Nov. 17, 2013 at 11:04 AM ET
Kathleen and Ryan’s relationship began like any good old-fashioned American love story: at a bowling alley.
The two were both seniors at Albion College in Michigan when they hit the lanes with their respective best friends, who happened to be dating each other. It was a set-up gone very right.
“She was the most beautiful girl at the bowling alley,” recalled Ryan of that fateful evening.
Little did he know that before even meeting her groom, Kathleen had given her wedding some serious thought.
“My family has a summer home in the Adirondacks, so when it came to thinking about my wedding it was always in the back of my head,” she says.
She even had the location picked out: the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, New York. So she was excited when she got the opportunity to have a wedding there sooner than expected — it just wasn't hers!
Kathleen had landed an internship at a bridal magazine in New York after college, and when the magazine was scouting locations for an editorial shoot, they took her recommendation of the mountainside lodge. The shoot only reinforced what she always knew: This was where she would be wed.
Life and jobs eventually took the couple to Chicago, where they lived for a few years, and where Ryan popped the ultimate question.
“We went out for a romantic dinner and he suggested we take a walk at night,” Kathleen said.
“I had noticed that the gazebo by The Drake hotel was all lit up at night,” Ryan said “and I thought it’d be great area to [propose].”
So once their stroll brought them by the gazebo, Ryan dropped down on one knee and asked Kathleen to marry him.
“It was a complete surprise! I started screaming and people passing by thought I was being mugged,” Kathleen said. “I’m usually on top of surprises! But it came out of a random dinner. I thought I’d see it coming!”
From there, they had a two-year engagement during which they planned the fall Adirondack wedding of Kathleen’s dreams. And Ryan was quickly on board.
“We checked out a bunch of places in Chicago and Michigan, but it’s just so awesome [at the Whiteface Lodge]. It blew everything else away,” Ryan said.
The two were married at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 22, 2012 at St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid. The ceremony was a joint effort between Rev. John R. Yonkovig of St. Agnes and Deacon Ronald Tocci of the Church of the Assumption from Kathleen’s hometown of Fairport, New York.
The bride wore a white strapless gown and the groom wore a crisp black suit, both complemented by the brilliant autumnal surroundings.
For Kathleen, there were many special moments, but certain ones topped her list. “When the doors of the church opened and I saw everyone there to see us get married and seeing Ryan at the end of the aisle. I was shaking like crazy!" she remembers. "My dad was holding on tight.”
Ryan echoed her sentiment. “When you first see the bride, when the doors open, you get a little choked up. You think, 'this is real now.'”
Adding to the charm of the nuptials, the wedding party was transported around Lake Placid in one of the town’s signature trolleys. “It’s the local mode of transportation for tourists,” Kathleen said. “It didn’t seem fitting to have a limo driving through the mountains, and it would take too long on a horse!”
After the ceremony, it was time to party at the lodge with their 125 guests. They decided to keep it small so they could spend quality time with everyone who’d made the trip there.
“It was so awesome seeing Ryan’s elderly aunts and uncles getting down on the dance floor!” Kathleen said.
The reception was accented with beautiful rustic touches, and floral arrangements reflecting the hues of the foliage outside.
One year later, and Kathleen and Ryan are living happily in Rochester Hills, Michigan, where Ryan is an Assistant VP of Business Banking at JP Morgan Chase and Kathleen is a Development Manager at The Henry Ford, a nearby museum.
Her recommendation to those about to celebrate their special day is to take it all in.
“It goes by so fast, so enjoy it!" she says. "And try to remember why you’re there.”
See more photos from this gorgeous rustic-chic wedding: