Taryn and Jason’s Hudson Valley wedding last month was magical in every sense of the word. It began with a proposal in Beacon, NY and ended with their family and friends camped out for an entire weekend at Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, NY. Check out their stunning photos by With Love & Embers and read all about their beautiful love story, their proposal and some really great advice for choosing vendors as well as cherishing the “engaged” phase of your relationship.
How did you two meet?
Taryn: Jason and I both went to Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and met during the fall of 2007. I had just started my freshman year and he was a sophomore. We met fairly early on during my freshman year (his sophomore). F&M is a small school so everyone pretty much knew each other, and this was especially true of the athletes (I was playing on the lacrosse team and Jason played baseball). I’m not sure if either of us remembers the exact moment we met, I think it was more gradual…we had a lot of mutual friends, given that the athletes mostly hung out with each other. We started spending more time together in smaller groups, got to know each other a little better, and eventually realized that we had a connection that felt a little deeper than friendship.
Tell us all about the proposal!
Taryn: We got engaged on a Friday, October 30, 2015, about 8 years after we first met. I was in my 4th and final year of medical school and had just taken one of the biggest exams of my career. Jason wanted to go away for the weekend to celebrate but wanted to surprise me with the details. We started driving north, and within 2 hours, we turned off the highway onto an exit that I knew very well. We were going to Beacon, NY—a small town in the Hudson Valley we visited and fell in love with the year before. Within seconds, I realized that Jason had most likely booked a converted barn that we had found on Airbnb the year before, but it had been unavailable for months. When we got there, Jason said we were running late for our dinner reservation, and asked if I could quickly grab my bags and put them inside so we could head to town for dinner.
Still not suspecting a thing, mostly because Jason remained so calm, I opened the door to the barn to find a string-lit filled barn, with 2 horses quietly eating. (I grew up riding horses, so I was MUCH more intrigued by the two of them than the twinkling lights, candles, roses, and the bottle of champagne). It wasn’t until Jason walked over and asked “Can you put your bag down?” that I turned, saw his face, and instantly knew what was happening. I’m still not sure what he said to me, but all I could focus on was the look in his eyes. I actually don’t even think I looked at the ring for a good few minutes! It was the most magical moment, and for a guy who was not the best with romantic gestures and surprises, he pulled out all the stops for this one. We went to dinner after calling our families and made a deal to not tell anyone else until the end of the weekend. We really just wanted to enjoy each other without the distraction of a million phone calls and text messages…and social media, which was the best decision. For the last surprise of the weekend, Jason had set up a celebratory dinner with our families back in the city on Sunday night. The perfect end to the perfect weekend!
Describe the wedding planning process. Why did you choose the vendors you worked with?
Taryn: After taking some time to just be engaged, we slowly started looking at venues online. Cedar Lakes was the first place we visited and from the moment we stepped onto the property, we knew it was where we wanted to get married. Even in the dead of winter, it had a certain magic to it. And in the spring and summer, it’s really is an indescribable place. Jason and I wanted a venue that truly reflected our relationship and who we are as a couple. The outdoors are really important to both of us and play a pretty significant roll in our lives, and in our relationship. Living in the city, we rely on our trips to Vermont, weekends at his family’s lake house, or at my parent’s home near to ocean to ground us and give us a re-charge. We wanted a place that could bring together our love for the mountains, the forest, and water. Cedar Lakes just felt like us. Additionally, our family and friends are so important to us and we were really drawn by venues that allowed for weekend-long celebrations. As a former summer camp, CLE allowed us to host both of our extended family and our entire wedding party on-site, which allowed for a really special weekend.
Planning: We realized early on that we were going to need a lot of guidance, as work was crazy for both of us and, as mentioned, Cedar Lakes required a good deal of coordination. We knew we needed someone who was comfortable with the property, the staff, and all of Cedar Lakes Estate’s intricacies. We were introduced to our planner, Amanda of Bespoke Moments, by the CLE team. She has planned countless weddings there over the last few years and after our first conversation, I knew she was perfect for us. Handing the reins over to the Bespoke Moments team was the biggest sense of relief I felt throughout the whole planning process, and it truly allowed us to relax and enjoy. Amanda was integral in a number of vendor choices including the DJ (Generation Events), our rentals (Hudson Valley Vintage Rentals), and our stationary/signage. She also provided us with our “wedding bible”–a multi-page Excel document to keep us on track and organized throughout the planning phase–which truly became our bible.
