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Venues for Your Vows 

A Warm Reception

click to enlarge Windham Mountain - JOSHUA BROWN

Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now, it’s time to get to work. You’ve found your one and only, so you’ll need to do the next most important to-do: find a venue. It’s been known throughout the wedding industry that couples (or brides-to-be) often book their highly coveted venues long before the engagement to ensure they snag the space they desire for their wedding. Some locations book up to months (even years!) in advance, so the earlier you can secure a space, the better. Emily Glass, public relations specialist for Diamond Mills Hotel and Tavern, says that though their hotel can accommodate small weddings in the tavern only a few weeks in advance, “there are brides reaching out for the end of 2014 for the ballroom.”

Finding the perfect wedding venue helps to capture the theme of the wedding and the personality of the couple. Have you dreamed of dancing the night away in a chandelier-draped ballroom, breaking it down in a rustic barn, sipping cocktails in a lush garden? The venue is an extension of who you are and helps to determine the rest of your vendors (ballroom wedding equals formal invites—get it?). Want to get the party started? Here’s where to start.

These nine suggestions for regional wedding ceremony and reception venues, from palatial ballrooms to chic eco-friendly environments, offer the ultimate party for your big day.

Ski, Drink, and Be Married
Mountaintop nuptials for the ski bunny—how perfectly romantic! At Windham Mountain you can say “I Do” at 3,100 feet and arrive via chairlift (just think of the photo opps!). The Lodge at Windham Mountain is nestled in the great Northern Catskills and accommodates weddings with 50-200 guests. Ceremonies often take place on the picturesque patio, followed by a fireside cocktail hour (think hot toddies overlooking snow-capped mountains) with both passed and stationed hors d’ oeuvres. A five-hour reception follows in one of the rustic mountainside venues while, guests dine on blackened swordfish with lemon aioli and chicken breast with bourbon peppercorn sauce—and don’t forget the dessert bar. Wake up for a postwedding brunch and ski it off if you’re so inclined. Windham Mountain, Windham

click to enlarge Mohonk Mountain House - DANIEL KRIEGER

An All-Inclusive Castle
Dreaming of a Cinderella wedding? The Victorian castle on Lake Mohonk is about as picturesque as it gets at Mohonk Mountain House. The palatial family-owned resort is part Dirty Dancing and part old-school-swanky lodge. Wedding packages include all the works: bar options, hotel accommodations, cocktail hour, valet parking, and even direction cards in your wedding invites (it’s the little things, right?). Couples love the spa and posh wedding night accommodations, and the host of year-round activities on-site—like ice skating, hiking, and horseback riding—means happy guests. It’s not all about you, right? Mohonk Mountain House, New Paltz

A History Haven
Perched on a hilltop in Orange County, the historic Thayer Hotel at West Point is a history buff’s BFF. A favorite of former US presidents, dignitaries, authors, and international leaders (Edgar Allen Poe and General Douglas MacArthur have stayed here), the hotel is renown for the stirring military traditions of the United States Military Academy at West Point. The banquet rooms: George Washington & General John Pershing Room, the General Ulysses Grant & General Omar Bradley Room, and the General Dwight Eisenhower & General Hap Arnold Room each have unique details that cater to the individuals couple’s event. While the hotel gives off an air stately importance, it’s not without romantic charm. The Thayer Hotel, West Point

Art Meets Nature
Brendan Gill of Architectural Digest called Opus 40 "one of the largest and most beguiling works of art on the entire continent." In 1938, Harvey Fite, one of the founders of the Bard College Fine Arts Department, purchased an abandoned quarry in the town of Saugerties, and used his hands to create the six-plus-acre bluestone sculpture that is now Opus 40. The awe-inspiring environment of sculptures, fountains, trees, pools, and labyrinths of swirling stone attracts couples looking for a completely unique outdoor wedding option for up to 300 guests. The space can be rented for the morning, daytime, or evening (ending at sunset) wedding and reception and is more along the lines of BYO/DIY—which works well for many couples. If you love Brooklyn Lager and local wines or have your heart set on a certain restaurant, you can bring them in. Opus 40 Sculpture Park, Saugerties

