According to The Knot’s most recent Real Weddings Study, the average Westchester/Hudson Valley wedding in 2017 cost $55,357, making it the fourth most expensive place to get married in the United States after Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island.
The survey also reveals that couples sought out more unconventional venues to exchange their I Do’s such as barns, farms and ranches, with an increase from a meager 2% in 2009 to 15% in 2017.
Jeanne Stark, owner of Hudson Valley Ceremonies in Rhinebeck, has been working in the wedding planning industry for 25 years and tells Brooklyn Based, “Barns [as sites for weddings] are highly desired and very hot right now. We’ve seen a lot more demand for them over the past few years…People are looking more to unconventional spaces to make their own these days like barns, farms, and CSAs and there are plenty of them out here,” says Stark.
Just as we priced out the cost of a Brooklyn wedding, we did the same for the Hudson Valley, using The Knot’s survey as a starting point. Our tally is much higher, as you’ll see by the end, even without line items like attire or rings.
Unless you live upstate, you’ll likely need an expert on the ground to help organize all the moving parts of what is essentially a destination wedding. Stark and her current team of nine planners divvy up their responsibilities by each becoming familiar with a specific selection of venues, so there is always a designated expert on hand for a property.
Hudson Valley Ceremonies offers couples a complimentary in-person appointment with up to two hours of budget analysis and vendor referrals in anticipation of their Big Day. Alternatively, if they would like a planner to come to their home, there is a $150 fee for the appointment.
The business offers a variety of services including Virtual Wedding Planning for couples using a full-service venue ($600), a Coordinator of Ceremonies ($600-$750), a Day of Wedding Coordinator ($2000), Partial Planning for couples who already have contracted with a venue and need other wedding vendors (begins at $2500) and Full Planning for those who need a venue as well as other wedding professionals (begins at $5000).
“Couples create these really trendy DIY weddings on Pinterest but then as the event nears they begin to wonder how they are going to pull it all off and organize it all. That’s when they call us for Day of Coordination,” says Stark, referring to her most popular wedding package, followed by partial planning.
Stark’s favorite venue at the moment is Basilica Hudson in Hudson, New York, where she’s coordinating thirty-five weddings this year. Surrounded by the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains, the property is home to 7,000 square feet of industrial indoor space and a 10,000-square-foot outdoor footprint.
The venue can accommodate up to 400 guests for a reception with a dance floor and the site fee is between $10,500 – $20,500, depending on the number of days the couple books the space, as well as the time of year. The fee includes ceremony chairs, farm tables and chairs for the reception, portable bars, audio equipment, a movie screen and projector.
“There is nothing you can’t do here… for a price,” says Stark, sharing that while the minimum cost for a Basilica wedding is $50,000, most of the time it will end up costing more like $60,000 – $100,000.
Located in Beacon, NY, Mount Gulian is an 18th century reconstructed Dutch manor house along with a barn and flower garden situated directly on the Hudson River on a 48-acre lot.
The barn can host up to 140 guests for a sit-down dinner and the riverside lawn can host a maximum of 175 guests for a tented reception. The property is open from May to October and the site fee is $30,000.
Another popular venue overlooking the Hudson River with a picturesque backdrop of the Catskill Mountains is “A Private Estate,” a family-owned property that hosts a limited amount of weddings per year from May to October. Awarded Wedding Wire’s Couples Choice Award year after year, this former 19th Century Livingston estate, on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, can accommodate up to 300 guests and is made up of three distinct areas- Riverside Grounds, home to the landmarked mansion, The Barn complex, a combination of one wood and one brick barn completely modernized for events and The Carriage House containing four bedrooms.
According to proprietor Ripley Hathaway, the venue is completely booked for 2018 and 2019 site fees range from $6,400 to $14,000, depending on the size and season of the wedding. Hathaway says it is customary for the venue to only host one wedding every other week the bulk of the season “to ensure the property remains just as beautiful for the first bride of the season as it does for the last bride of the season.”
Gather Greene is a brand-new venue located on 100 acres in Greene County just outside of Coxsackie. It just opened this fall, they are booking for 2019 and beyond. As a brand-new venue, their pricing is competitive: the $15,000 rental rate includes the venue for the weekend and chairs and table for the ceremony and reception. The entire space was created with the idea of view preservation in mind. Its event pavilion can accommodate up to 250 seated guests and has see-through screens to allow uninterrupted views of the Catskill and Berkshire Mountains. The interior of the pavilion also has heat and air conditioning, two dressing suites, six bathrooms, a catering kitchen and an upstairs lounge. Plus, motorized, weather-proofing shades can come down to protect the interior in the case of wind or rain, so no traditional tent is needed if your party is under 150.
