5 Best Places to Get Married in the Hudson Valley
Getting hitched in unique locations is all the rage with brides and grooms these days. From an elaborately designed theatrical tent to a snow-capped mountain top, here are five of the Valley’s most unusual wedding locales
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Couples can opt to hold the ceremony on the mountain’s summit, then toss a dance-the-night-away reception at the Coppertree, the resort’s beautiful banquet room
Photographs by John Iannelli
Best Place to Get Married in 2012: Hunter Mountain
Hunter Mountain is a favorite Hudson Valley destination for skiing, snowboarding — and, with its awesome panoramic views, as well as full-service banquet and lodging facilities — a popular place to tie the knot, too.
Adding to the blissfulness is that couples have a choice: They can opt to hold the ceremony on the mountain’s summit, then toss a dance-the-night-away reception at the Coppertree, the resort’s beautiful banquet room. Or, if they’d rather gaze at Hunter Mountain than ascend it, they can instead stay indoors at the Coppertree for the entire event. The hall’s got space for up to 300 guests, floor-to-ceiling views of the slopes, and, sure enough, an enormous copper tree in the center — which can be festooned with sparkling fairy lights to add a magical glow to the reception. “I’d say about eighty percent of our weddings happen on the summit,” says Wedding Coordinator Debbie Reilly.
Guests and members of wedding parties often rave that the 12-minute chair-lift ride to the summit is (dare we say it) one of the high points of the day. (And guests who are skittish about heights, are older, or have mobility issues aren’t left out — they can be driven up to the summit by staff members.) “If a couple has, say, 150 or 200 wedding guests, it can take about 40 minutes to get everyone up there. It’s really fun,” Reilly says. A new deck was added on the 3,200-foot summit last season, offering a fantastic centerpiece spot for the nuptials.
With gorgeous spring greenery, refreshing summer breezes, and breathtaking fall foliage, those seasons are tops for Hunter weddings. But some hardy couples do brave winter weather on the slopes, Reilly says.
Bride Elizabeth Slutzky and her attendants ride the ski lift to Hunter Mountain’s summit for her wedding ceremony
One pair — both avid skiers — are planning a summit ceremony for this winter, she says. “The plan is to have a ceremony on the summit the first thing in the morning. Then we’ll arrange it so the bride and groom will make the first run of the day down the mountain, before the slope officially opens. They’ll enjoy a day of skiing with family and friends; then everyone will gather for a reception in the evening.”
In warm weather, some couples choose to hold their ceremony adjacent to the slopes, in a cozy pine grove beside the Coppertree, often followed by pre-reception drinks and hors d’oeuvres on the nearby patio.
Many brides and grooms make the wedding a weekend-long event; that way, they and their guests can truly relax, Reilly says. The resort’s 100-room slopeside hotel features everything from studios to one, two, and three-bedroom suites, plus lavish penthouse accommodations. There’s also a year-round, heated indoor/outdoor pool, full kitchen, fireplace, full-service spa, fitness center, two hot tubs, and more.
“Often, a wedding party will have the rehearsal dinner here at the resort,” Reilly says. The wedding and reception take place the next day, followed by an overnight stay. The weekend then wraps up with a farewell breakfast for guests before they head home.
When it comes to helping couples plan their big day, the Hunter wedding team shuns the cookie-cutter approach. They specialize in fashioning a tailor-made event for each bride and groom, Reilly says.
Slutzky and her betrothed, Matthew Cahill, enjoy a private moment on the mountain
“People like to incorporate their own style into the wedding and reception. Some are high-end; others are more modest.” With the current economy, smaller weddings are more popular. “There are not as many 300-person events,” she says.
Social trends and cultural heritage often shape the weddings, too. Reilly notes an upswing in the number of ceremonies at the venue for same-sex couples since New York legalized gay marriage last July. Reilly also describes one multicultural wedding slated to take place this year: “The bride is Hindu and her groom is of Irish heritage. She wants to have a traditional Hindu ceremony on top of the mountain, and they’ll also combine foods and other traditions. And her husband-to-be is in the military, so they’ll include that aspect, too.”
One especially memorable romantic event held at Hunter wasn’t even a wedding — it was a one-of-a-kind proposal, Reilly says. In February 2008, avid Hunter skiers Bijou Summers and Gabby Feliu headed to the slopes for what Bijou thought would be just a great day of skiing with friends.
While the two rode up the mountain on a ski lift, Bijou noticed some of their friends riding by in other lifts, holding up signs. One sign read: “Bijou please.” Friends on another lift chair held another sign: “Prepare to,” while the third sign read: “Say yes.”
After the couple reached the summit, Gabby unzipped his ski garb — revealing a suit and tie underneath — and pulled out flowers and a diamond ring. As Bijou excitedly yelled “Yes!” to the proposal, a violinist and trumpeter appeared and began playing, and friends pelted them with confetti. (The whole fairy tale had partially been set up with the help of TV’s Inside Edition, which filmed the scene.)
But that wasn’t all. Hunter Mountain employees then invited the duo to climb aboard a big mountain-rescue sled, which staff members pulled down the mountain, carrying the happy, hugging couple. And when they arrived at the base, the lovebirds were whisked off in a horse-drawn sleigh. Sigh, romance. • 845-486-8376, ext. 3019; www.huntermtn.com