Tag: Memories

LGBTQ+ couples share fond memories and kind words about their Stroudsmoor wedding

LGBTQ+ couples share fond memories and kind words about their

Stroudsmoor Country Inn is nestled in the serene Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. In addition to being host to stunning overlooks and magical scenery, Stroudsmoor Country Inn has six venues for your wedding and reception, as well as a turn-of-the-century boutique hotel to host the couple, wedding party and out-of-town guests. Each venue at Stroudsmoor is dedicated to one couple on their wedding day, featuring its own ceremony site, reception area, execution staff, and services to ensure the utmost privacy.

When asked about the Stroudsmoor experience, Linda Forte, director of event operations at Stroudsmoor Country Inn, says, ““Many things come to mind. Our matriarch, Mrs. “P”irone’s recipes and culinary expertise bring guests from far and wide. The 350-acre mountain property is meticulously manicured by a team of committed nature lovers. Our charming accommodations, our six dedicated event venues, our rejuvenating spa, host to all types of celebrations. Most importantly, the Stroudsmoor team of professionals love to help you make memories. This means providing quality, ensuring value, and supporting the well-being of each and every guest of the Inn. We are honored to read these heartfelt accolades and recommendations offered by our guests. Glimpse the Stroudsmoor experience through their eyes.”

Stroudsmoor Country Inn has hosted many weddings over the years. This article includes reviews written by some of their LGBTQ+ couples. Read on to learn more about their experiences and memories expressed in their own words.

Jacqueline + Mary’s September wedding at Woodsgate

Jacqueline + Mary’s September wedding at Woodsgate

“There are no words to express just how perfect our wedding weekend was at the Stroudsmoor Country Inn! We had been planning our wedding for well over a year and it all was beyond our expectations! I am an extremely particular person and I also am a creative person who had some unique visions for our event. Never once did anyone tell us ‘no.’ They got creative and worked with us to make every detail perfect! They also tended to us and our guests like royalty every second of the weekend.

Every staff member was top notch and friendly! Our Stroudsmoor wedding planner was incredible! The floral/decor team was phenomenal (even when I think I was torturing them a little while working on getting it “just right A”)! In the end it was truly just right!!! The coordinator for the rehearsal BBQ (which we made into a 6-hour party in the pavilion… AMAZING!!) was wonderful. The day of our actual wedding, our floor supervisors were dynamos! They checked in regularly to make sure we didn’t need anything and our personal attendant was magical with her tool belt! She facilitated our wardrobe changes (I had three, my wife had two!), re-did my hair when it was coming out, touched up our makeup, fixed my wife’s shoes, kept a drink in our hands always, etc., etc., etc.!!!!!

There are other staffers that were working behind the scenes who I know I’m forgetting to mention by name, but know that every detail mattered and we thank you!! The food was delicious, the venues (Woodsgate and the pavilion) were beautiful, and our room was comfy. This weekend was nothing short of PERFECT! We are filled with so much love for each other and our family and friends, and we got to celebrate that love without any distractions! I am already scheming to plan a weekend-long five-year anniversary party there! (I just need to get it passed by the budget committee: my wife.)”

Jeffrey + Jason’s summer wedding at Woodsgate

Jeffrey + Jason’s summer wedding at Woodsgate

“The day of the wedding came and it was a whirlwind! There was never a glitch or if there was we didn’t know about it because of the Stroudsmoor Team. The grooms-women went to the spa to have their hair and makeup done and they looked beautiful! The weather was gorgeous and the beautiful autumn day was exactly as we hoped! We had a great wedding manager who really made sure that our day was perfect. Anything we needed he took care of professionally. I wanted him to come and manage our day to day life! The reception was such a blast! The food was fantastic and the cake was a thing of beauty. We highly recommend Stroudsmoor Country Inn to anyone thinking of getting married! We were never treated any differently for being a same-sex couple; they treated us just as they treat everyone . . . like family.”

We highly recommend Stroudsmoor Country Inn to anyone thinking of getting married!

Shanna + Melissa’s fall wedding at Woodsgate

Shanna + Melissa’s fall wedding at Woodsgate

“We could never thank Stroudsmoor enough for all the hours of work put into making our big day exactly what we imagined it would be. We waited so long to be able to get married, then find the perfect place and all the anticipation was well worth it. The Stroudsmoor team of professionals were all so welcoming and willing to do anything to make our day perfect! Every trip up there always felt like visiting family. Thank you for all your hard work putting everything together for us, from favors and food to decorations and details, it was all amazing. We had an extraordinary day that we will always remember. Thank you for making all our dreams come true, (outdoor ceremony and all!) it was all breathtakingly beautiful! With all of our gratitude.”

We had an extraordinary day that we will always remember.