There are also 17 cabins on site with king-size beds that each sleep two people, and can be rented for $275 a night, as well as a pond that is perfect for late-night parties with a $500 bonfire add-on.
Hayfield has been open for one year and offers couples a storybook setting in the heart of the Catskill Mountains with two restored barns, one for dining the other for dancing.
“Ninety percent of our couples live in Brooklyn,” says owner Christiana Mavromatis, who herself lives in Park Slope with her husband, co-owner Scott Arnold and their two kids. “Our space easily transforms to the couple’s aesthetic. What’s great about it is you don’t have to bring in a hundred things. We are very turn-key,” emphasizes Mavromatis.
Hayfield accommodates 120 guests for a sit-down dinner and can hold up to 150 with a rented tent. The venue is open from May to September and only hosts weddings on Saturdays, making it easier for deliveries to be dropped off on Thursday and picked up on Monday. “We want to preserve the property, after all we are not a wedding factory,” says Mavromatis.
Hayfield has a flat fee of $10,950 and for an additional $2,350 couples can rent benches, tables, chairs, antique display tables and an antique bar. It’s fully booked for 2018, with contracts extending to 2019.
Caterers and Cakes
When it comes to food for an upstate wedding, couples have plenty of options. On the higher end, Mavromatis suggests Brooklyn-based Pursulane Catering, owned by the Gowanus Hospitality Group. A sit-down dinner menu starts at $125 per person and open bar packages run between $50-$65 a person with mixers.
Homemade Hudson, the upstate counterpart of Red Hook, Brooklyn’s Atelier Roquette, is both a cafe in Hudson as well as an off-site, Hudson Valley caterer. Their pricing starts around $95 per person for seated dinners, and $50-55 for an open bar with mixers. Chef and co-owner Monica Byrne is also a floral designer and well-versed in wedding planning, and can add those services to the package.
Located in the rural village of Philmont, New York, Local 111 is surrounded by some of the best farms in the Hudson Valley and Chef/Owner Josephine Proul is committed to using local products in both in her 39-seat restaurant as well as the catering arm of her business. According to wedding planner Jeanne Stark, menu pricing comes in around $70-90 per person for food only.
Offering locally sourced ingredients from nearby Hudson Valley farms and preparing most food on an open grill, Hudson Valley BBQ Co. offers menus between $60-80 per person and bar packages beginning at $29 per person.
Menus are customized for each couple, however, a sample menu reveals selections like mini Ahi tuna tacos, salmon ceviche shooters, a skewer grill (chicken, beef, lamb and vegetables) as well as comfort food such as mini chicken and waffles.
Family-owned and operated since 1965, Deising’s Bakery is a popular choice for wedding cakes, serving Ulster County, Rhinebeck, Red Hook and Northern Duchess County from their two locations. According to their website, they offer traditional and modern wedding cakes and pricing begins at $3.25 a slice.
Founded in 1984, The Pastry Garden in Poughkeepsie is another favorite and works with a variety of top-rated wedding venues in the Hudson Valley region. Wedding cakes start between $5.50 – $7.50 per serving.
Founded in 2014, Dark and Diamond Floral Design is an event-based company that runs on wind and solar polar in Beacon, New York, and takes on a maximum of just 25 weddings a year.
“We begin the process with a detailed worksheet to ensure the couple’s style is what’s reflected in our work and also to get a feel if their desires and budget are in line,” says Katie Patton who along with her husband, charge a minimum of $6,000 per event. “Some people ask ’What does $6,000 get me?’ but it’s not like that. That’s just a starting point. Flowers are really expensive so it’s a process to educate our clients and get to know their personality and style of each couple,” adds Patton.
“If it’s a good match, an in-person meeting or phone consultation is the next step in the process, according to Patton. “From there, we send them a detailed proposal with itemized costs along with a digital mood board depicting their color palette.
Patton says one thing most couples are surprised by is the delivery fee, which is based on 20-25% of the entire floral bill. “It’s not just loading a truck on one end and unloading it on the other,” explains Patton. “It’s the most important part of the process. We spend hours of packing; setting up is an all-day affair for our team. We are usually the first vendors there and the last ones to leave. Our delivery fees take into account transportation, packing, cleaning, it’s all part of the design process. Our couples are drawn to us and see the value in us as artists and flowers are important to them,” she adds.
