Lia & Daniel: An Autumn Affair in the Catskills

by Allison Micarelli

Though they had seen each other's face for years around the Lafayette College campus, Lia and Daniel's official meeting wasn't until the first week of their senior year. Both had accepted living situations off campus in what is known as the Arts Houses, and Daniel stopped by Lia's new home to invite her and her roommates to his place for a get-to-know-you barbecue. Lia happily accepted. And while she thought Daniel was cute (he's tall, dark, handsome, and both German and Brazilian), she wasn't quite sure how to break the ice. But she had just returned from a semester abroad in Paris, where she saw firsthand France beat Brazil during the World Cup. "I used that to spark a conversation with him," says Lia. "It definitely wasn't the right thing to say to a Brazilian and a die-hard soccer fan, but clearly he looked past it."

THE BRIDE Lia Caiazzo, 25, content producer for the Food Network
THE GROOM Daniel Wiedemann, 27, news producer for TV Globo, a Brazilian Network
THE DATE October 6
THE SCENE Ceremony at the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area in the Catskills; reception at Valley Brook Inn in Wurtsboro

One cold rainy night in March, Lia and Daniel set out to meet Lia's mother for dinner at a swanky French restaurant in New York City. The two arrived for the reservation, when the maitre d' informed them that Lia's mother had to cancel because of the weather. "At that point, I became a bit suspicious, only to become even more so when the waiter brought over two glasses of champagne courtesy of my mom," says Lia. "Daniel presented me with a small present. I turned to put it away in my bag and turned back around to find him wedged between two tables, struggling to get down on one knee."

Wanting a fall wedding, the couple picked early October, which left about six months to plan the affair. "Our wedding really was made possible through the help of friends," says Lia. The reception took place at a friend's family's inn. They hired a new wedding photographer who was an acquaintance, asked another friend of a friend to serve as the caterer, and asked one of the groom's closest friends to play his oboe during the ceremony. Lia designed their natural, almost rustic wedding invitations herself. "Daniel and I worked many nights assembling all 150 of them," she said, "and we had a friend of mine calligraph them."

The wedding day was brisk but the sky was a beautiful blue and the sun was shining brightly, making the bridesmaid dresses -- strapless silk organza garnet and ruby designs from Thread -- glisten. As each of the nine bridesmaids and groomsmen made their way down the aisle, actually steps leading down to the lake, they paired off and took places beside a potted mum.

Together with their officiant Rev. Catherine Alder, a Congregational minister and the mother of a friend of the couple, Lia and Daniel wrote their own ceremony and wedding vows. At one point the bride, who donned a strapless Serafina duchesse satin gown and a gardenia in her hair, got the chills. Perhaps it was from the groom's poetic vows that made every single onlooker weep, or perhaps it was the brisk wind that swept suddenly through the ceremony.

Despite the fact that the weather was chilly, the couple and their wedding party lingered for pictures by the lake, which boasted gorgeous panoramic views of fall foliage. Meanwhile, guests found their way to the warmth of the inn to enjoy cocktails and delectable hors d'oeuvres, all prepared by the mother of the bride who is a seasoned chef and who had also prepared the rehearsal-dinner menu the night before.

The reception was held inside the rustic main room at the Valley Brook Inn and outside in a tented area. Tables were accented with different arrangements of various wildflowers in jewel-toned shades of purple, red, and yellow. "I purchased all of the flowers at the Union Square farmers' market the day before the wedding," says Lia. "Then a group of bridesmaids arranged the flowers to their liking." The arrangements were the perfect complement to the bridal bouquets, created by a local florist, which were fashioned with roses, calla lilies, daisies, and berries in the brilliant colors of fall leaves.

"Since we both have a passion for food, we really wanted to have a unique menu," says Lia. "We wanted to have food similar to Brazilian entrees and decided on a Creole Cajun cuisine." Menu highlights included seafood okra gumbo, duck sausage jambalaya, grilled kingfish, barbecued leg of lamb, and black beans and corn maque choux. But the bride's favorite part of the meal was dessert: a three-tiered confection of carrot cake with buttercream filling and chocolate cake filled with a raspberry and vanilla buttercream.

Despite the fact that Daniel and Lia decided to forgo a first dance (originally meant to be a Brazilian song by Gilberto Gil), DJ Michael Thompson played a wide range of music from Brazilian beats to Motown, pop, R&B, and hip-hop long into the night. And so the happy couple found plenty of opportunities to join their guests on the dance floor. To share their would-be first-dance selection with friends and family, Lia and Daniel prepared personalized CDs called "Lia and Daniel's Oktubrofeast Tunes" (a title that's a combination of German, Portuguese, and English), which included the sexy number.

Since many guests were staying in cabins on the premises, the wedding celebration lingered into the wee hours of the morning, still going strong as the bride and groom fled to their honeymoon cabin.

-- Allison Micarelli
Photography © Elias Stimac

For the ingredients that make up this wedding, see right-hand column of this page.

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