Erika & Kevin’s Upstate New York Wedding by Meg Keene So I tried to make Erika’s wedding shorter for your reading pleasure, but I just couldn’t. Every single bit of their story is so inspiring to me, and makes me feel a little bit more relaxed about wedding planning. So, without further ado, I give you a wedding that inspires and delights, I hope it makes you half as happy as it makes me, since that would be very happy indeed. Erika, take it away… We got married in Beacon, New York (in the Hudson Valley, about 70 miles from our home in Brooklyn) on September 20, 2008. We got married at the Howland Cultural Center, a 19th-century Victorian building that is the former library of Beacon. We gathered in front of the Howland with friends and family as they arrived. This was great because it gave us an extra hour to talk with people. It also took some of the pressure off: I was not one bit nervous during the ceremony and we had a lot of fun up there. We had a wedding party of two: our lifelong best friends stood up with us as best man and best woman. The ceremony was secular for the most part, but we opened with Namaste. We asked three friends to give readings, and the best woman sang a Kinks song. We had written our vows on cue cards, which only my brother knew about, so when he pulled them out and handed me and Kevin our sets of cards, we got a great laugh from everyone! What made our wedding creative, thrifty, and sane: We started off knowing that we wanted to keep things relatively small and relatively local. I didn’t want to overplan or overthink, and since we had a relatively short engagement — 9 months. When we found the Howland, things just started to fall into place. When we were up in Beacon signing the contract at the Howland, we had lunch down the street at this great little lunch place, Homespun Foods, and pretty much on the spot asked the owner Jessica to cater our wedding. We loved her approach to fresh, local food, and Jessica actually suggested ways we could save money on the food, saying “I don’t think people should go broke to have a nice wedding.” We had a delicious buffet of Mediterranean foods including couscous, lentil, and white bean salads, and a spicy shrimp dish, and delicious spreads, olives, dolmas, cured meats, etc. Jessica was also the one to suggest we ask friends to do bartending shifts to save money on staff. I was a little nervous about that, but in the end our friends loved it!One couple told us that they loved bartending because people would come to the bar for a drink and stay to chat, so they ended up talking to more people than they would have otherwise. We decided to forgo champagne and instead had a bourbon toast (I grew up in Kentucky and my whole family likes bourbon, and Kevin and I have a long history of drinking bourbon together, which goes back to our second date). We had just two vendors, er, wedding elves. (Actually, my husband hated the word “vendor” and refused to use it during the wedding planning. I told him about wedding elves.) I planned to DIY most of the flowers, but I did order a bouquet for me and one for the best woman from a florist. The florist ended up going out of business the month before my wedding! And didn’t tell me! So, two weeks before the wedding I made the decision to forget the professional bouquets. We bought 10 dozen white roses and used them for centerpieces and bouquets. Kevin made my bouquet on the morning of our wedding, and the stems were wrapped with my grandmother’s handkerchief. I have no regrets about not having the professional bouquet: what I ended up with was much more special. My dress was low on the budget priority list, and I ended up with an aqua blue silk Nicole Miller dress that I bought at Macy’s. The men all bought vintage suits in the East Village and they looked smashing! Kevin’s attire included a vintage 60s Bill Blass pocket silk. Uh-huh. Some other details that made our wedding so lovely: We didn’t want to do the traditional thing where only the best man and the maid of honor get a chance to toast, so we opened up the floor to everyone else after they gave their toasts. We thought we might get a couple more people up there, but we ended up with something like ten toasts! I thought my heart would burst, I was laughing and crying so much. It was totally overwhelming and the wonderful things people said in their toasts kept going through our heads for days afterwards. We rented a great apartment for the weekend and hosted a rehearsal dinner there. The apartment belonged to an artist-and-designer couple and was absolutely gorgeous. It also saved a lot of money because we brought in take-out food. It was also nice to have a private place we could hang out in all evening. And Kevin and I wanted to stay together the night before the wedding. We woke up early and had coffee and breakfast in bed, just some quiet moments to appreciate each other before the Big Event. It was nice to really spend the whole day together. The other thing is that our wonderful caterer packed up all of the leftover food and we took it home at the end of the night. We brought it with us the next day when we met up with people again at the Dia:Beacon museum, and after wandering around the museum for a while, we had a picnic for 30 people on the lawn of the museum. With leftover wedding cake too! It was a totally spontaneous post-wedding lunch, and it didn’t cost a thing and we didn’t have to throw out all the leftovers and it meant we got to spend even more time with people In the end, we came in just under our $10,000 budget — and that includes the apartment rental, rehearsal dinner, and car rental for the weekend, everything! All photos by Dova Studio Meg Keene Founder & Editor-In-Chief Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.