Bolton Landing, NY
Receiving a call in the summer of 2015 about renovating a heavily used and compacted lawn area into a landscaped outdoor wedding space presented many challenges. Blue Water Manor Resort was in the process of renovating their grounds. They had recently renovated their banquet facility room in the winter of 2014 and were now ready to draw more weddings to the property.
John Kelly, the owner of the resort, was looking for a destination wedding location. His biggest challenge was that his daughter, Shannon’s wedding was going to be the first outdoor wedding on the new grounds at Blue Water Manor Resort.
He reached out to DeFranco Landscaping, Inc., a full-service professional landscaping company that specializes in serving lake front properties along the shores of Lake George and surrounding Adirondack region. The project required a bit of planning and design as there were many moving parts. A portion of the Restaurant was being renovated during the winter and additional site improvements were being completed simultaneously. Anthony DeFranco and Stu Mead were up for the design challenge. DeFranco is a licensed professional engineer, specializing in stormwater and site design. Stu Mead is a landscape architect, who graduated from SUNY ESF.
Much of the design work for the outdoor wedding area took place during the prior winter. The planning process started with determining the maximum seating that would be required for a typical wedding function. How the wedding ceremony was going to run determined the locations of the hardscaping features-pathways and a wedding pavilion. DeFranco, Mead and Kelly coordinated their designs with Joe Haines, an architect at Dassa Haines. The only requirement for the wedding beds was a lot of flowering shrubs. An integrated plant design focused on providing various different colors of flowers in bloom throughout the summer and into autumn so that the bridal party could get that right photo. Annual flowers supplemented the flowering shrubs and perennials.
The existing lawn area had signs of over use. The lawn had been heavily compacted from foot traffic to the point that there was more dirt than grass. The pathways and paver areas would help direct pedestrian movement across the lawn area to other parts of the campus. During construction, the flow of restaurant traffic from the docks to the restaurant couldn’t be disrupted.
This flat lawn area was the focal point for the entire facility-interconnecting the lake visitors arriving by boat, guests staying in the lodges and summer residents living in Basin Bay to the Tavern at Blue Water Resort. Visitors came by car, golf carts, boat and by foot. Pathways needed to accommodate golf cart traffic as well as function as the aisle for the processional, for the father and bride to enter the outdoor wedding area.
Kelly’s nephew constructed the timber wedding pavilion and many unique wooden railings. Kelly’s construction crews constructed the segmental retaining walls and elevated paver patio area, as well as renovating the “Grill”, another section of the restaurant that will function with a lighter fare of food once finished.
With a very tight deadline and John’s daughter’s wedding fast approaching, DeFranco’s crews came in and constructed the concrete paver walkways, planted all of the landscaped beds and laid fresh sod on the lawn areas. The area has an irrigation system, pathways have exterior lighting, landscape beds have accent lighting. An outdoor audio system was also added.
“It is a tremendous improvement from what was here to what it looks like now. I had to look at the old pictures of all the mud in this area to remind me how far we really came with this project.”, noted DeFranco.
Numerous design iterations were completed during the design phase. “We were even making changes as we started the construction work. The scope of the work expanded to make sure that the outdoor wedding area was integrated with the entire campus of the Blue Water Manor Resort. John has hit a home run with this.
“I can’t tell you how many people came up the lakeside stairs when we were finishing up and just said “Wow!” and we knew that they had seen what it looked like before.”
Blue Water Manor Resort’s outdoor wedding area can accommodate 220 guests and works as an overflow for any other special events at the resort, not to mention it looks and feels like an arboretum.