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Senate Garage Wedding Unique Hudson Valley wedding venues

6 Of The Most Unique and Non-Traditional Wedding Venues Found in the Hudson Valley

If you’re the type of couple that is looking for that really unique, non-traditional wedding venue for your Hudson Valley wedding, this is the article for you.
 

One of the great things about planning a wedding in the Hudson Valley is that it’s chock-full of wedding venues; from traditional wedding banquet halls, to hotels, to farms and barns, to castles, and everything in-between. Anything you want for your wedding day can be found here.
 

However, if you’re looking for something a little quirky, a little different and unique, a little out-of-the-box, here is a list of 6 locations that would be perfect for you.
 

Emmerich Tree Farm, Warwick
 

Love Christmas? How about a Christmas in July wedding at Emmerich Tree Farm? This outdoor wedding venue is situated smack dab in the middle of an evergreen tree farm with forest all around you. They have a beautiful pavilion and patio just perfect for that “out-in-the-country” vibe. The pavilion is typically used for cocktail hour and the rustic patio is typically used for the reception, which can hold anywhere between 130-180 people. They even offer a special bridal tent that the bride and her bridal party can use to get ready. Cap your night the best way possible with a campfire! You and your guests can sit around roasting marshmallows at their fire pit with features 360-degree seating!
 

Four Brothers Drive-In Theatre, Amenia
 

There’s nothing more nostalgic than the drive-in movies and if you love that mid-century all-American vibe, the Four Brother’s Drive-In Theatre is perfect for you. Owned by the same folks that brought you Four Brother’s Restaurant, this one-of-a-kind site only hosts five weddings a season and can accommodate over 200 people! This space allows you to truly craft a unique wedding experience and comes with a ton of fun amenities! They include a playground, food truck, fire-pit, a patio with a stage, and, of course, that massive movie screen which would be an awesome place to show a pre-wedding slideshow or have the latest movie playing in the background of your reception. You can stay on the property until 1 a.m., and if your guests get the munchies after a night of partying, they can grab a burger, hot dog or shake from their snack shack.
 
RELATED: 3 UNIQUE WAYS TO SAY ‘THIS IS US’ AT YOUR WEDDING
 

Dramatic Hall Theatre at Peekskill Central Market, Peekskill
 

If you enjoy history and want a retro-meets-elegance vibe, then you want to check out the Dramatic Hall Theatre at Peekskill Central Market. The room, which is a renovated 1870-era theater, is located on the third floor of the building and can hold close to 100 people. This two-level, wide-open space with beautiful wood floors, brick walls, red velvet curtains and two cascading staircases with iron railings will really make your wedding one to remember. Guests can enjoy drinks from the bar on the upper level while getting a birds-eye-view of the celebration below.
 

Basilica Hudson, Hudson
 

If you prefer an artsy, eclectic, industrial vibe for your wedding day, you’ll definitely want to check out Basilica Hudson. This reclaimed 1880s industrial factory is actually a non-profit arts center but can be rented for private events such as weddings. What once began as a foundry for steel railway wheels, this massive 7,000 square feet space has been stripped down exposing their gorgeous industrial windows, brick walls, terracotta ceiling tiles and steel ceiling beams. Guests can enjoy adjacent parking, and they have no vendor restrictions, meaning you can literally create your masterpiece wedding day. However, because it is a busy rental space with tons of great events happening all year, your wedding will need to be worked into their event calendar, sp make sure you give yourself plenty of time to plan.
 

Bell Tower Venue, Rosendale
 

If you don’t want a church wedding, but your parents want you to, this might be a great compromise. The Bell Tower is a gothic style brick church built in 1896 by the Dutch Reformed Church and today is a 2,500 square foot open space perfect for weddings. While no longer a commissioned, working church, the inside still looks like a church, with tons of natural light coming from their cathedral windows, beautiful vaulted ceilings, and the pulpit is the perfect stage for your ceremony or your band/dj. It can accommodate up to 120 guests, has a full bar, and offers catering suggestions for your special day.
 
RELATED: 11 UNIQUE HUDSON VALLEY EXPERIENCES PERFECT FOR YOUR BACHELOR OR BACHELORETTE PARTY
 

Senate Garage, Kingston
 

Senate Garage is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a converted garage! Now, you may have images in your head of oil-stained floors, florescent lighting, and car company signs hanging off the walls, but this is no ordinary garage. It actually has quite a fascinating history as it was originally built in the 1920’s and was used as a parking garage for chauffeured-driven cars for those who were visiting the bustling city of Kingston. Today, Senate Garage is a beautiful open space with dark hardwood floors, industrial lighting, exposed brick walls and exposed ceiling beams, plus a beautiful green outdoor space, which can be rented separately, perfect for your ceremony. It has 7,500 square feet of space and holds up to 275 guests for a seated dinner.
 

Lumberyard, Catskill
 

By day, Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts is a women-led non-profit center supporting the ever-growing performing arts and film industry in the Hudson Valley. For your wedding, it transforms into the space of your dreams. Picture 12,000 square feet of production space just waiting to be created into something truly magical for you and your guests. Couples can choose from two rentable spaces; a 5,000 square foot studio, which was once a former barn, overlooking the Catskill Creek which can accommodate 150 guests or a 7000 square foot reception hall for up to 450 guests. Couples can also book both spaces. Both spaces are heated and air-conditioned and they also provide on-site accommodations for up to 25 people. Another bonus is they’re pet-friendly, and because they work in film and performing arts, they have killer state-of-the-art audio and visual facilities.
 

Which venue would you like for your wedding?
 
Photo Credit: Senate Garage by Pioneer Media

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11 Unique Hudson Valley Experiences Perfect For Your Bachelor or Bachelorette Party

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a bachelor or bachelorette party? Many assume it’s a night full of drinking and debauchery or a guys or girls weekend somewhere with your “squad.” But that’s not always the case. If you are looking for something different and memorable, here are 11 Hudson Valley experiences perfect for a unique bachelor or bachelorette party.

 

Laugh it Up Comedy Club at Mahoney’s Irish Pub & Steakhouse, Poughkeepsie

 

Laugh it Up Comedy Club is one of the Hudson Valley’s premier comedy clubs and is perfect for the guy or girl who wants a fun, affordable, lighthearted night out with friends. They bring in some of the most sought-after comedy acts in the country, including, most recently, Gilbert Gottfried (you may remember him as the voice of Iago in the Disney animated classic “Aladdin”) and Colin Quin (from “Saturday Night Live” fame). Instead of making a trip to NYC to see great comedians, they bring them to you. You can also come early to chow down on some delicious Irish/American cuisine and drinks.

 

Hudson Valley Renegades, Fishkill

 

This is definitely the place to be for baseball fans! The Hudson Valley Renegades are the short-season, Class A affiliate of the American League’s Tampa Bay Rays and offer some great opportunities – not only for bachelor or bachelorette parties but engagement parties, as well. For a small group, you can try Leo’s Table for 6, which is a private table for you and five friends, catered by Leo’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. If you and your significant other want to combine parties, they offer luxury air-conditioned suite rentals for 15-20 people or picnic area rentals on both the first- and third-base lines, for 20 or more people. Both come fully catered and include mention on the video board.

 

iFLY Westchester Indoor Sky Diving, Yonkers

 

If you are up for a massive rush of adrenaline, you might want to try indoor skydiving at iFLY Westchester. Imagine being propelled into the air in a giant vertical wind-tunnel that simulates what it’s like to actually go skydiving. Having fun is always a must, but safety, of course, is their number one priority, so certified instructors prepare you for this 1½ – 2-hour experience. Participants will have to sign a waiver; and once all safety precautions are taken, you and your party can live it up and also take advantage of the flight enhancements and catering options they provide for your party. You can also purchase photos from the day, which would make an awesome gift.  Imagine the stories you and your bridal party will have. It’ll certainly be a party no one will forget.

 

RELATED: 4 WEDDING GIFT IDEAS UNIQUE TO THE HUDSON VALLEY

 

Skydive the Ranch, Gardiner

 

If you and your bridal party are true risk-takers and want to jump from 13,500 feet in the air, then Skydive the Ranch might be for you. Their team of certified instructors make sure you have an experience of a lifetime. Safety, again, is their number one concern so be prepared to watch training videos, sign paperwork, and be fully instructed for your jump. Assuming this is your first jump, your jump will be a tandem jump, meaning you are jumping with a licensed, experienced professional on a parachute built for two. Plan for about 3 hours, from the time you arrive to the time you’re finished, but add more time for more jumpers. The best part: Professional videographers film the whole jump. What a great film to play during your cocktail reception!

