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Summer Camp Meets Secret Garden For This Romantic Wedding in the Catskills

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Les Loups

Zoe Taubman, Flywheel’s Director of Social Media, and architect Sam Coles, both grew up in New York, albeit on opposite ends of the city. Sam hails from the Upper West Side, while Zoe is a Brooklyn girl through and through. “We frequented the same parties in high school but never had the opportunity to get to know one another,” remembers Zoe. “Years later, after graduating from college, we ended up at a mutual friend’s birthday party, and we finally had our first real conversation. We stayed up all night talking and were inseparable by the next day.”

Three years later, the couple was spending a summer vacation at Sam’s family’s lake house in upstate New York. “In the middle of the lake is Petra Island, a small privately owned piece of land with a Frank Lloyd Wright house perched over the water,” she explains. One day, Sam surprised Zoe with a private tour of the house. The two took his family’s boat over to Petra Island right before sunset. “The homeowner walked us through the property, and at the very end of the tour, suggested we go out on the balcony by ourselves to enjoy the sunset,” Zoe adds. “As we stepped out, I saw several huge bouquets of flowers. I was so confused, and when I turned to Sam to gauge his reaction, he was already down on one knee!”

Even though the two are a pair of city kids, both have always loved being outdoors—their first date was actually an all-day hike in the Catskills. As a result, the rural upstate area naturally became the obvious choice for their wedding venue. “A few weeks into our search for a venue, I saw the Foxfire Mountain House,” she says. “There was just magic in the air there, and we booked it on the spot.”

Zoe and Sam wanted their wedding to feel like “the best parts of summer camp,” so there was an emphasis on creating a carefree and romantic vibe throughout the weekend. They worked with Foxfire Mountain House’s florist, Emily Theobald, to create the aesthetic they were looking for. “Summer camp meets The Secret Garden was how I kept describing it,” Zoe adds. They decorated the space with tons of greenery, and florals in pale pinks, pops of deep reds, and soft blues, while the dinner tent had garlands stretching over the dance floor and tables.

With the wedding date set for August 26th, Zoe now had to focus on finding her dress. “All I knew is that I wanted something timeless and comfortable,” she says. “I tried on so many, but as soon as I stepped into my Monique Lhuillier dress, both my mom and I knew the search was over.” She accessorized the delicate Chantilly lace look with a simple baby’s breath flower crown and chunky Miu Miu platform sandals in a dusty blush color. As for her jewelry, she wore a gold and pearl bracelet that was a gift from her grandmother and a borrowed pair of diamond studs from a family friend. For hair and makeup, Zoe turned to Taylor Fitzgerland and Mallory Pace. “I wore my hair down in soft waves and kept my makeup easy and uncomplicated,” she says.

Sam, meanwhile, picked a Ted Baker suit in a vibrant blue shade. “It was a modern British cut and fit him perfectly!” Zoe says. For years, Sam had been eyeing a pair of burnt umber Barker Black wingtips. “We always joked he would get married in those shoes—and he did!”

The day of the ceremony, guests gathered at a clearing of tall, overgrown grass at the foot of a forest nestled in the Catskills. Two urns overflowing with greens and wildflowers marked the entrance, while the chuppah was the focal point. “It was truly the chuppah of my dreams—wrapped in vines and overflowing with ferns, berries, and flowers,” says Zoe.

After the bride walked down the aisle with both of her parents, the couple read their own vows to each other and declared in Hebrew: “Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li” which translates to “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine.” Once they were husband and wife, Sam broke the traditional glass at the end of ceremony and kissed his bride, while Joe Cuba’s “Bang! Bang!” started playing on the speakers. “That moment, dancing down the aisle, surrounded by our family and friends cheering and tossing flower petals—that’s when it all finally hit me,” Zoe says.

A cocktail hour under a gazebo by a lily pond followed, with family and friends taking turns at a photo booth Zoe’s dad and brother built against a backdrop of tall pines. Then it was time for dinner under the big white tent, where long tables and family style meals awaited. They offered two cocktails named after their favorite places: The Bixby Bridge in Big Sur (vodka, ginger beer, and lime) and Petra Island (tequila, grapefruit, and mottled summer berries). “We ended up having three wedding cakes by the amazing Luckybird Bakery in Brooklyn because we couldn’t just choose one!” admits Zoe.

Both Sam and Zoe’s parents gave speeches, with Zoe’s father kicking it off. “It was personal, political, and perfect; it brought the whole house down in both laughter and tears,” she remembers. When it was time for their first dance, the couple chose “When I Get My Hands on You” by The New Basement Tapes, a love song with lyrics written by Bob Dylan. And then DJ Kenan of Les Loups kept the music going and people on their feet for nearly six hours. “There was a lot of hip-hop, a couple of insane dance-offs, and a traditional Turkish dance dating back to my great grandfather, where dollar bills are pasted on foreheads—everyone immediately jumped into it,” Zoe says. “It was all so much fun. We’ve never laughed, cried, or danced so hard—and best of all, Sam and I didn’t leave each other’s side all night long.”