We have a guest post today. Gray Wagner’s article first appeared in the 2015 Huntingdon County Visitors Guide…
We met in college – from different parts of the same state. We grew affection for Central Pennsylvania and each other through our involvement in the outdoors club. We made great friends, who after graduation dispersed around the country and world, though mostly in the Mid-Atlantic United States. We have family all over Pennsylvania – her brother, his wife, and their two daughters live outside Philadelphia; my grandparents recently downsized from my dad’s childhood home to a continuing care retirement community near Raystown Lake; her favorite aunt lives in Pittsburgh with her partner; my parents live in State College; and so on.
A couple of years ago, we were able to get together with our college friends for DirtFest, an awesome mountain bike festival held in May at Raystown Lake. Little did she know that, during a rest to take in the view from our favorite overlook, I would drop to one knee and offer her a ring! Luckily for me, she accepted, and that evening’s concert turned into our engagement party!
Fast forward a year and we’re sitting in our favorite Philly brewpub talking to the bartender about life, beer, and other topics. We mentioned that we’re planning a wedding, and we got engaged at Raystown Lake. Then he pours us a beer sample, saying “try this.” We taste it…delicious beer with notes of coffee, and just the right amount of bitterness for our palettes. He says, “we made this with coffee beans from Standing Stone Coffee Company in Huntingdon, and our hops come from a farm there…small world!” As it turned out, we had met the hops farmer during our DirtFest weekend… Really small world!
Over the next couple of weeks, things kept reminding us about Raystown…a call from Grandma, a local magazine article, a friend’s photo in our newsfeed… Then it hit us – We should get married at Raystown! When that decision was made, it was amazing how quickly things fell into place. My parents hosted the rehearsal dinner at Mimi’s Restaurant & Martini Bar. Remember the hops farmer? We got married on his farm! Grandma recommended a great caterer for the reception, and we used an incredible local photographer.
It was also amazing how many of our family and friends decided to stay a couple of extra days to enjoy the area while there to celebrate with us. Our college friends (many of whom were in the wedding), rented a houseboat for the week, and threw the perfect bachelor party on the water one night, and two nights later, a fun bachelorette party. The favorite Aunt brought her kayaks and floated down the Juniata River. My brother-in-law to be rented a vacation home for the family, and took the kids to ride the rails at Rockhill Trolley Museum, explore Lincoln Caverns, and blow-off some steam at Slinky Action Zone. Pap and Grandma took my bride’s grandparents to hike at Trough Creek State Park, then cruise the lake on the Proud Mary Showboat.
Weddings are usually all about the couple getting married. Our wedding was about a great Raystown vacation (Raycation, if you will) for generations of our newly combined family and friends, and creating memories of a place that’s special to us. We wouldn’t have it any other way!
By Gray Wagner