Saranac Laker officiates at Elise Stefanik’s wedding

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, center, poses at her wedding with Jan, left, and Barb Plumadore of Saranac Lake Saturday in a tent outside the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs. Jan, a retired judge, officiated the wedding ceremony. (Photo provided by Jan Plumadore)

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Jan Plumadore, a retired judge from Saranac Lake, presided as U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik was married to longtime beau Matthew Manda Saturday.

The couple was wed on the lawn outside the Hall of Springs in Saratoga Springs. They had become engaged a year ago while visiting Lake Placid. They met in January 2012 at a party Stefanik hosted in Washington, according to their wedding announcement published in Sunday’s New York Times.

Stefanik, 33, a Republican, was re-elected last year to a second two-year term representing New York’s 21st Congressional District, which spans northern New York. She grew up in New York’s Capital Region, where her parents live in Feura Bush and own a plywood company based in Guilderland Center. She graduated from Harvard and worked in the White House under President George W. Bush, then worked for Republican think tanks, Tim Pawlenty’s presidential campaign and Paul Ryan’s vice presidential campaign. She started running for the North Country’s House seat in 2013, and in 2014, at age 30, she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Manda, 34, originally hails from Lawrence, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas in his hometown. He has worked for two Kansas Republican members of Congress, a representative and a senator, and now works as marketing and communications director for Media Group of America, which is based in the Washington, D.C., area and owns the Independent Journal Review news outlet.

Stefanik has made her parents’ vacation home in Willsboro her residence since she started her congressional run in 2013. Her campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar said her marriage does not change her residency.

“She will continue to live in Willsboro and commute to Washington, DC,” he wrote in an email.

For now, though, “we ask for privacy as she takes some time with Matt for their honeymoon,” Alcivar said.

Stefanik is keeping her last name.

Plumadore, interviewed at the Enterprise office Monday, said he hasn’t officiated a wedding since 2009, the year he retired, when he presided over the vows of a Saranac Lake woman and her husband.

“In fact, I didn’t realize I was still authorized to do them until I checked with OCA [the state Office of Court Administration] and found my certificate was still good,” he said.

He said Stefanik asked him earlier this year: first by text message, then over the phone.

“She got in touch with me: ‘What are you doing on August 19th?’” he said. “I thought, ‘What the hell does she want to know that for?’ I said, ‘That is football season; you know that?’ I did have to miss a couple of practices.”

Plumadore has long been an assistant coach of the Saranac Lake High School football team.

He said he was “deeply honored” to lead the civil wedding ceremony, as he had been to lead Stefanik’s ceremonial swearing-in in Plattsburgh in 2015, after she was officially sworn in for her first term in Washington.

Plumadore, who is also a Republican, first met Stefanik when she launched her campaign in 2013.

“I was extremely impressed, thought she would be an excellent choice, and have not wavered in that opinion since,” he said. What he liked best about her, “more even than her intelligence and her obvious work ethic, was her optimism. I was immediately convinced, and remain so, that she believes that this country is headed for better, not worse, times, and that she can play a role in that end.”

Since then, he said, “I probably don’t see her any more frequently than most constituents. I see her on occasion, at an affair here or an affair there, and we quite occasionally send a text or email or something saying ‘Hi’ or ‘Saw you on TV’ or something like that. But we are not in constant contact.”

He met Manda for the second time at the wedding and liked him very much, as well as the bride and groom’s parents.

“Both of their families are super, just great people,” Plumadore said. “Matt himself seems very steady, a very grounded guy. Their personalities obviously complement one another very well. I mean, after all, they went together for six years before they got married.”

Plumadore had presided over a wedding at the Hall of Springs years ago, but that was indoors. He said he was worried when he learned that this one was outdoors, especially when a deluge of rain fell that morning in Saranac Lake before he and his wife left for Saratoga Springs. Nevertheless, the weather held out for the 4:30 p.m. ceremony.

“But then, of course, it was next to the Reflecting Pool, which brought us into contact with my old friends, the Canadian geese, with whom I must contend each football practice, or at least with evidence of their having been there,” he added with a laugh.

He said his part of the ceremony lasted only “about five minutes.” The couple wrote their own vows, which resembled “the usual vows with all the essential elements: love, honor, good times and in bad, sickness and in health, till death do us part, keep only unto you and unto no other.”

Plumadore said he talked with Willsboro town Supervisor Shaun Gillilland, state Assemblyman Dan Stec and state Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long at the wedding, and also saw former Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham and former Saranac Laker Alisa Scapatici, who taught Stefanik at Albany Academies.

About 200 people attended, Graham wrote on his blog.

Alcivar said his favorite moment happened Friday night, “during the pre-wedding reception for out of town guests,” when Manda jumped onstage with a bluegrass band from Washington County, “grabbed a guitar and rocked a great version of ‘Take it Easy’ from The Eagles,” singing the lead and playing guitar.

By Patricia Older

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