Emily Besen was in Puerto Rico when she first met Brett Pieper, her now-husband.
Perhaps “met” isn’t the right word, though. After all, the couple’s first conversation occurred on an online dating site.
They did meet eventually. When Besen returned home to Boston from vacation, she and Pieper made time for that date, one to which Besen arrived with a sunburn and without a wallet; she left hers at work that day. Pieper bought her a drink, and the two proceeded to bond over their respective childhoods in New England, their love of music, and their jobs.
“When he texted me that night to confirm that the number I’d given him was indeed real, I had a feeling he was special,” Besen recalls. Her feeling was right on the money. The two hit it off in no time and, during a trip to Iceland in June 2017, Pieper proposed in a field overlooking a waterfall in the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, which, Besen notes, “is a blast to say when anyone asks where we were engaged.”
When the time came to pick their wedding venue, the couple struggled to find the perfect spot as they browsed locations in New Hampshire and western Massachusetts. Then, during a visit to a friend in Poughkeepsie, Besen received a recommendation to check out Senate Garage in Kingston. Figuring it couldn’t hurt to look, she made the drive across the Hudson River to see the venue for herself.
That night, Senate Garage was hosting a Ukrainian wedding. As Besen peeked inside, she fell in love with the brightly lit interior, rough brickwork, and industrial ambiance. Knowing the location was a good three hours away from her home in Massachusetts, she booked the venue without ever stepping inside.
“I didn’t want to lose it!” she explains. Pieper took her word that it was perfect, although he didn’t see it in person until the duo returned for their engagement photos. Fortunately, Senate Garage was the perfect fit, with a vibe they loved and an established catering relationship with Bridge Creek Catering, based out of New Paltz.
The night before the wedding, Pieper’s parents threw an intimate rehearsal dinner for the wedding party at Savona’s in Kingston. With only a select handful of people in attendance, the evening was made even more memorable with a surprise ukulele performance.
“Our dads, Brett’s mom, and my brother and sister-in-law had prepared a ukulele serenade as a surprise, and it was so sweet,” Besen gushes, adding that the dinner was the perfect opportunity for the couple’s families to mingle and unwind.
The following day, on October 6, 2018, Besen and Pieper tied the knot at Senate Garage. They began with an outdoor ceremony on the grounds, surrounded by deep red, pink, and green floral arrangements that added a moody ambiance to the dreamy, slightly overcast day.
Besen walked down the aisle in a flowing strapless gown by Anna Maier. To complement the simple, stunning piece, she accented it with gold heels and diamond earrings from her great-grandmother. Pieper, meanwhile, wore the colors of the wedding. His sleek black suit popped with a crimson tie, the same crimson of the flowers that decorated the pergola above him.
After reciting vows they wrote themselves, the couple said “I do” in front of a close crowd of family and friends.
And then came the reception.
The wedding party retreated for dinner inside the distressed brick walls of Senate Garage. As the industrial lights glowed from above, guests hit the floor for dining, dancing, and even a special juggling act from Pieper’s younger brother.
For future brides and grooms in the Hudson Valley, Besen’s advice is short and sweet.
“Let people shower you with affection. This is your day to receive all of the love, not just from your partner, but from everyone in your life,” she says. Also, “have someone record your dad’s speech. We forgot.”