From the grooms...
Tell us your love story!
We met while I (Charlie) was studying abroad in Graz, Austria. My mentor told me the place to go was the art museum on Wednesday nights. They had a gay clubbing evening. We noticed each other right when I walked in the door, though it took a while before one of us made a move. After that, we were long distance for several years, as Ralf lived in Germany and I lived in Austria for the first 5 months before moving to Germany myself (but still two hours away). We finally came together after Ralf moved to Vienna for a job and I followed him a year later (lots of frequent flier miles!). Our wedding day was exactly 10 years from the day I arrived in Europe for the first time and thus just under 10 years from the day Ralf and I met.
Tell us about the proposal!
The proposal was kind of a disaster... next question please!
When did you know that you were meant to be with each other?
Ralf knew almost immediately. I’m a bit slower. When we were still together two years in, I knew it was a big deal—I’d never gotten along with anyone anywhere near that long before.
Tell us about your big day…
Ralf and I searched FOREVER before we found Shakespeare on the Hudson in Catskill, NY. It had everything we wanted (well, almost, we originally wanted to get married on a beach in Cape Cod): Big house for everyone, beautiful location, swimming, wide open spaces (with neighbors far enough away that week could party into the night without waking up the whole neighborhood).
Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
We definitely knew we wanted an outdoor wedding and we wanted it to be warm or even hot out. We wanted swimming, BBQing, hanging out outside, people wearing shorts and sandals, etc. Ralf did the vast majority of the planning, right down to how the tables would look months in advance. We did it from the UK as well and sent my parents to check out the site and take photos for us. Ralf planned everything so perfectly that everything was smooth on the day—no mix-ups or issues. The only hiccup was with the officiant—which I had booked. He came in the end, but there was a tense moment when the secretary seemed surprised there was a wedding scheduled. It was fine for him to come late to sign the paperwork because another thing we’d always known was that we wanted my friend Christine to officiate the ceremony itself. She did an amazing job.
What surprised you during planning?
There were actually no surprises. Everything went well. At least until after the wedding: When we went to return the A/V system to Pro AV Rentals, we didn’t know that the address on all the paperwork was for a mailbox out on Long Island while their office was in Brooklyn right on the East River. We drove past their office and on for another 45 minutes, then drove back, and then were caught in rush-hour traffic for hours (in addition to a GPS malfunction that wreaked havoc). Thus, the Monday after the wedding was a rude awakening, but all was well in the end.
Any advice for couples planning weddings now? Anything you would have done differently?
We wouldn’t do anything differently. Our advice would be to start a year in advance like us! People will think you’re crazy—until you’re relaxed on your wedding day because everything’s all set. Coordinating everything from afar is hard. If you’re planning a destination wedding (which ours was, in effect), be sure you or someone you trust can go to the place and get the lay of the land a good ways in advance.
Anything thing else?
Having a venue to hang out with everyone for a day or two on either side of the wedding is great. You’re more relaxed and you actually get to see your closest friends and family instead of rushing off (our honeymoon only just happened, 7 months later, so we had no pressure to leave straightaway)!
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
My favorite part of the actual day was walking down the winding brick path towards the ceremony spot on the river with Ralf. Really, though, we loved the days with everyone at the house getting everything ready and the days before that getting ready at my parents’ place with Ralf’s brother and friend Gisi—our caterers we flew in from Austria for a “workation” with us (that’s how we got amazing food at a fraction of the price of a normal caterer).