Katie and Ryan’s Wedding | Burning Tree Country Club | Greenwich, Connecticut
When I feel like I’ve known a couple for years and years, but haven’t, there’s a certain comfort level going into their wedding day, and I can honestly attest to that being the case on the day of Katie and Ryan’s perfect September wedding celebration at the beautiful Burning Tree Country Club in Greenwich, Ct. The adorable, charming and elegant Katie, with a smile to disarm just about anyone, especially this wedding photographer, matched perfectly with the cool, calm and handsome Ryan, throwing in a touch of the most awesome late September weather, truly a day to remember and relive through Katie and Ryan’s beautifully told story below as well as our photo gallery. With special thanks to our good friend Kim Crosby of The Burning Tree, who not only brought me together with these love families but who made our job and the entire wedding celebration run like a very finely tuned clock. Congratulations once again to Katie and Ryan and their lovely families!
How We Met
In the summer of 2003 I attended a birthday party for my ESF Camp friend, Kristen Fajt. Since this was a time before digital photography, I snapped memories of the party with a Kodak disposable camera and saved one last photo for the sleepover later that night. However, when I went to take the last photo, I was sad and confused that there was none left. A few weeks later when I got the film developed, I was surprised to find that the last photo on the roll was not blank but was the first #selfie ever taken by the one and only Ryan Fajt, Kristen’s older brother.
Our paths crossed again years later in 2011 when we both worked at ESF Camp counselors in Greenwich. Ryan worked at the Sports Camp, and I worked at the Day Camp. As coordinator of the after-camp program, every afternoon I was required to sit on the bench under the pavilion and wait for the campers to be picked up. Ryan couldn’t help but notice me sitting on the bench every day, so instead of going home after work, he spent countless hours keeping me company on the bench.
After the summer ended, I went to graduate school at James Madison University in Virginia. One fall weekend Ryan made the long 7-hour drive to visit me. He brought me flowers, took me out to a nice restaurant for dinner, and officially asked me to be his girlfriend. After he visited 10 more times over the course of 8 months, I knew he was a keeper.
How He Proposed
In the summer of 2017 I took a few days off from my summer job at ESF camp to travel to Austin, Texas for a training seminar for my teaching job. Ryan called me while I was away and said he wanted to go to prime rib night at Burning Tree Country Club when I got back. After having had my fill of heavy Texan food, I wanted nothing less than prime rib, but I agreed since Ryan insisted.
Ryan picked me up for dinner on July 28, and told me on the way to the club that he had to stop by his parent’s house to pick up something for his Dad. I didn’t think much of the drive until Ryan turned into the ESF parking lot instead. As I started to ask what he was doing, I could see the bench pavilion adorned with hundreds of string lights that Ryan had put up himself. This was the place where Ryan and I met, and where Ryan finally got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course I said “AHHHH yes!” We then drove to Burning Tree as scheduled, where I was surprised to see my parents and Ryan’s parents waiting for us. Ryan and I are very close to our families, and he had made all the arrangements so they would be with us to celebrate our engagement.
There was no question for me that I wanted to get married at Stanwich Church in Greenwich where my family has attended since before I was born. I was especially happy when Reverend Neely Towe, the former senior pastor of Stanwich who baptized me as a baby, agreed to fly from Jacksonville, Florida to officiate and bless our marriage.
Another easy choice for us was Burning Tree Country Club for the reception, because both our families have been members there for years. The golf course dotted with trees just starting to turn the golden colors of fall made a beautiful backdrop for photographs and cocktail hour, and the newly redecorated clubhouse has the modern classic elegance we wanted.
My mom and I worked together to plan every detail of the wedding and the reception. I poured through Pinterest and Instagram, and worked for months on several DIY projects to make our wedding personal and one-of-a-kind, including wedding programs with tissue boxes attached “For Your Happy Tears”, a hand-painted sign “I Have Found the One Whom My Soul Loves (Song of Songs 3:4)” to hang across the center aisle of the church, an upcycled vintage mirror to display table assignments, and a vintage frame collection to display wedding photos of our parents and grandparents. I hand-mixed concrete to create marbleized pedestals which were perfect for holding my hand-lettered acrylic table number signs for each table. I even had life-size cardboard cut-outs made of our dog Briggs and bunny MuuMuu for personalized photo booth accessories! These personal touches made our day feel even more special.
September 28, 2019 was a perfect day. Ryan and I both started our big day early at Burning Tree, getting ready in separate lounge areas. Kim Crosby, who heads special events at the club, made sure we were well taken care of while we enjoyed lunch and prep time with our groomsmen and bridesmaids. Ryan was excited to wear his sharp new blue Bonobos tuxedo jacket with black satin lapel that reminded him of the classy smoking jackets from the “Mad Men” era. I wore a silk Sareh Nouri gown with a show-stopping bow and dramatic flower petal train, topped with a cascading cathedral length veil. Ryan and I wanted to be traditional and not see each other before the ceremony, but I did have an emotional first look with my father, who had not been allowed to see my wedding dress in pictures or in person until that moment. We drove to the church together in a teal blue vintage Cadillac convertible, which was so much fun and a surprise for Ryan to match our modern vintage vibe.
Before our ceremony began, Rev. Neely kept Ryan and his groomsmen sequestered in the prayer chapel so they wouldn’t hear the musicians practicing. I planned a special surprise to walk down the aisle to a song that is meaningful to us, and the musicians were kind enough to learn it just for our wedding and also to keep it a secret by not playing it at the rehearsal. I was so happy to see Ryan smile and a little tear in his eye when I walked down the aisle towards him. That is a moment we will never forget!
After a reverent and moving ceremony, our celebration continued at Burning Tree. Guests donned colorful vineyard vines sunglasses and enjoyed a gorgeous sunset overlooking the golf course during cocktail hour. When it was time to move inside, Ryan and I got the party started by entering the Burning Tree ballroom to James Brown’s “I Feel Good!”, and danced our first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Fajt to “Never in My Wildest Dreams” by Dan Auerbach. Later I danced with my father to “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding, and Ryan danced with his mother to “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart. The dance floor kept on rockin’ through the night until the last song “Don’t Stop Believing”. To close out the perfect evening, our guests gathered outside the club entrance with 3-foot high sparklers to give us a sparkling send off. What a joyous beginning to our life together as husband and wife. We are so grateful to our family and friends, and to Bruce for capturing all the memories so beautifully.”
Preparation and Reception: Burning Tree Country Club, Greenwich, CT
Events Director: Kim Crosby
Ceremony: Stanwich Congregational Church, Greenwich, CT.
Wedding Accessories: Veil – Toni Federici
Earrings :Sara Gabriel
Hair Comb: Ellen Hunter
Groom’s Tuxedo: Bonobos
Groom’s Shoes: Magnanni
Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Packham via Dessy
Bridal Makeup/Hair: Ashling Mulhare Balidemaj
Photo Booth: Inside Out Photo Booth
Videographer: First Day Films
Band: New York City Swing
Invitations: Party Party
Cake: By the Way Bakery
Vintage Cadillac: Gardella Elite Limousine
Guest accommodations: Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa
Guest transportation: Royal Club Limousine
Rings: Manfredi Jewels
Bridesmaid Hair: Erica Bortot