"From the moment we met, this day was inevitable so having it finally arrive these many years later is a gift in and of itself," Gehling tells PEOPLE
Drew Gehling and Julia Mattison had one Wet Hot American Summer wedding!
The Broadway stars — him of Waitress and her of Godspell — used the 2001 comedy as an inspiration for their "I dos" on Sept. 16, throwing a playful, three-day adult summer camp-themed celebration at the luxurious Cedar Lakes Estate in the heart of the Hudson Valley, New York.
"From the moment we met, this day was inevitable so having it finally arrive these many years later is a gift in and of itself," Gehling tells PEOPLE.
It was a starry affair, with Waitress composer Sara Bareilles and fiancé Joe Tippett as well as Darren Criss and wife Mia Swier among the 140 guests. And like any good camp, Gehling, 40, and Mattison, 35, packed the party with plenty of activities, from kayaking and ziplining to a talent show where several of the talented wedding-goers performed.
"I have a lot of nostalgia for summer camp, and felt our wedding would be such a beautiful opportunity to spend a weekend with our family and friends," said Mattison. "We have a hilarious, joyful, silly, musical community of loved ones, and we knew that a weekend at Summer camp with an open mic night, zip-lining, lake activities, and singalongs would be the ultimate way to celebrate."
"Being in the theater community in NYC, a majority of our guest list was on the East Coast, so finding Cedar Lakes Estate was an absolute dream," she continues. "To have this gorgeous retreat in the Hudson Valley where everybody can feel like a kid again was reason enough, but when you add the attention to detail, kindness, luxury accommodations, delicious food, and the beautiful care everyone at Cedar Lakes Estate puts into their events, the end result was beyond our wildest dreams."
Wedding planner Jason Mitchell Kahn helped put the fabulous weekend together.
Festivities kicked off Friday night with welcome party (and a Canadian Tuxedo dress code) and camp talent show. Saturday began with Gehling and Mattison ziplining into the lake before sneaking off to get ready for their nuptials. Guests, meanwhile, spent the day enjoying the camp grounds including the pool and the blob on the lake.
The main attraction came later in the evening, when the bride and groom tied the knot.
Mattison looked ethereal in an Oscar De La Renta pressed floral strapless gown with a sweetheart neckline and train. "I’m originally from California, and the floral design reminded me of California wildflowers- so I Ioved the feeling of incorporating some elements of childhood nostalgia into the wedding," she says.
The performer, who is writing the upcoming stage musical adaptation of Death Becomes Her, wore her blonde locks down in soft waves for the look.
She accessorized with a simple gold diamond necklace, delicate earrings and chunky heels. Mattison carried a bouquet of peach, pink and white wildflowers by Fern Botanica.
Similar flowers by the company were used to create four structural bouquets that stood behind the happy couple in the outdoor space where they exchanged their handwritten vows.
Gehling also wore those florals for his boutonnière. It provided a colorful pop to his custom Michael Andrews Bespoke tuxedo, which featured a hunter green velvet blazer and black tuxedo pants. He paired the ensemble with a black-studded white button-down shirt, black bowtie and black shoes.
“For my tux, I decided to approach my tailor who had built all of my suits for Jersey Boys back in 2007, and then for Roman Holiday in 2017," says Gehling. "Andy and Ari at Michael Andrews Bespoke seemed like natural choices, and when I reached out it was like no time had passed.”
The pair also had another very special guest by their side: Gehling's 10-year-old daughter Annie, who did a reading during the ceremony and later joined her dad and Mattison on the dance floor for their first dance.
"Getting to dance with my wife and my daughter was very special to me," says Gehling.
Friends Andrew Kober and Sarah Chase officiated the ceremony. The two had a special role in the beginning of Gehling and Mattison's romance.
"We met in August 2017 filming an episode of the web series Turning The Tables," Mattison explains. We filmed for half an hour together and I fell in love immediately, but didn’t say a thing to anyone. I found out later that as soon as Drew left the room, he texted our mutual friend to ask for my number."
