A former punter for the Cleveland Browns, lawyer for the Attorney General of Virginia, pro lacrosse player for the NY Lizards, media exec for the NBA, and other brides and grooms share why they chose Saratoga Springs for their weddings.
Compiled by ALICIA BRYAN and MARIA MCBRIDE BUCCIFERRO
Photographs by TRACEY BUYCE, J.P. ELARIO, NIKI ROSSI
Four brides and four grooms, and four engaged couples—who grew up near Saratoga, went to school here or visited and wanted to return—tell their stories and share their photos with Saratoga Living. Here are the highlights of their big day, and how they popped the question.
LAUREN CAMPBELL & KEVIN O’DONNELL
An Elegant Saratoga Wedding on the Opening Weekend of Racing
Occupations: Attorneys. Lauren, criminal appellate law for the Office of the Attorney General in Virginia; Kevin, local government law and estate planning for a firm in Petersburg, Virginia
Residence: Richmond, Virginia | Engagement: April 18, 2015 | Wedding: July 23, 2016
How You Met: University of Richmond Law School
Proposal: “Kevin proposed at home after I returned from running errands… He had placed a trail of rose petals from the front door, and my ring was tied to our dog, Sophie, with a bow.”
Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties: “Kevin did a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, with his friends; I did a weekend in Richmond, Virginia, with my girls the same weekend I did a shower.”
Vision for Wedding: “We wanted to throw a really fun party and celebration the whole weekend. I grew up just outside of Saratoga Springs, my sister went to Skidmore College, and we have always had horses. Even though I moved to Virginia, I knew I wanted to come back to Saratoga for my wedding. We wanted to have some simple horse themes throughout… We also wanted to make sure our guests got to experience track season opening weekend and scheduled some events around those activities.
Kevin’s direct family, parents and siblings live in Virginia, Florida and London, and rented a house on Saratoga Lake the entire week before the wedding, so we got to spend a lot of time celebrating the week and entertaining other family who travelled in.”
Theme: “Our colors were gold and coral, with very small touches of black. I wanted everything to be warm and shiny. We did tiny gold horses as place cards. But I didn’t want any in-your-face theme just a wedding!”
Reception: Saratoga National Golf Club
Ceremony: St. Pius X Catholic Church, Loudonville
Rehearsal Dinner: The Inn at Saratoga.
Dress: Designed by Essense of Australia
Florist: Fleurtacious Designs
Music: Piano Man’s DJ Productions—Bill Teller
Invitations: Minted. Black and gold
Cake/Caterer: Mazzone Catering
Ring: Diamonds Direct, in Richmond, Virginia
Hair, Makeup: Lipstick N’ Lashes, Ballston Spa
Photographer: Niki Rossi Photography
Limo: Advantage Limousine
Word of Advice: Have fun! Plan your wedding so the day will be as easy on you as possible, because if you can’t enjoy it, why are you doing it?
BRITTANY JASENSKI & SPENCER LANNING
Cleveland Browns Punter Gets Down on One Knee to Propose by Lake Erie
Occupations: Spencer, former NFL punter for the Cleveland Browns
Residence: Selkirk | Engagement: Nov. 11, 2014 | Wedding: March 12, 2016
How You Met: “We met freshman year at the University of South Carolina. My girlfriends and I went out to a bar. We left the bar early to walk across the street to go and get pizza… a group of good-looking guys came up to us and tried to convince us to stay… Pop’s Pizza was closed that night! Heartbroken, we returned to the bar. I gave one of the guys my number. Little did I know, on the same week nine years later, he would be waiting for me at the end of the aisle….”
Proposal: “We were living in Cleveland, Ohio, at the time. He took me to a park that was situated right on Lake Erie overlooking the city so that we could take a Christmas card picture with our dogs. I didn’t suspect a thing, because Spencer LOVES photography and we had talked about taking pictures.
