads hit the pillow (That is after removing the 20-30 bobby pins in each head of hair).   We were leaving the next morning before 7:00 a.m. to make the long trek back to Virginia.

The next morning, we woke early and left on time with Patty, the girls and Don and I ready to hit the road.  We made a slight detour and took a few minutes to drive past my grandparent's old house in Watertown.  This is the house that I visited many summers and spent many Christmases at as I was growing up.  Carleigh was able to visit this house before my grandmother passed away, but Katie never made it there and had heard about it so much, that she desparately wanted to see it with her own eyes.  I wasn't going to complain, I was VERY happy to do a quick drive by!!

The front of the house - Patty and I had fun remembering what was on the other side of each window!
The sunken garden and gazebo that Patty and I played in all the time in the summer.
 And...the front porch where "Didi," my grandmother would be sitting waiting for us to arrive when we visited!

After about 8 1/2 hours driving, we made it home!  

So there you have it, another Rahn adventure.  It was a great time and I am now looking forward to trying to find "normal" and "routine" and maybe even some sleep! School has started and now we can try to get settled into our school year pattern.  The girl's activities have started and we are now looking to weekends to complete all the things that we can't do during the week anymore.

But don't worry! :)  Planning is in full force for our summer adventures.  The airline tickets have been purchased for Alaska, and plans are being made for Disney World in June.  We actually may have even convinced my cousin Chris, who lives in Oregon, to come to Vancouver to visit us before our cruise!!

I am hoping to maybe plan a getaway before Thanksgiving to the Gaylord National Resort near D.C. to see Ice, and maybe eat breakfast with "The Grinch!"  

Yep....Seldom A Dull Moment!!!