Eclectic Hudson Valley Wedding Infused With a 1970s Folk Vibe at The Ashokan Center
What happens when you combine 1970s folk, with an officiant wearing angel wings, a band called “The Slimers”, and an afterparty with Karaoke that ended the next morning? You get Allison and Matthews wedding, of course! We had the chance to speak to the newlyweds about their eclectic Hudson Valley wedding at The Ashokan Center, and their story is just as fun as you would expect especially their proposal! All of it was beautifully captured by White Poppy Weddings
How did you meet?
Allison: “We met about seven years ago on OkCupid, or, as my friends and I used to call it at the time, “The Website.””
Matt: “I suggested the hotel bar at the La Quinta in Koreatown, Manhattan for our first date. Trust me, the view was incredible.”
Describe your proposal?
Allison: “We had been discussing our feelings about marriage for quite some time, and I knew I wanted to be the one to propose. I bought a ring for Matt and dutifully hid it in my drawer, and then promptly lost my nerve and couldn’t figure out the right time to do it. The ring stayed in my drawer for months until late one Thursday night after a friend’s wedding when we were again discussing our feelings about partnership and ritual. Matt mentioned that he was a little disappointed I hadn’t proposed when he expected me to (apparently it’s a British tradition for a woman to propose on February 29th of a leap year, who knew!) but he said he understood and that he didn’t want to pressure me and we didn’t have to get married, etc. It suddenly became clear that that very moment would be the best, most meaningful, most surprising time to whip out a ring, so I said “hold on one second, keep talking, I’m listening,” and I went upstairs to grab the box. I got down on one knee, and Matt said “Yes!” before I even had a chance to ask! Sure, we were both a little drunk in the kitchen at 1:30 on a weeknight and Matt was about to leave town for a month, but it felt right.”
Matt: “I’d consumed a few drinks for sure, and my sadness at feeling overlooked as a life partner by Allison gave way to a rant about the marriage industrial complex, specifically what I perceived as a weighting towards creating the perfect day versus whatever comes after, and the next thing I knew, Allison was on bended knee with a lovely ring she had picked out for me. I had a piece of toast in my mouth at the time.”
Did you have a wedding theme or certain vibe you were going for?
Allison: “We had a hard time articulating our vision, but fortunately we had a couple of genius friends who agreed to help us set the scene. We wanted the vibe to land somewhere between a garish full-color cookbook from 1971 and a traditional May Day celebration. Our friends constructed an incredible design incorporating giant plaster cakes, plenty of gold mylar, and some unbelievable dollar store finds. My mom and I had a fantastic bonding experience sourcing cheap, beautiful mid-century glassware for flowers, and Matt had fun choosing 1970’s folk-horror-inspired fonts and colors for our signage. We asked a group of friends to sing “Sumer is Icumen In” (an 800-year-old English anthem proclaiming the arrival of spring) for our ceremony recessional. My concern with design unity is pretty minimal; usually, I just want things to look nuts. My stepmother officiated and we were both very excited by the idea that she would wear a pair of feathered wings. No real thematic reason; it just seemed fun.”
Matt: “We succumbed to the mood board temptation and it turned out that Pinterest was really useful for helping to give substance to the ideas we were struggling to vocalise. It was when Allison added two pictures: one of the Source family hanging out next to a Rolls Royce and another of a sassy, disinterested looking woman hanging out in someone’s basement in the 70s, that I knew what we should be going for. I’m personally quite taken with the church/veteran’s hall-done-up-for-a-celebration atmosphere, so the mylar curtains were important to us. Plus we really like disco music and we were glad to be permitted to hang a disco ball in the center of the performance/ceremony space. The decorations in the dining hall were so well thought out by our friends that I’m still excited by the wonderful feat they accomplished; macrame runners, floating candles in punch bowls, gold rocks, etc.”
Why did you choose the Hudson Valley for your wedding?
Allison: “I’m from the Hudson Valley and I’m so passionate about it I have the Stone Ridge zip code tattooed on my leg. Matt’s from the UK and has friends scattered all over the world, so we were excited to bring many people to upstate New York for the first time, and provide them with a setting where they could have good food and good company provided for the entire weekend (while supporting small businesses in the community I love!) We currently live in New York City, and I spend a lot of time thinking about the urban/rural divide within my own heart, so I wanted to celebrate near the Ashokan Reservoir where we could reflect on the complex interwoven infrastructure that sustains us. The Ashokan Center was our dream venue from the start since you get the site for basically three days, you can party all night long, and everything’s provided. We’d also been to concerts there, so we had pre-existing positive associations and we knew it would work well for live music. Plus it’s a 15-minute drive from my mom’s house!”
