Newlyweds Elizabeth (Ruggerio) DeKams ’08 (Speech Pathology and Audiology) and John DeKams ’08 (Elementary Education) had many mutual friends and interests while they were students at SUNY New Paltz, but they went years before getting to know one another.
Two weeks prior to graduation, at P&G’s Restaurant near the College, John carefully timed his appearance in an effort to speak with Elizabeth.
“She used to catch my eye socially because she always seemed to be laughing, smiling or making other people laugh,” said John. “She is truly always laughing or smiling, I wanted to be a part of that.”
His plan would eventually lead to a Dec. 6, 2014, wedding celebration with 30 New Paltz alumni in attendance. Of the 18 member wedding party, 11 were SUNY New Paltz graduates. This included John’s brother and best man, Ted DeKams ’11 (Psychology).
“New Paltz will always hold a very special place in our hearts,” said Elizabeth. “It is the place where we made lifelong friendships, discovered so much about ourselves, grew into adults and found the person that we chose to spend the rest of our lives with.”
Considered a timely holiday wedding in spite of the unseasonable weather, the guests were greeted by a 13-foot tall Christmas tree, clusters of jingle bells, Frank Sinatra Christmas carols playing as they dined and homemade ornaments as favors.
The wedding décor also showcased the DeKams’ mutual love of athletics and the life-long friendships and memories they made at the College.
“Our tables were named for athletes or sport teams that we both admire,” said Elizabeth. “Table 13, where my New Paltz teammates were sitting, was named the ‘Art Stockin Table’ for our beloved (alumnus and swim) coach who recently passed.”
Elizabeth and John are already considering how great it would be if their future children attended New Paltz.
“I had never given it too much thought, but based on the amount of times we plan to bring our children to Alumni Weekends, golf outings and random fall foliage trips, they will probably already call it ‘home,’ just like we do,” Elizabeth said.
John works in East Harlem as a sixth grade science teacher and Elizabeth is a practice manager for North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y. The couple currently lives in Astoria, Queens, with their beagle, Cooper.
Watch video highlights from the DeKams wedding here.