Real Wedding: Kristyn & Mitch
When Kristyn Keener and Mitch Schrager joined the New York City Teaching Fellows Program during graduate
school, they learned as much about love as they did about the responsibilities of being an educator. Throughout the challenges of first-year teaching, Kristyn and Mitch looked to each other for support, and by the time Christmas vacation rolled around, the new teachers were inseparable and happily in love.
Kristyn and Mitch quickly discovered how much more than teaching they shared in common. Both are fans of independent music, cinema, and many of the same contemporary authors. And both are animal lovers—and a good thing, too! When Kristyn started bringing her cat Mishka over to Mitch’s apartment, he was able to overlook the damage the kitty did to his furniture. And soon enough, the couple added another pet to the mix, rescuing
a racing greyhound named Arden.
From early in their relationship, Mitch had eagerly shared his love of the Hudson Valley with Kristyn. He’d gotten to know the area years before through rock climbing in the Shawangunks, and as a couple he and Kristyn came to enjoy not only extraordinary climbing and hiking but also the great food and charm of the region’s B&B’s.
On Labor Day weekend of 2007, Mitch convinced Kristyn that they needed a day in the country to unwind before the madness of school began again. They headed to Minnewaska State Park with Arden to hike and picnic, and
Mitch kept his eyes peeled for a lunch spot with a scenic overlook. Eventually, he found a perfectly flat area with a panoramic view of the Hudson Valley hills. His plan was coming together perfectly—except that he hadn’t actually planned just how to pop the question. But when he produced a ring and nonchalantly asked Kristyn, “Wanna get married?” she was all too happy to accept. The couple set the Fourth of July weekend for their wedding, which they easily agreed would be held somewhere in the Hudson Valley, providing them an opportunity to share their special place with everyone they loved.
The rehearsal dinner took place on the Fourth, and there was a lot to celebrate at this festive occasion. And being serenaded by Kristyn’s normally reserved sisters with an unforgettable interpretation of “Don’t Stop Believing”—with the lyrics altered to tell the couple’s story—was a delightful shock.
The bride and groom wrote their own wedding ceremony, incorporating traditions from both of their family heritages (his Jewish, hers Irish-Catholic). Mitch’s uncle Myron performed the ceremony—the couple adores his warmth and humor, and wanted his presence under the wedding huppa.
The wedding music carried special meaning for Mitch and Kristyn, featuring songs by Leonard Cohen, the Beach Boys, and Cat Stevens. Their first dance as a married couple was to Johnny Cash’s version of “If I Were a Carpenter.” Kristyn even ordered a ceramic ring holder from Etsy.com engraved with the words “In Spite of Ourselves,” the title of a John Prine song that the couple likes to sing to each other on hikes. The rings contained inside perfectly matched their style and beliefs—having read about the horrors of diamond mining in Africa, Mitch and Kristyn had chosen to purchase estate jewelry from the 1920s at Doyle & Doyle Jewelry in Manhattan.
Kristyn says that she will never forget the joy of getting ready with her family at the lovely Sheeley House Bed & Breakfast in High Falls, and later walking down the aisle accompanied by the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows.” Mitch looks back fondly at his quick climb at the Gunks in the hours before getting ready. Together, they smile at how the rain stopped by mid-morning and the sun shone brightly for their outdoor ceremony, and how everyone danced the night away.
Photos 7 & 8: BearFly Designs, LLC