SDS Weddings in the New York Times

August 18, 2022

Two Select Date Society success stories featured in the New York Times

FIELD NOTES

https://www.nytimes.com/…/style/wedding-venue-crawl.html

Couples who want to savor as much of a wedding day as possible are organizing chauffeured excursions to see sights, bar hop and shop with their guests.

Instead of choosing the typical wedding format of ceremony followed by reception, Megan and Craig Pyndinski caravanned with their 14 guests in super jeeps to at least a half-dozen locations after being married in Iceland in September 2021.
Instead of choosing the typical wedding format of ceremony followed by reception, Megan and Craig Pyndinski caravanned with their 14 guests in super jeeps to at least a half-dozen locations after being married in Iceland in September 2021. Credit…Ann Peters

By Perri Ormont Blumberg

Aug. 18, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET

Megan and Craig Pyndinski never saw themselves having a typical wedding.

For the couple, who live in Schnecksville, Pa., that not only meant choosing to marry at a far-flung location, but also inviting a very small group and caravanning with their guests to at least a half-dozen locations before their big day had ended.

“You hear everybody else saying ‘I don’t even remember that day,’ because you were saying hi to everybody and rushing around,” Ms. Pyndinski said, referring to the celebration format of ceremony followed by reception, which arguably remains the most common scenario at nuptials, no matter the size or place. “I don’t think the traditional wedding was for us.”

Instead, after settling on a date, Sept. 20, 2021, and a location, the southern highlands of Iceland, Ms. Pyndinski, 31, a therapist, and Mr. Pyndinski, 30, a mechanical engineer, arranged a day of sightseeing for the newlyweds and their 14 guests following their 10 a.m. ceremony near a waterfall in the highlands.

From there, the group traveled in a pair of all-terrain super jeeps to a more than 400-feet-tall cliff where, Ms. Pyndinski said, “I literally thought my dress was going to pull me off the cliff side.” (“Gale force winds,” she added.)

Then came drives to a hiking trail near quicksand and a glacier; to an ice cave, for spelunking; to a mountainous area featured in the Star Wars film “Rouge One”; and to a canyon where the group had a toast. “My brother and Craig hiked up this little wall” near another waterfall, Ms. Pyndinski said, “and got some fresh water in their champagne glasses.” The agenda also included a stop at “some black sand with vibrant green mountains in the background,” Mr. Pyndinski said.

The Pyndinskis’ ceremony took place near a waterfall. From there, the group was driven to a cliff, a hiking trail, an ice cave and a mountainous area featured in the Star Wars film “Rouge One.”
The Pyndinskis’ ceremony took place near a waterfall. From there, the group was driven to a cliff, a hiking trail, an ice cave and a mountainous area featured in the Star Wars film “Rouge One.”Credit…Ann Peters

To keep spirits festive, their chauffeurs shared geological trivia and Icelandic folk tales. Throughout the excursion, the bride and groom switched between the two vehicles, which were stocked with granola bars and water, so they could spend time with all of their guests. (A third super jeep towed a portable toilet for the group.) The final stop was at the Hotel Klaustur in Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Iceland, where the day ended with a dinner.

Ms. Pyndinski said the couple paid about $10,000 to rent the super jeeps for their 10-hour tour. They arranged it through their planner, Ann Peters, the founder of Iceland Wedding Planner, in Selfoss, Iceland. Ms. Peters, who owns another planning company, Your Adventure Wedding, first began organizing roving nuptials in 2012, but said such celebrations started to become more popular in 2017.

The format has become even more in demand since the arrival of the pandemic, said Lia Bancroft, who owns a namesake event company in Boston. “People are trying to think differently about events and want to stir things up,” she said. “It also elongates the timeline, which gives the couple more time to really enjoy their guests.”

Her clients Rachael Bozsik, 29, an independent branding consultant, and Travis Johnson, 43, the founder and chief executive of a consulting firm, are planning to wed in Great Barrington, Mass., on Dec. 10. Ahead of the ceremony, the couple, who live in Chicago, are arranging a five-hour excursion for their expected 25 guests.

