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Vow Renewal at Woodloch: One Loving Couple's Story

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“I’ll always be his ‘Toots’ and he will always be my ‘Hun.’”

It’s been 50 years since they first met, and Kathy and Phil Bracco of Monroe Township, New Jersey, can’t wait to renew their vows.

"Phil and I have NEVER called each other by our first names. I’ll always be his 'Toots,' and he will always be my 'Hun.' That’s what we have called each other since the beginning of this loving journey together," she says. “We met in the lobby of the N.Y. Tel. Co. where I worked.  Phil was picking up his neighbor who was my supervisor.  I happened to be leaving at the same time.  What a coincidence.  We were introduced, and our love story started from there. Phil was 24; I was 18."

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And yes, it was love at first sight.

She’ll never forget his heartfelt proposal. “We were in his car. He told me how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  We were married a year later,” she relates.

Tears of happiness followed his proposal. “We were so excited and went home to tell our parents,” she says.

The two were wed on June 29, 1963  at the Oriental Manor in Brooklyn. “The Church was Our Lady of Grace on Avenue W & East 3rd Street in Brooklyn,” she says.

Does she remember that exact moment when they looked into each other’s eyes and promised forever? “I cry at any little thing; imagine on my wedding day. How can I ever forget those precious meaningful words? We are as in love today as the day we exchanged our vows. As we have matured so has our love grown deeper for one another. It has definitely evolved," she says.

When it comes to the secret of happily ever after, Kathy says, "It’s having unconditional love and understanding for one another. Always being there for each other in good and bad times."

Her advice to new couples rings true. "Be trustworthy, understanding, compromise and don’t hold a grudge. Communication is very important. Always say "I love you" before going to bed and give each other a kiss. It is truly a blessing to find your soulmate to share a lifetime together," she says.

This June, the Braccos will celebrate 50 amazing years at Woodloch with their kids and grandkids. "We have three children, two girls and one boy, and 6 grandchildren, five boys and one girl," she says.  

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"The best part and biggest blessing of being married is that we have each other every day to share all the joys and special times with our children and grandchildren," Kathy says.  

Their vow renewal ceremony will be steeped in romanticism. Kathy envisions a horse and carriage.  "I guess deep down I am a hopeless romantic wanting to ride in a horse and carriage. Remembering the song, 'Love & Marriage goes together like a horse and carriage . . . you can’t have one without the other.' How true are those words. We wanted to have a ceremony outsideand always dreamed of having it by a lake or on a beach. We realized Woodloch had it all. I love the lake settings," she says.

"We chose Woodloch so we can all be together in one house, and it was convenient for everyone’s schedule since it is not too far from where we live. We have been there two times before. We love the whole atmosphere of such a beautiful resort to renew our vows.''

Kathy says, "Having a bright sunny day celebrating it with all our family would make our day perfect."

Vow renewal is indeed special, says Pastor Sharon Bedrosian, who officiates at Woodloch. "It makes me cry. I love doing it because there's such a feeling of love there," Bedrosian says.  

To learn more about vow renewal ceremonies at Woodloch Pines Resort, please call 1-800-966-3562, option 3.  

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As Always, Love Flourishes at Woodloch!

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weddings, class trips

~Shared by Kathy Van Horn

Love is in the air at Woodloch, and there are many different ways to love someone. Who would think you could find true love at a family resort? Well it happens all the time at our beautiful resort, Woodloch Pines.

Take Chuck Gray whose parents have been bringing their family here since Chuck was a little boy. He met his wife Catherine while here on vacation. Catherine's parents are also long time guests.  After five years of marriage and two beautiful children, both families still come the same time each year.  The funny part of this story is that during their week Catherine sits with her family at the main lodge for meals, and Chuck sits with his parents at the Inn.  I guess you're wondering who gets the kids? 

Another love story is Lizzie Horn. No, she didn't meet her husband Matt here. Since she was a little girl she dreamed of getting married here. Matt, her boyfriend at the time, decided that this would be the perfect place to propose to her (ask me about the ring some time).  After a few frantic days, Matt got the ring.  Lizzie said yes, and they started planning their wedding.  They did have the perfect Woodloch wedding filled with family, friends, fun and laughter. They now have a beautiful son.

We've had staff-to-staff weddings, we've had guest-to-guest weddings , and we've had staff-to-guest weddings. We have love for our co-workers. We are a tight knit group. When something good happens to our staff members and guests, we rejoice and celebrate their good fortune. When something bad happens, we mourn and look for ways to console them. From our being so close, relationships develop, even romantic ones. The other day a couple of staff members at the desk were counting how many marriages that we knew of that were tied to Woodloch.

Can you guess? Let me know on my blog, or stop by the desk and ask.

We also have other types of love here. Employees who love our guests. Guests who love our staff. Even first time guests can fall in love with our staff.