 

New York Zipline Canopy Tours, Hunter

 

Popular for skiing, Hunter Mountain is also home of the New York Zipline Canopy Tours, the largest zip line canopy tour in North America. You can zip line during the day or even at night, and they have three different options for thrill-seekers. The adventure tower takes you through nine different obstacles as you make your way up a 60-foot-tall tower. The mid-Mountain Tour can be done during the day, or at night, and has six zip lines and four suspension bridges. The tallest, fastest and longest zip lines are found in the Skyrider tour. Fly 600 feet above the valley at speeds of nearly 50 miles per hour! The Skyrider Tour is not for the faint of heart, but certainly, an experience to remember.

 

Angry Orchard, Walden

 

Nestled on a 60-acre orchard in the heart of the Hudson Valley, Angry Orchard – yes, THAT Angry Orchard – is a great day-trip for you and your friends. For over 200 years, cider has been made in the Hudson Valley, and this farm has all your cider wants and needs covered. You and your bridal party can take one of three tours, including one of their gorgeous treehouse tasting room, designed and built by Animal Planet’s “Tree House Masters”; all tours include cider tastings. After your tour, make your way to the Cider Garden, where you can casually relax by the fire sipping your favorite cider. Time it right and you can also catch some great live music from bands such as Sublime during their Angry Orchard Rock the Roots one-day music festivals.

 

Table to Farm Tours, Roxbury

 

Located in the Catskill Mountains of Delaware County, Table to Farm Tours are perfect for any bride or groom that considers themselves to be a ‘foodie’ and who appreciates the local bounty the Hudson Valley has to offer. Table to Farm Tours brings you face-to-face with the farmers who grow the food you eat, gives you a chance to hear their stories, tour their farms and taste the food they put the time and effort into growing. They also offer dinner and drink tours that take you to local vineyards, distilleries and cideries and pairs that experience with a home-cooked, farm-to-table meal. They can even curate a tour specifically for you, which would be a perfect way to celebrate with your bridal party. This is not just a nice weather event. Even in the winter, they’re open for wine, spirits and brewery tours and every summer have a bunch of new farms to visit.

 

Hudson Valley Wedding Yoga, Kingston

 

A wedding is a joyous occasion, but planning a wedding can be one of the most stressful occasions – not just for the bride or groom, but for the bridal party as well. The folks at Hudson Valley Wedding Yoga understand and want to help you de-stress naturally. In fact, their slogan is “Adding peace and presence to life’s joyous celebrations.” Yoga classes would be perfect for you and your significant other alone, just to center, breathe and relax, but also makes a great outing for your bridal party. If you think you can’t ‘do’ yoga, don’t worry. They’ll customize a program based on your specific needs and abilities. Each session includes a guided meditation and breathwork, all designed to calm your body, mind, and spirit.

 

RELATED: 5 SURPRISING THINGS YOUR BRIDAL PARTY EXPECTS OF YOU

 

Savor Beauty, Saugerties / NYC

 

How does a spa day with your girls sound? If that sounds right up your alley, Savor Beauty is for you. Savor Beauty is an organic skin care line based upon Korean beauty traditions, have three locations in New York City and Saugerties, and offer spa packages for the bride and bridal party (6-12 people). Each 90-minute spa party includes a dedicated party host who shows you how to create your own face mask using exotic clays, and a Savor Beauty masterclass (featured on Allure.com) teaching you how to create a one-minute self-care skin ritual. You’ll also have time to explore their clean, eco-conscious makeup line to enhance what you already have in your makeup bag, get a beauty goodie bag and credit toward a day-of purchase. It’s a BYOC (Bring Your Own Cake) party but they provide a bottle of champagne!

 

Hudson River Cruises, Kingston

 

Explore the Hudson River in the way it was intended – by cruising. Hudson River Cruises on the Rip Van Winkle is not only a great option for you and your bridal party, but can also be a great location for your wedding or rehearsal dinner. They offer a huge array of tours including sightseeing tours, happy hour sightseeing tours, July sunset cruises and themed music cruises with both DJ or live music. Each cruise leaves Kingston, goes south to Hyde Park and back to Kingston again and lasts about 3 hours. On your cruise, you’ll see majestic mansions, historical homes, and breathtaking scenery. Add more fun to your cruise by checking out one of the many restaurants in the Kingston Rondout before or after your trip.

 

A Maze in Pottery, Briarcliff Manor

 

If you want to explore your artistic side and create a really cool wedding gift or keepsake for your home, try A Maze in Pottery. They are a paint-your-own-pottery studio and provides a whole showroom full of unglazed pottery such as vases, dishes, pots, and jars. All you have to do is choose what item you want and paint it. No appointment is necessary, but groups of five or more are required to call ahead. The studio fee is nominal and the unfinished pieces start at $4, with the average price being between $15 – $25. Once you choose your item, their staff will guide you through the painting process. They use non-toxic, lead-free, food-safe glazes and paints and have idea books, stencils, sponges, and stamps to really make your piece one-of-a-kind. When you’re done painting, they glaze it and fire it in their kilns to make it shiny, and safe for food, the microwave, and the dishwasher. Your item is then ready to be picked up one week from the day you paint it. Imagine making a serving dish for the couple, or a first-date guest book.

 

What are you planning for your bachelor or bachelorette party? Would you consider any of these experiences for yours?

 

Photo credit: Cassady K Photography

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LindsayBrown Photography Hudson Valley wedding same-sex couple Cedar Lakes Estates Port Jervis New York

Summer Hudson Valley Wedding at Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, NY

Summer in the Hudson Valley is a magical time. Carrie and Rebecca’s summer wedding at Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis captures the summer so perfectly with vibes of camping at the lake and definitely gave their guests a taste of the “hazy, lazy, dog-days of summer” with a twist of modern elegance and rustic charm.
 

We chatted with Carrie and Rebecca and here’s there story:
 

How did you meet?
 

Rebecca: We met on Match.com! Carrie was living in NYC and I was living in Vermont. After less than a year I moved to NYC to be with Carrie and attend college.
 

Tell us all about the proposal!
 

Rebecca: Carrie didn’t hold back! We go to Park City, Utah about once a year and it has become a special place for us. So, naturally January rolled around and we were off to the mountains! One day we woke up and Carrie told me we were going snowmobiling, being from Vermont myself I was very familiar with snowboarding and very excited! The day was brisk with a light flurry. We drove to the location, got on our snowmobiles and road up a mountain with a guide. Once at the top, the guide gave us some time alone, which I later found out was planned. Carrie asked me to make snow angels with her. I, suspecting nothing, started playing gleefully in the snow. Carrie got my attention when she attempted to get on one knee, the snow was probably 6 ft deep and pulled a ring box out of her pocket. She proposed with her mother’s engagement ring that her parents graciously passed down to us. It was an insanely magical moment.
 

Describe the wedding planning process. Why did you choose the vendors you worked with?
 

Carrie: It began a few months after our engagement. We looked into a couple of venues and then was told about Cedar Lakes Estate (CLE) from a friend. We quickly went up to Port Jervis, NY and fell in love with the property and what the owners, Stephanie and Lisa, had created. We were hooked! We also loved that CLE provided a weekend-long experience for us and our guests. CLE made it very easy for us and provided a list of suggested vendors, from there we narrowed it down to vendors that aligned with our style. This process was the same with our wedding planner, Amanda Savory from Amanda Savory Events (formerly Bespoke Moments). We met with her and knew it was a good fit!
 

Tell us about your wedding day?
 

Rebecca: Our wedding day was amazing. Started with a delicious breakfast and then we and our guests took advantage of the property; yoga, pool, ‘the blob’ (a big bouncy tube in the lake) and zip lining. Our ceremony was held on the beautiful mountaintop. Moments before our ceremony a fawn walked across the seating area, creating an insanely perfect ambiance. We were married by Carrie’s childhood friend Sarah. The reception was in the barn and the food was INSANE, our guests were very impressed. Our band rocked it and it was soon time for the after party which was held in the treehouse! At the after party CLE served mini burgers and cheese sandwiches while we played beer pong and flip cup. It was the best weekend of our lives!
 

What is your advice for newly engaged couples?
 