Kingston-based A Night In Bloom Event Floristry offers couples a variety of floral packages for every budget. Their off the rack packages incorporate a mix of pre-selected bouquets, boutonnieres and centerpieces and range from $1,500-$3,063. For couples looking to save even more on florals, their DIY packages cost between $338-$1518 and provide bunches of flowers and foliage that you can use to make your own arrangements. Additionally, they also offer custom wedding orders and custom builds such as Chuppahs, arches and custom signage.
Award-winning wedding photojournalist James Autery launched Within This Day four years ago, offering couples a combination of both family photos and straightforward images along with more abstract, artistic ones.
Couples can choose between three packages which vary in the number of hours and photographers and range from $2700-$4500. To get a good sense of his overall work, Autery suggests people view a full digital wedding album of his work (upon request) and strongly advises couples to find out if their photographer has previously shot at the venue before to ensure they know the lay of the land and are familiar with the lighting. Autery often shoots weddings at Basilica and says his clients are mostly couples from Brooklyn.
Alicia King Photography, based in Beacon, NY, offers packages that start at $3,500, including an 8-hour day of shooting and two photographers, and go up to $6,700 for three photographers, perfect for 200-guest weddings. Some of her favorite venues to shoot include The Roundhouse in Beacon, Lambs Hill, Red Maple Vineyard, Nostrano Vineyard, Liberty View Farm, Crabtree’s Kittle House, Boscobel, Full Moon Resort, The Highlands Country Club, The Garrison, and Feast at Roundhill.
You can certainly hire your favorite band or DJ to play your upstate wedding, but you will pay a bit more for them to travel north. For instance, a NYC-based ensemble like Soft as a Pear runs around $1600 for cocktail hour music, while the popular Tribute String Quartet costs $2800. For your reception, a dance band like The Loyales, can cost $8300 for a six-piece format, while another oft-booked band, The Engagements, can run up to $15,700. (Both are $500 less if they are not providing cocktail hour music.)
Melanie Flannery of mmm…bands is based in Catskill, NY, but her band members are all in New York City. Still, she says she doesn’t use a strict tiered-by-distance pricing for her bands, which include MIXTAPE, Moonshine Bluegrass and Moxie Jazz. “It’s just like, tell me where your wedding is, when it’s going to end, let me figure out what that drive is going to feel like for us and I’m going to come up with some very fair pricing based off of those factors,” she explained. In general, her bands start at $2000 for Moonshine Bluegrass and Moxie Jazz and $7500 for MIXTAPE.
Sarah Van Buren, who co-founded the popular Brooklyn dance party CHERYL, is now based in the Hudson Valley. She DJs NYC weddings through the women-owned and LGBQT-friendly collective, Stylus. For upstate weddings, she charges $1500 for five hours and can be booked directly.
One of the most challenging aspects of planning a Hudson Valley wedding can be finding accommodations for out-of-town guests. “If the wedding is near Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Saugerties, New Paltz, Fishkill then there are tons of chain hotels,” explained Jeanne Stark. “When you go out to the Catskills then it gets more difficult,” she continued. There, and in places like Hudson and Rhinebeck, many guests will have to stay in pricier boutique hotels, VRBO and Airbnb, not to mention arrange for transportation if they don’t own a car.
That said, as more and more couples flock to Hudson Valley for weddings, the demand for more and more accommodations has been met with both renovated and brand-new hotels.
Originally founded in 1966, Scribner’s Lodge in Hunter, New York reopened after an extensive renovation in October 2017 and now boasts thirty-eight rooms. A unique partnership with BMW allows the lodge to offer hybrid and electric cars to registered guests of the property. Room rates for guests range from $140-$650 depending on the date. Weekend and holiday stays require a two-night minimum.
Located in Windham, Eastwind Hotel and Bar is just a few miles away from Hayfield and just opened this season. The property features 16 guest rooms and suites and 3 cabins. A standard king room starts at $438 a night during the summer according to their website.
The newly opened full-service boutique property, The Wick, is just a few blocks from Basilica Hudson as well as the Amtrak Hudson Station. The hotel has 48 guest rooms and 7 suites. Northeast residents can save up to 10% on rooms and there’s also a special for AAA members. To secure the best rates, two-night minimums are the way to go. Summer rates begin at $351 for a standard king room according to their website.
Spillian, in Fleishmanns, NY, is a Gilded Age mansion with 8 bedrooms that can be rented for a weekend or more. Two nights range from $2300 to $3500, and they can serve as the wedding venue as well, with on-site catering packages as well as a s’mores and bonfire add-on for a nighttime treat. They are half-booked for 2019 and are currently booking 2020.
Adding it all up