As an artist and invitation designer, my work with brides usually falls into certain parameters. The invitation has a prescribed wording. The cards are a certain size and color. In most cases, the boundaries of tradtion are well maintained. Occasionally I’ll work with a bride who wants a Dupioni silk lining to her envelopes, a sprig of evergreen on the invitation or turquoise ink on a chocolate brown card. Every invitation I design is a one-of-a-kind reflection of the bride and groom.
But sometimes, something extraordinary happens.
In July of last year, I heard Julia Goren and Adrien Vlach’s love story. It was unlike any I’d heard before. My studio is nestled in beautiful Saranac Lake, New York here in the northern Adirondack Mountains. Iam surrounded by beauty and by people that are committed to preserving that beauty. Julia Goren is one such person. Julia is the Summit Steward on top of New York State’s highest peak, Mount Marcy. This five billion year old mountain peak has a tender and delicate alpine ecosystem, which julia is employed to protect. This means that Julia hikes Marcy five times a week to welcome visitors and talk about the fragility of these precious, endangered high altitude plants.
On July 5th of 2009, Adrien Vlach was in the High Peaks to hike with his friends and family members from Kansas. They had come for a reunion in Old FOrge at Adrien’s family “camp”. “Camp” in Adirondack lingo means a rustic compound, could be a log cabin, could be a sprawling, birch bark covered home like Sagamore, the summer retreat of the Vanderbilts. Both are called “camps”.
On that day in July he hiked Marcy and met Julia. He was smitten. All the way down the mountain he talked about Julia. When they reached the bottom of the mountain, Adrien’s friends convinced him to leave a note for her in the base camp lodge. After a visit to Lake Placid bookstore, Adrien found a blank card, returned to the Lodge and left the note with the staff. The envelope read “Julia of the Mountain”.
Days later, when Julia descended from the mountaintop, her staff was aflutter… “There was this tall, dark, handsome guy who left this for you… open it, open it!”.
Cellphone service in the Adirondack Mountains is spotty (one of it’s advantages and disadvantages!) and days later they finally connected. They were to meet in Long Lake, halfway between Saranac Lake and Old Forge. Julia told friends “I’m going to meet this tall, dark, handsome guy an hour from here. He’s from Michigan, I didn’t know anything about him, if you don’t hear from me by midnight, notify the authorities.”
They met and sparks flew… again.
On July 5th, two years later, Adrien hiked Marcy. This time in a business suit with a ring in his pocket.
She said “yes” and the rest is history.
After hearing the tale from start to finish, and welling up a few times, I knew what we needed to do for this wedding. I wanted to make a little book and share the story with guests. It’s something I had always wanted to do, and Julia and Adrien were the couple that was adventurous and unconventional enough to let me do it!
The result was a hand written book, bound with a twig. The envelope was lined with a map of the High Peaks region. At the end of the story, the tale of love leads into the invitation to share in the celebration of the next chapter in their lives.
They had the great fortune of securing a beautiful, secluded church deep in the woods that had been in a private family for years. The last page of the invitation was a hand drawn map to that secret location.
Photo Credit: David Elmes Photography
As is the case with many of my brides, I was invited to the wedding (we always become friends!) and my husband and I were asked to ring the bells in the tower as the vows were exchanged. What a joy it was to share the day with them and their family!
Photo Credit: David Elmes Photography
If you are interested in seeing more of this invitation or if you would like me to design something for you, let me know. I am happy to speak with you! Give me a call at 518-586-1063. www.gailbrilldesign.com – Gail Brill.
Note: Gail Brill is our weddings contributor for the month of February. Catch her posts each Wednesday this month!