This Magical Boho-Chic Promise Ridge Elopement Makes Us Want to Escape to the Poconos

“We knew we did not want a big, traditional wedding and wanted to write our story, our own way,” says the bride.

Promise Ridge wedding

Melissa Gonzalez and Jaquion Gholston’s Promise Ridge wedding had a boho-chic theme. Photography by Carolyn Jorgensen Photography

If you aren’t already longing for a summer jaunt to the Poconos, then this Promise Ridge wedding will have you looking for any excuse to pack up your car and immerse yourself in nature’s wonders. The serene, woodsy atmosphere is among the reasons why this couple chose the mountaintop venue for their petite boho-chic nuptials, which were photographed by Carolyn Jorgensen and are pictured below.

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A standing 3:45 p.m. coffee break over a period of a year was how Melissa Gonzalez and Jaquion Gholston really got to know each other. Jaquion, an associate director of sponsored accounting and cost analysis with Stevens Institute of Technology, had just moved from Syracuse, New York, to Hoboken for the new position. Melissa, the manager of treasury operations, will never forget when he stopped by her cubicle to introduce himself. “He looked me in the eyes with such respect and confidence,” says the Elizabeth native. “I found that extremely attractive and, from there, I wanted to know more.”

So began their coffee klatch, through which a friendship developed and, later, a relationship. Their first date? Dinner after work plus an impromptu visit to a crafts store so Melissa could pick up a few items and they could extend the evening together — they were in the shop till it closed. “To this day, Jaquion says I showed him that arts-and-crafts stores aren’t so bad if you’re with the right person,” says Melissa.

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Jaquion popped the question four years later on Christmas morning, a tender moment in their new home in Belleville. They planned to get married a quick five months after that. Because they had been dating for a few years, they didn’t feel a need to have a long engagement. “We knew we did not want a big, traditional wedding and wanted to write our story, our own way,” says Melissa. “We agreed that the most important part of a wedding is the ceremony: It is where marriage begins, breathes life, and takes shape.”

They decided on a small outdoor occasion on June 11, 2020 at Promise Ridge in the Poconos. They chose to invite only their closest friends and family members and, as fate would have it, the pandemic reduced their already small guest list more than initially planned. They ended up with 16 in-person guests and a few Zoom attendees. “In our relationship, we have learned that for every obstacle and challenge we face, sweetness always follows,” says Melissa.

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The bride’s favorite detail was their handwritten vows and books. Neither knew what the other wrote and say the experience of hearing those words read aloud was profoundly intimate. “We have them as a physical keepsake for the future to look back on,” she says. “We tease each other from time to time and say, ‘Where are those vow books? Let me remind you what you wrote.’” For the groom, it was being truly present in the moment. “The memory was priceless in every way, shape and form.”

They also credit celebrant Alisa Tongg for their ceremony: “She captured the essence of us and tied in our love story and the meanings and symbolism of the different parts of the ceremony perfectly,” says Melissa. “There was laughter, tears of joy and countless emotions.”

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Indeed, there was magic in the air — from the tranquil forest setting amid the mountains to their naturally glam, boho-chic theme. The color scheme of peach, blush and burgundy complemented the abundant plant life, and the string lights seemed to twinkle in unison with the stars. The couple had a champagne toast in the pavilion with their guests, and swayed during their first dance (“So High” by John Legend) on the infinity deck.


Not to be outdone? Melissa and Jaquion released colored smoke bombs on the hilltop and ended their celebration with a sparkler exit, while guests were treated to their own glitz and glitter — bottles of Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses rosé with personalized labels that read, “Cheers to love and happiness.”

Photographer: Carolyn Jorgensen Photography | Venue: Promise Ridge | Planning/Design and Celebrant: Alisa Tongg | Florals: Allium Floral Design | Bride’s Gown: Galina from David’s Bridal | Custom Veil: SignatureBashCouture | Hair: Shannette Pasols | Makeup: Anjeh Bourne | Groom’s Attire: Bar III from Macy’s | Custom Tie Clip: TheWoodApparelCo | Cake: Kitchen Chemistry (loose flowers from Allium) | Invitations: DIYPaperBoutique | Videography: Jonah Paulhamus Media | Personalized Wedding Favor Labels: StudioPlusOne | Broom: JumpBroom | Custom Gown Hanger: Tyuweddinggifts

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