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An Intimate, Weekend-Long Wedding in the Hudson Valley

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Photo: Chellise Michael Photography

When we ask newlyweds to think back on what they wanted most for their big day — and we’ve interviewed hundreds of them over the years — the most common response is “For it not to feel like a wedding!” Gathering with old friends and eating mini grilled cheeses in formalwear to celebrate love feels more special these days than ever, even downright miraculous. And the betrothed have never been less attached to the old wedding handbook — or the need to please their great-aunt. So in a flurry of pampas grass and perfectly mismatched-to-match bridesmaid dresses, how do you pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answers, we decided to interrogate the cool couples whose weddings we would actually want to steal, right down to the tiger-shaped cake toppers.

Here, we’ve spoken with Bianca Ladipo, a documentary-film producer, and Adam Kalamchi, the founder and CEO of the mortgage-software business Staircase. Their first date found them immediately ensconced in their own little world, and they hoped to create a similar bubble of intimacy and joy for the 200 guests at their wedding this past October. The Rhinebeck-based couple chose to marry at Troutbeck, a once-private 18th-century estate where writers such as Emerson and Thoreau and politicians including Teddy Roosevelt and Thurgood Marshall had all rested their heads over the years. The couple hosted multiple events across the property culminating in a series of after-parties offering hookahs and pizza.

Bianca: We met on Hinge, as people do these days. It was one of the first days that New York restaurants were allowing people to eat inside again.

Adam: But when we met up, the restaurant was empty. It was early 2021. I was living in Philly at the time but had a meeting in New York.

Bianca: There was a really intense thunderstorm outside, and we were the only ones in there and it was very romantic.

Adam: I invented a doctor’s appointment for the next day so I could stay in New York.

Bianca: We had another date the following night.

Adam: We went to dinner and looked up, and the chairs were on tables upside down and the staff were mopping and laughing and it was literally 2 a.m.

Bianca: I wanted to be around him all the time.

Adam: It was just really comfortable from the beginning. It felt natural. We got engaged during a staycation at this bucolic place called Inness, about 45 minutes from where we live now. I positioned it as a getaway.

Bianca: We did yoga and hiking and ate great food. We were going to a wine tasting, and he said, “We’re early, let’s take a little walk.” They have beautiful grounds. He got on one knee and did the whole teary-eyed thing, which was beautiful.

Adam: I mostly remembered what I wanted to say, which was how much I love her and how at peace I felt being together. Then I asked her to marry me.

Bianca: We knew we didn’t want something where family was just bombing in for one afternoon and evening and then bombing out. We quickly decided we wanted it to be a weekend affair so people could treat it as a getaway of their own.

Adam: I’m a little bit older, and I’ve had the privilege of going to quite a few weddings; I think the most meaningful ones are where you create this 48-hour bubble of an experience and people can get to know one another. So we wanted something a little bit rural, isolated.

Bianca: We toured a bunch of places in the Hudson Valley.

Adam: I think Bianca had seen Troutbeck on social media even before we met. It was one of the first venues we looked at, and it’s such a beautiful place. We just fell in love. Over time, it became clear that we weren’t going to find something to surpass it.

Bianca: It was a family home with a lot of interesting American history, and it’s now an inn and a restaurant and a library. The main house has hotel rooms and then there are cottages on the property. It’s insanely picturesque in summer and in the fall, especially.

Adam: It’s quite a venue and a big undertaking, but I talked to some older folks and colleagues and they said, “You’ll never regret doing it exactly how you want.” People were giving us their time for a weekend, and we wanted to be really thoughtful about it.

Bianca: About 80 people can stay on-site, so we had our family and closest friends stay. Everybody trickled in on Friday afternoon and was milling about the grounds. We had a dinner with them in a building called the Tall Barn, family style, with three speeches. I wore an Oscar de la Renta red velvet minidress that matched my ruby engagement ring perfectly.

Adam: The room looks kind of Swedish — light wood, high ceilings, glass skylights. Then that flowed into a nearby open area for cocktails and s’mores. There are so many spaces at Troutbeck, and we wanted to make sure to use all aspects of the property to have different moods.

