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For those who want to bravely go to the Final Frontier of wedding planning and do it yourselves, here are some Hudson Valley-based resources:

For food: I spoke with Mary Anne Erickson, the General Manager at Blue Mountain Bistro. She offered some guidelines: Saturday weddings, especially during June and September (the most popular months for tying the knot) are less negotiable, price-wise.

Winter weddings—January, February, and March—and days of the week other than even more so. When I asked Erickson if a cocktail party was less expensive than a sitdown dinner, her response both educated and surprised me.

“Cocktail hors doeuvres that are passed are often more labor-intensive for the kitchen and depending on the ingredients, a simple dinner can be less expensive.” Erickson went on to say that Blue Mountain Bistro will soon be opening a gourmet takeaway store on Route 28, and once that happens, customers could order platters they could come in and pick up. 845-679-3823.

Speaking of platters, I would certainly try Adams Fairacre Farms, with three locations: Newburgh, Poughkeepsie and Lake Katrine. Adams has a variety of prepared foods to fit all tastes and budgets, as well as superlative cheese and chocolate departments. (Adams/Kingston 1560 Ulster Avenue Lake Katrine, NY 12449
(845)336-6300; Adams/Poughkeepsie/765 Dutchess Turnpike (845) 454-4330 and Adams/Newburgh 1240 Route 300 Newburgh, NY 12550 (845)569-0303.

Another alternative would be having an Afternoon Tea, or a Ploughman’s Tea catered from The Village Tearoom in New Paltz. The in-house food costs for Afternoon Tea per person is $20.00 – this includes a choice of scones, either Apricot Almond or Lemon Scented Golden Raisin, Clotted Cream and Raspberry Jam, Tea Sandwiches, Cookies and a choice of teas, or, the heartier Ploughman’s Tea ($14.00 per person in-house) which is seven-grain bread, raw cheddar, a Hudson Valley apple and a lamb pot pie. 845-255-3434.

Another alternative, is Hickory BBQ Smokehouse. They have two locations—743 Route 28 in Kingston (845) 338-2424 and Hickory Uptown at 305 Wall Street in Kingston, 845-338-8315.

Ensell Hoenshell-Watson baker/owner of The Alternative Baker, in Kingston, suggests alternatives to labor-intensive wedding cakes, such as cupcakes, cupcake trees and lemon bundt cakes. He says he is a “mad romantic” and will work with any couple, no matter how small their budget may be. The bundt cakes are $16 apiece, and you can feed from 16-20 people. 35 Broadway, Kingston.


Judy Lewis, of, has been advising people on their weddings in the Hudson Valley for a decade, and is definitely the “go-to gal”. Lewis suggests researching “open bar” packages, which have a fixed per person rate, regardless of how much (or how little, depending upon your friends) alcohol is consumed.

For links to some of Judy’s excellent guidelines on trimming your budget, go to and

For cutting your floral costs without sacrificing a stem,. Lewis suggested Stems International at
54 Elizabeth St. in Red Hook. (845) 758-8080 or Stems has a “DIY” division where a floral designer will show you how to design table arrangements and bouquets—at a fraction of the cost.

Would they had had a Stems in Brooklyn when I married.

And finally, but certainly not least, bridal gowns. The Bridal Cottage, recently relocated to Kingston from Port Ewen, (1200 Ulster Avenue, King’s Mall) 845/331-6596 and run by Gladys Portalatin, is one-stop shopping for bridal gown bargains. Portalatin also deals in full-figured sizes, bridesmaid and mother-of-the-bride gowns, as well as tuxedo rentals.

One final word of advice: If you’re having your wedding at home, please, pay for somebody else to clean it. You’ll thank me.

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