Rebecca: Our advice for newly engaged couples would be to enjoy your engagement and not rush into the wedding. We were engaged for a year and a half before our wedding. Also, when people tell you to spend the money on food and the band they are not lying. The final piece of advice is to recognize that this event is not about the flowers or the dress or even the photos, but about you and your soon-to-be spouse. Carrie and I did a good job at this and I believe this is one of the reasons why we were able to have a relaxing enjoyable weekend.
 

We were also able to speak to their planner, Amanda Savory, and here’s what she had to say about their wedding:
 

Amanda: “When I first met with Carrie and Rebecca, I felt like we were friends already. Right from the start, our time together was very casual and informative, enough to where they felt comfortable securing me as their full-service wedding planner.
 

They were very detail-oriented and knew exactly what they wanted, but they also didn’t let the planning stress them out. Together they had incredibly good vibes that carried throughout the entire wedding planning adventure. It was so much fun to work with them which made it so gratifying to see their wedding weekend come together.
 

Carrie and Rebecca’s wedding was at the end of Pride Week which made their celebration even more special. They didn’t want it to seem like a traditional wedding, they just wanted their friends and family to have a good time and celebrate them. The food and design were super important to them because Carrie is a chef, and Rebecca is a jewelry designer. Everything from the color palette to the menu to the favor gemstones on each plate were carefully chosen. The overall design was important, but at the end of the day, they just wanted their big day to feel welcoming.
 

Their wedding day was very low key, there was not a lot of pressure. We were able to do a lot of the planning so early on and really prepare for their wedding day so that when it came to the big day it all went so smoothly. The whole weekend was a seamless process full of meeting their family, their friends, and by that point, I became really good friends with Carrie and Rebecca. It was a fast friendship where I just happened to be their wedding planner.”
 
Photos by: Lindsay Brown
 


 

Vendors:

 

Wedding Planner: Amanda Savory Events (formerly Bespoke Moments)

Event Design: Rye Workshop

Venue & Caterer: Cedar Lakes Estate

Photographer: Lindsay Brown

Invitation Designer: Suitesmith

Photo Booth Equipment: The Bosco Booth

Beauty: MG Hair & Makeup

Band: Elan Artists, performers – Suit and Tie

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Otterkill Golf Club wedding Sweet Alice Photography

Three things that make you ask “What the heck do I do with this?” at my wedding

Inevitably, there comes a point in the planning process where you’re going to be analyzing the smallest, and I mean smallest, of details for your wedding day. There are three specific things that are going to literally make you stop in your tracks and ask “What the heck do I do with this?”
 

It’s not your fault, just things you don’t really think about until that day or a few days before your wedding. If you have a wedding planner, chances are all this will be discussed with you. But if you are the majority of couples that don’t hire a wedding planner and do this all yourself, here are some things you need to know:
 
RELATED: 21 ESSENTIAL THINGS EVERY BRIDE OR GROOM MUST DO THE WEEK BEFORE THEIR WEDDING
 

What the heck do you do with your bouquet?

 

Ok, so this is kind of a two-parter here…
 

The first question should be “How the heck do I hold my bouquet?” Nope, it’s not in front of you. The correct answer is actually at your waist. You don’t want to hold your flowers in front of you because it blocks your face and your dress. Think about it. You’re not presenting the flowers to anyone, you’re just holding them there as an accessory. It drives me crazy when I see brides holding bouquets in front of their torso, but, it’s an easy, natural and comfortable move to make, especially when you’re a bit nervous. Just rest them easy at your waist.
 

The second question that comes up is “What the heck do I do with my bouquet at the reception?” Well, a lot. If you have a suite to get ready at your venue, you can leave your bouquet in there for the night. If you want to enter the reception room carrying your bouquet like most brides, you can assign a member in your bridal party, or your maître d’ to hold your bouquet while you do your first dance. Then take your bouquet and keep it as the centerpiece at your sweetheart table.
 

What the heck do you do with your engagement ring?

 

You may be thinking “wear it, obviously!” Yes, and no. The proper way to wear your wedding bands is the wedding ring first, then engagement ring on top. Why? Along with the tradition of your ring finger having a vein that leads directly to your heart, your wedding band should be worn first as it’s closet to your heart.
 

Now, if this is something that you don’t really care about, you can just keep your engagement ring on, have your spouse put your wedding ring on top of it, and switch them later if you want.
 

If you are superstitious or want to stick to tradition, however, you’ll want to wear your engagement ring on a different finger. Usually, the same finger on your right hand. Now, if you’re right-handed, your fingers may be bigger since those muscles get used more, and your ring may not fit. Same goes if you’re left-handed, the muscles on your right hand may be smaller and the ring may be too loose. If either of those is the case, entrust your engagement ring with someone you trust like a parent, who you know is going to have a small bag with them to hold it until after your ceremony.
 
RELATED: ENGAGEMENT RINGS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEYOND THE 4 “C”s
 

What the heck do you do with your car?

 

Remember, you’re going to need to get home the next day. This one always makes me chuckle because this happened to us. It wasn’t until the day before our wedding when we were like “How are we going to get home tomorrow?” Trust me, you’ll be asking the same question. Your limo will be taking you to your locations, but what is your “get home” plan?
 

You have a couple of options here. One, hitch a ride with a guest. Simple. Just ask them first so they know to wait for you before they leave.
 

Another option is to see if your hotel or your venue will allow you to leave your car in their parking lot overnight so it’s already there the day of your wedding and will be there the next morning waiting for you. Usually, they won’t have a problem with that and understand your unique circumstance.
 

Do you have a question about what do with something the day of your wedding? Let us know. We’d love to answer it for you?
 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

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Chosen Photo Nigerian wedding Vittoriaz on the Lake Jefferson Valley, NY

Hudson Valley Wedding Infused with Nigerian Traditions

Marissa and Anthony’s gorgeous Hudson Valley wedding was infused with elements from the bride’s Nigerian culture. A truly stunning wedding full of love and cultural traditions that’ll make you say “yes” to incorporating your own cultural traditions into your wedding. We wanted to learn more about the Nigerian culture, especially Nigerian wedding traditions, and so we asked Marissa to tell us a little about her wedding and how she met her husband, Anthony.
 

How did you meet?

 

We met in January 2013. Anthony’s friend and my brother worked for the same company and their co-worker was having a party that they invited us to. At one point in the night, Anthony and I played against each other in a game of beer pong. We were kind of flirty with one another while we were playing, nothing too serious. Right before he left, though, Anthony asked me to put my number in his phone, which I did. I remember I told him to text me so I can save his number and the first thing he texted me was “Hey beautiful.” We’ve been inseparable since.
 

What was your engagement like?

 

Anthony is a HUGE Patriots fan and at that point in his life he had never been to a Patriots game, so I decided to change that. As a Christmas gift, I got us tickets to a Pats Vs Jets game, which was on December 21, 2014. We planned to stay overnight at a hotel in the city after the game and have a nice romantic dinner. We had reservations at 8:00 pm so I made sure I had enough time to get ready. As I’m getting ready, I hear Anthony talking to himself, so I look over and realize he was recording a video of the beautiful view from our room. He then walks over to me as he’s filming. I asked him what he was doing he said he was bored and wanted to record me. I told him to finish getting ready because we have reservations, to which he replied: “We can’t leave yet.” I looked at him confused, and asked “What? Why not?” that is when he said, “We can’t go until I ask you to marry me.” Then got on one knee and pulled the ring out from behind him. I, of course, started crying and it took me about 7 minutes to finally stop and say “YES!” We went out to dinner and it was a very intimate setting, so I thought it was perfect. One of the best days of my life!
 

Did you have a wedding theme?

 

No, we did not have a theme. But our colors were chosen as a tribute to my Mom who passed away. Her favorite color was purple and I always wanted turquoise as my color so we made it both.
 

How did you choose the Hudson Valley for your wedding?

 

We lived in the area and so did our family. We wanted a venue that wasn’t too far for our families.
 

I love how you incorporated your culture into your wedding. Can you tell us a little about the Nigerian traditions you incorporated into your day?

 

I am half Nigerian so I wanted to make sure my culture was involved in some way on the biggest day of my life. In the Nigerian Culture, the immediate family wears the same pattern/print so all guests know they are the immediate family of either the bride or groom. My stepmother picked out the family print which is the yellow and purple print that you see in the pictures.
 

As for my dress, as I previously mentioned our colors were purple and turquoise. Our Bridal Party wore purple so I thought the turquoise would be perfect!
 