Bianca: Saturday, we invited everybody to come do activities with us at Troutbeck. I did a Pilates class early in the morning, and Adam hosted a tennis round-robin on the courts. I know some people went on bike rides or hikes. It felt like summer camp, which was totally the vibe we wanted. I mean, the rain changed things kind of dramatically.

Adam: It was not what we’d planned for, but it wasn’t a problem. Rain or no rain, we were going to have a great time. Molly O’Rourke, our wedding planner, did a good job of quickly pivoting. We moved the ceremony venue from the walled garden to the barn.

Bianca: Things got pushed back a bit as they moved all the chairs and flowers into the Pole Barn, so we started probably 30 or 40 minutes late. It ended up being cozy and beautiful, everyone huddled under the barn; you could hear the rain. It was beautiful in its own way. There’s nothing you can do. That’s the chance you take.

Adam: I knew I wanted more of a fun jacket for Friday night, so I got a patterned purple-and-black velvet jacket. For the wedding itself, I wore a dark-blue tux with a shawl lapel, then changed into a white sort of unfinished or “rough” silk dinner jacket with black tux pants. I worked with Martin Greenfield, a great tailor with a really beautiful story: He’s a concentration-camp survivor, and when he came to the U.S., he became a tailor, eventually to Bill Clinton and other presidents.

Bianca: The dress search was so interesting; you go into these stores and everybody’s trying to sell you these slinky, sexy, formfitting things. I am not the slinky bride. I saw a photo of a Viktor&Rolf dress that had an empire waist, a super-dramatic back, and these billowy detached rose sleeves. No embellishments, just beautiful. It felt cinematic.

Adam: Bianca and I met for our first look at the rose garden where we had planned to get married. It was raining hard enough that we needed umbrellas but not so hard that we couldn’t be outside. I loved her dress. I knew she would want something artistic, elegant, and feminine, rather than sleek and modern.

Bianca: We obviously teared up seeing each other the first time. It was pretty overwhelming, the first moment when we were like, Okay, this is really happening.

Adam: For the ceremony, we had big bouquets, more like sculptures. We had different color palettes flow through the evening, rooted in ruby as the color of Bianca’s ring and her bouquet.

Bianca: Big urns of flowers framed us. Nikki Pettus of Strega Flora did our flowers. I really wanted a monochromatic bouquet and the drama of the amaranth dripping down the front. My dress had a lot of volume, and I wanted the eye to sort of focus in. Deep red was a big theme of the wedding. I love deep reds. It just feels like the representation of true love.

Adam: A friend of mine named Roberto Patino officiated. He’s one of those people everyone just loves — the warmest energy, super-funny. The added benefit is he’s a professional writer.

Bianca: He spent a lot of time on the speech, and we really appreciated that. He’s known Adam since they were 18 years old, and I have fallen in love with him and his family.

Adam: The writers’ strike was happening at the time of our wedding, so he had a lot of time. He called my parents, my siblings, me, Bianca, her family. He was so thoughtful about it and so genuine.

Bianca: The audience blurred into the background, and I was really just standing there with Adam and Roberto. It felt like it was just the three of us for a minute there. We did our vows and had our friend Faisal say a prayer in Arabic in honor of Adam’s dad.

Adam: My dad had quite late-stage Alzheimer’s and was not able to attend. We thought maybe he’d make it but he couldn’t. He was born and raised in Baghdad, and he used to wear a necklace that I now wear with a Quranic verse, called the Throne Verse, or Ayat al-Kursi. It’s a blessing if you are going on a journey, essentially.

Bianca: For cocktail hour, because of the rain, we were inside the main house. We had the fireplaces going, and the lighting in there is beautiful. It felt like the coziest fall afternoon.

Adam: It’s got this real New England college campus, wood-paneled library kind of vibe. There are little studies and nooks and a bar, so people just spread out. People were playing chess and catching up.

