A Beautiful Summer Wedding at a New York Sculpture Park
"I was supposed to ask Sam," says Ashley, a real estate attorney, of her September 2016 proposal to Samantha. "But she wasn't happy with my timing, so she asked me first." That's how this New York City pair got engaged twice. Samantha, a producer for NBC's Today show, invited her girlfriend of just over a year to a location she said she had to scout. "I walked up five flights," Ashley recalls. At the top, she was greeted by music and a projection of butterflies—one of her favorite things—on the walls and ceilings. It was a setup. Samantha proposed, Ashley accepted, and afterward, they celebrated with their families and friends. Two weeks later, Ashley lured Samantha to their new apartment, still under construction. "I convinced the developer to let us in," she says. She played a video of memories and popped her own question—and they celebrated once more with their loved ones.
Well and doubly engaged, the pair began planning. Having decided on a destination wedding, they looked in Napa, California, and other spots out west. But when they got closer to home, they struck gold. As soon as they visited Storm King Art Center, an outdoor sculpture park in the Hudson Valley, they knew it was perfect. The center's rolling hills and grand allées of trees could accommodate just the celebration they wanted: focused on family and friends, with stunning views. Photographer Corbin Gurkin, Samantha's closest friend, offered advice. "She pointed us to the crème de la crème of vendors," Samantha said. "So I knew everything would be beyond amazing."
And on a breezy August afternoon, atop a grassy hill, it was. They walked down the aisle with their dads and spoke self-penned vows in front of 226 guests. Ashley's brother-in-law officiated a ceremony that blended their Jewish and Catholic faiths. It was an open-air wedding, and Ashley had been in a panic beforehand about the chance of rain, but her fiancée was optimistic. "I had her texting Al Roker," Ashley says. His verdict? "He was a little noncommittal," says Samantha.
She and Ashley, though, were anything but, and only after they were officially hitched did they make their way downhill to the tent—to get their party, and their life together, under way.
Commemorative stamps celebrating the work of 20th century American sculptor Alexander Calder, issued in 1998, were the ideal postage for Samantha and Ashley's artful save-the-date cards, designed by Amber Moon.
The gray, blush, and wine stationery suite, also by Amber Moon Design, incorporated various inspirations and themes, including a wax seal imprinted with a Mark di Suvero sculpture (an artist whose work is at Storm King), stamps featuring butterflies, and a sketch of the couple's dog, Chelsea.
An Artful Welcome
Guests who stayed at nearby hotels received a book of Calder artwork, vellum-wrapped and wax-sealed. "We wanted the feeling of a destination," Ashley says of the Hudson Valley locale. "Sam put a lot of effort into finding the perfect place where our families could stay and make a weekend of it."
The couple's photographer and good friend, Corbin Gurkin, gifted the brides with Lunya silk pajama sets and bowls adorned with a butterfly—one of the recurrent motifs of the day—and a bee, on the morning of the wedding.
The First Look
The brides shared an emotional first look in the field near their reception tent, pre-ceremony.
The Gang's All Here
In addition to their engagement rings and wedding bands, the brides both wore jewelry that held significance. The earrings were wedding gifts: Ashley's shimmering drops from her parents and Samantha's from Ashley (in return, Samantha gave Ashley a tabletop statue by Mark di Suvero.) The butterfly broach, which Ashley pinned to her bouquet, belonged to her grandmother—the two share a love of butterflies.
Shades of Gray
Samantha's lush bouquet by Nicolette Camille in blush, claret, and cream tones complemented her soft gray gown. "Corbin [Samantha's best friend and wedding photographer] is friends with Carol Hannah," she says of her dress designer. "So, hers was the first salon I went to. I knew I wanted gray, I knew I wanted sleeves—she made it perfect."
One of the youngest members of the wedding party, Samantha's cousin Sienna, wore blooms in her hair rather than carrying a bouquet. Just a handful of children—friends and young relatives—attended the wedding, and each was given a role as flower girl or boy.
Tying the Knot
After exchanging vows, the delighted couple walked back up the aisle to the tune of "Hallelujah I Love Her So" by Ray Charles.
Dog of Honor
The couple's French bulldog, 5-year-old Chelsea, was in the wedding, walking the junior bridesmaids down the aisle.
The brides posed with both sets of parents as well as Ashley's siblings, niece, and nephew. Left right: Brother-in-law Austin Laverty (who officiated the wedding), nephew Henry, Lyndsey Laverty, niece Lily, Loren Lostritto, Joe and Joanne Lostritto, Ashley, Samantha, Shelly and Bruce Wender.
Ashley's baby niece Lily topped off her formal wedding look with a crown of blooms.
Menu cards on the bar called out the signature cocktails of the wedding: A pineapple mule for Samantha, and a cucumber-jalapeno margarita for Ashley.
Artistic Seating Assignments
Wine-colored pockets held escort cards in the same modern style as the rest of the wedding stationery; line drawings of sculptures at the park, along with numbers, directed the guests to their tables.
The Dinner Tables
Clear chairs, wooden tables, and simple settings allowed the natural elements and abundant florals—including sweet pea, chosen because it's Samantha's childhood nickname—to shine.
Daughter and Dad
Ashley grinned as she took a spin on the dance floor with her father, Joe, to the tune of "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack.
The Wedding Cake
The dramatic eight-tier, four-flavor cake, created by Madison Lee's Cakes, was a focal point of the reception space.
Location, Storm King Art Center
Event planning and design, Duet Weddings
Catering, Cobblestone Catering
Flowers, Nicolette Camille
Photography, Corbin Gurkin & Shannon Oleksak
Videography, Ellie Connell of Reeling Films
Stationery, Amber Moon Design
Calligraphy, Anne Robin Calligraphy + Design
Cake, Madison Lee's Cakes
Music, Element Music
Samantha's dress, Carol Hannah
Samantha's shoes, Stuart Weitzman
Earrings, London Jewelers
Wedding bands and Samantha's engagement ring, Diamond Vault International, 212-888-1234
Lighting, Stortz Lighting
Transportation, Ramstar Limousine Inc.
Valet, MB&L Parking Solutions
Photo booth, Metro Photobooth Bus
Restrooms, Premier Executive Trailers
Silk-pajama sets, Lunya
Ring dishes, Faith Adams Ceramics