We did incorporate traditions during our reception. Before we did our first dance, I asked my dad to do a “Kola Nut Blessing.” In Nigeria, the Kola Nut is a sign to welcome someone. If you are not offered a Kola Nut, then you are not welcomed. So I had my Dad and Uncle bless it and welcome all of our guests.
 

Midway through our reception is when we did our outfit change and re-entered to traditional Nigerian music and were joined by the women of my family. We walked to the dance floor and that is when we had our “dollar dance.” This is another tradition where your guests spread dollar bills on the new couple, pretty much saying congratulations and showing their blessings.
 

So, now that you’re a newlywed, what advice do you have for couples who are currently planning their wedding?

 

My advice about planning is: This is your wedding, do not let anyone try and take over or have any input on how your day should be. Do not stress, it’s not worth it. Have fun planning, because the day goes by super fast! Anthony’s advice is to not stress every little detail, be patient planning and listen to each other’s opinions and suggestions.
 

What was the most memorable moment for you and Anthony from your wedding?

 

Anthony’s memorable moment was when he cried while I walked down the aisle. My most memorable moment was honestly introducing my new family and our friends to the Nigerian culture.
 

Photo credit: Chosen Photo

 


 

Vendors:

 
Venue: Vittoria’Z On The Lake
Photography: Chosen Photo
Makeup: The Hair Concierge
DJ: Extreme DJ Inc
Decorator: A-lyst Events
Cake: Homestyle Desserts Bakery
Dress: Leticia’s 

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bohemian Hudson Valley Wedding at Locust Grove J Ferrara Photography

21 Essential Things Every Bride or Groom Must Do The Week Before Their Wedding

It’s the week leading up to your wedding. Excitement and nerves are raging and you feel the clock is ticking to make sure everything gets done on time. There are so many last-minute details to remember, so we put together a list of 21 essential things every bride or groom must do the week before their wedding. We’ve broken them down into three categories: Logistics (the nuts and bolts of the day), Personal (what you need to do for yourself), and Specifics (the little details you may forget).
 

LOGISTICS:

 

Prepare your marriage license – Make sure you have your marriage license all set and ready to go. Sometimes, the license will be signed during the ceremony, and sometimes, it will be signed during the rehearsal. In either case, you need to make sure you have this document ready for signage. Without it, your marriage isn’t legal. For more information on how to obtain a New York State marriage license, click here or below.
 

 
 
 

Create and distribute timelines – It’s important for all members of your bridal party, as well as your parents and those involved in the wedding, to know what’s going on that day. Timelines are especially important for your vendors. Not only do they need to know what time to show up and where to show up, but they’ll actually be helping you schedule much of your timeline. Your salon, for example, needs to know what time the photographer is coming so that they can have you all ready for photos.
 

Prepare and distribute contact info – Just as important as the timeline, contact info is key. All members of the bridal party, all vendors, parents, and the venue should be on the list. Your number should be included as well, though I would designate a person to field all your calls, especially on your wedding day. You don’t want to be answering or dealing with phone calls while you’re getting ready.
 

Take enough time off from work – Requesting time off from work should be done months in advance of your wedding, and you want to make sure you take off enough time. Check with your employer to see if you can carry over days or time if you think you are going to need more than what you are given. If your wedding is on a Saturday, I suggest taking three or four days prior. You also want to make sure you take enough time off for your honeymoon. Most couples take two weeks off, though when you take your honeymoon is totally up to you. Some couples take off right after their wedding, others, depending on their situation, will wait a few months. Even if you wait a few months, take a few days off from work after the wedding so you have time to wind down and mentally get back to “reality”.
 

Drop off all items for your wedding to your venue – Your wedding venue should provide you with a timeline of when things are due for them, such as payments, final headcount, etc. Included in this list is a date of when your wedding items such as favors, menus, place cards, and guest book need to be dropped off. My suggestion is to not do this the day before, but two days out. You are going to be very busy the day before your wedding and you don’t want to have to worry about making a trip to your venue – especially if it’s out of town – the day before your wedding.
 

Confirm all appointments – Even though you booked your appointments months and months in advance, and probably checked and double-checked on them, do it again. Call your hair salon, makeup artist, florist, limo, baker and any other vendor you are working with to confirm everyone is on the same page, and that everyone knows what time to be where.
 

Prepare final payments for vendors – Make sure all your final payments to your vendors are made or are set aside to give them the day of your wedding. The last thing you want to do is forget to pay someone.
 

Plan a rehearsal – No matter if your wedding is a quiet backyard affair or a formal banquet hall event, a rehearsal is very important. There are lots of moving parts to a wedding and people need to know where they need to stand or sit, when they need to come out to music, who is holding bouquets, when to do a unity ceremony, what’s going to happen at the end of readings or when to say your vows. This doesn’t have to necessarily be done the day before your wedding, but it needs to be done close to it.
 

PERSONAL:

 

Get enough sleep – Nerves may get the best of you, therefore, making it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep, and that’s totally normal. However, you want to make sure you give yourself enough time to make up for that. Plan ahead so you get to bed at a reasonable time. Night owls, this means no late nights and early morning. Plan a good 6-8 hours of sleep each night of the week leading up to your wedding. This not only will calm your nerves, but it’ll give you more clarity and composure.
 

Schedule “me” time – Yoga or meditating are great ways to de-stress. Even just a few minutes of quiet deep breathing or scheduling in a nap can be an excellent way to recharge, refuel and get centered. The days leading up to your wedding are going to be very busy, chaotic and stressful. You need to take care of yourself. Being on the go all the time can lower your immunity, and you don’t want to be sick on your wedding day.
 

Don’t party too hard – it’s very easy to want to just live it up the week leading up to your wedding or even the night before, but trust me, partying too hard is just going to leave you with a ton of regret. Yes, have a glass or two of wine. Yes, enjoy yourself at your rehearsal dinner. However, drinking too much or staying out too late is just going to have a snowball effect when you don’t have the time to be nursing a hangover or the patience to be working off a few hours of sleep.
 

Don’t change your routines – Now is not the time to be trying new routines. Keep everything as “normal” as possible. Don’t try new skin routines, or a diet regimen, or sleep routine. Stick with what works well because you don’t want any negative surprises on your wedding day.
 

Don’t sunbathe – We all know sunbathing is bad, and we should be wearing SPF, so don’t go out and sit in the sun in the days leading up to your wedding. You don’t want to be burnt or have unsightly tan lines. If being tan on your wedding is something you want, talk to your salon to see if they offer spray tans, or even better, see if they offer natural spray tans without the harsh chemicals. Whatever you do, don’t use tanning beds!
 

Don’t try new foods – This kind of goes along the same lines as not trying new routines. Trying new foods is always great. I love doing it. But, before such a big event, you better be safe. Leave being adventurous at the door until you are on your honeymoon or until you get back. The last thing you want is to try something new and then realize you have a reaction to it and get sick.
 

SPECIFICS:

 

Get yourself organized – Gather all necessary items such as garments, your suitcase, paperwork and any other day-of essentials and keep them in one, easy-to-get-to location. We have a great list of things to pack for your wedding day here or below:
 

 
 
 
 

Prepare your welcome bags – You want to make sure that your welcome bags are assembled and available at the hotel(s) your guests are staying at prior to the day your first guest arrives. Some guests may arrive the day before, some might check-in that day. Check with your hotel to confirm a drop-off date.
 

Go to the bank – This is one of those things that might be on your to-do list, but could get pushed back. You want to go to the bank for several reasons. One, you want to make sure you have some cash on you or ready to take with you for your honeymoon. Second, you want to let your bank know of any traveling you might be doing so that they can put an alert on your card. You don’t want to go away on vacation and have your bank cancel your cards thinking they might have been stolen.
 

Break in your shoes – Guys and girls, I can’t stress enough how uncomfortable dress shoes can be if you haven’t broken them in or stretched them. Don’t put yourself through the agony of painful feet. Break your shoes in, wear them around the house, dance in them, do whatever you need to do to make sure they feel good. Inevitably, you might just want to bring a change of shoes altogether when it comes time for dancing, but be sure to give your feet some love.
 

Make sure all DIY projects are done – Make sure all of your DIY projects are done at least a week in advance, if not more. The week and days leading up to your wedding shouldn’t be spent with a glue gun in your hand. I love a good craft project, but there comes a time when you have to walk away from the craft table and let it be.
 

