Dreams Do Come True

PHOTO BY Courtney Thomas Photography

BY: Norah Machia
When she was in 8th grade, Chelsi Curtis developed a crush on her future husband, Kyle Healy, after she caught her first glimpse of him in the hallways of the Thousand Islands Central School. But at the time, “I was just that girl with brown hair and braces” and Kyle didn’t seem to notice her, she joked.

   After her parents, Mark and Natali Curtis, moved the family to North Carolina, she enrolled in a new high school. But she could not forget about Kyle.

    Chelsi continued to return with her family to the St. Lawrence River each summer. “The first time I came back from North Carolina, the braces were off. I had blonde hair and was wearing make-up. That’s when Kyle started paying attention to me,” Chelsi quipped.

    The two started dating and continued a long-distance relationship. Kyle finished high school at Thousand Islands Central School, and Chelsi graduated from Lake Norman High School in Mooresville, N.C. But her heart always remained in her childhood home (her grandparents had also spent time on Grindstone Island in the St. Lawrence River). She had even returned to attend prom with Kyle at T.I. Central, and was there for his graduation ceremony as well.

     After they both graduated from their respective high schools in 2011, the couple started college together at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. But they decided that was not the life path they wanted to follow. Both had varied interests, and began traveling to pursue them – as far south as Florida, and then back to Northern New York.

    Chelsi trained and became licensed as a cosmetologist, yoga instructor and a reiki practitioner. Kyle had developed a passion for underwater diving, and completed training for his commercial diving license. They eventually returned to Clayton, and Chelsi started work at her grandmother’s salon, Ellen’s Beauty Shop on Route 12. Kyle began the application process to work as a law enforcement officer.

    They also set a wedding date: August 20, 2018. But when Kyle was accepted into the law enforcement, he was transferred for training in New Mexico, and then Arizona. Chelsi, however, stayed in Clayton to work at her grandmother’s salon, and to plan the perfect wedding along the St. Lawrence River. “We actually spent the last year of our engagement apart,” she said.

     The wedding was scheduled for a Monday, because that happened to be when Aug. 20 fell on the calendar, and it was important they get married on that date, a symbolic gesture of the date they started dating, she said.

    Chelsi decided to take what could have been a one-day event, and make it into a longer weekend celebration to allow family and friends plenty of time to spend with the couple and each other. “We wanted to provide a number of opportunities for people to enjoy the entire weekend, and to not only get to know each other, but enjoy the Thousand Islands region as well,” she said.

    The weekend’s festivities started on that Saturday with a “Meet and Greet” at the Johnston House Restaurant to enjoy a cocktail with the future bride and groom. It was a fun atmosphere and provided an opportunity to talk with people arriving in Clayton for the wedding, she said.

   The following day, the rehearsal dinner, also called the “I DO BBQ” was held the home of Kyle’s parents, Bob and Kara Healy, in Clayton. “It was a great opportunity to bring everyone together from both sides of the family who had traveled from out-of-town,” she said.

  As an added twist, Chelsi had designed t-shirts for family members to wear to the event – pink t-shirts for the Curtis side and green t-shirts for the Healy side. The shirts read “Pick a Color/Not a Side/We’re all Family/Once the Knot is Tied.”

    “The idea was to create an easier way for our families to get to know each other in a more fun and relaxed setting,” she said. “A lot of people had never met before the wedding.”

    The wedding ceremony was held on the following Monday, Aug. 20, 2018 at the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton.

    “Everything was very personal,” Chelsi said. “When we first started dating, my mother would have huge fish fries at our cottage on the St. Lawrence River. We worked with the caterer to incorporate many of those family recipes into the reception.”

    The couple used Two Friends on A River Inc., a family catering business operated by Susan C. Lauraine, Clayton. She helped prepare a macaroni and cheese recipe with tomatoes, a long-time popular recipe from Chelsi’s grandmother, along with another favorite – her mother’s recipe for a special broccoli salad. Many of the dishes had a small picture frame next to them displaying a copy of the recipe and why it was important to the couple, with a particular note to the family connection.

    Her flower choice was peonies, because “Kyle had picked those from his mother’s garden for me when we first started dating,” Chelsi said. But August was not the right season to grow peonies, so she found silk flowers that looked just like the real ones. “They had to be peonies, it was really important to me,” she said.

      The Antique Boat Museum provided the perfect location – it was located right across the St. Lawrence River from her family’s cottage where she had created so many happy childhood memories, she said. When they were dating, Chelsi and Kyle used to sit on the dock of that cottage, and they could hear music from across the river being played at other weddings held at the museum, she said. “We had set up the arbor for our ceremony in a spot where you could look across the river and see our cottage,” she said.

     They chose to have a private ceremony just prior to the late afternoon wedding. The small ceremony was held on the end of the dock where Chelsi and Kyle had spent so many summers sitting together. When he first came to her family’s cottage, she stood at the end of the road so he would not miss the driveway. This time, for their “first look” photos, it was Kyle who stood at the end of the road leading to the cottage, while Chelsi walked out to him.

     After the small private ceremony, the close family members and bridal party traveled by boat with local Captain Jeff Garnsey across the river to the Antique Boat Museum. The song “Two is Better Than One” was sung by their DJ and musician Travis Rocco, as they came down the aisle. Kyle’s grandmother, Linda Hutchenrider, Cape Cod, performed both the private ceremony at the family’s dock, and the wedding ceremony at the Antique Boat Museum.

     “It was important for our guests to have a ceremony as well,” Chelsi said. There was a mix of chairs and benches for the ceremony, reminiscent of the mix of seating at the family’s cottage, she said.

   An “After Party” was held later in the evening at The Channelside Restaurant and a “Newlywed Brunch” was planned to finish off the festivities the following morning at the West Winds Motel & and Cottages, both in Clayton. 

     “I could not have done this without all the support from my family and friends, especially my maid of honor and my bridal party,” Chelsi said. “They really helped me not to panic, and made my dream wedding on the St. Lawrence River come true.”