What happens when you combine the regal patriotism of West Point, the majesty of the Hudson River, and beautiful pastels? Debbie and Hanson’s wedding, of course! Here’s their story along with a stunning photo gallery with photos by Cassady K Photography in Pleasantville, NY
How did you and Hanson meet?
“Hanson and I met in North Carolina while I was a resident and he was stationed at Fort Bragg.”
Describe your overall theme or style of your wedding?
“We were going for a classic and romantic style, so we used gold, soft pinks, and cream colored accents.”
How did you choose West Point?
“We chose West Point for its beautiful campus and Cadet Chapel, and because of the wonderful views of the Hudson River.”
Describe your wedding fashion. What look were you and Hanson going for?
“Hanson wore his dress uniform. I was looking for a classic dress that would be suitable for a chapel wedding service. One of my good friends lent me her veil, which completed the look with the long train of my dress.”
Do you have any wedding advice for our readers?
“For the wedding, no matter how stressful the planning process is, the day of is the most important and most memorable! Take time to sit back and enjoy your wedding day.”
We’ve all read those absolutely cringe-worthy emails sent by a bride to her bridal party making insane demands for her wedding. Everything from wanting extravagant parties, to making her party wear expensive designer labels, to getting angry when someone can’t be there 24/7 for her every waking need…essentially, despicable.
Your bridal party is not a group of people you can demand anything of. In fact, if you expect them to do that, then you really need to reconsider a lot. Yes, your bridal party is there to help you, of course, but to expect (or demand) them to make their world revolve around your wedding is simply out of the question. Period.
That being said, as the bride-or-groom-to-be, you do have a responsibility to those you choose to be part of your bridal party. So, what exactly is your responsibility and where is the line between needing help, wanting help and demanding help? To answer that, we need to go back a bit and actually look at the history of bridal parties.
What exactly is a bridal party?
Historically, the tradition of bridal parties started with the groom. Centuries ago, the responsibilities of the groomsmen (known then as the Groom’s Knights) were to ensure that the bride and her dowry arrived safely to the groom. As time went on, the bride enlisted a Maid of Honor, or Senior Maid, to help her in the days leading up to her wedding. Kind of like a personal assistant, the Senior Maid would help with the decorating and make sure all the bride’s needs were met.
As the tradition evolved, the bride eventually added more “maids” and both the groomsmen and bridesmaids dressed similarly to the bride and groom to both confuse evil spirits and prevent harm to either the bride or groom form a jealous past lover.
Well, the quick and easy answer is you don’t. You just need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. So, if you’re worried about who to ask or how many people to ask, you can make it really easy on yourself by just choosing two. You can choose one and your partner can choose the other.
For most couples, choosing a few people for each side is the norm. They mostly consist of closest friends or family members to help with different aspects of the wedding, be of support to both the bride and groom and yes, sign the marriage license. The key word here is support and it needs to be a very symbiotic relationship. Here are some examples of that give-and-take relationship and what your bridal party really expects of you.
They EXPECT you to reach out to them for opinions and feedback
Asking your bridal party for their input or help is encouraged. You asked them to be a very special part of your big day, so they want to feel important and feel like they contributed to your happiness.
Let them make decisions for you. You may ask your bridal party to go dress shopping with you or go to your hair and makeup trial and they are going to give their opinions, but, you need to remember they are just that. Opinions. You need to make the final decisions based on what feels right to you. You can’t let their opinions sway you because, at the end of the day, you are the one that needs to be able to live with your decisions.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by their opinions, you can just simply say “That’s a good idea. Let me think about that.” That does two things right away. It lets the other person know that they’ve been heard and that you appreciate their ideas. It also diffuses the situation so you don’t have to be put on the spot. As long as the other person feels heard, they most likely, won’t care if you follow through on that idea because you took the time to listen and appreciate them.
The beauty of your bridal party is that you can ask whoever you like. From childhood friends to coworkers, to family members, your bridal party expects the group to be diverse, but with that, they expect you to be responsible enough to ask people who keep drama at bay. They are saying yes to be in your wedding to help you and see it as an honor. They don’t want to be involved in stress and neither do you.
You CAN’T expect drama is inevitable
There is such a thing as a drama-free bridal party, and one of the best ways to ensure that is by keeping your party small. Now, there are some who say that the size of your bridal party should match the size of your wedding, and I say “NO WAY”. No matter how large your wedding is, smaller is ALWAYS better for managing personalities and keeping stress at bay.
If you have a bridesmaid of groomsman that is causing a lot of drama and has got caught up in thinking that your wedding day is their wedding day, dismiss them immediately. Yes, you can “fire” a member of your bridal party. A wedding is stressful enough and you don’t need any added drama.
They EXPECT you to take their needs into consideration
You need to realize, and be ok with, the fact that not everyone in your party is on the same playing field. Take their budgets and time concerns into consideration. In fact, this is a must. Everyone in your bridal party is going to have different jobs, which means they all have different incomes. Everyone is going to have a different budget. Everyone is going to have different free times. Everyone is going to have their own life, with their own responsibilities.
You CAN’T expect your bridal party to neglect their own needs for yours
If you want a high fashion, glamorous wedding and you want your girls to wear expensive gowns, it may not be possible for some. If that’s not ok with you, you have a few options. One is to pay for their dress yourself or offer to chip in, and the other is to offer a range of dresses in the same color, so you have a cohesive look, but one in which they can choose which fits best into their budget.
If someone decides to do their own hair and makeup because they can’t afford to go to the salon, accept it or pay for the service for them.
You also can’t be hurt if someone can’t make every wedding-related event. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you, but maybe they just couldn’t rearrange a previous commitment or fly out or travel to be with you.