Photography: We knew we didn’t want “traditional” wedding photos and hoped to capture the love, emotions, and candid moments from our day in an organic way. A friend of ours had chosen Jillian & Ryan McGrath of With Love & Embers photography for their wedding–we absolutely loved their photos and knew that their style would be perfect for us and our venue. When we first met Jill & Ryan, we felt an instant connection and as if we had known them for years. And more importantly, we felt so comfortable in front of their lenses during our engagement shoot and understood how important this would be on our wedding day.
Florals: Starting out, we didn’t realize how expensive florists and floral design teams can be, so it did take some searching around to find a florist that was within our budget. Kate Amato of Viridescent Floral Design from Beacon, NY came as a welcome recommendation from our Cedar Lakes team. From the moment I met Kate, I was confident that she would not only create something extraordinary but that her calm and friendly demeanor would make working together a breeze. She took my scattered thoughts from our first meeting and came up with a proposal that truly grasped our vision. Kate was also very comfortable with recycling the arrangements and design elements in different ways throughout the weekend events, which not only helped us save money but allowed our guests to enjoy those beauties a little bit longer!
Officiant: My husband and I come from different religious backgrounds–he was raised Jewish and I was raised Catholic, however, neither of us envisioned a religious wedding ceremony. We knew that having a non-denominational officiant would allow us to craft and personalize our ceremony, and to integrate the traditions that were most meaningful to us. The moment after we finished our first phone call with Alice, we knew that we had our celebrant and did not need to look any further. And once we met with her a few months before our wedding day, it felt like we had known each other forever. Beyond that, she was also extremely professional and organized and provided us with numerous resources for ceremony elements, readings, vows, and beyond. She also gave us a complete breakdown of the ceremony and a provided a timeline for our venue, which made the whole event run flawlessly.
Describe your wedding day.
Taryn: The wedding day itself turned out to be beyond anything we could have ever imagined. To this day, we still have trouble finding the words to describe it–it truly was the most magical, perfect day of our lives and an incredible way to begin our new life together. The weather was beyond perfect (something that doesn’t happen too often for big events in our lives!) and the whole day just went flawlessly (except for a minor bustle snag). To this day, our friends and family continue to tell us that it was one of the best weddings they’ve ever attended–we’re obviously biased but we couldn’t agree more!
One of the really beautiful things about Cedar Lakes Estate, beyond the physical beauty, is the fact that the wedding celebration becomes a weekend getaway, as all of our family and wedding party were able to stay on the estate. Each event is held on site, which allowed our family, wedding party and guests the chance to relax and enjoy the weekend without having to be transported to multiple different sites. Jason and I arrived early in the day on Friday and got the chance to unwind a bit before our guests started arriving. We had a short ceremony rehearsal before starting our rehearsal dinner on Friday evening. We included just our family and wedding party for the dinner hour, but invited any guests who were staying onsite or in the area to come for “Welcome Drinks” and to listen to a few speeches.
Our wedding day started on Saturday morning with breakfast for our on-site guests. Cedar Lakes Estate is a former summer camp, complete with a pool, twin lakes and blob launch, and acres of property, so we invited our wedding guests to join our families and wedding party on site for lunch and outdoor activities during the day on Saturday. Some of the best videos and photos of the day were from the blob!
Jason and I chose to do a first look. I thought it was going to be one of the most emotional moments of the day for me, but I was just so excited to finally see him (and show him my dress–so hard to keep that a secret for 9 months!) that we couldn’t stop smiling. I also decided to do a first look with my dad, which turned out to be the more emotional one. We finished up photos ahead of schedule and had this really awesome moment before our ceremony with the entire wedding party plus our parents. We had about 20-30 minutes to just relax, chat, and make a toast or two–nothing crazy but I felt like having just those final few minutes helped calm any remaining nerves and really set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Our ceremony was beyond anything we could have ever envisioned. It ended up being the most emotional part of the day for me–the setting was so intimate and you could just feel the warmth and love radiating from our guests. Definitely lots of unexpected tears from me! Our officiant created the most heartfelt and meaningful ceremony, focused on the two of us and how our relationship has grown together over the last decade. We also included a ring blessing–we had our parents come up under the arch with us and say a blessing over our wedding rings. It was unexpected (for them) but a really touching moment! My dad surprised us with a handmade birch arch (chuppah), with wood he gathered in Vermont. Standing under it with Jason during our first moments as husband and wife is a memory we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives.
