Photo by Cassandra Daye Photography
The Hudson Valley is home to an array of al fresco venues that take advantage of stunning vistas and picturesque, historic architecture.
– Untermyer Park and Gardens –
Transporting might be the word that best characterizes an exchange of vows at Untermyer Park and Gardens, a celestial, gorgeous site that levitates high above the Hudson River with a history of splendor and decline — and splendor again — that mirrors that of the city of Yonkers, where it resides.
The compound, now comprising 43 acres, was plotted at the turn of the 20th century as the private gardens of Samuel Untermyer, a lawyer and investor known nearly as much for his horticultural knowledge as he was for being the first lawyer in the States to earn $1 million on a single case.
Untermyer’s Beaux Arts architect and landscape designer William Welles Bosworth’s grounds offer an array of settings sure to titillate. There is the dramatic descent to the river’s bank that unfurls like a ribbon of stairs, modeled on Villa d’Este on Italy’s Lake Como. Terminating in a pair of Roman columns chiseled from cipollino marble obtained from architect Stanford White, the staircase affords an expansive view of the Palisades. The Temple of Love, a fantastical and aptly named folly featuring a round-topped gazebo atop a cascade of rocks, hollowed out to serve as planters, presents bridal parties with a must-have backdrop. And then there is the Walled Garden, a sacred-seeming sanctuary modeled on the Indo-Persian gardens of antiquity where visual symmetry delivers a drama evoking paradise on earth. Canals and reflecting pools are decorated with lotus and water lilies, irises, pickerelweed, and the grassy-white star rush. The drop-dead feature of the space may be the amphitheater, which is guarded by a pair of winged sphinxes, sculptural flourishes atop a pair of towering Ionic columns.
– The Davenport Mansion on the Sound –
Guy Demeo is the one and only guy to know at The Davenport Mansion on the Sound, a 19th-century home situated on New Rochelle’s Davenport Neck overlooking Long Island Sound, an area settled by wealthy Manhattanites seeking a spot for their summer cottages. His company, Unique Affairs Catering, hosts weddings from this salty, beachfront perch with its balustraded veranda and dramatic port-cochere. The venue has become known for its one-wedding-a-day policy, which gives the first day of matrimony the dawn-to-dusk significance it deserves.
The estate, which is centered by the original manse, now painted a sparkling white, hosts outdoor micro-weddings, for 50 or fewer, on the lawn or the terrace set, with a horseshoe of chairs and an arbor garlanded in flowers. Adventurous duos can proceed down an aisle barefoot on the beach and then pose for photos at the water’s edge or in front of a tumble of moss-covered rocks.
The pleasing scenery vouches for the popularity of the terrain among architects and landscape architects like Stanford White and Frederick Law Olmsted, who were commissioned for projects that remain today.
For his gracious hospitality, adapted on the fly for unprecedented times, Demeo is praised by brides and grooms alike who gush in online forums about the debt they owe him for both alleviating their stress at a difficult moment and for making their wedding day so special and memorable. It’s no wonder his enterprise has won numerous awards in the wedding world.
Valley Rock Inn & Mountain Club
Who needs a wedding planner when the meticulously conceived Valley Rock Inn & Mountain Club is the destination? The latest labor of love of Michael Bruno, the serial entrepreneur who gave antiques life on the Internet with 1stdibs.com, the Sloatsburg resort is a one-stop venue likely to inspire the happy duo and their guests to linger.
Bruno acquired a set of buildings and land parcels built in the early 20th century in the quiet hamlet of Sloatsburg. Hidden behind the storefronts of the main drag, Valley Rock respects the quiet of its host village with a refined style that maximizes its programmatic capacity while complementing the area’s humble scale.
The resort is divided into discrete, manicured vignettes, each with its own theme: A shade garden is planted with slender maple trees trimmed to a level of leafiness that permits conversation as servers circulate with cocktails; an open-topped outdoor dining room, enclosed in rustic walls, can be set just as easily with four-tops as it can with long trestle tables of 12 or more. Another casual outdoor restaurant features tables under a corrugated portico rests on the trunks of cedar trees, stripped and glossed, that dissolve gracefully into a bed of gravel. The main lawn is studded with hanging firepits, suspended from tripods that recall the campfires of Colonial times.
On-site lodging is available for 34 guests, all but one of whom can enjoy their own bathroom, thanks to a row of clapboard farmhouses, renovated and appointed with simple yet tasteful décor that is Bruno’s signature. There in an intimate garden, where many a ceremony has taken place. There is a pool on the property, and just 10 minutes away, guests can enjoy an assortment of recreational pursuits, including hiking and biking at Harriman State Park and Sterling Forest.
– Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming –
Conservation and a stewardship of the land are the principles that govern the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, which is open to the wedding ceremonies of future husbands and wives who are likely in pursuit of the same ideals. Located on the perimeter of Cold Spring, the 225-acre farm was established by financier George Perkins and his family in 1929. Ever since, it has followed in the preservation tradition of his father, George Walbridge Perkins, who was integral to the establishment and management of the Palisades Interstate Parkway Commission.
An advocate of local food production and an educator on the regional agriculture circuit, Glynwood practices regenerative farming and is intent on sharing the beauty of its property on special occasions. Among the places for one’s eye to rest are the hydrangea-lined lawn under the shade of trees, a rustic boathouse, and a fieldstone house festooned in wisteria. The house — known as the Perkins House and equipped for 22 guests — is one of three options for lodging that includes the Appledore Cottage (eight guests), and the Farmhouse, which dates to the 1700s and accommodates 12.
Newlyweds and their guests are treated to amenities such as grazing livestock in pastures, expansive plots of lettuce, cabbage, spinach, beets, radishes, and bok choy among many other vegetables and fruits. Swimming in the lake is permitted if a hired lifeguard is present and catering and tents must be obtained from outside vendors and farm-style breakfast is prepared to overnight guests.
– Stone Tavern Farm –
Two and a half hours north of White Plains sits the hamlet of Roxbury, birthplace of railroad financier Jay Gould and home to fewer than 3,000 people as of 2018. Listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places, Roxbury’s sparse population spells tranquility for pairs seeking a pastoral setting with rustic enhancements like those that abound at Stone Tavern Farm.
Established in 1803 and now encompassing 250 rolling acres in the Catskill Mountains, Stone Tavern Farm accommodates weddings both intimate (80 guests) and sizable (250 guests). Ceremonies take place atop a hill with panoramic vistas — wild meadows, stately maples — or at the Waterside Pavilion, where a glassy pond adds a shimmer to sunset cocktails and rehearsal dinners. A 12,000 sq. ft. event barn constructed of hemlock wood has a capacity of 400 when social distancing is not in vogue.
The property is crisscrossed with old roads, stone walls, and remnants of original structures including a historic toll booth. Located on property, the six-bedroom Stone Tavern House, once an inn to travelers from the other side of the mountain — and now thought to be the oldest house in town — is popular among brides and their entourages. Other guests can stay nearby at a variety of homes associated with Stone Tavern.
On-property amenities include canoeing and kayaking, volleyball, lawn games, and visiting with resident farm animals including horses, sheep, dogs, and goats. Hikers, bikers, horseback-riders, and cross-country skiers enjoy a scenic 18-mile railroad bed that evokes the spirit of the town’s most famous native. Depending on the season, opportunities for downhill skiing, snowboarding, and zip-lining can be found elsewhere in the Catskills playground.
Most wedding packages include party lights, ice, trash removal, early arrival storage, restrooms, attendants for custodial, bathroom and parking services, tiki torches, and bonfire materials. Fireworks are extra.