He set up his tripod and we were posing for a picture, when he got down on one knee and proposed! Two of his teammates were hiding in the trees taking pictures, and they captured everything for us. I was so shocked and caught off guard, that I can’t even remember what he said, but I said YES!”
Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties: “Spencer went to Savannah, Georgia, with his groomsmen on a golf trip; the theme was ‘Lanning’s Last Swing.’ I went on a cruise with my bridesmaids to the Bahamas; the theme was ‘Last Sail Before the Veil.’”
Vision for Wedding: “We really wanted our wedding to be a weekend event and not just a one day celebration. We kept hearing from our already married friends that their day went by in a blur, so we wanted to extend the experience. During the wedding ‘off-season,’ two of the top venues in Saratoga were available. We quickly booked the Hall of Springs for the reception and the Canfield Casino for the ceremony as well as cocktail hour. We arrived at the Grand Pavilion Hotel on Thursday night. On Friday, we had our rehearsal dinner at one of our favorite Saratoga restaurants, Boca Bistro. The next morning… while the girls were getting ready and having a brunch, the guys headed off to Tark’s Indoor Golf. Spencer always wanted to golf on his wedding day. The guys had a blast!
“The ceremony was gorgeous. During our cocktail hour, we had traditional casino games… along with a tiered ice sculpture with seafood display, signature drinks… Spencer is from South Carolina, so they even had a Southern food station.
“After cocktail hour, we shuttled all our guests over to the Hall of Springs. We did a Surf & Turf option. The New York Players had the dance floor packed. On the portico, as soon as we cut the cake, a fireworks display started… one of my favorite moments of the night (my Dad’s idea!). My Mom was all about the little details. Guests were given shawls when they went outside to watch the fireworks [and] individually-packaged flats with our logo on the bags. At the end of the night, we had a sparkler exit and guests were treated to pizza and doughboys as a late-night snack before they were shuttled back to their hotels. It was the BEST weekend of our lives!”
Unique Aspect: “We dated for nine years before we were married! Also, it was a gorgeous 60-degree day on our wedding, which is unheard of in March. My bridesmaids didn’t even get to wear the fur shawls I got them as a gift.”
Wedding Venues: Canfield Casino, Hall of Springs
Rehearsal Dinner, Welcome Reception: Boca Bistro
Sunday Brunch: Saratoga National
Wedding Planner: Christine Wheat
Dress: Kleinfeld Bridal/designer Mark Zunino
Bridesmaid Dresses: Black, Bella Bridesmaid
Florist: Renaissance Floral
Music: New York Players
Invitations: Jenny C Design
Cake: Bobby Mallozzi at Villa Italia
Caterer: Mazzone Catering
Ring: Tacori, Northeastern Jewelers
Hair/Makeup: Alayne Curtis, Make Me Fabulous
Photographer: Elario Photography
Videographer: Dave Bigler
Hotel: Grand Pavilion
DEANA SEMENZA & MICHAEL CHIODITTI
NBA Media Exec and Teacher from Clifton Park Get Dad’s Blessing at the Track
Occupations: Deana, teacher, Trinity School; Mike, director of global media, National Basketball Association
Residence: Manhattan | Engagement: Oct. 10, 2014 | Wedding: June 18, 2016
How You Met: “A mutual friend introduced us. We continued to bump into each other at UConn, where Mike was about to graduate and I was going off to Italy for three months to study. We continued to see each over that summer of 2008, after I returned from Florence and Mike had started his first job in investment banking in the city. Mike came up to Saratoga to visit towards the end of summer, go to the races at the track, and meet my family (… Mike asked for my Dad’s blessing about six years later to the day when we were at the track all together).”
Proposal: Mike and I moved into our first apartment together in the financial district in Manhattan five years after we started dating. One fall evening… we decided to enjoy a drink on our rooftop … when Mike began telling me how important I was to him. Mike took a box out of his pocket and before he could even open it, or get on one knee, I had jumped up out of my chair and was in his arms, crying, and saying yes! We laughed, and cried, and celebrated together before calling our friends and family to share the good news.”
Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties: “Mike flew down to Cancun for a weekend; I had my weekend with the girls in New York City.”
Vision for the Wedding: “The goal for our celebration was to keep it close to who we are, how we met, and our relationship with our friends and family. The first day Mike met my parents we went to dinner at Saratoga National… We wanted a June wedding in Saratoga. We kept our guest list small and contained to only the family and friends we are close to. When choosing details for our day, it was all about tying in pieces of people closest to us. The toasting flutes were my grandparents’; the cake cutter was the same cake cutter I used at my first communion; the wine we drank was the same wine we had the night we were engaged… my veil was my aunt’s. The diamond studs I wore were my godmother’s.
My wedding band is my grandmother’s original wedding ring. “One of the most important and special details, that few knew, is that the solitaire necklace I wore that day was Mike’s late mother’s engagement diamond. When Mike was choosing a ring to propose with, he brought along his mom’s diamond that was left to him years ago. He had it set as a necklace for me and gave it to me as a Christmas gift that first year we were engaged. I wear it every day and think of her.
“I got ready at my parents’ home, where we also held the rehearsal dinner the night before. It was important to us to have part of the celebration be at my family home. “To drive to the church, my dad and I drove up in my dad’s vintage Mercedes convertible… When planning the ceremony readings and music, we chose Ruth 1:16, ‘Where you go, I will go. And where you stay, I will stay.’ We exited the church after our ceremony to ‘Let the River Run,’ a New York City anthem and tradition at the school I teach at, Trinity School on the Upper West Side. Our programs were wrapped in paper made by my students at Trinity and sealed in wax by my sister and maid of honor, Jenna.”
Unique Aspect: “I wanted an unusual palette of colors. I looked around our home and used colors we already have surrounding us. For my bridesmaid, I told them a few colors and they all wore something of their own choosing they found on their own or already owned. I love that each woman looked completely like herself. For the groomsmen and dads, we asked them to wear a navy suit they already had, and Mike gifted them ties in different shades of blue on the morning of the wedding.”
Wedding Venue: Saratoga National
Ceremony: St. Edward the Confessor Church, Clifton Park
Rehearsal Dinner: Bride’s family home
Wedding Planner: Intuition Designs
Dress: Kleinfeld Bridal, dress by Anne Barge, lace crop by Karen Willis Holmes, shoes by Valentino
Groom’s Suit: Custom by Black Lapel
Florist: Michelle Dischiavo
Invitations: Alex Estes at Prairie Letter Shop
Music: The Accents
Caterer: Adam Foti, owner of PDT Catering, did the rehearsal dinner, breakfast brunch for bridesmaids, and day-after-brunch at bride’s parents home.
Ring: Custom design; bride’s grandmother’s wedding band
Hair stylist: Melanie Staucet, bride’s cousin
Makeup artist: Leah Marzilli
Photographer: Tracey Buyce
Videographer: Clark and Walker
Word of Advice: Don’t take anyone else’s advice too seriously. No one can prepare you for what is to come. It’s a celebration of the beginning of a unique and special marriage. Plan your most important part first and then work around that. The focal point of the day should be supported and enhanced by everything else.
KAREN FEIN & PHILIP CLARK
A Natural Style Wedding with the Beauty of Lake George as the Backdrop
Occupations: Marketing and technology sales
Residence: Astoria, Queens | Engagement: Nov. 21, 2015 | Wedding: Sept. 3, 2016
Wedding Venue: The Adirondac, Lake George Cruises
Ceremony: Bolton Landing Conservancy
Rehearsal Dinner: The Algonquin Restaurant, Bolton Landing
Florist: Fleurtacious Designs
Music: Body and Soul
Invitations: “Best friend from college designed them.”
Cake: Crisan Bakery, Albany
Caterer: The Adirondac
Hair/Makeup: Make Me Fabulous
Photographer: Niki Rossi Photography