Real Weddings

Alana & Paul at The Mansion at Mountain Lakes

Posted on April 07, 2023 by Jacqueline Larcara

A rustic elegant vibe is what Alana and Paul were looking for on their big day. The Mansion at Mountain Lakes delivered. Scroll down to experience their winter wonderland wedding.

Their Story

A detail shot of wedding stationary laid flat on a surface with the rings, ring box, shoes and other props on top.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

Alana Ciolek and Paul Papapetrou’s love story began on the dating app Hinge. After messaging back-and-forth for a week, they set up their first date at the restaurant Gallow Green in New York City. “I almost canceled the date because I was leaving for Greece the next day and hadn’t started packing,” says Alana, “but I am glad I didn’t. We hit it off right away.”

The Proposal

A portrait of the bride and groom embracing but looking at the camera with a lake in the background.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

The couple had just taken a 24-hour trip to San Antonio, Texas to pick up their new eight-week old Boston Terrier puppy, Yanni. It was Easter, and they were preparing to host their families for the holiday. Paul suggested that they take a picture together. Little did Alana know he had set up his phone to video record. Then, Paul gave Alana an Easter basket full of plastic eggs with chocolates and even a gift certificate to a massage inside. At the bottom of the basket, she found a bedazzled pig (Alana’s favorite animal) in a plastic heart. Inside was the ring. Paul got down on one knee and proposed. “We got it all on tape and Yanni slept through the whole thing,” says Alana.

The Wedding

The bride arm-in-arm with her dad walking down an aisle with barn-like doors in the background, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, petals in the aisle and the guests all standing facing her.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

For their January 28 wedding, Alana wanted a winter wonderland vibe with lots of candlelight, “to make it feel like a cozy evening on a cold winter’s night,” she says. The color scheme was burgundy and dusty rose with gold tones mixed in. She had her florist mix in ranunculus flowers and pine cones.

Paul is fully Greek Cypriot, so the couple wanted to incorporate Greek traditional elements, such as a “crowning” portion of the wedding ceremony, Greek food at the cocktail hour (Halloumi cheese, spanakopita, lamb), and a Greek band in addition to an American band. Speaking of music, the couple’s first dance song was “Take the World” by Johnnyswim. “Our wedding band, Love Revival Orchestra, learned this song and performed it. It was incredible,” says Alana.

Instead of a guest book, Alana and Paul had their guests sign vinyl records of two of their favorite artists. In addition to Jordan almond favors, they also had Yanni’s Biscuit Bar featuring take-home bags with Yanni’s picture on it and dog treats that had Yanni’s name on them. They capped off the night with a pretzel bar for guests to grab on their way out.

Why Mansion at Mountain Lakes?

A bride and groom on the dance floor in an otherwise empty ballroom with a chandelier.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

Paul and Alana were seeking a happy medium when deciding on the style of the venue they wanted. “I wanted something a bit more glamorous with chandeliers and marble while Paul wanted as rustic as it comes,” says Alana. “The Mansion at Mountain Lakes really combined our two tastes into a rustic elegant feel. It certainly has those glammy elements like a ballroom with chandeliers. It also had rustic elements with wooden ceilings and barn-like doors,” says Alana. The couple also loved how reasonably priced the venue was,  the variety of food options, the stunning bridal suite and how easy it was to work with Nancy and the team. “After considering all these things, it was a pretty easy choice,” says Alana.

The Menu

A closeup of a tablescape with tall red candles, flowers of various shades of red in a vase and glassware.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

“The food at The Mansion at Mountain Lakes is absolutely incredible and extensive,” says Alana. Their cocktail hour had a large antipasto table with various cheeses, meats and Mediterranean finger foods (grape leaves, artichokes, pita, etc.). They also had ten passed hors d’oeurves including chicken and waffles, beef wellington, spanakopita, ahi tuna, sweet corn fritters and mini Reubens. Stations included macaroni and cheese, beef braciola, chicken piccata, calamari, sliders, two pasta stations, a beef brisket carving station and an Asian cuisine station. Guests chose between the following entrees:  chateaubriand, lemon chicken Romano and a salmon with Dijon mustard beurre blanc sauce. All were served with seasonal vegetables and potatoes. Dessert was an assortment of pastries (eclairs, cheesecake, baklava, cannoli). The four-layer wedding cake incorporated three flavors: vanilla, red velvet and decadent chocolate. The outside was a buttercream icing and in between the layers was a cream cheese frosting.

Bride’s Gown

A silhouette side shot of a bride admiring her gown in the mirror with her hands folded at her waist.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

Alana’s gown was, “exactly what I dreamed it would be,” she says. “The gown was elegant, classy, had a bit of a princess touch, and had different pop factors, such as the illusion sleeves and the gorgeous open design on the back. I also loved that Kleinfeld’s was able to work with me to make the front a bit more conservative. I also liked how it fell slightly off the shoulder. It was just the right amount of ‘poofy.’ The way the flowers and branches were on the gown gave it a winter feel,” she says. “It just gave me the feels and fit into the exact vision I had,” she says. “I found it on my first day of dress shopping, and never looked back!”

Favorite Moment

The bride and groom look at each other with the woods out of focus in the background.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

Alana cherished those, “little in between moments where Paul and I had a minute to look at each other and say oh my god, we did it!” From their first look, to their couples pictures, to secretly practicing dance moves in the bridal suite at cocktail hour and sneaking to watch their guests enter the ballroom—the day was filled with special moments. Alana sums it up as, “looking out at all of our favorite and most important people in our lives and feel so grateful that they were there to celebrate our love.”

Favorite Detail

A closeup of a burgundy, red and pink bouquet in focus held by a bride in a white gown with lace sleeves.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

Alana adored her bouquet.  “I really wanted the winter wonderland and rustic feels to come through the flowers,” she says. “My bouquet was so beautiful and unique and the red velvet ribbon that tied it altogether was such a special touch.”


Three records are laying flat on the table with a wooden sign behind that reads "Love binds everything together in perfect harmony. Please sign our records." There is one framed photo of the couple on each side of the sign, a different take on a guest book.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

Organization is key, says Alana. “There is so much to do and keep track of, especially during those last 3-4 months before the big day. Break the to-do list down by the month. Get things done way earlier than they are actually needed to leave time for any issues, delays, etc. Also, remember that not everything will go perfectly on the day of your wedding. Just remember the real reason why you are celebrating at the end of the day, because that is what matters!”


The bride and groom embrace while facing each other. The bride is looking down and smiling towards the camera. The groom nuzzles his nose into her temple and smiles.
Photo by Philip Siciliano Photography

The couple went to Buenos Aires and Mendoza in Argentina and then to Santiago, Chile. “Our honeymoon was an absolute dream and we truly fell in love with South America. We are already trying to figure out when we can go back,” says Alana. With the help of Marci Cosentino from Travel One, Inc. they had a great honeymoon planning experience. “Argentina and Chile had amazing food, the nicest, most accommodating people, and so much culture. We ate empanadas and steaks, explored the cities, hiked the Andes and tried to learn Spanish,” says Alana. “South America is a hidden gem, and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for a honeymoon spot!”

the details

Reception Location

The Mansion at Mountain Lakes


Philip Siciliano


Amanda Davenport (friend of bride and groom)

Bride’s Gown

Tony Ward Elodie Gown (Kleinfeld's)

+ more