"It wasn’t until a month later when the episode came out that we properly connected and went on our first date,' she adds. "What’s very fun about the way we first met is that it’s all captured on film— you can tell from the footage that we were both giddy."
So how did Kober and Chase factor in? "Separately from our first meeting (which was a chance encounter), our mutual friends Sara and Andrew had actually been plotting to set us up for awhile." Mattison says. "They helped us connect, and they’re officiating our wedding which is such a wonderful full circle moment."
Music, unsurprisingly, played a big part in Gehling and Mattison's special day.
Says Mattison: "We opened the ceremony with Paul McCartney’s 'Calico Skies,' and I walked down the aisle to 'Our House.' It was a special surprise to have on our dearest friend Celisse sing on 'Our House' with three of our other best friends — Noel Carey, Joel Waggoner, and Drew Gasparini — because Celisse knows and has collaborated with both Joni and Graham Nash, and has held the vase that is referenced in the song. It was all very sentimental and beautiful, and meant the world to have our friends play together for us."
Special personal touches like that were found throughout the happy day. Even the gold in their wedding rings was made (with help from Soho Gem in NYC) using a piece of gold that had been passed down through Mattison's side of the family, dating back to the California Gold Rush. It was another way to connect her California roots and welcome Gehling into her family’s history.
Their nearest and dearest were incorporated into their vows as well, with a group vow to cement their relationship within their community.
"Getting married means getting to celebrate our commitment to the beautiful family we've already built together, and the promise that we’re going to be there for each other through it all," the pair tell PEOPLE.
Once the two sealed their bond with a kiss, they exited their ceremony to “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty — sung by the same group of Celisse, Carey, Waggoner, and Gasparini.
For their outdoor cocktail hour, guests grazed on passed canapés, tables of veggies, cheese and meats and items from a dumpling truck.
Inside, dinner was served family style starting with a chopped greenmarket salad, which featured charred corn, cherry tomatoes, wild radishes, kohlrabi, locust grove cherries, heirloom baby carrots, kirby cucumbers, ricotta salata, sunflower seeds and little gem lettuce. There was also a heirloom tomato and rainbow beet dish, with marinated summer melon, whipped feta, toasted pumpkin seeds.
The menu continued with a summer pasta with garden herb pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes and pecorino; braised beef short ribs with balsamic roasted onions, red wine rosemary reduction and crispy parsnip; and slow-roasted halibut, with saffron aioli, breadcrumbs and summer corn puree.
There was no cake, but dessert included individual jars of salted caramel pot de creme, banana pudding, key lime pie and, for those who need a pickup, an espresso martini station.
Communal tables were decorated with bouquets of wildflowers and gold candles. Twinkle lights and chandeliers hung from the hall's ceiling.
On the dance floor, guests showed off their moves to music by Café Wha?, the house band from the historic music venue in New York City's Greenwich Village. Karen Obrist Photography captured all the moments of the special day for the bride and group to remember forever.
After the wedding, the afterparty had a wood burning oven pizza truck, wigs and a special surprise for Mattison: the arcade game of Street Fighter 2, of which she calls herself "a childhood champion."
The highlights for Mattison? "Laughing and dancing and celebrating with my husband (and getting to call him 'my husband!'), my beautiful stepdaughter and all our family and friends. Also, after all of the crying and beauty and overwhelm of that day, it was so exciting to eat pizza and be barefoot and sing along with our friends until the morning hours."
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To cap the weekend, Sunday morning included a farewell brunch with a Bloody Mary bar.
Gehling and Mattison got engaged in on January 18, 2022. Laughter has been a consistent theme in their romance since they met.
"We laugh A LOT," said Gehling, something Mattison echos. "I love that we both find joy in the beautiful simple things in life, whether it’s a delicious meal, or snuggles with our dog, or an inspiring story that makes us both misty-eyed," she says. "Drew is always curious about the world, and he helps me to stay calm, present, and grateful. And yes, we laugh A LOT."
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