Jessica + Joanna’s fall wedding at Lawnhaven

Jessica + Joanna’s fall wedding at Lawnhaven

“We picked Stroudsmoor because it made us feel like we were fully accepted into everyone’s life like family. Everyone was sweet and caring and made sure our special day was exactly what we dreamed of. We will never forget how beautiful our special day was. From the flowers to the venue. Even the small things like having our family who couldn’t join us in pictures on the mantles. We love how beautiful the Stroudsmoor team made us feel, and how wonderful our day turned out to be. We appreciate everyone who helped us make our day so special. It is definitely a day we won’t forget.”

Katie + Julie’s summer wedding at Lawnhaven

Katie + Julie’s summer wedding at Lawnhaven

“We both wanted to thank you and the Stroudsmoor team so, so much from the bottom of our hearts. You all played a huge role in our wedding day and you honestly made it a dream come true. Julie and I cannot thank everyone enough. You truly do have the kindest of hearts and all made us both feel so welcomed. We hope that we will visit Stroudsmoor again in the near future. Thank you for making everything perfect and for treating us like family!”

You truly do have the kindest of hearts and all made us both feel so welcomed.

Sheila + Lynn’s spring wedding at Auradell

Sheila + Lynn’s spring wedding at Auradell

“Our wedding was so much more than we could have imagined. The Stroudsmoor Team did such an awesome job. Our colleagues who attended the wedding are still talking about how beautiful the Stroudsmoor Inn is and how wonderful the food was at the reception. We could not have been happier. We intend to return for future romantic dinners and a romantic weekend or two. Thank you for everything, Lynne says to stay BUFFED, PUFFED AND POLISHED! It was definitely a GOOOOOD TIME!”

Allyson + Rebecca’s summer wedding at Terraview

Allyson + Rebecca’s summer wedding at Terraview

“The Stroudsmoor team has been such a pleasure to work with. Very helpful, again and again! Thank you so much! We can’t wait to celebrate back at Stroudsmoor!”

Michael + Sean’s summer wedding at Terraview | Stroudsmoor weddings

Michael + Sean’s summer wedding at Terraview

“Sean and I are getting ready to leave for Italy this afternoon, but we wanted to take a moment and thank you again for all of your help making our day so special for us and our guests! Our guests really enjoyed the food, accommodations, and service! I could not have imagined a more perfect day and it was truly the best day of our lives for us. We can’t thank you enough . . . The Stroudsmoor team was so kind and helpful. Words cannot express how happy Sean and I are with how everything played out and we are so grateful that we worked with the team over a year to make all of this happen. Thank you again for everything!”

Victoria + Deirdre’s July wedding at Lawnhaven | Stroudsmoor weddings

Victoria + Deirdre’s July wedding at Lawnhaven

“It was lovely meeting the Stroudsmoor team. You helped us narrow down where we should be with our theme. From start to finish, our vision of ‘Christmas in July’ came through without being cliché. Thank you again for helping us through planning during the pandemic.”

COVID-19 changes

During the 2020 wedding season, Stroudsmoor has worked hard to serve its couples. “This year unlike others was filled with many challenges and changes for our couples,” says Forte. “Throughout the COVID-19 restrictions, we maintained the Stroudsmoor mantra to never cancel a wedding. We continue to see many wonderful couples say their vows in 2020. While their original wedding vision was altered drastically by the pandemic, a new vision on a beautiful day emerged and they were married safely. We are proud to have played a small role in ensuring their happiness.”

Choosing a wedding venue at Stroudsmoor

The six wedding venues at Stroudsmoor are Ridgecrest, Auradell, Woodsgate, Lawnhaven, Terraview and the SCI Pavilion. Ridgecrest is seated at the highest point of the Stroudsmoor Mountain. With breathtaking views for miles, souls can soar to the clouds, and hearts will fill with the magic created by the union of two kindred spirits in marriage. Dedicated to Life, Love and Happily Ever After.

Intimate celebrations are key these days, but while small in size, intimacy plays a key role in every aspect of an Auradell wedding. Its Gallery and Hearthside Suite are filled with the warmth and charm of a century-old Inn, while dancing in its Solarium makes for a GOOD TIME! With five lovely suites on its upper levels, the Auradell couple become the innkeepers on their wedding day.

Woodsgate is the first of our private event venues. More than 200-years-old, this restored barn has seen celebrations that run a gamut of themes, from zombies in the woods, to visions of Arwen and Aragorn in the reunited kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

Lawnhaven’s walls of glass look out onto verdant gardens, a water lily–filled pond, and green lawns where couples play cornhole and quoits. Formal and fun come together wonderfully at Lawnhaven. The venue has the added attraction of converting from a closed environment filled with natural light, to an open-air forum providing fresh air and safety.

With two ceremony locations, the Cherry Valley Overlook and Terra Gardens, Terraview is the castle atop the Stroudsmoor Mountain. Couple’s find the breathtaking views and dramatic waterfalls inspirational and calming.

