At first, it seemed like bad luck when Katie Duell planned a winter hike and all but one of her friends canceled.
It actually turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to her.
She and a fellow science teacher from the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School District were the only ones who took that challenging trek in December 2009, trudging up Hadley Mountain through two feet of snow.
During the four hours it took to get to the summit and back, they had plenty of time to get to know one another.
Three years later, the two took another hike up Hadley, but this time, Katie’s hiking buddy packed a diamond ring along with the trail mix in his pack.
“We were up on a lookout. I was getting ready to take a picture and he was behind me, and he said, ‘Before you take that picture, I want you to turn around.’ And I couldn’t believe it. He was down on one knee and he said, ‘Katie, three years ago my life changed on this mountain, and now I want to make that change forever,’” she recounted.
On June 29, 2013, Katie and Rob Duell became husband and wife.
On their wedding day, just like on the day of that first fateful hike, Mother Nature produced some challenges for the soon-to-be-wed couple.
“It absolutely poured that day. I’ve never seen it rain so hard,” Katie recounted.
The ceremony was supposed to be an outdoor one at Mohawk River Country Club in Rexford.
Content to go with indoor nuptials, the Glenville resident went about her preparations. She had stayed the night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park with her bridal party and, unable to sleep, opted for an early morning exercise class at the YMCA. Later, stylists from Lipstick N Lashes Beauty Bar and Boutique in Ballston Spa came to the hotel to do everyone’s hair and makeup.
“It was great. We had cheese and crackers, we had some mimosas and had the music playing,” she said.
Dressed in a gown her mom had chosen, Katie was ready to walk down the aisle.
Blessing from above
In a stroke of good fortune, the rain stopped a short time before the 6 p.m. wedding. Employees at the country club used blowers to dry the grass and walkways, and the ceremony was held outside.
“There were dark clouds in the sky, and during our vows it did start to rain a little, but it was just a few blessing drops during the vows and then it stopped,” she recalled.
The indoor reception went off without a hitch. The couple personalized it with special touches like a “guest book” that was actually three five-liter wine bottles guests signed with a silver marker.
“There’s a cool way that you can cut the glass to turn it into a big candle to put next to a fireplace,” Katie said.
Clothespins soaked in coffee and branded with the couple’s initials and wedding date served as holders for the escort cards.
And then there was the food.
“The cocktail hour was so incredible, people thought it was dinner,” Katie said.
Dinner was chateaubriand, chicken Francaise and a steamed vegetable medley with twice-baked potatoes. There was a whole room filled with desserts, too.
The couple decided not to serve wedding cake but wanted a cake-cutting shot for their album. The solution: a fake cake. Only a small portion of the convincing looking confection they cut for the photos was edible.
The day was full of wonderful memories, but what Katie said she will remember most is the time spent on the dance floor.
“We did so much dancing, from the first dance when we were introduced and having our song together, doing those slow dances, and dancing with my dad,” she recalled. “Dancing with my dad was probably one of my favorite moments. It’s just something that will be forever memorable.”