They EXPECT you to be transparent
Photo Credit: Kristina Walter
Transparency is absolutely essential and assuming your party knows what you want is a costly mistake. Explain your vision, and let them know your thoughts on aspects of your day. Keeping everyone on the same page reduces stress and anxiety on both ends.
You CAN’T assume they know what you want
Want a surprise shower or no shower at all? Tell them. Don’t expect them to know. Don’t want a raging stripper party for a bachelor or bachelorette party? Tell them, otherwise you are going to be devastated and embarrassed. If there’s anything you do or don’t want for your wedding, tell them. Even if you are super close siblings, assuming they can read your mind is a bad idea. Always be transparent, even if they know, so you all are on the same page and so that all expectations are met.
I’m saving the best for last. This almost sounds like a no-brainer. “D’uh! Of course”, you might be thinking, but you’d be surprised, especially given the opening to this post, how many times members of a bridal party have been asked to change something about them for the wedding.
You CAN’T ask someone to change any part of them for your wedding
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE can you ask your bridal party to change who they are or make them feel uncomfortable. You can’t invite someone to be in your bridal party and then ask them to lose weight, get a tan, cut or dye their hair, cover up tattoos, or change themselves in any way.
If your focus is only on how you want people to look in your photos, then you really need to take a step back and consider why you are getting married in the first place. Is it to have nice pictures or is it to formally declare your love to someone you are going to grow old with and create a new glorious life with?
Is there anything you would add? We’d love to hear from you!
Ariel and Mackenzie share the story of their breathtaking Boscobel wedding in beautiful Garrison, New York
Tell us about your wedding and overall theme?
“We chose our venue because it is surrounded by the beautiful, lush outdoors. Our goal was to have the Hudson River, the marsh beyond Boscobel and the beautiful trees be our decoration. We wanted that to be what was talked about, other than us of course. I wanted to keep our style very simple and elegant. Not too decorative. I wanted the grounds of Boscobel and the flowers to be the main “decorations.” Our color palette was to (try) match the blue mason jars that many people love. So there were a lot of blue accents.”
Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception?
“Nature was the decoration for our ceremony. The beautiful backdrop of the Hudson River Valley was the best!! Because of the weather, we had everyone stand instead of bringing out chairs. We only had about 10 chairs for parents, grandparents and anyone who needed to sit. It allowed everyone to take in the view more. That’s how I like to look at it. For the reception, we had it under a couple of tents. There was not much decoration. The florist did a wonderful job in creating the centerpieces and the tables were arranged simply but were elegant!”
You talk a lot about the decor and having nature as your backdrop, describe how the flowers tied into that vision?
“The florals were beautiful, simple and elegant. I was very picky about what would go into the bouquets but the florist was very accommodating and did a beautiful job.”
Moving on to fashion…how did you choose your wedding day look? How did the groom? Describe both looks.
“The day we got engaged I found my wedding dress online, which was about a year and a half before our wedding date (which I also knew the day we got engaged! 7/1/17 was the date). I knew what style dress I wanted right away. It was a high neck dress. I typed that in Google and saw it. It was a Nicole Miller dress. The neckline was very important because I have broad shoulders so lots of dresses make me look huge so the high nick line accentuated my shape more. The dress hugged my body so I knew I would have to work out a good amount before the wedding but thankfully I love working out! At first, I was thinking of going without a veil but then I decided, last minute, that I wanted a cathedral veil. I think I saw a picture of a lady online with a slim dress and long veil and thought it looked beautiful. Thankfully my mom agreed!! My husband and groomsmen wore medium grey suits with a white button up and black shoes. A very classic, simple look. They each wore a “swimming pool” blue bow tie. I wanted to have some fun with their look so bow ties it was. They looked good though. Very happy with how their look turned out!
You had a lot figured out on the day you got engaged. How did you and Mac meet? Tell us about the proposal.
“We met at a bar while we were living in Syracuse, NY. I was going to school and he was working in the area. But we did not hit it off right away. We met the one night, he came over but we never exchanged numbers. I was going home that weekend so I did not think I would see him again. But then the following week we saw each other again at the bar and that is when we hit it off. It is history from there! Mac proposed to me on Thanksgiving Day 2015. We were visiting his parents in Cazenovia, NY. Everyone was sitting at the dining table before dinner started and I decided to say, “We should each say what we are thankful for,” not knowing what was about to happen. So I went first, since Mac was sitting right next to me, and then he went last. It was amazing and beautiful.”
What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
“Our wedding vows! Mac was nervous but because he held it together nicely, from my point of view, I was pretty calm when it was my turn. It went better than I thought it would since I usually stumble over my words in front of lots of people.”
Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
“Planning a wedding is stressful but try to enjoy every bit of it. Also, try to plan ahead of time. I was thankful we were able to wait a year and a half to get married so I was able to check several things off my list of “wedding to-dos” before the big rush started. Getting things done ahead of time is always nice because things will always pop up and will take longer than you think.
As for marriage advice…be who you are. If you start changing who you are because of marriage, you will end up not being happy and then it will hurt your marriage. Spend time with each other doing fun things, going out, playing games, going to the gym, going for a walk…all those things help you bond in a special, meaningful way. Love each other unconditionally. You will argue and get mad and frustrated with each other but love each other. Talk to each other about the frustration, the pain. If you keep it in nothing will get resolved and will cause more problems. Be you and love each other for who you both are.”
“Jessica and Justin were married at Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY. It ended up raining for the whole day, but that didn’t stop them from having a great time anyway. They are so in love, and so sweet together, it was easy for us to capture great images without leaving the porch area. They had a sweet ceremony with personalized readings and a sand ceremony including Justin’s two sons. Jessica’s dress was stunning and fit her perfectly. They are both kettlebell fitness enthusiasts, so we got a shot of them with their kettlebells as well!” – J. Ferrara Photography