in the fall of 2007, my husband mitchell and i were married at emerson in a fantastic, weekend-long celebration with our closest family and friends. the weather was amazing - bright and sunny, with an autumn chill in the air. everyone arrived on friday afternoon, and we had a bluegrass country dinner that night with jalapeno cornbread, angus burgers and jambalaya, followed by a bonfire sing-along on the esopus creek (actually the beginning of nyc's watersource!)
during the day on saturday, our guests enjoyed the incredible spa , walked around woodstock, shopped in emerson's country store and kayaked on the creek. the wedding was saturday night, and went in with a bang when at our streamside ceremony was punctuated with a paper confetti explosion, showering us all as the ceremonial glass was broken and we were happily announced "husband and wife."
we chose hudson valley seasonal items for the menu --hoisin duck wraps, potato pancakes with creme fraiche & caviar, spicy corn chowder, roasted chicken and new york strip, among many other carefully selected choices. we also had a tequila bar where four varieties of tequila were poured through an ice louge (every season is tequila season). we did a marathon hora, and danced to amy winehouse, michael jackson, stevie wonder, and all the crooners, compliments of the best DJ i have ever known. he kept the party going even later than we planned, because no one wanted to stop dancing! to cool people off on the dancefloor, we circulated bottles of ice water, cool towels and fresh-made sorbet at different points in the night. the evening was capped off with red velvet cupcakes and "have a little faith in me" by joe cocker. on sunday, we said goodbye to our guests at a stream-side brunch replete with a crepe station, country bacon that people still talk about, and of course, bagels and lox, among other things.
it was an incredible weekend, and one mitchell and i talk about often, and will never forget. aside from the obvious, some of the aspects i enjoyed the most were the small details that i get a kick out of planning, like the personalized "java jackets" we used. at friday night's bonfire, we served candy apples and hot rum cider (spiked or virgin) in cups with java jackets that read "thank you for sharing this special weekend, love carla & mitchell," and on sunday at the brunch, tables were adorned with many pounds of fresh local apples and "to-go" coffee and tea was served in hot cups with java jackets that said "get home safely, love mr. and mrs. rothberg." repetition and running themes make me smile :)
aesthetically, the wedding was everything i had thought about for so long - all golds, browns, reds and oranges, and the location itself tied everything together. i was very mindful of making choices that capitalized on the setting and surroundings. i find that if you don't do that, you're automatically working against them, and thereby diminshing the impact of whatever elements you're adding. with all the money, time and effort that goes into any creative endeavor, it's a shame to be have such competition.
at some point, we saw another wedding being set up at the emerson, and it was a perfect example of the incongruity that comes with making aesthetic choices in a vacuum, not taking into consideration the built-in framework around you. it was mid-october and the mountains and trees were truly ablaze with color. in the large, lodge-type space where our cocktail hour and dancing were, they were setting up a wedding with abundant white and pale pink roses and orchids. it looked like a spring wedding in a hotel ballroom. now, i love a spring wedding in a hotel ballroom, just not when its in october in a lodge with wood beams and animal skin chairs. it was a shame that the gorgeous red and orange mountains on display through the picture windows were such competition for the white and pink floral arrangements on the tables, and vice versa. in a way, it ended up being a wash, and in that, neither the beauty of her colors and bridal style, nor the natural beauty of the catskills in autumn got its due.
that visual lesson cemented for me what i instinctively knew but hadn't quite crystalized. by using the setting for an event as a foundation on which to build, rather than as a clean slate to disregard or compete with, you get more bang for the bucks you spend, and you get the priceless value of immersion and consistency for free. for my wedding, although i made all the choices about flowers, lighting and colors (and they were certainly not free), and although i worked with a team of professionals to achieve what i envisioned, what made it work was the seasonal and stylistic consistency between my choices and what existed before i ever knew about emerson resort.
the unexpected bonus that mitchell and i get to keep is that the briskness of autumn, the colors of pumpkins and mums and the fragrance of apples will always remind us of the weekend we became "the rothbergs." and we get to relive those sensory memories each time fall rolls around. i don't think we would have ended up with that take-away if i had chosen pink orchids.