Carly & Brian
How did the two of you meet?
Brian and I met at my house, right on my front porch. My family and I came back from our Lake House on Labor Day weekend in 2012. I was getting ready to go back to my apartment in White Plains, and was trying to pack to go back down there. Our Carbon Monoxide alarm had gone off when we first got in, and kept going off randomly. My dad insisted on calling 9-1-1 after we tried changing the batteries and it didn’t work. The dispatcher told us to wait outside in case we were actually getting poisoned, so we were sitting on my front porch (trying not to be too embarrassed) as two large fire trucks pulled down our dead end road! Once the firemen found that it was just an old faulty alarm, Brian asked his Chief to go outside and started chatting with my mom and me. From there its history!
What happened the day he proposed? How did he do it?
On the day Brian proposed, my mom told us we were going to all go out to dinner after I got out of work so I should be dressed and ready. (I had moved back home about 7 months after Brian and I started officially dating.) I showered and while I was getting ready, our smoke alarm went off. I thought nothing of it since this has happened to us before. After the alarm went off two other times, my dad yelled into my room that he’d have to call 9-1-1. I was even more embarrassed than the first time since I was dating a fireman! Looking back on it, I could see that everyone was acting funny, but at the time I didn’t think anything of it since I had such a normal day. We were all sitting there when we see a fire truck pull up. Brian had told me that he’d be at the Fire House responding to calls after work, so I knew he would be coming. But when I saw his two brothers and nephew who are also in the Fire Department, as well as the Fire Chief who was there the day we met hop out of the truck, I knew something was up! Once he got closer, I could see how nervous he was, which instantly made me nervous. He asked me if this scene looked familiar, and I just stared at him and nodded. He then got down on one knee and said he knew from the day he met me he wanted to be with me and asked, “Will you marry me?” I was in such shock that I jumped up and kept saying “oh my god!” Finally he put the ring in my face and said, “Look!!” Of course I said yes!
What were the main influences behind the style of your wedding, its location and your venue choice for your big day?
I have always loved the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown; ever since I was a little girl I told my parents I wanted to get married there! Brian and I had gone there for drinks for my birthday one year, and he loved it too. After we got engaged, we were talking about where to have the reception and Brian said that he loves the Otesaga. I was so happy he wanted to have our wedding there!
Not only is the Otesaga beautiful, but Cooperstown itself is a gorgeous location. We’re both outdoorsy people, and Cooperstown and the Otesaga both have the perfect blend of outdoors-iness and elegance that fit our personalities perfectly. Our décor had an outdoor/garden feel, which gave it an equal balance of masculinity and femininity. Our florist constructed light up branch archways in the foyer going into the Ballroom and Dessert Room. Our tables were covered in moss green crinkle tablecloths, with gold beaded charger plates, and centerpieces that had the same branch theme: a tall hurricane vase, branches spray painted gold, and hydrangea flowers, which matched the bridesmaid’s bouquets.
We lit candles in every single windowsill and on the tables, and included branches and candles on the mantle of the fireplace along with two topiaries in front of the fireplace. We found carved, wooden table numbers that spelled out the actual numbers as another added and different touch, and rented gold chiavari chairs to give it a true outdoor/garden feel.
The hotel is set on Otsego Lake, which we knew would offer amazing photos, and the town has so many fun elements we knew our guests would love. From the Baseball Hall of Fame to the Ommegang Brewery and the Farmer’s Museum, we knew everyone could have a fun day or weekend during our wedding.
On Friday before the wedding, we rented two party barge boats and toured the lake during the day. Our Rehearsal Dinner was only for those participating in the wedding, so we figured that would be a great way to still see people beforehand. Later that night, we also agreed to meet up with everyone after the Rehearsal Dinner for drinks at the Fire Bar at the hotel. It was a great way to visit with our friends and family, and relax a bit!
Since it’s a small town, the Cooperstown Trolley system is a huge mode of transportation. We were able to rent two for our guests to get to and from the Church, which gave it a great touch! We found a beautiful Church around the corner of the hotel, which topped everything off. The hotel set up lawn games during cocktail hour, and we had late night S’mores at the fire pit after the reception. Since the ballroom only held 180 people, we also hired babysitters to entertain all of the children in a Kid’s Room at the hotel for their own kid’s party. They had their own kid’s meals, toys, crafts, games, movies, and a Wii, so everything was covered.
