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 Where we’re at: I’m recapping my brief travels in the fall of 2018.

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Remember that movie 27 Dresses? Your girl can relate. I’ve been in and to a lot of weddings — and I love them! City loft weddings, rural backyard weddings, barn weddings, beach weddings, you name it — but I had never been to a wedding quite like this one. 

When my friends Ashlee and J got engaged a few years ago, I already knew it would be the wedding of the century. Ashlee is one of our oldest family friends — we often joke she’s #basicallybaackes — and my sister Olivia was one of her maids of honor. So, it was essentially a family wedding that brought us out to Oakdale, New York — my first official trip ever to Long Island. 

Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York
Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York

Bourne Mansion Wedding Invitation

Originally, Ian and I had planned to stay after the wedding, hop around the area’s wineries and really explore the destination a bit. Of course, with our new life changes, that became impossible and this trip became a real fly by, but I know I’ll be back to Long Island again someday to do it proper justice.

And what a first intro it was! This wedding was two years in the making — some of y’all may recall the Orlando Harry Potter bachelorette party, the Key West mermaid bachelorette party, the Martha’s Vineyard engagement shoot, the New York City engagement party, or the Albany wedding shower that led up to it– and so it was with huge anticipating that the main event arrived!

We also had something else major to celebrate that weekend — Ian had made the arduous journey from Thailand to New York with our dog, Prada.

Relocating a dog from Thailand to the USA

We landed within hours of each other — I from Austin, they from Bangkok — and I nervously paced the international arrivals hall looking for their faces. I’m going to write a lot more about the decision we made to relocate Prada to the US, and the steps it took to get her there, but for now I can say that opening that crate in a dark corner under a JFK overpass and seeing that sweet face on US soil after so much anxiety and heartbreak and bureaucracy was truly overwhelming. It’s hard looking back at these memories since Prada’s sudden passing, but I know it’s important to remember the good times as well.

Relocating a dog from Thailand to the USA
Relocating a dog from Thailand to the USA

While we were busy trying to ease a street dog from Koh Tao into the lap of luxury that is a suburban Long Island Residence Inn Hauppauge (which I came to find as a very reliable dog-friendly hotel chain, by the way) I realized that I wasn’t exactly looking black tie wedding chic. While Ian got down to the glamorous job of cleaning a crate that a terrified dog spent twenty four hours in — sorry, Ian — I ran in a last minute panic to a local salon for a blowout that left me feeling like a million bucks. One of these days, I need to figure out how to use a hair dryer.

It was a bit of a hectic morning getting Prada settled and then getting over to the official wedding hotel to help my mom get ready, but we did it. By the time we rocked up to the ceremony at the grand St. Patrick’s Church, we were feeling like we’d really stepped up our game from our usual barefoot island attire.

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Believe it or not, through all those weddings I’ve been to (I really should count them up someday), I’d never been to a full Catholic mass ceremony before. I think it will be hard to top this one for sheer beauty!

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New Yorkphoto by Katie Finnerty Photography

We had come in through the service entry with my mom’s wheelchair — running late, as usual — and so had just sat down as quickly as possible. But we actually ended up in the perfect spot where we had a full view of Olivia, looking regal in her sparkly maid of honor dress, and could capture so many special little moments between her and her lifetime best friend. 

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

One fun thing about this wedding was that both the photographer, Katie of Katie Finnerty Photography, and the videographer, Ryan of Gifford Videography, were all Shaker High alumni with us — it was great to see so many familiar faces, and see them thriving in their creative fields. Aren’t these photos stunning?

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New Yorkphotos by Katie Finnerty Photography

This couple is just so meant to be, it was beautiful to watch them make it official in a ceremony as grand as they are!

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

And sealed with a kiss, it was time to get the party started!

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New York

Wedding at St. Patrick's Church in Bay Shore, New Yorkphotos by Katie Finnerty Photography

Quick wardrobe aside, here. I was really in love with the dress I wore for this wedding, which I’d bought more than a year earlier from Asos but then waffled over for ages, wondering if it was too low cut to be appropriate. I’d texted back and forth with the bride about it many times (who always said WEAR IT!) but I didn’t think it was exactly church friendly.

I brought it to a tailor while I was visiting Olivia in Philadelphia, and he suggested a little removable panel for when I needed to be a bit more modest. I didn’t really get what he was talking about but I trusted his vision and was so impressed when I picked it up — it was the perfect way to transition from day to night.

Long Island Wedding
Long Island Wedding

The reception was held at Bourne Mansion, a venue that Ash and J had pretty much scoured the entire East Coast for. It was worth the hunt! As soon as we made our way out to cocktail hour on the terrace, with ocean views and deer scampering on the lawn behind us, I could see why they’d fallen in love with the place.

Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York

Inside, their Great Gatsby theme truly came to life. I’d seen Ashlee and J and their families work so hard on this vision — it was incredible to see it all come together, and so perfectly executed at that.

