When it came time to planning for this bride and groom, the couple knew they wanted to get married in Upstate NY, but had no idea where! After looking at over 20 venues, they landed on Onteora Mountain House as soon as they saw it with its stunning views of the Catskills! Wanting to be fully involved in the planning process, bride and groom worked together to pick out vendors like Athabold Flowers to create tree-like centerpieces and elegant bouquets and Kelsey Combe Photography to capture all of the love AND views! Take a look below and be sure to check out the full gallery here!
From the Bride…After dating for 5 years, one of which involved us spending a year backpacking around the world, John and I always knew we were going to get married, but it was just a matter of when. On a summer holiday in Portugal, John surprised me while we were on a hike atop two beautiful lakes in the Azores and asked me to marry him. As soon as we got engaged, I realized I had no idea what I wanted my wedding to look like – so planning started immediately even though I promised we could enjoy being engaged for a while before we started thinking about a wedding!
The biggest challenge for us in the wedding planning process was finding a venue. We knew we wanted to get married in the late summer / early fall in upstate New York and make a weekend out of our wedding, but had no idea what type of venue we wanted. We looked at everything from estates to barns to farms, but were challenged to find a location that had lots of natural beauty, outdoor spaces for the ceremony and cocktail hour and a reception space that also retained the elegance we knew we wanted for our special day.
We are also rather type A and not ones to go with the flow, so we were very focused on having a solid backup plans in case a late summer rainstorm rolled in and we wanted to find a place that would be equally beautiful even if the weather did not cooperate. After looking at over 20 venues across the Catskill / Hudson Valley Area, we drove up a windy mountain path to find Onteora Mountain House and as soon as we walked on the property, we knew it was the one. With panoramic views of the Catskills Forest Preserve, a beautiful landscaped patio, a charming old house with lots of character, and an amazing wooded pavilion with a wrap-around porch, John and I knew we had found the perfect venue for our wedding.
Finding a dress was definitely the next hardest decision after finding a venue. Living in NYC, there are endless wedding boutiques to visit. I had tried on a handful of dresses with friends when I first got engaged, but found my dress when my mom flew in to go dress shopping with me. The Jenny Yoo showroom was our first stop and as soon as I put the dress on, I didn’t want to take it off. No matter how many other beautiful dresses I tried on (it was a lot!), I kept coming back to how great I felt in the Connor dress. I knew it was “the one” because I felt as if I had to get married the next day, the dress would be perfect and I felt amazing even in the sample dress. However, I also knew if I chose a fuller a-line dress, I wanted to have a second party dress and found a fitted high neck dress at BHLDN which was perfect for dancing in at the end of the night.
A good friend of ours had Kelsey Combe as her wedding photographer and we had contacted her even before we had found a venue or a date. After a few calls to discuss her approach and looking through her portfolio, we knew she was the photographer we wanted to capture our wedding. She was amazing during the entire wedding planning process, answering every question I had and made sure our pictures were a perfect representation of our day. Her expertise was also critical in figuring out our timeline and on the day, we could totally relax knowing she would get all the shots we needed.
When discussing what we wanted in our wedding, we wanted it to feel elegant, but relaxed and really take advantage of the outdoor beauty of the Catskills. After finding our venue, the theme “elegant garden party” kept popping into my head and it quickly became the filter for all our wedding planning decisions. We kept the color palette simple – navy, slate gray, and cream with hints of gold and light blush as to not overpower the stunning views of the late summer lush greenery of the Catskills.
We found Athabold Flowers on Instagram and after scrolling through her pictures, we knew we could trust her to deliver the elegant, yet organic feeling we wanted from our florals. We shared with her our vision and trusted her to do the rest and the flowers turned out absolutely perfect. From gorgeous bouquets to elegant “tree-like” centerpieces, Athabold created the flowers of my dreams while also tying them into the beauty of our venue. Athabold also allowed us to do a floral mock up a few weeks before the event. If your florist offers this, I would highly recommend taking advantage of it – it was super helpful to see what our flowers would look like given what was available at that time of year and make any adjustments after seeing it all together.
John and I both wanted to be involved in the wedding planning process and we each had a role in crafting all of the details of the day – whether it was spending a Friday night filling glass tubes of lavender, to working with a good friend to design our day of wedding stationery, all of the details were personal to us. It’s hard to choose one favorite day of detail since everything came together in such a special way, but two favorites were the Bequet sea salt caramels favors my mom brought from my home state of Montana or the s’mores bar and fire pit at the end of the night. I love any and all desert and it was fun to share that passion with our guests on our wedding day.
The entire day was truly magical, but highlights included reading the card John wrote to me before our first look. I remember the anticipation and feeling so excited to get to marry him (and we both basically wrote the same thing which was so sweet). Taking a minute before we saw each other to reflect on our relationship and what the future would hold was really special. And I loved our ceremony, where my cousin officiated and we had close family give readings we had chosen that truly represented us. We planned our own ceremony so every aspect was thought out and each reading meant something to us and our relationship. I also got to a do an unplanned first look with my dad which was such a special moment – the pride was radiating off of his face when he saw me in my dress.
My biggest piece of advice for all brides and what I tell my friends who are getting married is to focus on what matters to you. Everyone has an opinion (and are always willing to share it) when it comes to planning a wedding, but only you know what’s important and what will make you happy. Being a part of all the decision making made our entire day a complete representation of what’s important to the both of us and made the day so special.
About Kelsey Combe Photography…I shoot weddings both in the NY tri-state area and in Southern California! My style is all about being authentic and REAL. I want a clients’ wedding photos to look exactly how the day felt- so when they look back in 50 years, it’s like being there again. Much more into the romantic and elegant than into the corny and staged. I love candid moments, and bringing a wedding day to life through photos. And most importantly, I like to have fun and laugh with couples. I’m a very in charge, get it done photographer, but also laid back and behind the scenes when I should be, if that makes sense!
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Photography: Kelsey Combe Photography | Cinematography: Joyful Video | Floral Design: Athabold | Wedding Dress: Jenny Yoo | Invitations: Minted | Reception Venue: Onteora Mountain House | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Dessy Collection By Vivian Diamond | Catering: Blue Mountain Bistro | Hair & Makeup: Tara Pross of Bella Trucco | DJ: Paris Creative | Favors: Bequet Confections | Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux | Ceremony Music: Will the Cellist | Bride Reception Dress: BHLDN | Bride Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Photobooth: Ebabil | Veil: Eskay Bridal