Exchange gifts with your spouse – Here’s why this should be done before your wedding and not the day of. Simply put, Pictures and time. If you are not doing a first-look and are seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony, when are you going to have time to exchange gifts? Also, remember, opening gifts makes a great photo op, which is usually done as you are getting ready. You want to make sure you give each other your gifts prior to the wedding so that you have something to open when your photographer arrives.
 

Finish your vows – Waiting until the morning of your wedding to write your vows or finish them is not good. Try to plan to have these done at least a week ahead of time. That gives you time to go back, edit, change things around and really make sure they’re perfect. Plus, if you are the DIY-type, it gives you a chance to do something really creative with them.
 

What’s on your week-of to-do list?
 
Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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Summer Wedding ideas

6 Things to Consider When Having an Outdoor Summer Wedding in the Hudson Valley

It’s no secret that summer is prime wedding season and no matter where you are in the country, summer, especially June is, by far, the most popular season to get married. In fact, last summer, over 3,800 weddings took place in the Hudson Valley alone just between June and August*! So, if you are one of the couples who were lucky enough to book the few summer weekends available for your wedding, we want to share a few tips that you and your guests will appreciate.
 

But first, a small history lesson on why summer weddings, specifically June weddings, are so popular. First, the word “June” comes from the name “Juno” who was the Roman goddess of marriage. Second, back in Medieval times, when personal hygiene was almost non-existent, most people took yearly, yes yearly, baths, in May or June when the weather was warmer. This meant that people smelled better during those times, which, for such an important day, you want to be smelling your best. P.S. This is also where the tradition of carrying bouquets comes in. Women carried bouquets hoping that the smell of the flowers would disguise their body odor.
 

Today, it’s easy to see why Summer is so popular. after the long winter and rainy spring, couples, especially in the Hudson Valley, are eager to break their cabin fever and spend as much time outside as possible. And since summer doesn’t last too long, you want to take advantage of it as much as you can.
 

So if you are a summer bride or groom, here are 6 things you need to take into consideration…
 

The sun

 

I don’t need to tell you that while the sun is beautiful and warm, it’s also dangerous. But, so many people still forget to use protection. If you are having an outdoor wedding remember to apply sunscreen! Between the ceremony and pictures, you can be outside for quite a few hours. You don’t want to get sunburned on your wedding day. If you are red and burned in photos, your photographer can only do so much with editing. Even if you don’t burn and are one of the lucky ones that get gorgeously tan, SPF is your best friend. You don’t want those harmful rays damaging your skin in years to come.
 

Also, make sure there is shade too, your guests will thank you. If your guests are sitting out in the sun for your ceremony, they’re going to want shade. Whether it’s from trees, tents, shade from the building, or visors, make sure your guests are comfortable. Remind them to wear sun protection too.
 
RELATED: EXPERTS SHARE BEST ADVICE FOR FLAWLESS WEDDING DAY SKIN
 

The heat

 

Hudson Valley summers can get hot, even triple digits, and the last thing you want is to be sweating on your wedding day. Shade, as I mentioned before, can obviously help here too. However, if you can’t get shade, make sure you dress appropriately. Choose a gown that’s sleeveless and light, with loose construction. Beading and structure (boning, corsets) can make a dress VERY heavy, so you want to make sure that when you choose your dress it’s weather appropriate. Also, make sure your makeup is properly set, so that if you do start to sweat, it doesn’t start to drip off your face.
 

Again, think about your guests too, especially if they are older or very young. They are more susceptible to heat-prone illness. If your reception is outside, make sure that your venue has fans or ceiling fans that can keep you and your guests cool while you’re dancing. Tents, even with open sides, can get very warm, and remember, most barns weren’t built for events. If heat is a serious issue for you, skip an outdoor ceremony or reception altogether.
 

The rain

 

Summer can be rainy, even if it’s just a passing afternoon storm. Always have a plan “B”. If rain is predicted for your ceremony, can you move it indoors? If it rains overnight before your outdoor wedding or reception, are walkways going to be muddy? What about the parking lot? Are guests going to be parking in a mud puddle or is it a concrete parking lot? Is water going to seep into your reception area, especially if your reception is in a tent? These are all things you need to consider and knowing what your plan “B” will be is a very important conversation you need to have with your venue or wedding planner.
 
RELATED: 7 THINGS YOU NEED TO DO IF SEVERE WEATHER THREATENS YOUR WEDDING DAY
 

Bugs and mosquitos

 

Bugs come with summer, but after the rain, they seem to be more abundant. What is your plan to prevent summer bugs from bothering you and your guests? I went to an outdoor June wedding once, and by the time I left, my legs were covered in bites! Are you going to have bug lights around your perimeter? Are you going to leave little bottles of bug spray for your guests? This is a detail that you might not think about until you’re at your wedding smacking and swatting bugs all night.
 

Food & drinks

 

When you think of summer fare, you think light and fresh, maybe even BBQ. Have some fun with this. What are some of your favorite summer foods? For me, watermelon is right at the top. Maybe do watermelon slushies, or even have a cotton candy booth, reminiscent of county fairs. You can even do mini corn dogs or mini crab cakes as a passed appetizer. The possibilities are endless.
 

You want to make sure, though, that you stay away from really heavy foods. Think roasted potatoes over mashed, salad instead of soup. Heavy foods in the summer tend to make people feel even hotter. Also, check with your venue or caterer to make sure whatever food you have, especially if it has any sort of cream in it, is held at the right temperature to prevent illness.
 

Remember your drinks too. Because of the summer heat, you want a good mix of non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks as you don’t want to consume too much alcohol if you’re really hot. Slushies or frozen drinks are always fun. Light spritzers are a good addition as well.
 

Think about adding cool desserts like shaved ice, ice cream or ice cream floats. Maybe even rent out an ice cream truck for the night.
 

Overnight accommodations

 

Summer is a popular time in the Hudson Valley. Between graduations, festivals, and yes, other weddings, hotels are at max capacity. Make sure you reserve your room blocks early. Since most hotels will only allow you to book 10 rooms at a time, and will not let you reserve more until the first 10 are reserved, you may want to get room blocks at a few different hotels. This is also helpful for your guests, too, because it gives them a choice in location and price point.
 

Are you having a summer wedding? What are you doing to beat the heat?
 

Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

 

*Source: The Wedding Report

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Hudson Valley Wedding Sweet Alice Photography Highlands Country Club

Blush and Blue Hudson Valley Wedding at Highlands Country Club

When you get to follow a couple from their engagement through to their wedding, it’s a magical thing. Nora and Dan’s engagement session was featured on the blog a few months ago (check the link below to check it out) and today, we’re featuring their Hudson Valley wedding at Highlands Country Club.
 

RELATED: Engagement Photos: What Hudson Valley couples want you to know

 

Their photographer, Erica Leman, owner of Sweet Alice Photography, had so many great things to say about their wedding day. “I am not exaggerating when I say that Nora and Dan are my ideal clients. Kind, compassionate, funny, giving, and easy to be around – they feel like your best friends from the moment you interact with them,” she says. “Their love for each other (and cats, haha) makes them stand out above others. Their love is almost tangible, almost like you can touch it if you reach hard enough, and was the perfect theme for their wedding day.”
 

She says, “Nora and Dan got married on the most beautiful September day at Highlands Country Club. Not too hot, not too cold. Their friends and family gathered in excited groups around them throughout the day, and added to their happiness. Nora was the giggliest I’ve ever seen her; Dan was the best sport about their photos, and fell into an ease beside her.”
 

As for the details, Leman says, “Their wedding colors were gorgeous and incredibly complimentary. I mean, blush and blue – can it get any prettier? Their arbor was made by a family friend, and Nora’s jewelry was graciously borrowed from Jaymark Jewelers. As always with Nicole Brooke salon, hair and makeup was incredibly fun, and a total breeze. Nora and Dan had the type of wedding I could relive over and over and over.”
 

