(This article originally appears in the Daily Gazette wedding guide)

August and Amanda Rosa parachuted into their wedding reception — without ever leaving the ground.

That’s because the couple brought along a playground parachute to their ceremony at John Boyd Thacher State Park two summers ago, asking their guests to flap the fabric as they rushed into the center to be surrounded by their family and friends for a special moment caught in a snap.

The daring duo, who share a love for the outdoors and once traveled the country in a van, didn’t shy away from trekking through the woods, even into a waterfall, for a collection of fun photographs to remember their camp-inspired wedding day with. Thacher Park, which spans over 2,000 acres, sits 1,000 feet above their new home in the Albany County hamlet of New Salem. Wanting to keep it close to home and true to their favorite pastimes, the Rosa’s didn’t have to think hard about where to host their wedding.

“It’s our special place,” said the bride.

I photographed the wedding for the pair, who are also two of my close friends. Maybe it was because of our relationship that I didn’t think twice to ask them to hike down to Mine Lot waterfall, a short but steep hike on the Indian Ladder Trail, for some photographs after their vows. A risky proposition, for both the newlyweds and their wedding photographer, before returning to the reception for the rest of the day.

Lucky for us, a recent drought meant the water flow wasn’t too strong, making it more manageable with an umbrella and some good fortune. Our outfits, cameras, and friendship would survive the adventure.

Couples thinking about also taking their photoshoot to the trails should be warned — a narrow metal staircase descends 60 feet down the cliff to a rough and wet terrain. Pack a pair of sneakers, a jacket, and some spare hands to help keep your wedding gown from the dirty elements. The trail is frequented at all times of the year, so also be prepared for some strangers popping up in the background. But for lovers of hiking and camping, the task, even in pristine wedding attire, is worth the risk. Be sure to make it out in one piece — all New York State Parks enforce a carry in, carry out rule.

Not everyone needs to chase waterfalls or dive into parachutes. The ease and accessibility of having a ceremony at such a wide open outdoor public space creates a wealth of opportunities to bring along your favorite props to help capture unique memories.

The Rosas tied the knot at Glen Doone Pavilion, a low-key location (and low-cost rental) that allows guests to be right up against a section of the six mile long limestone cliff edge, offering panoramic views of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains from the Helderberg Escarpment. The vast backdrop for all their ceremony pictures are unlike anything else one could find in the region. The secluded pavilion allowed for some privacy in a public location, and the network of trails, and forest and fauna offered changing scenery for their photographs.

Perhaps the highlight of the day came at the very end, when a late summer sunset covered the wide sky. Since the reservation ended at sunset, one more quick trip into the woods and the couple walked away with more stunning images from their forest utopia wedding.

“For me it captured how we conquered the whole day,” said the groom. “We did a lot of the work ourselves, so it was a relief when the day came to an end and the sun set.”



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In keeping with the seven stages of grief, most Albany alt-rockers have reached the end — acceptance. Valentine’s Music Hall and Beer Joint as they know it isn’t coming back and they’ve moved on to The Low Beat. The brick building on New Scotland Avenue that once rattled with their favorite shows will come tumbling down. They’ll never stand over the same urinal trough again.

But for some the memories can live on with little pieces of Valentine’s scrounged up before the doors were locked.

“What’s the one super iconic thing that nobody will want?” Chris Jordan recalled asking himself. “I wanted the trough.”

It was no easy task. It took a couple of trips to get the right tools for the job and a few industrial cleanings. “Before I even put my hands on it I bleached the shit out of it.”

One bleaching wouldn’t bring comfort to those experienced with the trough. Once back to his home in Pittstown, it got doused in kerosene before another bleach bath. The process was a delicate balance of sanitation and historical conservation that had the approval of his understanding girlfriend and fellow music-lover Kim Neaton. “I really wanted to preserve the ring of scum,” he explained. The ring is just one of the elements of the trough that could have gone unnoticed in the dark pit of a bathroom. With the help of a few PBR’s one might overlook, and overshoot, the beauty of the trough. It takes some warm country sunlight to fully realize the instrument. The off-color edges. The tattered punk stickers. The subtle black paint trim that dripped from the walls.

Chris remembers playing hardcore shows at Valentine’s since he was a teenager. Now, with his band The Slaughterhouse Chorus, they remember it as an iconic institution where they formed. “For us it was the holy grail.” So when it came time to bring the trough home, he knew it would still support his music. It became a record shelf.

But according to Chris, vinyl records weigh a lot more than pee. It took more work to drill holes in the metal frame and properly mount it on the wall. Seven hours of labor in-all. The final touch of adding the “skanky drip bar,” as he described it, levels out the feng-shui of his new listening station and keeps it up to code. But the upcycled furniture isn’t done yet – he is worried that the exposed wires aren’t “ascetically pleasing” alongside the pisser.

Reactions from friends online have been mixed. “YESSSS. YOUR HOUSE IS NOW A CASTLE” / “I’ve thrown up in that thing. At least twice.” / “If I happen to be drunk near this ‘shelf’ I may pee in it.”

But in the end, the pair has accepted their new living room with open arms.

“We made out like bandits,” boasted Chris, as he picked some Jerry Lee Lewis from his new shelf.

Sometimes a Memory Just Ain’t Enough.