The reception was the MOST fun we’ve ever had. The moment before entering the reception was one of my favorite memories from the day (see more below!). The decor in the barn was beyond anything we could have dreamed of. It was incredibly warm and welcoming, with lots of soft light from the candles. We chose to honor Jason’s culture and did the Hora right after the first dances, which got our guests out on the dance floor and the party started. We have a really incredible picture from that moment of everyone up and dancing, one of our favorites from the night. I’m fairly certain the dance floor was packed the entire night—everyone from my 90-year-old grandmother to my cousin’s new 2-week old baby (well, just for a short while)! We chose to serve dinner family style, as we felt it would really continue our hope to make the weekend feel as warm and welcoming as possible. Besides the food just being absolutely impeccable, I think our guests truly enjoyed sharing a meal together in that way. It really was the most perfect day we could have ever imagined!
Jason: From start to finish, our wedding day was incredible. We got lucky with the weather and ended up with a sunny 75-degree day, which lent itself to plenty of outdoor activities with my groomsmen and our on-site guests. Family and friends were able to enjoy the hiking trails, the pool, and even the blob launch on the lake. Being able to spend the first half of the day relaxing with everyone was really special and set the tone for a really relaxed celebration. It’s just a shame that bridal prep takes so many hours because I know Taryn and her bridesmaids would have loved to participate! We also (shockingly) were finished early with our photos, so we had about 20-30 minutes to spend privately with our family and wedding party before the ceremony. It was a happy accident and ended up being a really special pre-ceremony gathering.
The ceremony itself was magical. We stood surrounded by our closest friends and family, with the sun was shining on the lake behind us, shaded by the quiet of an evergreen tree grove. Taryn’s dad hand-built our wedding arch–made out of birch trees that he gathered from Vermont. It added a personal touch and it was very meaningful to Taryn and me. We know how hard he worked to put it together, and we can’t thank him enough for it! It’s something we’ll treasure forever
What was your favorite moment from your wedding day?
Taryn: can I say the entire weekend? Ha! It’s really hard to pick one.
1) Seeing Jason for the first time during our first look, we had one of those silent connections where we knew exactly what the other was thinking–and feeling so excited for that moment to have finally arrived!
2) walking down the aisle with my dad, and seeing the look on Jason’s face. Then when they hugged…ahh so many tears!
3) our officiant had us turn to our guests right at the beginning of the ceremony to say “hi!”. this was super cool, I think a lot of couples don’t get that moment to absorb the crowd and for us, being able to wave to everyone and feel their warmth was amazing.
4) right before Jason and I were announced at the reception, we had this brief moment together standing outside the barn without anyone else. The barn has huge glass windows so we could see everything inside. Looking into the windows, seeing all our favorite people in one room, and all the gorgeous decor—it was like we saw the entire two years of planning come together before our eyes. We just looked at each other with gigantic smiles on our faces–knowing that we were about to kick off our new life together in the most incredible fashion.
Jason: There were two big winners for me. First, our ceremony. I don’t love a lot of attention so I was expecting to feel just nerves and adrenaline. But we ended up having the most beautiful, peaceful ceremony surrounded by all of our friends and family members. There were a lot of truly special moments from the ceremony that we’ll remember forever. Second, Taryn and I first dance together as a married couple. It was a moment of quiet – we zoned out everything around us and it felt like we were the only two people in the world. And then the party started!
What is your advice for newly engaged couples?
Taryn: Unless you’re on a strict timeline, take some time to just enjoy being engaged before diving into wedding planning. It’s one of the most exciting periods of your relationship, and the happiness that surrounds you during that time is unparalleled. Celebrate with your friends, your family, and most important, each other. Try to make as many decisions together as possible. There will obviously be the inevitable disagreement here and there but try not to let the little things get between you. The day is about celebrating you as a couple and who you are as a couple, and we found that doing things as a team brought us closer throughout the process.
When you do start to plan, I think one of the biggest things to lay out first is the budget. Setting a budget and talking about the finances first will enable you to more easily decide on venues and vendors…and will prevent a lot of headaches down the road. Most importantly, remember that this day is about you and your partner. If there are opinionated voices, find out what is most important to them and maybe attempt to compromise, but ultimately it is your day. Lastly, wedding planning can be stressful–deadlines, budgets, decisions, opinions–turn to each other for support and remember what the day is really all about. And, if your budget allows for it, hire a wedding planner! Even if it’s for a few months, it was SO worth it.
Jason: Enjoy every moment, and please don’t worry about the color of the napkins.
Wedding Planner & Creative Direction: ASE – Amanda Savory Events
Cinema & Videos: Joshua Brown Photography
Florals: Viridescent Floral Design
DJ & Entertainment: Generation Events
Rentals: Hudson Valley Vintage Rentals
Stationery & Signage: Shine Wedding Invitations
Hair & Makeup: Face Time Beauty