For an Outdoor Wedding
Benmarl Winery, Marlboro
(845) 236-4265; benmarl.com
Photo by Stephen Spaccarelli
Niki and Russel Koster’s winery wedding
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Imagine guests being so impressed with your scenic setup that they just couldn’t resist sending you thank-you cards because they appreciated such a gorgeous location. That’s what Benjamin and Marielle Gilbert experienced after getting hitched at the 37-acre Benmarl Winery estate in Ulster County (reportedly one of the the oldest vineyards in America).
Both physical therapists, the couple wanted to escape from Manhattan for their wedding. They searched for a month for the perfect outdoor venue. “We looked at other outdoor grounds, but nothing else even compared,” Marielle says. Having grown up near water—he on the Hudson River in Manhattan’s West Village and she on Lake Erie—both felt this location, with a view of the Hudson, was meant to be.
In September 2011, the couple exchanged vows in front of 100 family members and friends in the yard behind the vineyard as the sun was setting. The rain from the previous day had attracted butterflies, which fluttered around magically. “Guests had a great view of the river and cliffs behind us during our ceremony, and you could even still see grapes on the vines,” says Marielle.
A great perk at this venue is that you can add as little or as much as you’d like. The beauty of the venue stands on its own. The Gilberts just brought in some birch trees and hung lanterns for added flair. Other couples rent a horse and carriage for a grand arrival or cap off the evening with a fireworks display over the water.
The Gilberts, who currently reside in Riverdale, New York, admit to visiting the winery frequently since their nuptials. “We feel like we’re with family at Benmarl,” says Marielle. “Every time we go back, we’re greeted with a hug and, in a sense, we’re able to relive our special day.”
Weddings are held outdoors between May and October in the lush green courtyard with a view of the Hudson. The area can be tented in case of rain. The wedding party is responsible for hiring caterers and for all party supplies. The winery can accommodate up to 200 guests. Pricing starts at $5,000 to reserve the site.