Photos by Cassady K Photography
With an 18-person guest list and champagne after the “I dos,” the fitness-minded couple tailored their Hudson Valley ceremony to reflect their love.
It’s funny how love works.
Take Michelle Houston, for instance. In a very “You’ve Got Mail” scenario, Houston met her now-husband, Campbell, on a fitness-oriented dating site. Little did she know, her beau happened to work just a few hundred yards from where she lived.
As fitness lovers, the duo planned their first date at a climbing gym. Nine months later, Campbell dropped to one knee atop Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks, during the middle of a whiteout, no less. The proposal was unforgettable, to say the least, and Houston said yes to a lifetime with her love.
Back home, the pair turned their efforts to wedding planning, an endeavor that bubbled with frustration from the start.
“At first, we set off down the path of a large wedding, not because it was what we wanted, but because it was what we felt obliged to have,” Houston says, adding that the immense stress of planning sapped all the excitement from the occasion. “Three months out, we scrapped everything and decided to have a small wedding. It was the single best choice we made about our wedding.”
Once committed to a smaller ceremony, the couple reserved an end-of-summer date at Westchester’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Although they had already scouted a number of venues in person and online, they knew that Blue Hill offered the aesthetic that matched their relationship to a tee. Thanks to their decision to keep the occasion intimate, they were able to keep costs low and make the most of the picturesque farm-to-table landscape.
“Since we only had 18 guests and it was for lunch, the cost was actually considerably less than other venues for a more traditional wedding,” Houston notes.
On a serene late-summer day, Houston walked down the aisle in a stunning, strapless Paloma Blanca gown. Although she originally envisioned a long-sleeved one (à la Kate Middleton), she didn’t fall head over heels for the style when she tried it on herself. Switching gears, she scooped up a lightly laced dress with side panels and a soft skirt. To make the showstopper even more special, she added a thin rhinestone belt, a handmade headpiece, and a blusher with a breathtaking cathedral-length veil dotted with crystals. The shining stars of the ensemble, however, were undoubtedly the glittering, floral-accented Jimmy Choos that she slipped on her feet.
“I’ll still break them out for very special occasions,” she admits.
Tying in with the relaxed aura of the occasion, Campbell forwent a traditional black suit in favor of a crisp blue one. With a softly patterned tie and matching cufflinks, he was ready to meet his bride at the end of the outdoor aisle.
The pair said “I do” on the glowing green grounds of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Right before they exchanged rings (which were engraved with “on belay” and “belay on” in ode to their shared love of climbing), their best man looped climbing rope around their hands to “tie the knot” and conjure sweet memories of their first date together. Afterward, the couple tucked away for a few minutes to savor the moment, then celebrated with sips of champagne.
Keeping the party outdoors, the group lounged together during a cocktail hour under the sun, then sat down at a long, naturally decorated table for a farm-forward luncheon in true Blue Hill fashion. Like the ceremony, the cake was simple and elegant, a three-tiered beauty topped with vibrant pink and yellow zinnias. It harmonized perfectly with the flowers interspersed along the table runner and the soft bouquets of herbs knotted along the light fixtures above.
Now blissfully wedded, Houston and her husband look forward to the next phase of their life together.
“We’re absurdly happily married and expecting our first child in just a week!” she enthuses. Looking back on the ceremony, she’s content that she and Campbell chose to prioritize a small wedding, since it allowed them the chance to celebrate with their dearest family and friends.
“Don’t let social pressure or social media determine how you celebrate your wedding,” she says. “It is about you.”