At SCI Pavilion, couples and their guests will enjoy a wedding ceremony under towering black walnut trees, surrounded by the woods and fields of wild flowers. Rustic chic vibes abound in this country setting.

Stroudsmoor invites you and your partner to tour their venues and meet their planners. Call (570) 421-6431 or visit stroudsmoorweddings.com.


This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Stroudsmoor Country Inn. If your business is interested in supporting Equally Wed’s award-winning editorial mission of showcasing gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, queer and allied couples’ weddings through advertising via sponsored posts, banner ads, other partnerships or you have any other ideas for us, please reach out to advertising@equallywed.com.

Photo credits from top down: Jessica Manna; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – John Blancato; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – John Blancato; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Kyle Ohocinski; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – David Coulter; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Josh Miller; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Kyle Ohocinski; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Susie Forrester; Stroudsmoor Photography Studio – Kyle Ohocinski

From Malta with Love… Our Unforgettable Memories • Travel with Mei and Kerstin

From Malta with Love… Our Unforgettable Memories

 

Have you ever heard of the “Malta Convention”? It’s a European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage. Also dubbed the “Valletta Convention” or the “Valletta Treaty”, since it was adopted in Valletta, the capital of Malta. Due to her job, Mei – who is an archaeologist, as you might know – told me a lot about this convention for the last several years. Mainly, because Luxembourg recently ratified this treaty.

 

Now, you might ask what this treaty, which aims to protect the European archaeological heritage, has to do with our voyage in Malta? Let me spare you the details: it actually isn’t very relevant. Except for the fact that had Mei not mentioned this treaty every single day for the past few years, I probably wouldn’t have suggested to visit Malta.

 

Our trip only lasted for four days. But when it comes to travel: quality matters, not quantity. Quality and memories. Because we travel to make unforgettable memories…

 

MARVEL AT VALLETTA’S COLORFUL WOODEN BALCONIES

 

 

It was midnight when we landed in Malta. Not a soul lingered in the city. But as we were driving through the city center of Valletta, our jaws dropped at the sight of the countless historical facades ornated with entrancing details. These buildings were gracefully lit with warm yellow lights.

 

Only the next morning did the Mediterranean sun finally lift the curtain on Valletta’s exuberant architecture. What the previous night had merely augured, was suddenly unveiled. So, we spent the whole day strolling through the narrow alleys of one of the smallest capital-cities in the world: climbing down dozens of limestone staircases, gazing up at the colorful wooden balconies, unmasking features at every corner. Apparently, the trend to build these enclosed balconies started in Valletta around the end of the 17th century. They revealed the owners’ social status.

 

However, it’s not sure whether these enclosed balconies have an Aragonese, Spanish, Arabic, or Turkish origin. But one thing is sure: the protruding wooden balconies, the heraldic stone-carved emblems, as well as the solitary church chimes render Malta an interactive storybook. We were eager to turn all the pages…

 

SIT DOWN AND RELAX IN THE LOWER BARRAKKA GARDENS

 

 

After a long day wandering around the streets of Valletta, we ended up in front of a small public park. When we set eyes on a miniature Greek-styled temple, Mei immediately wanted to visit the inside. It turns out that this neoclassical monument was built in 1810 as a memorial to Sir Alexander Ball. He was a British admiral, very much loved by the Maltese population, when the archipelago was under British rule.

 

The monument was encircled by palm trees, rearing their feathery crowns proudly. The stone pillars presented here and there colorful dots. At times, we could see the golden gleam of a lizard before it vanished in a crevice. A lazy cat was sunbathing. It squinted at us before turning its attention to the waving neck of an orange tree.

 

We settled on a bench, letting the light sea breeze play with our hair. As far as the eye could reach, the Grand Harbour stretched out its giant legs. The Lower Barakka Gardens soon became our favorite spot in the city. Each night, its magnetic vibe drew us in.

 

LISTEN TO THE WAVES AT WUESTENWINDS BEACH

 

 

Malta is recognized for its clean beaches, reputed to be the cleanest in Europe. But most of them are located in the northern part of the archipelago. In the city of Valletta, there is no beach… or is there?

 

We chose to stay in Valletta, because we intended to explore its cultural and historical sites. We’re not beach persons. The April zephyr is not warm enough for us to take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. But on the second day of our trip, we stumbled upon a narrow staircase just a few steps south of Fort St Elmo. A little kitten licked its paw, then advanced to greet us with a meow. It didn’t let us touch its sandy fur, but looked at us with intent, before walking down two steps. Then it stopped again, turned around slowly and gave us another meow. So, we decided to follow the kitten down the stairs…

 

A few meters further, we found several boats turned upside down. Scattered all around, tiny colorful cabins had been built on top of the steep cliffs. We assumed they were abandoned fishermen cottages. Little kitty didn’t seem to want us to stop there. It led us further down, until we reached the sea. And there it was: a hidden stone beach, called Wuestenwinds Beach.