Take the Olsen family. First time guest Mrs. Olsen came to the desk to check in with Tess, our front desk manager. She explained to Tess that her five-year-old son had just gotten sick in the car.  Tess helped her with that situation and a few other things. Then Kate, Tess's daughter who works in social, adored Ms. Olsen's two children. Kate was with them at many activities, at one point she mentioned that her mother worked at the front desk. This made the bond between the Olsen's, Tess, and Kate even stronger.  By the time the Olsen's checked out, there were a round of hugs between everyone. There was also an exchange of emails, and the Olsen's promised to be back soon.

Relationships are important whether they are romantic or platonic. They are what makes you smile when you get up in the morning. It's the anticipation and enthusiasm of knowing you're going on vacation, and you're going to see people you know and love.

As some of you know, my family goes on vacation to Maine every year. We have developed relationships over the  years.  Every year we anticipate seening the Murphy's.  Mr. Murphy is a Boston firefighter (not someone you would mess with).   He is also a big fan of the Red Sox,  we are not - go Yankees - so we have a friendly rivalry going. We don't tell them what dates we are comming, so it's always a suprise.  The first night we are there, we decorate their car or fence with Yankee memorabilia.  Then we anticipate seeing them the next day.  During the week we inevitably find something that has Boston Red Sox on our cottage door or car.  This is what makes vacations fun. The big hugs and the anticipation and knowing you have friends on your vacation.

I would love to hear any of your love stories!


A Woodloch Love Story: Funny, the way it is...

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~Shared by Tammy Compton

You never know where true love will find you.

Catherine Adams had been coming to Woodloch Pines ever since she was little girl. But then again, so had Chuck Gray.

“We've been coming up here since we were 2, both of us, but we never met before,” Catherine says.

Catherine's family hailed from Lynbrook, New York; Chuck's family was from Ridgewood, New Jersey. Catherine's parents, John and Angela Adams, just loved Woodloch, as did Chuck's parents, Charlie and Ginny Gray.

The two families returned year after year, but never the twain did meet, that is until August of 2005. She was 22 years-old to his 27. They were both hanging out in the sports bar when Catherine worked up the courage to ask him a question: Did he want to do a shot?

A mere three letters long, his answer was “yes.”

“Then we couldn't stop talking from then on,” she says, laughing at the memory. “From then on, our families became friends.”

When their week-long Woodloch vacations drew to a close, the two headed home with their families. Catherine headed back to Long Island, and Chuck went home to New Jersey.

“We went on our first date the night we got home from our Woodloch vacation,” Catherine says. Busy finishing up her Master's Degree in Childhood Education at Long Island University, CW Post, Catherine was only too happy to make time for her handsome beau.

“Because of the Woodloch connection, we were just welcomed into each others' families right away,” she says.

Four months later, he'd invited her back to Woodloch for the New Year's Eve Celebration. They were both having a blast ushering in the New Year.

“After the ball dropped, we were on the dance floor, and he asked Patrick (Kiesendahl) for the microphone,” she says.

She watched as he dropped to one knee and said the words she'll never forget. “This was the place we first met. I love you. I want to marry you,” he said.

“I cried,” Catherine remembers. “I almost fainted.”

That was midnight, 2006. They were wed on August 18, 2007.

“We got married the week after we met (that year) so no one would have to miss their regular August vacation,” she says.

In 2012, they came back to celebrate their fifthanniversary accompanied by their two little ones, 2-year-old Colin and 10-month-old Lily. Catherine says they feel blessed. “It's amazing. I'm so happy,” she says.

Her favorite part about Woodloch? “I think the family connection. It's just wonderful. I want my children to grow up there and keep the family tradition.”


A Surprise Birthday Proposal at Woodloch!

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On June 21, 2012 Kara was getting ready to go to the Woodloch staff show with her friends and family as she has done every Thursday night for the past 15 years. Little did she know, her night was about to become much more special then she could ever imagine.

Connor, who has been accompanying Kara on her family vacation for a few years now, has known for quite some time that he would propose at Woodloch. Connor also knew he was going to propose to Kara before her 22nd birthday, which happened to be that very next day. Knowing Kara would love a public proposal, he figured there would be no better way than to propose to Kara on stage after the staff show in front of all her family and some close friends. With her birthday just hours away, it was the perfect way to disguise the proposal that was about to take place.

After the last song Kara and Connor were called up on stage where Kara was presented with a birthday cake, and Connor was given the microphone. Kara claims she had no idea what was coming. She remembers Connor acting a bit strange and fidgety during the staff show, getting up to go to the restroom numerous times, but she just thought he wasn’t feeling well. Even when she saw the small paper bag in his hands she convinced herself it was just a birthday gift. Connor then proceeded to tell his and Kara’s story to the audience while expressing his love for Kara. She still thought that this was just his way of wishing her a very public happy birthday. Then, Connor got down on one knee.

Although there were hundreds of people watching, Kara remembers it as if they were the only two people in the room! She was completely surprised and swept off her feet.

Kara remarked, "I have grown up at Woodloch, and I consider it to be a second home so it truly was the perfect engagement with the perfect ring and the perfect guy."

Woodloch would like to congratulate Kara and Connor once again and wish them the best of luck in the future!!

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