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

 

 

Vendors:

 

Photographer: Sweet Alice Photography
Venue: Highlands Country Club
Jewelry: Jaymark Jewelers
Hair/Makeup: Nicole Brooke Salon

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Dutchess Manor Wedding Majestic Studios Photography

6 Royal Wedding Trends You May Now See Thanks To Meghan Markle

We all know Royal weddings set trends. If you were one of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who woke up early to watch the Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, you know just how spectacular this wedding was. I, for one, will be talking about this wedding for a long time as it has since become my favorite Royal wedding for many reasons. Time will tell how this wedding will set trends for future couples, and here are 7 ways I think Meghan and Harry’s wedding will influence future wedding trends…
 

Going alone

 

For many brides, and fathers, it’s a lifelong dream to walk down the aisle together and for a father to “give” his daughter away. However, for some, the idea of being “given” away sends the wrong message. Yet, due to tradition, some brides may feel like they have no choice but to walk down the aisle with their father, or someone to represent a father. This becomes increasingly difficult if family dynamics are complicated. What if your father passed away? What if you don’t get along with your parents, either one? What if you have step-parents? What if, what if, what if…the list can go on. Meghan proved that you don’t have to walk down the aisle with anyone, and I feel that this statement is going to resonate for so many strong, independent women and will define a new trend.
 

Going all-natural

 

Meghan’s look was totally natural. Her makeup was subdued, light, natural and showed off her most beautiful features…her eyes and her freckles. I think brides everywhere are going to feel slightly relieved knowing that natural looking makeup is beautiful, especially for brides who don’t wear a lot of makeup in normal everyday life. Yes, you need some makeup on your wedding day, mainly for photos, and not for the reason you think. It’s not so much to look nice as it is to not wash you out. Meghan is also proving that your natural features should be the highlight and not to be covered up.
 

RELATED: THIS IS THE ONE MISTAKE THAT CAN RUIN YOUR WEDDING PHOTOS

 

Less is more

 

Let’s talk about Meghan’s dress! I mean, WOW! Just wow! Understated elegance at its best. There has been a trend over the last several years that bling is better. Blinged-out bodices and belts are not only popular, but can sometimes be that touch of sparkle that many brides feel completes their look. Meghan proved, tiara aside, that clean lines and no sparkle can make a big, if not a bigger impact than bling. Necklines, silhouettes, veils and fabric can be stunning and slimming just on their own and can truly accentuate your body without distraction of crystals. Not to mention that clean lines are very classic. You won’t have to worry about looking at your photos 20 or 30 years from now and thinking it looked dated.
 

When we look at her bouquet, it was simple, meaningful, and most importantly natural and small. The flowers were just an accessory and did not, in any way, take away from Meghan’s look or distract from it.
 

Big veils

 

Meghan’s veil was 16 feet long and embroidered with flowers from the 53 British Commonwealth countries! While the dress was understated, she made a bold statement with one piece. No one will ever forget the now iconic images of Meghan on the church steps or walking down the aisle with that magnificent veil following behind her. If you want to make a statement, veils are going to be the new “must-have” accessory. A long veil is a lot easier to manage than a long train. Trains have to be bustled, veils can just be taken off. Not to mention, veils are a lot lighter than a dress. I think brides everywhere are going to be opting for shorter dresses (no trains) and longer veils.
 

Secular music

 

For couples wanting to get married in a house of worship, music choices may change. “Stand By Me” was sung so beautifully during Meghan and Harry’s wedding ceremony, and it’s very rare to hear secular music played in a house of worship. Some religious venues may give clearance on some specific secular songs that can have an undertone of spirituality to them. In fact, we had a couple played at our wedding, but they were pre-approved by our church. I think couples are going to want more secular music played in houses of worship, and because of the need, more houses of worship may take a deeper look into approving more songs that can be played. Now, if you are getting married outside of a church, or religious establishment, this doesn’t apply. You can play whatever you want.
 

RELATED: 3 STEPS YOU NEED TO FOLLOW FOR CHOOSING BEAUTIFUL WEDDING FLOWERS

 

Flowered archways or doorways

 

Flowers are one of the details of a wedding that can take a blank space and literally transform it into a masterpiece. However, where you see flowers at weddings may change now, thanks to Meghan and Harry. I predict flowers are going to be assembled in archways, around doorways, and framing already existing architecture rather than being pieces set into a room. Creating these archways gives the couple a beautiful frame for photos and entrances, and really turns your venue into a grand setting.
 

What was your favorite part of the Royal Wedding? What trends do you think Meghan and Harry have set?

 

Featured photo credit: Majestic Studios

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Lavish Hudson Valley Wedding at Whitby Castle

When you think of the Hudson Valley weddings, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Castle weddings probably aren’t on the top of your list, but this stunningly regal and lavish wedding at Whitby Castle in Rye, NY will have thinking otherwise.
 

Jamie and Dale got engaged in Paris, and so a castle wedding was only fitting! Their wedding was dripping in gorgeous details…from jewelry, to flowers, to signage, this couple has exquisite taste, and their wedding photographers, The Ramsdens, captured every detail perfectly.
 


 

Vendors…
 

Venue: Whitby Castle

Bride & Bridemaid’s Dressess: Lady Gray Bridal

Hair: Lulu’s Hair Studio

Flowers: The Flower Barn

String Trio: Capriccio Ensemble

DJ: Enriquez Entertainment

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Whitby Castle Hudson Valley wedding The Ramsdens

5 Hudson Valley Castles Perfect For Your ‘Royal’ Wedding

If Harry and Meghan’s Royal wedding has inspired you to create your own royal-themed wedding day, you’re in luck! Did you know the Hudson Valley is home to 5 castles perfect for your royal day?
 

Many of these estates were built during the turn of the 20th century when America was in the middle of vast political and technological changes. As a result, wealthy business owners commissioned the construction of mansions all along the banks of the Hudson River from New York City to Albany. If you’ve ever taken a river cruise on the Rip Van Winkle, you’ll get to see some of these amazing estates.
 

Today, we’re going to dive a little deeper into five castle estates, each of which will leave you feeling like a queen on the most magical day of your life.
 
RELATED: THE ONE THING BRITISH COUPLES NEVER DO AT WEDDINGS
 

Lyndhurst Castle, Tarrytown
 

Lyndhurst Castle, designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis, is a Gothic Revival mansion with stunning park-like vistas throughout the property. It has sweeping views of the Hudson River, which will give you those truly magical landscape photos that are coveted by every couple who gets married in the Hudson Valley.
 

As part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Lyndhurst Castle sits on sixty-seven acres just thirty-five minutes from NYC, which is perfect for any city couple wanting a gorgeous upstate wedding. Wedding ceremonies can be held inside or outside and accommodate up to 220 guests. They offer a range of cuisines as well as Kosher menus.
 

Castle Hotel and Spa, Tarrytown
 

The Castle Hotel and Spa was known as “Carrolcliffe” shortly before the turn of the 20th century and was a favored getaway for New York City society. Today, it’s an award-winning estate, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, and a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
 

The estate sits on ten wooded acres and has more than 3,300 square feet of event space that can accommodate small intimate weddings of as few as 10 people, to as many as 120 guests. It also has 31 guest rooms and features a luxurious holistic Sankara Spa, which is the first of its kind in the United States. Sankara Spas are a popular type of spa in Asia known for the peace and tranquility they offer.
 

Whitby Castle at Rye Golf Club, Rye
 

Originally built as a private estate in 1852, Whitby Castle has a direct connection to England. It’s visually very similar to Whitby Abbey in England and was built with some of the Abbey’s original stones.
 

The castle can accommodate weddings of up to 250 people and is set on 126 acres with views of the Long Island Sound and beautiful sweeping lawns perfect for a regal outdoor wedding. If an indoor wedding is more your style, it has a grand ballroom and two private reception spaces. Their on-site restaurant also gives you the opportunity to have an elaborate 5-course dinner or a more casual hors d’oeuvres reception.
 
RELATED: WANT TO LOOK LIKE A PRINCESS ON YOUR WEDDING DAY? THEN YOU NEED TO REMEMBER THESE 3 EASY RULES
 

Tarrytown House, Tarrytown
 

Tarrytown House is a treasured landmark in the Hudson Valley just 30 minutes from NYC. Originally constructed as a family residence and home to affluent families who made it big in the tobacco and railroad industries of the mid 19th century to the early 20th century, it soon became the place to be for galas and events hosted by these wealthy magnates.
 

The house sits on 26 acres in Westchester county, also has sweeping views of the Hudson River, and is a pet-friendly location, perfect for any couple wanting their beloved pet to be part of their wedding. Guest can stay overnight and couples have the option of even renting out one of their three building on property to create a private wedding experience.
 