 

GET LOST IN MDINA

 

 

A bus ride between Valletta and the city of Mdina lasts about twenty-five minutes. But it took our bus driver only ten minutes, and a few close-call accidents…

 

Perched atop a hillside and surrounded by lime-green fields and canary flowers, the fortified city of Mdina looks like a fairytale town from afar. But once inside the Silent City, we felt like history truly came alive! Mdina used to be Malta’a capital from its foundation in the 8th century BC until the arrival of the Order of St. John in 1530.

 

 

In Antiquity, the town was called Maleth. Then Melite by the Romans, before becoming Mdina, which derives from the Arabic word medina, meaning “a walled city with narrow and maze-like streets”. This description of Mdina is still accurate today. But unlike in the medinas of Tunisia or Morocco, the narrow alleys of this Maltese walled city are absolutely quiet.

 

Most tourists stay at the entrance gates of the town or visit the famous St Paul’s Cathedral or the French baroque Magisterial Palace. Some of them stroll on the city wall to catch sensational panoramic views of the surrounding areas. But once we walked into the hushed heart of the city, we were all by ourselves. Perfect to take in the timeless quietude. To feel the heat emerging from the sun-kissed walls. And to get lost in the maze of narrow alleyways…

 

SLOW DOWN IN MARSAXLOKK

 

 

Compared to the chaotic bus ride we took to Mdina, the one to southeastern Malta turned out to be less hectic. We drove sluggishly along the shoreline, past grazing sheep and cattle… soon, we closed our eyes…

 

But the unexpected beauty of Marsaxlokk woke us up. We had not seen such a picturesque fishing village for a very long time! We felt like stepping on a Greek island. Not crowded, nor touristy. It was almost noon, but we didn’t want to rush to the first restaurant for lunch. We wandered gently through the little fishing village, marveling at the boats’ coloring and names. Finally, we sat down by the water, enjoying the quiet. A few local fishermen were mending their fishing nets. While others were repainting their luzzu boats… probably getting ready for the high season in Malta.

 

 

A group of Buddhist monks dressed in bright orange came out of nowhere. Seeing their genuine smile, we imagined they lived in a jungle-temple in Angkor, or perhaps in one of the many wats in Luang Prabang. Even they found Marsaxlokk scenic enough to take a selfie…

 

By the way, did you know that it was in the bay of Marsaxlokk where the Phoenicians first settled down when they landed in Malta in the 9th century BC? I like it when Mei reveals bits of history. It soothes me. I put my head on her shoulder, and asked her to tell me more… The name of this village sounds complicated. But its meaning is actually quite simple. “Marsa” is the Arabic word for “port”. And “xlokk” is Maltese (pronounced “shlock”) and means “south east”. I thought that this fishing village was called so, because it was located in the southeast of the island. But in fact, “xlokk” is related to the dry southeastern wind dubbed “sirocco”, which blows from the Sahara.

 

WATCH THE SUNSET AT THE UPPER BARRAKKA GARDEN

Some say that sunsets are always the same, wherever you go. We don’t agree. They’re never the same. Not even when watched from the same spot. Let alone, from different places. I love the ones we witnessed in Santorini. Mei loves the ones we experienced in San Francisco Bay. Perhaps, sunsets are not linked to places. But to memories. And to feelings of specific moments, as the ones you remember because you held hands, or kissed.

 

When the last violet sunrays slid across the Upper Barrakka Gardens, a pristine colonnaded garden with fountains and archways, we felt at peace and in love. It was magnificent…

 

LEARN ABOUT MALTA’S HISTORY IN THE NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM

 

 

On the last day of our trip in Malta, we had a few hours to spare. Mei wanted to make one last use of her ICOM membership card, which provides her with free access to national museums and historical sites around the world. So, we walked to Fort St Elmo and the National War Museum. While I sat down under a lemon tree to muse and to write, Mei explored the museum. She sent me pictures of the Knights’ final resting place inside a small chapel. As well as of artefacts from the Normans who conquered Malta in the 11th century. And of several wreckages from WWII’s crashed aircrafts. By the way, did you know that Malta gained independence only in 1964?

 

Restored only recently, the whole complex of Fort St. Elmo is gigantic. The panoramic views of both the Grand Harbour and the Marsamxett Harbour, which the Fort guarded proudly in the 16th century and again during WWII, were well worth the visit, according to Mei. From the top of the fortification, she waved at me as I finished the last verse of my poem. When she joined me under the lemon tree, I thought that this was life as it should be. For once, without a care in the world. Free to stroll around. We took silly selfies. Kissed. Loved. Looked out into the teal Mediterranean Sea and dreamed away our time…

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