Great Gatsby Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York

Great Gatsby Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York
Great Gatsby Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York

Great Gatsby Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York

Great Gatsby Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New Yorkphotos by Katie Finnerty Photography

Speaking of vision, I loved what Ashlee did for her bridal party — telling them to go wild choosing a full length sparkly metallic dress. The girls looked incredible together, and how often do you get to rock a dress like this?!

Great Gatsby Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, New York

I also loved getting super fancy! My day to day life is so casual — I essentially live in yoga pants and jean shorts — I relished the opportunity to dress to the nines. 

Wedding at Bourne Mansion on Long Island

Wedding at Bourne Mansion on Long Island

Wedding at Bourne Mansion on Long Island

I felt like I’d already been pretty wowed, but when we were led into the reception room for dinner and dancing, I actually gasped. How beautiful!

Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Wedding cake at Bourne Mansion Long Island

But this wedding wasn’t all about looks — this couple was determined for everyone to have an insanely good time. Ashlee’s catchphrase from Gatsby was, “a little party never killed nobody!” 

I couldn’t agree more.

Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Wedding at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

I’m sorry but I can’t stop gushing — how elegant is this couple!

Wedding Reception at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Wedding Reception at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New Yorkphotos by Katie Finnerty Photography

If there was one thing I’d heard a lot about leading up to this wedding, it was Olivia’s speech. The girl does not do things halfway, and she wanted to nail this like never before. As we huddled under a staircase in the lobby doing a final read through, I assured her — Liv, you got this.

Speeches at Reception at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Speeches at Reception at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New Yorkphotos by Katie Finnerty Photography

And she did! It was a heartfelt tribute to she and Ashlee’s childhood friendship, their adult lives, and Ashlee and J’s love. We were whooping from the Baackes family table!

Speeches at Reception at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York
Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

And then, it was time to dance!

I have to say, the staff at Bourne Mansion, and the bride and groom and their families, could not have been sweeter or more accommodating to us as we navigated what was still at the time a new situation for us traveling with my mom in her wheelchair in the midst of a very draining cancer treatment. Everyone really went out of their way to make sure she was comfortable, even setting up a place for her to nap in one of the private rooms after dinner. It really meant a lot to us, and speaks to what a gracious family we were there to celebrate.

Reception at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Long Island, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New Yorkphotos by Katie Finnerty Photography

Speaking of family, my dad just so happens to be one of the world’s best dancers, a title also claimed by Ashlee’s hilarious mom, Priscilla. So it was almost inevitable that the two of them found themselves in the middle of a dance circle, breaking it down for a crowd of adoring fans.

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

But eventually, Ian and I just had to cut in!

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New Yorkphotos by Katie Finnerty Photography

We have a beautifully blended family and it’s always a huge treat for me when I can have my mom, my dad, and my mom’s partner Miller, who is like a stepfather to me, all together at one table like I did this night.

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Even better when we’re on the dance floor!

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

This was the second of two incredible weddings we attended with my mom this fall. They were special and full of happy moments. But they were also hard. They were physically challenging — I have an enormous new sense of respect for all that travelers with disabilities have to overcome.

But these were also emotionally challenging trips. It was important for my mom — for all of us — to attend them, as they were the weddings of some of our dearest family friends, and nothing means more to us than friendship. So we went with a smile.

Both these groups of people have been incredible support systems to us as we’ve navigated the tumultuous past year of our lives. I can’t imagine having done it without them. And so even more so, these photos, and these memories, mean the world to me. 

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Reception at Bourne Mansion Wedding in Oakdale, New York

Ash and J, you deserve every happiness in the world — and you know how to throw a serious party! Thank you for bringing us to a new corner of New York State, and it was a privilege to be a part of your day and watch your incredible visions come to life. I look forward to watching your marriage grow over a lifetime of friendship.

Here’s to putting on the ritz, with lots of love…

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7 Comments...
  • Kelly
    September 5 2019

    What a stunning wedding!! Love all these pics, especially the ones of you and your dad dancing. Sounds like a great night 🙂

    • Alex
      September 9 2019

      I know, I treasure them <3 My dad is the BEST dancer. I love him!

  • Julia Nix
    September 7 2019

    It breaks my heart to know about Prada’s situation. It’s never easy to imagine life without our best friend. Dogs are the best.

    • Alex
      September 9 2019

      Thanks Julia. I miss her every day.

  • Lurlene
    September 7 2019

    Alex,
    I love how you make friendships a priority. I think I remember you saying that your mom really valued friendships, so she definitely set a great example for you!
    You are such a sweet person with a charming personality! It’s no wonder that you attract many friends!
    I am learning a thing or two from you about the importance of friendship. Thank you for sharing your friendships with us. The wedding looks gorgeous, and I know it was filled with good memories and love. Xoxo

    • Alex
      September 9 2019

      Aw, thank you so much Lurlene. This is just such a touching comment, I truly appreciate it!

  • natasha daboub
    September 24 2019

    Love the pictures that you posted. I went to a wedding a few years back in Long Island and it’s beautiful up there! This looks like it was an amazing wedding.

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