As far as the Ceremony goes, we knew that we wanted a more of a modern touch during our Ceremony, so we found Brian Alexander, a great guitarist from Syracuse to play popular acoustic songs during our Ceremony and beforehand while guests were filtering in. Our good family friend, Christine Critelli is a local piano teacher, and also agreed to accompany Brian during the Ceremony. My dad is a huge Beatles fan, so as a surprise to him, he walked me down the aisle to “Here Comes the Sun,” and Brian and I exited the Church to “All You Need is Love.” Brian Alexander also played during our Cocktail Hour and was a huge hit! Over the winter, we also found Primetime Horns at Dinosaur’s BBQ, an amazing band from Syracuse, and we knew we had to have them play at our Reception! They were a HUGE crowd pleaser and got everyone on the dance floor, we were sooo sweaty once the Reception ended!
Sunday morning we held a huge Brunch on the veranda of the hotel for our family and for those who were staying at the Otesaga. It was a great way to spend some more time with everyone before we all parted ways. Not to mention, the Otesaga’s brunch is to die for!
How did you approach wedding planning? Did you use any computer systems, apps or social media?
My mom and I love planning parties, so this was our ultimate dream come true! Brian, my mom and I all went on Pinterest to look for décor, cake, and ceremony ideas. We pinned TONS of things, and then my mom and I began to narrow things down based off of what would work in the ballroom at the Otesaga and at the Church. The only other resource I used was TheKnot.com’s wedding planning checklist. THAT is a lifesaver!!! It keeps you on schedule and shows you what items you need to complete by exact dates. We all were so excited, that we had a ton of fun planning the wedding. We wanted to make sure each element had a personal touch to it. We figured lots of people can plan a nice wedding, but we wanted our guests to know that this was Carly and Brian’s wedding! Brian even found a cake toppers that you can completely customize. Ours was a fireman with Brian’s number and name on his uniform, and a blonde bride with an off-the-shoulder dress!
What made you decide to hire a videographer?
We knew we wanted a videographer right off the bat, there was no question about it! We knew we wanted someone professional, with a younger and fresh point of view to capture all of the special moments that you want to not only see in photos, but on screen as well. Our vows, introductions, first dance, and cake cutting are definitely something to watch over again! Weddings go by so fast, and you can’t rely on guests or yourselves to remember to take videos of everything. Plus, we saw Gavin’s work after being recommended to him by our photographer, Tom Sblendorio, and instantly fell in love with his style.
Did you have any surprises for each other, or for your guests on your wedding day?
I surprised my dad when he walked me down the aisle. He’s a huge Beatles fan, so I asked our Ceremony Guitarist and Pianist to play “Here Comes the Sun” as he walked me down the aisle. My parents are also celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in February of 2016. They eloped and never had a first dance; my father’s parents threw them a wedding after that, but they still never had a first dance since it was such a large wedding! So, Brian and I wanted to thank them for all of their support and help during our wedding planning. After our first dance and father/daughter, mother/son dances, we had the band read a little something off we wrote to them and gave them a first dance to the song they were supposed to dance to: “In My Life” by the Beatles!
What would your top tips be for somebody planning their wedding?
The key to not stressing before and during your wedding is to be organized, and keep everything in a binder organized in different sections. I knew that I had done everything I could to ensure that the day went smoothly, so I knew that if something went wrong, it was meant to happen. And guess what? Not one thing went wrong!
I also would recommend to get your wedding party together as much as you can! Not only does it keep everyone on the same page as to what’s going on, but having everyone get to know each other beforehand makes the wedding that much more fun. I’ve been to weddings before where the wedding party met each other that day, so Brian and I made it a point to get everyone together somewhat regularly so everyone would be comfortable. We had a blast every time we got together, and we’re trying to plan a “wedding reunion” soon!
Another key piece of advice is to book your vendors EARLY! We started planning right after we got engaged, which gave us 13 months to plan the wedding. Even though we had over a year, when we called the Otesaga that same weekend we got engaged, they only had two summer 2015 weekends available for our wedding! Our photographer and videographer were also booking up quickly for the next summer, but since we started early, we were able to get our first choices for everything. I’m sure that can also lead to stress, having to start back at square one to find vendors!
A great piece of information another Bride gave me was to have a point person on your wedding day, and that was my brother. He was in charge of giving everyone their final payments, and also had the list of photos we wanted to take (another great tip given to us by our photographer!) and phone numbers for the key players.
What were your favorite parts of your wedding day (or perhaps most memorable)?
Honestly, the entire day was my favorite part! Getting to be with our families and friends and just having fun was the best thing we could have asked for. Everyone had a great time, and not one person wanted that weekend to end. We’ve both agreed, if we could go back and do it all over again, we absolutely would!
Tell us about your suppliers, it’s great to be able to talk about what part they played in your big day, please feel free to add any additional suppliers to the ones listed below:
Wedding ceremony venue – St. Mary’s Church, Our Lady of the Lake in Cooperstown. We met with Father John Rosson and Maureen, the Church Secretary many times! It’s a great way to get to know them, but also for your priest to get to know you so he can add a personal element to your Ceremony if you’re having your wedding out of town.
