An Upstate New York Wedding with a Tropical Fall Theme

wedding couple walking together by lake
Lauren Fair Photography

After matching on Bumble in October 2017, Amanda Gold and Justin Harmon had a few conversations, but they "kind of fizzled in November," says Amanda. As luck would have it, though, two days before New Year's Eve, "we both happened to be at the same bar at the same time, and Justin sent a creepy text across the bar to confirm it was me," says Amanda. "We officially met in person that night, but I kind of blew him off. After a few days of my friends yelling at me, I decided to text him, and the rest is history."

By August 2018, the couple knew they were meant to be together forever, and they got engaged eight months after they started dating—after they had already booked their wedding venue, Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, New York, for October 12, 2019. "We loved the idea of a full weekend event and the idea of our friends all being able to stay on the premises," says Amanda. "Justin is originally from the Catskills and I am originally from Long Island, but we currently live in Syracuse, so we had people coming from everywhere and this was kind of in the middle of it all! Cedar Lakes also prides itself on their food and, well, we love food!"

The couple wanted to create a unique and memorable event for their 280 guests, so they chose a vibrant color palette Amanda describes as "fall tropical," provided 700 chocolate chip cookies made by the bride the week before the wedding as welcome party favors, and incorporated a variety of materials—including velvet, metal, tropical leaves, and glass—into their décor. "I just wanted different," says Amanda. "I wanted people to walk in and say, 'Wow.'"

01 of 19

Bright and Beautiful

tropical wedding invitation suite
Lauren Fair Photography

Justin and Amanda previewed the brilliant fall colors of upstate New York with a custom painting on their invitation from Wide Eyes Paper Company. "They take a picture of your choosing and make it into a watercolor," says Amanda. "We really liked how unique they were and the fact that we could use a picture from Cedar Lakes for our invites."

02 of 19

Fashion Forward

bride getting ready with help of mother in pastel pink dress
Lauren Fair Photography

Amanda, her mother, and her bridesmaids went to New York City for a weekend of wedding-dress shopping that included limo service between stores. As the owner of Jet Black Boutique in Syracuse, Amanda felt the pressure of choosing the perfect gown. "The amount of people who said, 'I can't wait to see what kind of dress you pick,' was overwhelming," she says. "I thought I was going to absolutely love shopping, but it was entirely overwhelming and stressful. I was completely in my own head the entire time." At her final appointment, she nearly left before trying on one last gown—a Chantal Romano halter neck with a mesh detail—but her mother convinced her to model it. "After I had it on, I looked up in the mirror and completely lost it, like uncontrollable, messy tears," she says. "I composed myself and walked out into the little lobby area where [my bridesmaids] were all sitting. When I looked in the mirror, my best friend was standing behind me bawling her eyes out, and that is how I knew."

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03 of 19

Clear Winner

clear bridal shoes with tropical pink and yellow florals
Lauren Fair Photography

The bride and her mother were traveling together—before Justin proposed—when her mom spotted a pair of Tom Ford heels and bought them for the couple's someday-wedding. "I call them my Cinderella shoes because they look like a glass slipper," says Amanda.

04 of 19

Rosy Views

bride and bridesmaids in red dresses
Lauren Fair Photography

Amanda's four bridesmaids wore Jenny Yoo gowns in English Rose-colored velvet. "I brought a few dresses home as possibilities, and Justin actually had a lot to say about them," she says. "I tried to tell him to leave it to the professionals—me—but we both loved the Jenny Yoo dress and loved that it was velvet! They were super comfortable."

05 of 19

Taking a Bow

smiling wedding flower girls in white dresses with red velvet bows
Lauren Fair Photography

Extra velvet fabric from the bridesmaids' gowns provided a cohesive accent for the kids' fashion. "The flower girls wore little white dresses but we made them sashes so they could match," says Amanda, "and the little boys wore white shirts with blue pants and bow ties made out of the velvet, as well!"

06 of 19

Water Views

wedding couple first look on banks of lake
Lauren Fair Photography

The couple chose the banks of the estate's showstopping lake for their first look, during which they were surrounded by fall foliage. "I was super excited for Justin to see me, and he reacted just as I expected," says Amanda. "I knew from that moment on the day and night would fly by, so I was trying to soak it in as much as possible." Justin felt a range of emotions: "I was nervous, anxious, and excited," he says. "During, well, I was thinking about the Tennessee football game. Just kidding—I was thinking about how lucky I am to be marrying Amanda. Then I was just ready to get the party started."

07 of 19

Bold Blooms

wedding couple embracing on bridge in fall setting
Lauren Fair Photography

Amanda's bouquet from florist Faye and Renee illustrated the floral theme she requested with bright anthurium, orchids, ranunculus, dahlias, and garden roses, plus sculptural monstera leaves and fern. "It was the perfect combination of 'tropical' and 'fall,'" says Amanda.

08 of 19

Party People

wedding party in red and blue walking with bride and groom by lake
Lauren Fair Photography

Justin chose a specific shade of slate blue for custom suits from Mr. Shop, which Amanda describes as "not navy, not royal—somewhere in the middle." Inside his jacket, flamingo-print fabric added a pop of pattern, while the date and coordinates of the wedding stitched under his collar were a sentimental finishing touch. A lobster pin on his lapel nodded to an inside joke, too: "I love the show Friends," says Amanda, "and always tell Justin he's my lobster."

