Ice and Fire: Catskills Elopement Wedding on Frozen Lake

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Ice and Fire: Elopement Wedding on a Frozen Lake by Zorz Studios
Reading time: 6 mins

A Taiwanese couple who’s never seen snow thought of getting married on a frozen lake in 10F. The plan was to take a bus from NYC, ride for a couple of hours, and have an adventurous Catskills elopement wedding.

What is Elopement Wedding?

The definition of an elopement wedding is open to several loose interpretations. It could be local or remote, with guests or not, in a courthouse or in the wild, expensive or cheap, carefully planned out or spur-of-the-moment, much-talked about or secretive. What it is not for sure is an elaborate big-scale celebration.

I don’t specifically promote myself as an elopement wedding photographer, but happily take them when couples find me. I’ve done micro elopement weddings with only birds and an officiant in attendance, so I also had an honor of being the witness for paperwork. I covered quite a few in NYC City Hall. Some were done by a waterfall, some in a hidden wedding chapel on 5th Ave in Manhattan. I had a secretive one for a couple flying in from Dubai. There wasn’t one on top of a mountain, or underwater yet… I dubbed my own wedding as elopement: shocked all my friends and followers in 2015 by posting a fresh wedding photo taken across the ocean, introducing my beautiful wife out of the blue to everyone. That’s us (photo by our Moldovan friend Natalie Ciobanu), and a few other elopers (the shot above the car comes from me standing on the trunk while driving).

And yet, my blog does not have any elopement weddings published, although a few shots made it to my 15-year wedding portfolio. It was about time, and I saw a perfect opportunity in this Taiwanese couple.

First Snow

Chia-Yen, a skilled VFX artist and animator, and her fiancé Kuo-Chieh happened to not have seen snow in their life… Shouldn’t be a total surprise considering the Taiwan is in the same parallel as Dubai and South Florida. They’ve come to the US recently and get that first impression of a snow itched into their memory, decided to get married in an elopement wedding style. A likely decision when you don’t have family or friends around, but still… Instead of going to a wintery Central Park as countless of my (less adventurous) clients did, they took no chance with the city weather. January could be a hit or miss with snow here. They looked up the map and found a lake in the Catskills over 100 miles north of NYC, which is always 10-15°F lower than in Manhattan.

Broadly Entertaining

They first found a cool local wedding officiant of Broadly Entertaining company. Its two business partners, Giana and Jamie, offer planning, a day-of coordinator, deejay, and officiant. Although we didn’t need a DJ, coordination and support were done at their best.

As a side note, the ladies also coordinate virtual Game Nights and they look awesome! Ah, and our brand colors share something in common. 🙂


Our newlyweds don’t have a car so they bought bus tickets. Giana offered to pick them up from the bus and drive to her wonderful lodge by the lake. Alas, our cute Asians missed the bus and had to grab a cab, still making it on time. It took me 2 hours, too, although I was driving from Poconos.

It was freezing. I don’t mean a New Yorker’s “freezing”. The temperature was headed to Fahrenheit negatives later that night. For us that afternoon, it was around 10°F (-13°C) as we were in the middle of a lake on a windy day. Our fingers went numb; it was difficult for me to operate the camera (open-tip gloves). Don’t get the warm images below fool you—I warmed up the white balance temperature for a cozier feel, of course. The ceremony was brief, but the bride did not have a coat, just a sweater and a thin cape. The setting sun seemed fake, unhelpful. But we did it!

Kindly refrain from re-uploading images to social media during the first week of the exclusive feature. Share instead and give credit to @ZorzStudios. Thank you for your help!

In and Out

We crawled back into the house to warm up, do the paperwork, and jump out for a little photoshoot. The guys didn’t have enough of the lake, or simply couldn’t even register it in that frozen blitz. We shot around the house, then walked down to the lake where I spotted a big tree branch hanging over the ice where we could stand. Those branch images feel unique to me, there is something in them…

Warm and Cozy Now

Giana was at her hospitality best again. We were officially done and went back. Not only did she offer plenty of hot chai, she allowed us to go upstairs for another photoshoot. I loved the idea, as it would give them a getaway into a log cabin in the woods feel. Ice and fire to remember!

By the way, the word has it that this cute lake house might evolve into a full-scale event venue, whether for a perfect Catskills elopement wedding or getaway party, year round! Giana bought the house with her husband just a few years ago and there is work to be done and the potential is so appealing there! Keep them in mind.

Are You as Adventurous?

Speaking of adventurous couples, married or not… Today (01/31/22) is the LAST DAY to enter our annual contest for a chance to win a free couple photoshoot! Take a look at the intro video and read details.

Behind the Scenes

I’m surprised and happy that the cold didn’t freeze my brain on the lake and I thought of doing a quick video before the ceremony. It helps understand the scene, and I just wanted to remember it. Later, this Catskills elopement wedding on a frozen lake called for an Instagram/FB story… and for TikTok… I could no longer resist and created an account there:

Here we are, along with Giana’s husband. He’s a musician, can you tell? 🙂 Both are music fanatics, in fact. Thanks and cheers, everyone!

Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov
Ed Hafizov is a creative director and lead photographer of Zorz Studios, Manhattan-based boutique photography studio, offering arousing and daring fashion, commercial, beauty, and wedding photography. Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner, named among the top 50 US wedding photographers, top 10 NY wedding photographers, winner of Adobe contests, featured by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle et al, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week photographer, and a distinguished member of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style‘s Platinum List, he is eager to step out of his and willing clients' comfort zone to pursue original artwork with a lasting impression.


  1. Karen Chance says:

    Ed you are amazing. When I saw Dani and Brett’s engagement video I knew you were a genus! I love what I see here for their wedding and love the rest of your work.

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