Wedding reception venue/Wedding Planner – Gordon Clarkson was our Wedding Coordinator at the Otesaga and he was so great to work with! He made everything so much fun. The tasting was definitely our favorite part, and we’re going to miss working with him! The best part about the Otesaga is that they handle catering, cake baking, and setup of the whole reception.
Photographer – Tom Sblendorio of Tom Studios. He did our friend’s engagement photos and their wedding, and from the moment we saw their engagement photos, we knew we wanted to have him as our photographer! He actually recommended us to Gavin, so it was perfect!
Wedding dress – Lily Saratoga was where I got my dream dress and was actually the first and only shop I stepped into. I had no idea what style I wanted, I just knew I didn’t want a strapless dress since I wanted something different. We spent hours trying on dresses and I narrowed it down to about four different styles. They told me they would save those on file for when I came back. I knew that none of them were really it, but I was happy that we made some progress. As we were putting dresses away, we found one at the end of the pile that we all instantly knew was “the one,” and it was! I wore a custom, Modern Trousseau trumpet style dress with off the shoulder sleeves and a flower on the waistline. The fabric at the bottom of my dress was so beautiful, I did not want to take it off any time I put it on for fittings or on our wedding day. They even embroidered my maiden initials and wedding date in blue thread on the inside of my dress as my “something blue!” I was so sad to preserve it!!
Bride accessories & shoes – The only other accessory I wore was my mother’s veil and headpiece as my “something borrowed,” and my maternal grandmother’s embroidered handkerchief and one of her pins as my “something old” wrapped around my bouquet. When my mom took her veil and dress out of preservation, I fell in love with it. It was the absolute perfect fit for my dress. It had roses around a headband, with small pearls wrapped around it, and a birdcage/bow on the side. It was made for me and my dress. The only problem was that it was blush pink to match her dress. One day while I was at work, she took it to the dry cleaners to see if they could do anything, but unfortunately they said no. She said she knew she had nothing else to lose, so she stopped at JoAnn Fabrics, found color remover, and dyed the headpiece white! When I came home to find this gorgeous headpiece drying on a hanger, I had tears in my eyes! My grandmother used to stitch handkerchiefs, and I asked my uncle if he could go through her hope chest to see if there were any that were in good condition. He sent me a few, and believe it or not, there was a handkerchief with the letter M embroidered onto it in blue thread, surrounded by a circle of white flowers. We don’t have anyone in my mom’s family that has a name that begins with an M, so we took it as a sign that it was M for Mathias!
Bridesmaid dresses – One day, my mom and I spent the day in Syracuse at Bella Figura, where we got our stationery, and went to a ton of different shops to look for bridesmaids dresses. I figured it would be easiest for me to try on a bunch of different styles and shades of pink, and then narrow it down, since 2 of my bridesmaids live out of town. We searched tons of different stores, and couldn’t find the right shade of pink or a good style. I knew I wanted short dresses since it was a summer wedding and didn’t want anyone to roast, and I knew I didn’t want strapless. We finally found a brand, Alfred Angelo, which I loved. The fabric was beautiful, and the style and color choices were amazing. We found the brand at one bridal shop in Syracuse, but they only had long dresses, however the color was the exact one I wanted. So as we got in the car, I googled “Alfred Angelo,” and found that there was an Alfred Angelo shop right in Syracuse on Erie Boulevard! We stopped in and met with John, who was so nice and helpful. We narrowed the dresses down to 3 different styles, and I sent the girls pictures of them. They all loved the one shoulder dress, so I set up an appointment for all of us and my mom to go and get fitted to try them on. They looked so beautiful in the dresses! John helped us get sizes, we had champagne, and he let us all try on veils just for fun!
Bridesmaid shoes – My shoes were white, Enzo Angiolini shoes with an ankle strap that had rhinestones and pearls on them, that also tied in the back to make a bow. I knew I wanted something to coordinate with mine, so I found nude, ankle strap Steve Madden heels at Macy’s! I also wanted to stay away from metallic colors, since I figured nude shoes would be something they could all wear again. I even bought a pair for myself and wear them all the time!!
Groom’s attire & accessories & shoes – We had a bit of a tough time finding suits that fit everyone since sizes ranged greatly, but we finally found beautiful Jones New York summer suits in tan at Men’s Wearhouse in New Hartford. Brian had narrowed colors down to gray or tan, but we had gone to try on a few colors beforehand and he loved the tan, which I did too! We worked with James and he was so helpful. Since they had a sale going on, we got the guys outfitted from head to toe! They each got a pair of socks, shoes, the suit, a shirt, green paisley ties and cream colored pocket squares. It was such a relief to get everything done at once! The groom, groomsmen, and my father all had the same attire.
Hair – Angela Azzarito from Angela & Co. in the New Hartford Shopping Center is my hair dresser, so I naturally only wanted her to do my hair for the wedding! One of her employees, Ruth Vanderwood, also does airbrush makeup, so she did our makeup that day, and both hair and makeup lasted all day and night!
Stationery – I was researching places to get invitations in the area, and came across Bella Figura in Syracuse. I fell in love with the letterpress style that they do, and the fact that you can completely design and customize your invitation suite. My mom and I went in and met with Mariel Mirra and Kyle Laatsch, and instantly knew that this was the place to go! We were able to feel the paper weight, look at color and foil chips, and see samples in person, rather than going to one of the popular stationery sites online. I brought back a bunch of samples for Brian and I to look through, and we decided on one style with tawny matte foil letterpress, and a tawny matte foil paisley pattern throughout the suite, which matched the guy’s tie pattern, and suit color. The envelopes were lined in fuchsia, to match the girl’s dresses! I still go back to look at our invites, they are gorgeous! We loved working with them so much that we purchased our Engagement Party invitations, my Bridal Shower invitations and thank you cards, and entire invitation suite, including place cards from them.
We got our green Ceremony programs from The Gallery in Whitesboro, and they came out beautifully! I wanted to add something a little different to ours to have a personal touch, so I added what my something old, new, borrowed and blue at the bottom! They were able to customize fonts and styles, since I had seen a design I liked in an invitation. They took the design and made it into a long, vertical program for me.
Venue décor – Our décor had an outdoor/garden feel, which gave it an equal balance of masculinity and femininity. We also used both of our favorite colors: pink (mine) and green (Brian’s) in our color scheme in everything from the girl’s dresses, which were pink, to the guy’s ties, which were green, and the flowers. Our florist constructed light up branch archways in the doorways going into the Ballroom and Dessert Room. Our tables were covered in moss green crinkle tablecloths, with gold beaded charger plates, and centerpieces that had the same branch theme: a tall hurricane vase, branches spray painted gold, and hydrangea flowers, which matched the bridesmaid’s bouquets.
There was a foyer in between the ballroom and dessert room. So, we set up a large table with the same centerpiece (only larger since the table was huge,) lit candles in all the cut out archways on the walls, which really illuminated the light up branches. On the table, we set up all of the place cards which had custom calligraphy of each person’s name on each one!
We lit candles in every single windowsill and on the tables, and included branches and candles on the mantle of the fireplace. We found carved, wooden table numbers that spelled out the actual numbers as another added and different touch, and rented gold chiavari chairs to give it a true outdoor/garden feel.
We also wanted something simple for the Church, since the Church itself is beautiful inside. We wrapped the railings in white tulle, and had topiaries on the front steps going into the Church. We also had baby’s breath wreaths on the doors, and matching baby’s breath arrangements at the altar, along with two large, multi-colored flower arrangements inside the church to keep with the garden/outdoorsy feel!
Wedding favors – We’ve been to many weddings, and know that most of the time people either forget their party favors at the venue, or just never use them. We knew we didn’t want to waste products like that, so we decided to use the money we would have spent on purchasing favors and make a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Utica, NY. I was born prematurely before CMN came to the area. I had to spend the first 5 weeks in an incubator at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse, and then another 2 weeks at St. Luke’s before I could come home. My family and I have always been very involved in the Children’s Miracle Network in our area, because we know firsthand how it affects families and how important it is to have great, local healthcare, so making a donation to them just seemed right!
Wedding rings – My family has been going to Lennon’s W.B. Wilcox Jewelers in New Hartford for years, so it was only right that we get our (gorgeous) wedding bands from here! It’s also where Brian got my engagement ring. If you go, ask for Lou!
Transportation – We rented two Trolleys from the Cooperstown Trolley System to get guests back and forth from the Church to the Hotel. We also used Impressions Limo for the limo that the bridesmaids, my parents and I took to the Church! Brian and I rode the limo around town for photos to have a little alone time, while the rest of the bridal party rode in the trolleys.
Entertainment – Primetime Horns from Syracuse was our band. They play all sorts of modern music, as well as the classic party music. They were absolutely amazing, we can’t wait to see them play again! Brian Alexander was our Ceremony guitarist, and he also played during Cocktail Hour. He plays acoustically, and has an awesome set list that we both loved, like the Goo Goo Dolls, Jason Mraz, and The Beatles. Christine Critelli from Center Stage Pianos is a good family friend of ours, and she also played the piano during the Ceremony.
Florist – We’ve gone to Village Florals for years for all occasions, and knew that Cindy would do an amazing job, and she did! She constructed the branch archways, as well as our centerpieces, and took care of all of the flowers at the church. She even brought an extra boutonniere to the Church, which was a total lifesaver because we forgot my dad’s at the hotel!