OHEKA Castle Hotel & Estate, Huntington
 

OHEKA Castle is slightly outside of the Hudson Valley but is definitely worth mentioning. Located on Long Island, it’s reminiscent of romantic French chateaus, and has been hosting events and lavish parties since 1919. With 115,000 square feet and 117 rooms, it’s the largest castle estate on this list, and is the second largest private residence ever built in America! This is definitely a venue for those who want to make a grand statement.
 

Today, OHEKA Castle is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a member of Historic Hotels in America and is recognized as one of the most prestigious wedding venues in the World! The venue can hold anywhere from 150 – 700 guests, and guests can sleep in any of the castles 32 guest rooms and suites. Couples can not only take advantage of elegant indoor and outdoor reception spaces, but also amazing photo ops in the formal gardens of the estate.
 

Featured photo: Whitby Castle; Photo credit: The Ramsdens

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The one thing British couples never do at weddings

The Royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is the stuff of fairytales. An American “commoner” marrying British Royalty is what dreams are made of.
 

In college, I spent a semester in London, interned at a couture bridal salon by one of London’s most renowned gown designers, Phillippa Lepley, and visited Buckingham Palace and Windsor castle. I absolutely fell in love with London’s history, culture, and people and feel such a close connection to anything British. Lately, knowing that this Royal wedding was coming up, it got me thinking about how our neighbors across “The Pond” do weddings. Are they the same? Are they really different? What do couples do to prepare? What’s their bridal style like?
 

To find out, I asked Emma Salt, a British-based wedding planner and Owner of Married in NYC, who helps couples navigate all the administrative paperwork and coordinating needed for them to travel to America and get married in NYC. We covered all aspects of British weddings including the one thing American couples do that British couples NEVER do at weddings.
 

RELATED: ROYAL HUDSON VALLEY WEDDING AT LE CHATEAU

 

Let’s start at the early planning phases. Do British couples have engagement parties or wedding showers?

 

Emma – “We don’t typically. I’d say 50% of my friends had an engagement party a couple of weeks after they got engaged. We just gathered with our family on they day (they all knew and so were waiting for us!)”
 

Can you explain what bachelor/bachelorette parties are like?

 

Dutchess Manor Wedding Majestic Studios Photography

Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

Emma – “So, a “Hen do” is for the bride and her friends and family, apparently the term “hens” was used in the 1800’s to describe a group of women gathered together. A “Stag do” is for the groom and his friends. I think it is just because a stag is such a masculine animal!

 

A typical Hen do will have the bride in white, friends in any other color, and the bridesmaids/friends will dress the Hen (the bride) up in a sash (usually saying “Bride to Be” or similar) and a cheap tiara and veil…It’s usually a night out drinking and dancing, or a cocktail making class etc.
 

“A “Stag do” is for the groom and his friends and family. Again, its usually a heavy night of drinking, and the “stags” quite often dress the groom up as something really embarrassing!”
 

“Recently, hens and stags have been abroad, there have been a lot if long weekend breaks in Spain or somewhere else hot in Europe.” Salt says “adult” items are often thrown into the mix as well to add to the fun. “It is like people make it deliberately cheap and tacky now”, she says.
 

What are some British wedding traditions?

 

Emma – “Things are changing now, there aren’t any definite traditions. However, it is often a given that the groom DOES NOT see the bride before the ceremony. The first time they see each other must be when the bride walks down the aisle. We cut the cake, however we don’t usually slice it and feed it to each other. At our NYC wedding, the photographer was like “that’s it? You aren’t gonna eat it??” because typically we slice it, then it gets served later to the guests. We give our guests “favours” and they can be anything from candy, to flowers seeds (to plant in the couples honour) or a lot of couples donate the money they would have spent to charity and put the details of which charity (and sometimes with a pin or badge of the charity, etc.) on each table.”
 

What is typical British wedding style for brides and grooms?

 

Emma – “…What brides wear varies so much! Some go for full lace sleeves, reminiscent of Kate Middleton. Some go for slinky strapless dresses… Grooms often do 2 piece suites, but there has been a big bow tie, tweed and braces (suspenders) trend the last few years.”
 

RELATED: WANT TO LOOK LIKE A PRINCESS ON YOUR WEDDING DAY? THEN YOU NEED TO REMEMBER THESE 3 EASY RULES

 

Are bridal parties a thing in Britain?

 

Photo Credit: Bom Photography

Emma – “Yep, though the Maid of Honor is sometimes called the Chief Bridesmaid and the Groomsmen are called Ushers.”
 

What about the reception? Do British couples have parties with DJ’s, dancing, cake, bouquet toss, etc. or are they more reserved?

 

Emma – “Pretty much. We have a reception with a sit down meal and speeches. Then a DJ/band and a buffet for evening guests to attend. I went to a wedding where we all did line dancing and a lot of people choose a live band if it is in their budget.”
 

Do couples do first looks?

 

Emma – “No way! First looks a NOT a thing here. The groom is kept well away from the bride and it is considered REALLY bad luck to see each other before the ceremony.
 

Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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Hudson Valley Wedding Nidya LLoyd Photography Le Chateau

Want to Look Like a Princess on Your Wedding Day? Then You Need to Remember These 3 Easy Rules

A royal wedding doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it’s simply magical. It inspires everyone to want to look look like a princess on their wedding day.
 

Back in 2011, when Prince William and Kate Middleton were getting married, I was knee-deep in planning my own wedding. Actually, their wedding happened right at the same time I was planning on dress shopping. Shopping for my wedding dress was an event I had dreamed of for many years, and so I wanted to make the day really special. After all, I did go to school to become a wedding dress designer, so this was more than just a shopping trip.
 

I knew right away their wedding day was going to be the day I shopped for my dress. What better inspiration than to have a royal wedding take place on the day that you shop for your wedding dress? Since the wedding took place on a Friday, and since I knew Saturday’s would be crazy busy for bridal salons, I played hookie and took the day off from work.
 

I spent the night before at my mom’s house so we could wake up watch the wedding together (sweet, right?). I remember very distinctly what a beautiful sunny spring morning it was and waking up at 5:00 a.m. to start watching the live coverage. I got goosebumps when I saw the two princes, William and Harry, in their finest attire, and the moment we all saw the first glimpses of Kate in her dress was truly breathtaking. The Royal’s sure do know how to throw a wedding!
 

My dress appointment was at 10 a.m., which gave us just enough time to watch all the wedding events in London, and then get ready for my own royal engagement.
 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR IN A QUALITY BRIDAL GOWN

romantic garden wedding F.E.A.S.T. at Roundhill Windau Photography

Photo Credit: Windau Photography


 

I knew from the moment I saw Kate that I wanted to look just like her on my wedding day. However, I quickly realized that was going to be challenging for many reasons I explain below. So, brides, if you are watching the Royal wedding on Saturday, and If you want to look like Meghan on your wedding day, don’t go dress shopping…yet. Here’s why…
 

1) The trends have just been set
 

You will be watching history in the making, witnessing a trendsetting moment, and no one in the world, except for a few people, will know what Meghan is going to wear. That means on Saturday, designers all over the world are going to be taking notes and scrambling to create dresses inspired by the new princess. If you go to the store the day of the Royal wedding expecting to find a dress like what you just saw on TV, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one. I certainly was. Notice how many gowns today have sleeves? Guess who set that trend? Notice how dresses today have a more classic elegant vibe and silhouette than a few years ago? Guess why? Kate set that trend and Meghan will set new ones.
 

RELATED: YOUR WEDDING DRESS: HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’VE FOUND THE ONE?

 

2) You need to wait at least 3 solid months if you want to copy the new princess’ look.
 

There may be one or two designers that can create knock-offs quickly, but if you really want a good variety of dresses to choose from that are royal-inspired, you need to wait. It takes time for designers to design, source, make, and distribute gowns. Meghan’s dress is going to be the most analyzed dress in the world for the next few weeks, if not months, and so, you can rest assured designers are going to be busy making dresses you are going to want and love. You just need to be patient.
 

RELATED: WHO SHOULD HELP YOU SAY ‘YES’ TO YOUR WEDDING DRESS?

 

3) Does the way you want to feel match the way you want to look?
 

Looking like a princess and matching what you saw on TV sounds nice, but is it a reality? If the new princess wears a big, poofy gown, and you want to be comfortable, can you do both? Kate wore a dress with a beautiful long train, but for me, a train wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted something easy and no fuss, so a train (well, I had a small one) was out. Her dress also looked hot and heavy with the sleeves and all that material, and I wanted light and comfortable. Sleeves, though romantic and looked amazing on her, weren’t for me. I do wish I had waited a little while to get a Kate-inspired dress because she set the trend for dresses to have v-necks, which I love, moving away from the strapless sweetheart neckline, which, in my opinion, is overdone.
 