Bianca: We had signature cocktails: a spicy blood-orange margarita with Casamigos tequila and then Adam loves an old-fashioned.

Adam: It was a specific version I’d had at a restaurant in L.A. with walnut bitters and a little bit of smokiness from Johnnie Walker Black Label. From there, we flowed along a little path into the dinner tent.

Bianca: In the tent, we also kept it simple. I wanted it to be super-twinkly and candlelit, so we had white pillar candles in different heights in glass holders all down the tables. There wasn’t some big floral arrangement in the middle of the table where you can’t see the person across from you. It invited a bit of conversation.

Adam: For dinner, I remember the steak. We were impressed that it came out perfectly cooked and hot, and we were like, “Man, how did they do this for 200 people?” But they did. The food was so good.

Bianca: There was also roasted branzino and a burnt-cauliflower steak. They do a really good job of using local ingredients, and everything is super-fresh.

Adam: We spent a lot of time going from table to table, and there were a couple of speeches.

Bianca: My dad went totally rogue in his speech. He doesn’t like to follow the rules. I had sent him some guidelines — I don’t know that he’d ever given a speech at a wedding! — and he brought them up in the speech: “Bianca told me to say this, this, and this. I’m going to say what I want to say.” He also brought up that, instead of a tuxedo, he wore the traditional Nigerian dress he’d worn for his own wedding. He was having some health issues and was going for comfort, so he wore Allbirds with it, which was a very funny cross-cultural moment.

Adam: From there, it flowed back into the main house and into the ballroom, which we transformed into kind of a nightclub. We had furniture around the perimeter so some of the older folks could feel like they were part of the action but didn’t need to be on the dance floor. My mom had fun bopping in her chair without being in the middle of the mayhem.

Bianca: Adam and I did an outfit change then. We had a very glossy black dance floor in front of the band, and Molly pointed out that it was reflective and could be this cool sparkly moment. That was a Carolina Herrera gown, a mix of silver sequins and crystals and rhinestones. We came back out to the Chicago Bulls theme song, which was a nod to my childhood. My dad and I spent a lot of time going to Bulls games when I was a kid.

Adam: We had a ten- or 11-piece band, 45 Riots, who were phenomenal. They played at the ceremony, a bit during the cocktail hour, and a two-hour set after dinner.

Bianca: A band can make or break that moment of a wedding. They were thoughtful about asking, “What’s the energy you want to curate?” Our first dance was to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.”

Adam: We were running a bit behind because of the rain, so we moved dessert into the dance area so we never left the dance floor. We had an olive-oil cake with cherry labneh ice cream from a local vendor, Fortunes. The themes were subtly tied together — a very Middle Eastern ingredient.

Bianca: It’s so sad because we spent so much time working on this dessert and neither Adam nor I got any. People loved it so much they went back for seconds and thirds and it was all gone!

Adam: Around 11:30 or midnight as the band was starting to wrap up, we opened the doors on the far side of the dance floor and we’d set up a hookah area — majlis is the Arabic word for it — where there are pillows and carpet and you sit on the floor and hang out. Then there was a late-night DJ.

Bianca: The hookah was a massive hit. This was all Adam’s idea because we were trying to think of ways to honor his dad. The DJ played a great melange of throwback hits and a little bit of West African music.

Adam: Then around one a.m., a pizza truck showed up and everyone was pretty pumped. After that, we went to the bar area in the hotel, then the cottage where I’d gotten ready, which we’d stocked with drinks and snacks.

Bianca: There were probably like 25 or 30 of us left by the wee hours. Shout-out to Adam. He had a real eye toward the guest experience and the flow of the night. He wanted to make sure that if people were traveling to spend a weekend with us that they were excited and felt taken care of.

Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography.
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography
Photo: Chellise Michael Photography

More From This Series

  • A Sultry San Francisco Wedding in Creams and Scarlets
  • Shakespeare Couldn’t Have Written a Better Wedding
  • A Two-Day Wedding to Satisfy Two Very Different Vibes

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Kaitlin Menza , 2024-05-24 15:00:41

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