Not Your Backyard BBQ
Getting married here is like an intimate at-home wedding—if your home were a mansion and you didn't have to do the dishes after the party. If couples are looking for something romantic, then Belvedere Mansion is about as sweet as it gets. Owner Patricia Panarella handles every detail counting down to your big day, whether it's helping you write personalized vows to exchange in the English garden or gazebo at the pond, or choosing music to party down to in the antique-filled mansion or in a tent under the stars. Belvedere Mansion, Rhinebeck

click to enlarge The Belltower - JEAN KALLINA

Gothic-Style Drama
Built in 1896, the Belltower—once a Reformed Church—is a Gothic-style, red-brick building that makes for a dramatic venue. The building is rich original details with 20-foot vaulted tin ceilings, a two-leveled pulpit, 15-foot high front window and restored flooring make for a spiritual, yet jaw-dropping backdrop for a wedding ceremony. In 2012, the main nave was transformed into a wedding and event space, and that September, the first ceremony was debuted. Chef Samir Hrichi from Ship to Shore in Kingston prepared food on-site for the guests—and the restaurant has since been one of the main caterers for events, making this a hot spot for foodies. The venue holds up to 120 in the reception space for dancing (150 for the ceremony) and the lush garden makes for a lovely cocktail hour. The Belltower, Rosendale

Architecturally Inspired
The Roundhouse is Beacon's newest boutique hotel, and it serves as an incredible wedding and reception venue for the design-inspired couple. Adrienne Madama, event manager, says that couples are drawn to the venue "because of the dichotomy of a clean, industrial background with a nod to the natural elements." Sitting on six acres of land next to the Fishkill Creek, the former textile mill and, later, lawnmower factory was purchased by Roundhouse in 2010, and makes for a killer wedding venue. The ceremony can take place outdoors in the naturally landscaped garden, followed by artisanal cocktails (like a Barrel Aged Manhattan with Hudson single-malt whiskey and house-smoked ice) at The Gallery—a mezzanine space atop The Waterfall Room, where stunning views though the floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to skip cheesy decorations. The venue can accommodate up to 200 guests for dinner and dancing, and Chef Brandon Collins creates a locally-sourced wedding menu that's anything but a boring buffet. His pan-roasted scallops with dashi espuma and buttermilk-cauliflower puree take wedding food to the next level. Roundhouse, Beacon

click to enlarge Diamond Mills - MAXIMILIAN B. NUCCI PHOTOGRAPHY

The Wedding Weekend
This luxury boutique hotel knows how to throw a party. Owned by special event producers, Diamond Mills doesn’t shy away from a good time. Their holiday parties, award shows, galas, and top-notch New Year’s Eve balls are packed, but the weddings take the cake. Glass says that couples love the location because their friends and family haven’t been there yet. It’s unique because it’s a “wedding weekend,” and when guests park on a Friday night, there’s no reason to leave. A rehearsal dinner often takes place in the tavern library, a bridal brunch kicks off the following morning, and a ceremony overlooking the falls. Guests (up to 450 of them) then move into the ballroom for the reception. Speaking of the ballroom—it’s a neutral color palette, so if your wedding colors are blush and bashful, there’s no need to redecorate. Diamond Mills, Saugerties

click to enlarge Byrdcliffe Barn - IMAGE PROVIDED

A Barn-Burning Affair
Rustic barn weddings are all the rage right now. Think quilted hay bale ceremony seating, strings of white lights and Mason jar centerpieces. Here's where the Byrdcliffe Barn comes in. This 100-year-old structure sits atop the 250-acre mountainside campus of the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. The historic barn can accommodate up to 135 guests with table seating and room for a raucous dance party. The sprawling lawn of the White Pines can be used for an outdoor ceremony, cocktail hour, or tented events. Alexis Grabowski, program coordinator, says that lights that are wrapped around pillars and low beams, and large hanging lanterns offer a warm glow and illuminate the rustic pine interior. One of the best things about the barn is that "it can be dressed up or down to fit anyone's taste." Byrdcliffe Arts Colony, Woodstock

  • A guide to finding the perfect regional venue for the ultimate party on your big day.

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