Intimate and Organic Catskill Forest Wedding

Heather Jowett

July 19, 2016

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Christina and Geoff wanted their wedding to be relaxed and intimate. They were married in October in West Shokan, New York. “Our theme was a rustic, woodland wedding that celebrated our love for the outdoors and natural world,” said the bride. “We also wanted to have our personalities and the things we love be the focus.”

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The day was held at Ashokan Dreams B&B, a guesthouse in a private home that is deep in the Catskill Forest Reserve and overlooks the Ashokan Reservoir. “Everything that we incorporated into our wedding day felt very organic. We didn’t necessarily find inspiration through other weddings, but instead brought little pieces of us to the aesthetic of our day.”

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“Although we stayed very organised through checklists and a budgeting, it really is an all consuming task to plan a wedding. As soon as we solidified one piece of the plan, there were ten more decisions to make. The venue that we choose essentially was only the space and we had to supply all rentals, catering, and additional vendors. We ended up very happy with how things turned out because they were exactly our taste. However in hindsight it may have been worth considering more of an all inclusive option, both for ease of planning and cost effectiveness. We started planning a little over a year in advance which made it feel a little more manageable, once we started realising how many little pieces there would be to this puzzle.”

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“We tried to keep DIY projects fairly minimal to avoid additional pressure and last minute headaches. Geoff hand-painted all of the table numbers and a welcome banner, which guests immediately noticed to be his artwork. We strung photos of our favourite hikes and outdoor adventures on twine. Although we left the table design to our florists, we used minimal florals and potted plants so we could also incorporate treasures from our adventures.”

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“I have had a lifelong love affair with horses and have made working with them my life. I didn’t want a barn wedding with an obscene amount of mason jars, that felt too obvious and overdone. Instead I added little details on the tables of horseshoes along with vintage horse novels that we spent the year before collecting. We also used skulls, antlers, woodcuts and small potted ferns to adorn the tables. We also created a little photo booth with an instant camera.”

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The ceremony was one of the most important parts of the day for this couple. “Creating an authentic and intimate wedding ceremony was very important to us from the start of the planning process. Although we are not religious and consider ourselves more spiritual, we did not want to lose sight of the most important piece of our wedding. We communicated often with our officiant to select the readings and blessings that felt natural to us. My father walked me down the aisle to an instrumental version of Wild Horses by a local folk band (Thomas Wesley Stern). It was very important to me to capture some of my family’s heritage so we modified the Greek Orthodox tradition of exchanging Stefana crowns that my Grandparents wore on their wedding day. Instead of praying to the Holy Trinity, we honoured the Sun, Moon and Stars. We also wrote our own vows that we shared with each other for the first time that day.”

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The couple saved money with their catering and by not having a wedding party. “Our food truck dinner was really affordable and all the guests were happy with the food, so catering was the biggest area we saved on. We also eliminated a bridal party to keep things simple overall and probably ended up saving some money there as well. After the band played the ceremony and cocktail hour, we used a playlist on an iPod with some borrowed speakers. We had several hours of exactly what we thought our guests would enjoy ready to go which worked our perfectly. The idea of paying a DJ a huge amount of money to only have to dictate what we wanted or didn’t want to hear was unappealing.”

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“Although it was a ton of effort, we loved that everything about the day was totally ‘us’. Everything from the ceremony we built, to the way the tables and space were decorated, to the music we played, it was totally perfect  We wouldn’t have changed a thing about our wedding, but it would have been nice to have someone to help with planning or day of coordination.”

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