When are you getting your dress? Are you going dress shopping on the day of the Royal wedding? Do you want a royal-inspired wedding gown in any way?
 

Featured photo credit: Nidya Lloyd Photography

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LGBTQ Weddings: Important Info You Need to Know About Your Wedding Vendors

It started off as a question asked during a venue tour and ended as something much more.
 

“About five years ago, a mother of a groom asked one of our sales managers in their first tour, ‘How will you refer to my sons during their planning process?’” says Margaret Brower, director of sales at The Grandview in Poughkeepsie, NY.
 

A simple, yet weighted question.
 

After months of planning and getting to know the couple’s families well, Brower asked the mother why she asked that question during their first visit. She says, “That mom wanted to be sure her sons were going to be getting married at a venue where they didn’t have to be on the defensive. … She explained that every tour they went on, the venues used the word ‘bridal’ – bridal show, bridal suite, bridal party – and in this wedding, there is no bride.”
 

That was an ‘Aha’ moment for Brower. “A lightbulb went off that we needed an education on being better at serving and representing ALL of our couples,” she says.
 

She realized, at the moment, how exclusive wedding industry standard language is to ‘brides’ and ‘grooms’. “As a company, we talked about that pointed question (that this mom asked) and the vulnerable place it came from. We made a conscious decision as a company to be leaders in the movement to change that,” says Brower.
 

Soon after, Brower, along with the general managers, sales staff, maître d’s, operations staff, and banquet managers at all Bonura Hospitality Group venues (The Grandview, Anthony’s Pier 9, The Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel, West Hills Country Club, Water Club Luxury Living, Shadows on the Hudson, Blu Pointe) and the Bonura Hospitality Group corporate office attended an all-day certification program conducted by Bernadette Smith, founder and president of the Gay Wedding Institute and 14 Stories.
 

RELATED: FEATURED COUPLE: JENNY AND JANINE

 

What is the Gay Wedding Institute Certification Program?

 

Smith, who, coincidentally, is originally from the Hudson Valley, explains that the certification program is an intensive program designed to educate wedding industry professionals about the nuances of same-sex marriages.
 

In this program, Smith says, wedding industry professionals learn appropriate language and terminology, learn what wedding traditions same-sex couples prefer, learn how to rebrand their marketing materials and signage within their venue, get a detailed look at LGBTQ wedding data, trends, and are educated on laws and policies.
 

Brower says, “Bernadette’s certification course was motivating, captivating, and empowering.”
 

“The Bonura Hospitality Group are the only caterers and wedding professionals who are certified in our area,” says Brower. “It has actually made us better in so many areas because our training was not just about language. We dove into LGBT wedding data, trends, traditions, best practices in sales and marketing, cutting-edge information on laws and policies, and received resource material for future questions. We also learned about being an advocate for your client. That was my favorite section!”
 

What do vendors and venues having this certification mean for you, the engaged couple?

 

Before we discuss what the certification means to engaged couples, it’s important to look at some numbers. Between June 2013 – June 2016, 52% of LGBTQ couples were afraid of rejection based on sexual orientation/gender identity. Because of that, 86% found it very important that a vendor serves and supports LGBTQ weddings and 51% found it challenging to find themselves represented in wedding resources.* (Source: Gay Wedding Institute by 14 Stories)
 

For LGBTQ couples, working with a Gay Wedding Institute certified venue or vendor means that you get to work with venues and vendors where you are equally represented, that understand your unique vision for your wedding, and that can appropriately address your concerns.
 

Brower states that as a Gay Wedding Institute certified venue they changed a lot to better serve the LGBTQ community in the Hudson Valley. “With Bernadette’s guidance,” she says, “we made changes to our (marketing materials), making sure all of our packaging, websites, and brochures use inclusive language and represented all couples. … We also are making a conscious effort to work with vendors who are inclusive, themselves. You are only as strong as your associates.”
 

In addition, Brower says “At all of our facilities, we changed signage that once read ‘Bridal Suite’ to either ‘Suite’ or ‘Wedding Suite.’  Client info was changed from ‘Bride & Groom’ on our agreements to ‘Name & Name.’ We use the terms ‘Wedding Expo’ and ‘Wedding Show’ instead of ‘Bridal Show’.”
 

But being certified goes far beyond changing language. Brower says, “We are self-aware, and that doesn’t mean saying, ‘We do gay weddings.’  It’s actually far from that. It’s saying we love weddings, all weddings, no matter who you are marrying, and we will make that experience special for anyone who walks through our doors.”
 

RELATED: 9 CRUCIAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO FOR YOUR WEDDING VENDORS

 

How can you get certified or find out what venues or vendors are certified?

 

14 Stories, the country’s first firm specializing in planning legal same-sex weddings, launched the Gay Wedding Institute in 2009, as a way to help wedding industry professionals become fully inclusive of all couples, including LGBTQ couples. If you are an engaged couple looking to find certified vendors or venues, or are a wedding industry professional and would like more information about the Gay Wedding Institute or information on how you can be certified, please visit Gay Wedding Institute by 14 Stories
 

Featured photo credit: J. Ferrara Photography

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3 Easy Ways to Stay True to Yourself and Make Your Wedding Special

By guest blogger Amanda Hudes, owner of Smiling Through Chaos.

 

Weddings are best when they showcase YOU!

 

2018 is all about customization baby! Nobody wants to have their wedding look and feel just like every other wedding out there, but where do you begin? Well, begin with YOU. By doing so, you almost guarantee your wedding will be different because there’s no one else out there like you. No one else has your style, taste, or imagination.

 

Here are some tips to help you figure out…

 

1 – Who you are

 

2 – How to feel confident about who you now accept, love and cherish, and

 

3 – How you can stay true to who you are on your wedding day

 

Go deep

 

Many of us go through several stages in life, and often times each stage is represented by our style. Does anyone remember wearing “babydoll tee’s” as our bodies were changing in middle school? What about the phase of “Oh my gosh, I’m going to graduate so I have to go out and buy a few suits for interviews!” And what about the stage when you said, “Yes!” to a marriage proposal and started shopping for the dress you were “supposed to” love?

 

That’s where we say, “Hold up!” Underneath the makeup and your favorite current fashion trend, who are YOU? Do you love poetry or heavy metal? Do you love adventure, or are you someone who loves to be comfortable in jeans and a sweatshirt most days? If you’re someone who loves to wear sneakers and sweats, you might be very uncomfortable in high heels all day, which will show in your pictures and your face when speaking to your guests! I’m not saying wear sneakers and sweats, but I am suggesting keeping “comfort” in your mind and choosing a wedding dress or jumpsuit. When you feel good, you smile, you laugh, you enjoy, and that helps others to do the same.
 

Who are YOU?

 

That’s the first step before proceeding with any wedding planning. Once you figure that out, you will feel so much more comfortable with your decisions and with the style of the wedding because it will represent the two of you.

 

Care for and love yourself

 

Once you realize who you truly are, it’s time for self-care and self-love. You know the saying, you can’t love someone else until you love yourself first. Well, I say love yourself because you are SO worth it, and when you love yourself, you become so irresistible that your significant other will love you even more. If the two of you are practicing self-care, this is magic.

 

Self-care starts with taking time to laugh, to enjoy moments with friends and family, and providing yourself with moments of silence and reflection.

 

Self-love also involves accepting and cherishing the body and mind that makes you so special. What makes us different makes us special. There are no such things as imperfections. You are perfectly you!
 

Do what feels right

 

So now it’s the time to plan your look and your wedding!

 

What feels good to you? Do you adore the smell of fresh flowers, or would you prefer more greenery? Have you realized that you would absolutely love a regal gown so you can feel like a Queen that day, or would you prefer to wear a mini dress with sandals? What says YOU? What feels right, and good, to YOU?

 

Being absolutely clear on what you enjoy and what makes you happy is crucial to having the day of your dreams. Confidence in owning who you are sends a clear message to those around who might be trying to sway you in a different direction. The more confident you are in your decisions, the less likely someone will be in trying to make you change your mind.

 

What are things you discovered about yourself during the planning process? What are some things that are truly you that you are doing at your wedding? What are some ways you care for yourself?  
 

Featured Photo: Ricky Restiano Photography
 

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