09 of 19

Leafy and Lush

outdoor fall wedding setting with floral arches and petal walkway
Lauren Fair Photography

Two towering trees on the property framed a natural spot for the couple's ceremony, while floral installations and backless benches enhanced the property's existing landscaping. "Faye and Renee outdid themselves with a beautiful floral archway entrance and a spectacular floral chuppah and then flower petals to designate the aisle," says Amanda. "Beyond my wildest dreams!"

10 of 19

A Family Affair

couple holding hands during outdoor wedding ceremony with guests seated on benches
Lauren Fair Photography

Both of Amanda's parents walked her down the aisle to join Justin at the altar for their ceremony officiated by Rabbi Susan Heneson Moskowitz. "I am Jewish, and it was really important to my parents for us to have a Jewish ceremony; Justin is not Jewish," explains Amanda. "Rabbi Moskowitz was my Hebrew school principal on Long Island. We didn't want anything super religious, but Rabbi Moskowitz did an amazing job making everyone feel included."

11 of 19

The New Mr. and Mrs.

couple kissing under floral arch at outdoor ceremony
Lauren Fair Photography

Amanda and Justin wrote their own personalized vows, which, she says, "were heartfelt and funny and very 'us.' We both mentioned something about watching Friends and of course our dog, Hooper. Everyone cried!" As the service concluded, the couple experienced one of their favorite parts of the wedding day: "Justin breaking the glass under the chuppah," says Amanda, "and our first official moment as husband and wife."

12 of 19

Under the Rainbow

wedding couple kissing under rainbow
Lauren Fair Photography

After the ceremony, Amanda and Justin stepped away for newlywed portraits under a perfectly-placed rainbow before joining their guests for cocktails and small bites that included juniper-roasted lamb, crispy maple chicken on mini waffles, and brie-and-fig grilled cheese.

13 of 19

Food Fest

elaborate grazing table at wedding reception
Lauren Fair Photography

The grazing table at the cocktail hour previewed the family-style meal that Amanda and Justin chose for their dinner reception. "We wanted to maximize everyone's fun and we didn't want a plated dinner to take away from people dancing," says Amanda. "That being said, food was important and Cedar Lakes came through with the best meal I have ever had at a catered event. Not only was the food incredible but there was so much of it! When we got back to our cabin that night, there were two full plates of the dinner waiting for us in the fridge; we ended up taking them home and eating them for dinner the next night!"

14 of 19

Cube Study

clear cubes with candles and flowers for seating chart
Lauren Fair Photography

Stacked acrylic cubes had guests' names and seating assignments printed on them, and enclosed miniature bud vases holding bright orange, pink, and yellow blooms and delicate green ferns.

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15 of 19

Up in the Air

long wooden reception tables with tropical greenery and florals
Lauren Fair Photography

The exposed wood inside the reception space set off the two-tone tables, wooden crossback chairs, and colorful floral arrangements. A "floating masterpiece" over the head table became a vivid focal point.

16 of 19

Glass Act

elegant fall tropical wedding reception tables
Lauren Fair Photography

Long tables were topped with pink taper candles in tall hurricanes; sky-high arrangements of monstera leaves, ferns, and warm-toned blooms on glass pedestals; and smaller bud vases that added color to the tabletop.

17 of 19

Wall Flowers

wedding couple spinning during first dance
Lauren Fair Photography

The newlyweds brought the band Prime Time Horns in from Syracuse for entertainment at the reception. "They are amazing!" says Amanda. "We picked 'Hold My Girl' by George Ezra as our first dance song, and they learned it the day of the wedding so they could play it live!" Behind the band, a wall of flowers brightened the space—while creating a memorable moment for Amanda. "I had this vision [of a flower wall behind the band] early in the planning process, but everyone told me I was crazy and I needed to cut it. After many conversations, I gave in and let it go," she says. "When our wedding planner brought us into the barn, I immediately burst into tears because my parents surprised us with the most breathtaking flower wall I could have ever imagined. Seeing the reception space for the first time was a moment we will never forget."

18 of 19

Sweet Emotion

bride and groom smiling while cutting naked cake
Lauren Fair Photography

Amanda prides herself on her homemade chocolate chip cookies, and after making 700 of them as favors for the welcome party, the couple's reception dessert choice was obvious: "We had a tiered chocolate chip cookie cake," says Amanda. Then they returned to the party. "Being on the dance floor with everyone we know and love and being in the middle dancing and singing and realizing everyone was there to celebrate us and only us," says Amanda, "is a feeling that I hope everyone gets to experience."

19 of 19


wedding couple kissing on boat dock on lake
Lauren Fair Photography

Photography, Lauren Fair Photography
Venue and Catering, Cedar Lakes Estate
Event Planning, Taylor Larsen, SociaLife Wedding and Event Planning
Flowers, Faye and Renee
Videography, Live Oak Films
Officiant, Rabbi Susan Heneson Moskowitz
Stationery, Wild Eyes Paper Company
Music, Prime Time Horns
Bride's Gown, Chantal Romano
Bride's Accessories, Tom Ford shoes; Skaneateles Jewelers earrings
Hair, Hideaway Styling Studio
Makeup, The Blonde Orchid Salon
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's Attire and Menswear, Mr. Shop
Lighting, EventLights, Inc.
Transportation, West Point Tours
Audio, Legato Productions
Rings, Skaneateles Jewelers

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