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Both Sean and I were born and raised in the Catskills. Therefore, we wanted to stay in the region, use local vendors and capture the beauty of this area, something we both know and love—and bring together our love for outdoors, good food and family. Our goal was to create a unique and unforgettable experience, not only for ourselves but for our loved ones as well.
Before planning began, we decided we would throw out the phrase “this is what you do at weddings,” because we knew there was no way we would follow any sort of rule book when it came to this celebration.
Getting married at Handsome Hollow was a dream come true. The venue offers endless opportunities where couples can be free with imagination, no wedding the same. We had many of our guests anticipating our wedding because it was going to be in the mountains, out of the norm, away from the city, and they weren’t sure what to expect, knowing that Sean and I both love entertaining. Having a big family—over 200 invited—there were several children that attended. Our guests couldn’t have been more appreciative of our thinking of the kids, giving them plenty to do and the space to run wild and free.
My wedding dress was carefully designed and created from scratch by my mom (Mellonee Cappiello). Together we collaborated on the look and feel of the dress to ensure it fit the overall theme of the wedding. We added special touches by cutting her wedding dress and removing the lace, pearls and buttons and sewing these to mine.
After she was done, she made my shoes, my purse, cute dresses to get ready in for the bridesmaids and the flower-girl dress. The flower-girl dress was designed just for Maeve, using the same material as mine. Maeve wanted a dress she could twirl and dance in, so she could feel like a princess. I have never seen a four-year-old more excited to be part of a wedding.
Cheese-wheel ceremony vs. cake cutting
We decided to have a cheese wheel cutting ceremony with large wheels of cheese that were flown in from one of my favorite cheese castles in Wisconsin. Each wheel was carefully chosen and tasted along the way, decorated with fresh grapes, displayed on top of a rustic barrel, and set underneath the hugging tree made for a perfect backdrop. Once the ceremony ended, everyone headed toward the cheese tower, grabbed a mismatched vintage coupe glass filled with champagne and waited for us to cut the cheese.
Our guests were fascinated by this, listening to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” and a speech from my older brother. After the ceremony, toast and tears, the cheese tower was set on the harvest table for all to enjoy.
Planning + decor + DIY projects
We chose to take on the adventure of a lot of DIY projects along the way. We built our own custom cornhole set, signage with reclaimed barn wood and hand-drawn signage made from old rustic French windows, and designed our own wedding stationery suite. We added stems of lavender in each invite so that our guests would get a sense and smell of what the event theme would be for our big day. It inspired vendors and guests to match our wedding logo (see bottom of page 4).
We wanted everything to be simple, chic, with a touch of vintage, as Handsome Hollow offers beauty. Adding a lavender toss with sheer paper cones, filled with handfuls of little lavender buds made for a Pinterest-worthy entrance as our guests entered the ceremony site. As we said “I do” and walked down the aisle, we were showered in good luck as guests threw their cones in the air.
We used a few props from the venue and eliminated escort cards by having each guest name pinned on a decorated chicken-wire frame. The photo booth was staged with props that represented our favorite things (sports, comics and cats). We created a kids’ corner with bubbles, crayons, masks and pinwheels—something for everyone!
Most memorable moment
Sean and I had an epic summer, with tons of planning, projects and parties leading up to the actual wedding day. It was very hard to come back to reality with friends and family traveling from all over the country and even from overseas, including Africa. In the meantime, working with our DJ, we had picked our favorite songs, eliminated songs we did not want to hear. We chose “Shout” as Sean’s must-hear favorite wedding song. He and I were on the dance floor when the song came on, surrounded by 180 people who love us, singing and shouting along. It was an overwhelming feeling that cannot be put into words. Not to mention that the photographer captured the shot perfectly. Neither of us will ever forget that moment, it was the most memorable of the night. Truly, the best day ever.