Sometimes, when you see the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with for the first time, you just know. That’s what happened to Cate Geiger and Ryan Kalus when they first met at Miami University in Ohio in August of 2007. “I spotted him across the room, amongst the 100 students in our art history lecture class,” says Cate. “We didn’t actually meet for a few more months, but when we finally did, Ryan remembers turning to a friend and saying ‘I’m going to marry that girl.’”
In December of 2014, Ryan and Cate planned a trip from their home in New York City to Cleveland to visit his parents for Christmas. “Our flight was at 6 a.m. and I was so exhausted that I barely noticed when Ryan made me watch the luggage while he checked in and held on to our tickets the whole time,” Cate remembers. When they got to Chicago for their connection, Ryan led her to a flight to Cincinnati instead of Cleveland. “That’s when I realized we were heading back to our college campus.” Once on the Miami campus, Ryan brought Cate to a dam overlooking a creek near the spot where they’d first decided to start dating, and proposed. “We spent the weekend visiting our favorite bars and restaurants, it was so nostalgic and romantic!”
A year and a half later, on May 14, 2016, Cate and Ryan were wed at the Shenorock Shore Club in Rye, New York, in front of 180 guests. “I grew up visiting the beach with my family, and Ryan and I have loved escaping the bustle of the city during weekend visits,” the bride explains. “We couldn’t have imagined anywhere better to have our wedding!” The theme was “calm, cool, and collected” — a creative combination of items the bride collected for the tables, modern paper goods designed by the groom, and a laid-back vibe provided by the waterfront venue. Photographed by Julia Elizabeth Photography, it’s a refreshing style you won’t want to miss!
“Ryan is obsessed with geography, so he created a hand-drawn map to use for our invitations. You can see the distance between where we live, where our wedding venue is, and the fact that it’s a peaceful retreat that’s so close to the craziness of everyday life,” says Cate.
The bride spent the morning getting ready with the couple’s pup. She paired her Mociun engagement ring with a band by Vale Jewelry, while Ryan’s brushed gold band was found at Catbird. Cate’s low-heeled Stuart Weitzman sandals were the perfect choice for a beach wedding.
Cate is an editorial stylist for Good Housekeeping, so the details came easy — for the most part. “After my hair and makeup were finished, I stepped outside and made my own bouquet!” she reveals. “Arranging flowers is a big part of my job, and I knew it would be the perfect activity to keep me calm that morning.” The peony and garden rose creation gave the bride a moment to focus her excitement.
When Cate went shopping for a wedding dress, she realized her friends had found “The One” before she did. “It was the very first dress I tried on, and I was so nervous that I just moved on to the next dress. I tried on around 15 total, then sat down to look at pictures after my appointment. That was when I realized I’d found my dress, and I didn’t even remember trying it on!” she laughs. The winning style was a tulle and floral lace design in nude and blush shades by Monique Lhuillier. “I loved the way it swooshed when I moved, and that it wasn’t traditional white.”
Her sister and maid of honor donned a complementary gown, a black lace dress with a nude layer of tulle underneath.
For the nautical setting, Ryan wore a midnight blue tuxedo by Jack Wills.
“The easiest part of planning our wedding was showing up and getting married,” reveals Cate. “We committed to having an easy day, and told our planners and parents that, no matter what went wrong, we didn’t want to know! They respected our wishes and it let us step back, take a deep breath, and really be present.”
The groomsmen’s white boutonnieres stood out against their traditional black tuxedos. Cate’s bridesmaids all wore black chiffon dresses in a variety of styles, tying them together while letting each woman stand out. The florist created the bridesmaids’ bouquets, and Cate’s handmade version fit right in.
The ceremony took place beneath a wooden arch decorated with lush greenery and soft white flowers. “The arbor belongs to my childhood best friend. Both her mom and her sister were married beneath it, and her stepdad built it, so it was really special.” By using lots of greenery and fewer full blooms, the couple was able to save a little money without sacrificing a big impact.
Upon arrival, guests were given ceremony programs that also served as fans, designed by the groom and with a sweet pun thrown in the mix!
The couple had two flower girls, including the bride’s niece, who headed down the aisle in a wooden wagon. “We put a sign on the back of the wagon that read ‘Future Flower Girl,’” says Cate.
She walked down the aisle with her dad, who cracked a few jokes to keep things lighthearted. Says the bride, “It was a long walk and I was so emotional, but my dad made a few jokes as we got to our guests and our photographer got a great shot of us laughing together.”
To really personalize the ceremony, the couple invited the bride’s aunt and uncle to serve as officiants. “We spent a lot of time before the wedding talking together about what was important to us, filling out fun questionnaires, and even writing secret poems for one another,” says the bride. “They had the poems framed and gave them to us on our wedding day. It was so special to have them hold this important job.”
During cocktail hour, guests found their names written on oyster shells that served as escort cards. They dined on some of the couple’s favorite foods, from crispy bites of corned beef (inspired by the groom’s favorite sandwich at Katz’s Deli) to grilled cheese (inspired by the nachos at the couple’s favorite neighborhood restaurant). Both the bride and groom had signature cocktails, named for the beaches where they grew up.
Inside, café lights were hung from the ceiling and tables were topped with candles and vases collected by the bride. The tables around the edge of the room featured blue taper candles and garlands of eucalyptus, while the inner tables had lush pink and white blooms in the mismatched ginger vases, jars, and lanterns.
“Our place settings had rattan chargers, topped with six different styles of napkins in blue, pink, and white patterns. We made sure to mix them up so each table had a variety of patterns and textures,” says the bride. The couple’s chairs were decorated with eucalyptus garlands.
Next to the dance floor, a blue and white tablecloth covered the cake table. Oyster and mussel shells were arranged around the cake, which featured ruffled frosting and layers of pistachio cake with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream.
The morning of the wedding, the chance of a storm meant Ryan and Cate had to decide if they wanted to move their ceremony indoors. “We decided to risk it, and the rain held off until our reception started,” she remembers. “Our sunset photos turned into storm photos, but we love them! It was amazing watching the weather roll in over Long Island Sound.”
For their first dance, Ryan’s best man performed “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. “It’s a song that is so significant in the nine years we’d been together, and the best man is a classically trained vocalist and guitarist. He really blew everyone away!”
We love when a couple gets creative with tradition! Instead of ceremonially cutting the cake, Cate and Ryan invited the band down onto the dance floor to play “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd while the cut a slice. “We danced and sang the whole time, almost knocked the cake over, and eventually I smeared a serious amount of frosting into Ryan’s beard!” Cate laughs.
The couple headed to Rome and the Amalfi Coast for their honeymoon. Advises the bride, “Try not to let other people’s requests get between the two of you as you’re planning. Stay calm, and don’t let the decisions pile up!”
Venue & Catering: Shenorock Shore Club || Bride’s Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Veil: Yuri C Wedding Shoppe || Shoes: Stuart Weitzman || Hair & Makeup: FaceTime Beauty || Groom’s Attire: Jack Wills || Groomsmen’s Attire: Generation Tux || Engagement Ring: Mociun || Wedding Bands: Vale Jewelry; Catbird || Flowers: Daisy Stone Studio || Invitation Printing: Huckleberry Letterpress || Other Paper Products: Wedding Paper Divas; Paper Source || Music: Audio Via of Élan Artists || Cake: Sweethaus || Rentals: Fabrico Events Services; Party Rental LTD || Photographer: Julia Elizabeth Photography