Matt: “It made perfect sense to get married in the Hudson Valley. I also spent a large portion of my childhood growing up in the country and to that extent, Allison’s experience didn’t seem too different from mine. We have spent many pleasant weekends visiting family and friends in the area and it was important to me to share this with the UK contingent. A note on the Ashokan Center: we were really sold on the idea of there being no curfew and although we were passed out by around 3 am, some guests made it until sunrise on Sunday morning! And of course, it is in a wonderful location, which we felt would give our guests the ideal opportunity to explore the immediate locale.”
Do you have any tips for engaged couples?
Allison: “It really helped us to think of the wedding not as an obligation, but as a collaborative project where we could learn more about our communication styles and problem-solving skills. We felt less guilty about spending money to throw an elaborate party when we realized it was a serious relationship-building activity. Of course, that meant that when it was over we were depressed the way you might be when a show, tour, or job ends, so it’s important to make space to process those feelings afterward. On a more prosaic note – hire a day-of-coordinator if you can! It won’t make you any less punk to get some help, and it will make it a lot easier to actually eat during the event.”
Matt: “Make sure at least one of you can use spreadsheets. I will be forever indebted to Allison for this. In all seriousness though, I must echo Allison’s thoughts: you may think that the logistical task of organising a wedding is not necessarily the most romantic path towards a greater understanding of the other, however in our case it absolutely was, and although we had initially talked about this being a compelling reason for getting married, I was still surprised to find myself, a week out, feeling the first waves of depression about this brief stage of our relationship coming to an end. If your schedule permits, give yourself plenty of time to pull together the various elements of your wedding. We were engaged for two years and one thing that helps keep stress levels down is pacing yourself because things will definitely start to ramp up a couple of months before the ceremony. Yes, there were a couple moments of heightened tension, I think that’s unavoidable, but for the most part, Allison and I had really had a wonderful time working together on this project. As for budgeting, try to be honest and rigid about the absolute most you are willing and can afford to spend on your wedding. We tried to work with two projected budgets: one where we would cut as many corners as possible and the other the top end of what we were comfortable spending. This actually was very helpful because it made us focus on the areas where it would be most beneficial to allocate our budget. When you can quickly pull up a list of different cost options on a spreadsheet, it definitely helps streamline the decision-making process. And yes, definitely allow yourself the space to process the post-wedding depression afterward! It’s ok though, you got married for a reason, right?”
What was the most memorable moment of your wedding?
Allison: “This is a tough one to pin down! We have a lot of performers among our friends and family, and I LOVE toasts, so we had many uproarious speeches from our loved ones. Our friends also put together a supergroup covers band for us, and we were totally floored by how hard they worked and how they managed to put together an entire set of our favorite songs in a month. By the end of that I was just insane and screaming with joy, and we still had an awesome after party with two DJ’s (also our dear friends) and late-night karaoke to go. But let’s be honest, my favorite moment was immediately after our ceremony when we just held each other and wept with happiness.”
Matt: “Well, it seemed like Allison was just standing there waiting for me to reemerge from the crumpled up ball on the floor that I was, bawling my eyes out. But yes, that was very memorable. I also got a huge kick from the merry peals of laughter that emanated from the ceremony hall as Allison’s step-mother appeared from behind the mylar curtain in her wings. It helped shake me from my extremely nervous state and put me straight back in the moment. I loved the toasts far more than I expected. Allison was pulling hard to make this a key component of the wedding and during the moment itself, it totally dawned on me why asking these people, who we loved and admired, to do something they might not normally do was so important. You learn new things in these moments. Who knew my dad would be so adept at prop comedy? Who knew my mum would pull a boss power move by refusing to stand up for her toast? That said, I think the first look was my favourite moment. I knew Allison had put an awful lot of time and effort into sourcing and putting together her wedding ensemble but even then, I just couldn’t believe how calm and radiant and beautiful she looked when I saw her first. I’ll never forget the way she was that day.”
Venue: The Ashokan Center
Catering: The Ashokan Center, Chef Bill Warnes
Planner/Coordinator: Danielle DeFreest of Every Little Detail.
Flowers: We worked with Adam’s Fairacre Farms to come up with a hybrid plan that worked with our budget. They created two large professional arrangements for our welcome table, and then allowed us to buy additional flowers in bulk so that my mom and her friends could make the little table arrangements. I highly recommend this approach!
Photography: Alex Ligouri of White Poppy Weddings
Hair/Makeup: Madison Smith
Entertainments/design: As mentioned, we had a huge amount of help from friends who we asked well in advance, as well as friends who just decided to help as the weekend unfolded. We were – and still are – so, so grateful for their input, time and patience with us. The wedding would have looked very different without them.