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Via a fleet of three white Cadillac Escalades, the group will go to the Wheatleigh, a Gilded Age mansion turned boutique hotel, for breakfast; an antiques store for a private shopping session; and then on a driving tour of Great Barrington. After that, Ms. Bozsik and Mr. Johnson plan to peel off from their guests, who will later be shuttled by the Escalades to the ceremony and reception at the Freeman Berkshires, a local estate the couple is renting for the occasion.

“I almost feel like we’ll be living in a scrapbook, and making all these incredible pit stops,” Ms. Bozsik said.

The couple planned their roving wedding with Ann Peters, who first began organizing such nuptials in 2012, but said they started to become more popular in 2017.
The couple planned their roving wedding with Ann Peters, who first began organizing such nuptials in 2012, but said they started to become more popular in 2017. Credit…Ann Peters

She and Mr. Johnson expect to pay around $10,000 for the three vehicles and drivers. But Ms. Bancroft, their planner, said couples interested in arranging similar wedding day excursions can typically find less expensive transportation including party buses, trolleys or even school buses.

Tyler and Natalie Brady, who live in Wilmington, N.C., rented a trolley for $1,000 to take the couple and their 16 guests out for several hours of sightseeing and barhopping following their early afternoon ceremony on May 28, 2021, at Aspen Winds on Fall River, a resort in Estes Park, Colo., just outside Rocky Mountain National Park.

From the venue, the group headed to two different bars, then to a local steakhouse for dinner. Afterward, Mr. Brady, a 38-year-old digital marketing specialist, and Ms. Brady, a 38-year-old corporate finance manager, got back on the trolley with their guests for an hour-long tour of the park, stopping at several scenic overlooks. “We made it past 14,000 feet” in elevation, Mr. Brady said. The ride ended back at the Aspen Winds resort, where their group was staying. “It was a magical day,” he added.

Then living in Broomfield, Colo., the couple chose an action-packed itinerary in part because all of their guests traveled from the East Coast to attend. “We really wanted to make it a full-day experience and give them a really good time,” Mr. Brady said.

A party bus is what Ryan and Lynnelle Wilson boarded with 20 friends and family members following their 2 p.m. ceremony on July 23, 2021, at Mr. Wilson’s family farm in Fenwick, Mich., where the couple lives. To rent it for four hours, they paid $650.

Mr. Wilson, 36, the executive director of an economic development agency, and Ms. Wilson, 38, a salon owner, grew up 10 miles apart; he in Fenwick, and she in Greenville, Mich. They had arranged for the bus to stop at places important to them and their relationship.

On the agenda were drinks at Langston Bar, a dive bar, in Stanton, Mich.; more drinks at the Winter Inn, the Greenville restaurant where the couple had their first date; and a stop for a group photo on Lafayette Street in downtown Greenville, where they shared a first kiss. Also on the itinerary was a visit to the softball fields at Greenville’s Alan G. Davis Park, where everyone raised a shot glass in honor of Ms. Wilson’s father, who died in 2019.

“We spread out my dad’s ashes on field number two,” Ms. Wilson said. “Whenever we look at field number two, we think of him.” Mr. Wilson’s father, who died in 2009, received his own toast following the ceremony.

Though the couple hosted a reception attended by some 250 guests later that evening, Ms. Wilson said her most cherished memories of their wedding day are from riding around on the party bus, which they had loaded with two coolers’ worth of drinks. “It was our time to spend with our very close family and friends, and to have fun and let loose before all the hustle and bustle of the reception.”

Amber Lee, the bride’s sister, appreciated how the excursion provided a more intimate opportunity for both families to bond.

“My family lives in Richmond, Virginia, and didn’t know the groom’s family and friends, so we were able to make real connections,” Ms. Lee said. “I mean how can you not when you’re all drinking on a party bus?”