December 7, 2023


Specialists in fashion

Rustic venues, vendors are in demand for Long Island weddings

When Hillary Lessing marries her fiance, Brian Hogan, in November, the bride will wear a traditional wedding dress but the groom will accessorize his outfit with something unexpected — a bow tie made of peacock feathers.

The feathers will give a nod to nature in keeping with the rustic theme of the couple’s wedding — with rustic being a longtime popular fall and year-round nuptial décor. But it’s been getting modern and personalized makeovers lately and has become a favorite during the pandemic as many couples choose to incorporate the outdoors into their ceremonies and after-parties.


Rustic nuptials are the perfect match for Long Island, wedding planners and brides add, with the large variety of suitable local venues to choose from ranging from backyards and barns to vineyards, mansions and castles.

“Rustic weddings have always been popular but I feel they’re becoming a little bit more of a trend because people are doing backyard and outdoor weddings because of the pandemic — and going for the shabby chic rustic look,” says Babylon-based celebrity wedding planner Michael Russo. “It’s a theme that’s easy to achieve and the elements are readily available, from Mason jars and farm tables to cross back chairs.”

Wedding planner Teresa Romanelli, owner of Above All Events, says that even for the couple going for a high-end formal affair, rustic works because the concept has evolved well beyond farmhouse staples.

“Years ago, rustic weddings were all the same — wood barrels, folding chairs, Mason jars, baby’s breath and dandelions,” Romanelli, a West Islip resident, says. “Over the last three or four years ‘rustic’ has become so many different types of styles. People are putting their own personalities into it.”

Romanelli gives as an example the reception she planned for the Sept. 11, 2021, wedding of Sands Point residents Molly O’Connell, 28, and Trevor VonKaenel, 29, at Hempstead House, also known as the Gould-Guggenheim Estate. The décor was a mix of rustic and sophistication that included a black framed tent, hanging orbs wrapped in greenery and vines, and wood farm tables dressed with turquoise linens.

Hogan says his feathered tie shows he too likes to do things with a twist.

“I never thought of having a barn or rustic wedding; It was Brian’s idea,” Lessing says. Lessing’s family owns some of Long Island’s most popular wedding venues including The Barn at Old Bethpage, Chateau at Coindre Hall in Huntington, Temple Chaverim in Plainview, Essex Club in Brentwood, Heritage Club at Bethpage in Farmingdale, Bourne Mansion in Oakdale, Estate at Three Village Inn in Stony Brook, and The Mansion at Oyster Bay in Woodbury.

She and Hogan chose The Barn at Old Bethpage.

“We just looked at all the venues and thought it would be good for the fall,” Lessing says. The couple lives in Bay Shore. “We wanted something in between elegant and casual.” Hogan and the groomsmen will wear emerald green blazers, black pants with white shirts.


Alexandra Vitale, 31, married her husband, Vincent, 33, at The Barn at Old Bethpage on July 31, 2021. Alexandra says the couple, who live in the Bayside neighborhood of Queens, was looking for something that wasn’t “too modern, too traditional or too stereotypical” for their reception. She brought in her own chandeliers, “swoopy drapes,” and added greenery to the pillars on the dance floor.

“You can take a rustic setting and dress it in a glam décor,” Alexandra says.

Bride Heather Malone, 35, is marrying her fiance, Corey Wilcox, also 35, on Aug. 21, 2022. The Bay Shore pair will have their reception at The Vineyards at Aquebogue and Malone says their reason for wanting a rustic wedding was simple.

“We just love the outdoors and things like firepits and string lights.”

The rustic wedding choice was an easy one for Jessica Gomes, 42, as well. Gomes is one of the owners of Red Barn Boutique in Bellport, which features farmhouse décor. She married her husband, Marc, 47, on Aug. 28, 2021 in a wedding held in the Brookhaven couple’s backyard. Included were DIY projects and items from Gomes’ store.

Gomes says, “We wanted casual, simple … just good food, good drink, good music … with no time or guest (number) restraints.”