For Alena Kaufman and Andrew Bowman, it all started with a cheese board. In 2013, the couple met at an event Alena organized in the Hudson Valley and shared a charcuterie meet-cute. Since Alena was in “work mode,” she says it wasn’t until their second run-in that sparks really flew. In 2018, five years after they met, Andrew popped the question during a mid-week lunch date. (Yes, he even prepared well-stocked cheese and charcuterie plates.)
Alena and Andrew always wanted to get married on land that they owned. “Our vision was really about creating roots,” the couple explains. “Saying, ‘this is how we start’ and moving forward from there.” And, though the ongoing pandemic threw a wrench in their nuptials—causing them to postpone their wedding twice and cancel a venue in New York—they ultimately swapped vows in October 2020 at their new property in Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula.
Just because guests tuned into the big day virtually from the comfort of their own homes doesn’t mean they missed out on any of the fun. Each guest received a curated event box, which was filled with smaller accessories, locally sourced sparkling wine, and a hand-carved cheese board.
We fell in love with the farm for so many reasons, but it proved convenient that it was a longstanding, well-known wedding venue with tons of rustic charm.
After scheduling — and subsequently cancelling — a wedding in New York City, Alena and Andrew decided to tie the knot at Cherry Basket Farm. In fact, the couple loved their venue so much, that they actually purchased it themselves before the ceremony. “We fell in love with the farm for so many reasons, but it proved convenient that it was a longstanding, well-known wedding venue with tons of rustic charm,” Alena explains.
As avid gardeners, Alena and Andrew kicked off the festivities by planting one of their favorite trees—a tulip poplar—on their wedding day. The couple hopes that this is the first of many newlywed trees. “As part of our conservation plans for the farm, we’re also going to be offering couples that get married at Cherry Basket Farm a tree planted in their honor that they can watch grow over time,” Alena says.
The groom looked dapper in a Menguin suit, Suitsupply shirt, and shoes from Allen Edmonds. Rounding out the look were personal accessories such as the Shinola watch Alena gave him on their fifth anniversary and cufflinks with a floral imprint from Wave Hill, one of the couple’s favorite public gardens in New York City.
Having a wedding that was just the two of us reflects how much of a team we’ve become during the pandemic.
“Having a wedding that was just the two of us reflects how much of a team we’ve become during the pandemic,” Alena says. “[It speaks to how] certain we are that we can rely on each other, and how excited we are to share the life we’re building with others through celebrations and other weddings at Cherry Basket Farm.”
The bride carried a wispy array of autumnal-toned flowers, assembled by Katie Wachowiak. “My approach was [to] hire great talent, give them resources, and let them run with it,” she explains. “This was especially true for the floral vision, which is the piece that appeals to me most.”
The ceremony and reception was held in the property’s lower barn, which was flanked with white urns and seasonal foliage. This installation gave the couple’s property a photogenic edge.
When it came time for the ceremony, the bride slipped into a dress by Carol Hannah Bridal. “I chose the design because the black-and-white line drawings of the floral skirt spoke to our dreams and aspirations to fill our life with plants, beauty, and the magic of growing on our land,” Alena shares. “I tried the sample dress on and smiled, knowing that when he saw the dress, Andrew would ‘get it.’” The look was completed with a custom Carol Hannah Bridal veil, Chie Mihara shoes, and earrings from the bride’s maternal grandmother.
Not only did the couple write their own vows, but they also incorporated a poem written by their friends into the ceremony. “It was so fun, funny, and spot-on,” the bride shares.
Alena and Andrew tapped Moraine Shop & Studio to create wedding bands that deftly incorporated their mixed histories and new beginnings, two themes that were very important to the couple. The rings are exact opposites of each other: Alena’s is yellow gold on the exterior, white gold on the interior, while Andrew’s offers the reverse. The yellow gold is a “family alloy” created by blending Andrew’s grandfather’s wedding ring with gold from Alena’s family.
The happy couple recessed to “I Feel Beautiful” by Robyn Hitchcock.
“The candle holders were a treat to play with,” the bride gushes. “Knowing that we had such interest in some of the vessels and candle holders, Sarah kept the table setting quite effortless.”
“We share a love of pottery, so it was important to add in a few pieces of personal pottery and a few collected pieces from a local boutique,” the bride adds.
According to the couple, the plant-packed bar was the star of the reception. “Our florist created a truly magical floral installation on the facade of the bar front,” Alena shares. “It was three-dimensional, unique, and a true piece of art. It was the perfect backdrop to dinner.”
When the couple enlisted the husband-wife duo of Sugar2Salt to cater their wedding, they wanted to build a menu that represented the most memorable meals from their courtship. From their favorite salad in Washington, DC to the oeufs en meurette they had in France, each course offered a welcomed trip down memory lane.
“Chef Jonathan took this inspiration and ran with it,” the bride recalls. “Stephanie also did a great job of incorporating her own specialties: Russian sourdough fresh baked bread with nasturtium whipped butter and borscht, which paid tribute to my Russian roots.”
We have the cards everyone gave us, re-read them occasionally, and will do so for years to come.
The couple asked their inner circles to send words to stay married by—or, as the couple puts it, marriage advice—and opened up a few dozen notes during the reception. “Some were funny, some were short, some were very long, and all felt more poignant than most conversations you might have in the midst of a large event,” the bride shares. “We have the cards everyone gave us, re-read them occasionally, and will do so for years to come.”
The couple ditched the traditional wedding cake to pay tribute to their love story’s origin story. Instead, Michigan-based business The Cheese Lady stacked several tiers of cheese, each of which was from a place of special importance to the couple. Highlights included local Idyll Farms Chevre and St. Stephen Four Fat Fowl from the Hudson Valley, where the couple first met.
Even though all of their guests streamed the wedding from home, the couple could feel their families’ love and support throughout the day. “We had parents who couldn’t take health risks in the height of the pandemic, and were fantastic about our choice,” the bride shares. “They appreciated not having to travel and still being able to be present when we married. Their positive attitudes were a huge help.”
Ceremony Venue Cherry Basket Farm & Floral
Planner and Designer Sarah Rhodes Boyce Weddings
Officiant Amazing Day Weddings
Bridal Gown Designer Carol Hannah Bridal
Veil Carol Hannah Bridal
Daytime Dress Reformation
Daytime Shoes Bella Belle
Ceremony Shoes Chie Mihara
Velvet Jacket Vintage Ulla Johnson
Engagement Ring Rebecca Overmann
Wedding Bands Shop Moraine
Floral Design Katie Wachowiak
Invitations Plume Calligraphy
Other Paper Products Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center
Catering Sugar2Salt (S2S)
Cake The Cheese Lady
Rentals Emerson James Rental
Linens La Tavola
Custom Chocolates Patricia’s Chocolate
Photography Kyle John Photo
Livestream Video LoveStream