Dustin and Stephanie Zucker's relationship initially began as an innocent friendship, dating all the way back to sleepaway summer camp as nine-year-olds in 1999. The pair continued to cross paths at Tyler Hill Camp for the next 10 years, then coincidentally attended the same college and study abroad program in Australia. (Fate, perhaps?) While the bride admits they never dated consistently over the course of their almost-two-decades-long conjunction, they remained best friends regardless. Which, eventually helped push things in the right direction: Stephanie and Dustin finally got engaged in June 2017.
Coming full circle, the couple naturally took to the wilderness for their June 16, 2018, nuptials at Cedar Lakes Estate in upstate New York. "We met at a camp, so it was only fitting for us to get married at one," says the bride. But it wasn't the grounds alone that sold them on the picturesque venue. "Everything is decorated like it's straight out of a design magazine, the food is out of this world, and the staff is a pleasure to work with," says the bride. After dreaming of her nuptials since childhood and collecting her fair share of wedding magazines, the bride confesses that she actually didn't have a very cohesive vision in mind once the time actually came to plan. Thankfully, though, the locale ultimately helped facilitate her final decision to go with a whimsical Midsummer Night's Dream theme. "All the colors, all the flowers," she adds.
Check out the photos by Taylor Abeel of this weekend-long, camp-inspired wedding in honor of the bride and groom's meet-cute.
Staying true to her word, Stephanie decked out the venue in bright florals, along with assorted candle votives and lanterns, on night one.
What would camp be without an outdoor flick!? Kicking off the celebrations, Stephanie and Dustin drew on one of their favorite summer pastimes and invited guests to watch a drive-in movie on the lawn the Friday before the ceremony. Moroccan rugs, vintage candy, and a custom teepee complemented the bohemian furniture setup.
The film of choice? None other than Father of the Bride. "[It was] an ode to my dad who was an absolute champ throughout the wedding planning experience," says Stephanie of the oh-so-fitting bridal blockbuster.
The following day, Stephanie stunned in a long-sleeve lace illusion Reem Acra creation, which she happened upon thanks to a stroke of luck. After seven unsuccessful dress shopping appointments, she came across a photo of a dress by said designer that made her heart pound...only to discover it was couture and not for purchase. But, she made an appointment with the bridal boutique anyway, during which Reem herself actually came into the salon and to the rescue. "Reem Acra looked me up and down, said, 'One moment,' and then disappeared into her studio," recalls Stephanie. "She came out with an almost identical version of the dress! She said she had gotten such great feedback about the couture gown that she planned on introducing a lookalike in her fall 2018 collection. She had literally pinned the lace that morning."
Along with her miraculous dream dress, the bride wore the same light blue garter Dustin's grandmother's donned on her big day, as well as her own great-grandmother's wedding band. She also carried a simple, yet elegant arrangement of unique white florals. The groom, on the other hand, took to a classic black tux by Theory.
Escorted by her father, the bride made her grand entrance to a song Dustin holds close to heart—"Walk With You" by Dispatch. "Dispatch is Dustin's favorite band, and I've pictured myself walking down the aisle to this song since I could remember," she explains.
Stephanie and Dustin wed on a mountaintop at sunset, which the bride describes as "simply breathtaking." A set of barn doors welcomed guests, who sat on opposite sides of a flower-filled aisle. White, pale pink, and green blooms also adorned the oversized chuppah.
Opting to keep their personalized vows a surprise until the ceremony, the pair unknowingly wrote a few of the exact same sentiments to each other. Finally, after sealing their newlywed status with a kiss, Stephanie and Dustin recessed down the aisle to U2's "Beautiful Day."
And a beautiful day it was, especially once friends and family migrated to the reception, where Stephanie's whimsical theme truly came out to play. "All the color," is how the bride summarizes the wedding decor. Bright candlesticks and blooms helped pull off the specific vision amid the camp-inspired setting.
The dinner was served family-style and featured a salad, seasonal pasta, and roasted Brussels sprouts to start, followed by roasted halibut, crispy roasted chicken breast, or grass-fed hangar steak.
Notice something different about the cake? It's made of layers of cheese! The duo did stock up on sweets, as well, serving mini Oreo milkshakes and creme brûlée, flavored cheesecake bites, and a true camp staple—s'mores.
Aside from Dustin and Stephanie's first dance song—"I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher—the pair largely left their music selection up to the band, which rose to the challenge. "I told them to play what they thought would keep people dancing throughout the night, and they did not disappoint," says the bride. "People still rave about the music at our wedding."
Closing out the reception before the afterparty, the band played one final tune—"With a Little Help From My Friends"—which brought Stephanie to happy tears after realizing she'd officially wed her best friend. "The entire world stopped during that song," she recalls.