Photos by Mindy Briar Photography
What are two lovebirds to do when the pandemic postpones their wedding? Get gussied up anyway for a prenuptial photo session fit for a Disney princess at Faraway Farm in Yorktown Heights.
“So we’re not married yet, but we do have our wedding photos because I’m impatient and was too in love with my dress and the farm.”
In Ashley Merdinger’s defense, the dress is gorgeous — a rainbow-hued strapless deep-V A-line from Willowby by Watters that looks like she wrapped herself in a Hudson River sunset. Incredibly, though, the dress is probably the last thing you’d notice looking at her “not-wedding wedding photos.” It was the guests.
“We moved to Yorktown Heights from Brooklyn in December. We weren’t familiar with the area, so I did some research to learn about my new town,” says Merdinger with her fiancé, Brandon Bitterman. “I quickly discovered that there was an alpaca farm one mile from my new house. As soon as I saw it, I said, ‘We’re going to get married there!’” As it so happened, Faraway Farm does, in point of fact, book weddings, so the plan all fell into place when the couple got engaged in September of 2019.
Since we’re writing this and there is still very much a pandemic going on, you can see where this fairytale hits its snag. “We decided to cancel our special day and save it until we could celebrate exactly how we envisioned it, surrounded by all of our family and friends, sans masks,” Merdinger says. “We still wanted to do something, though, to commemorate the day that would have been our wedding.”
Taking a page straight out of one of our recent blogs, the couple threw on their formalwear and headed out to meet up with their photographer at the farm.
“The farm itself is so picturesque and the family who owns it, Leda Blumberg and Steve Cole, couldn’t be lovelier or more welcoming,” says Merdinger. “They have about 15-20 alpacas, two donkeys, and two horses. It’s a little, dreamy piece of heaven right here in Westchester.” The results are nothing short of spectacular.
“It was a truly magical day,” she says. “I felt like a bride in the middle of a fairytale. The alpacas were adorable, picturesque, curious little creatures. They were quite taken by my bouquet, which they mistook for an evening snack on quite a few occasions. My fiancé and I got to celebrate our love and have fun, but without the stress or nerves that come with a true wedding. This was like the dress rehearsal, and now we can’t wait to do it all over again, but this time for real.”
And yes, if you were wondering, the bride did insist on recreating Grant Wood’s famous agrarian painting American Gothic, because when you’ve got a farm full of magical, hipster-favorite animals and an epic earth goddess dress woven from light and clouds, of course you do. And you look awesome.
Photos: Mindy Briar Photography
Venue: Faraway Farm, Yorktown Heights
Groom’s suit: J. Crew
Bride’s dress: Willowby By Watters
Bridal hair and makeup: Celeste von Damon
“The alpacas’ hair and makeup is all natural.”