Chelsea Goldman, creative director and founder of CF. Goldman, and Bryan Cowan have always had a soft spot for the outdoors. They shared their first kiss on a New York City park bench, got engaged in a corn maze in Bridgehampton, New York, and decided to marry in a rustic camp-themed celebration just outside the city. The location: Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, New York. "It felt like a destination wedding, but was easy for our guests to get to," Chelsea says of the October 27, 2018, celebration. "The sisters at Cedar Lakes have created this incredible enclave away from the city."
Chelsea and Bryan wanted to contrast the camp setting with something that felt like a polar opposite, settling on a western welcome party (cowboy hats and all) and sequins, disco balls, and a "camp disco" theme for the wedding itself. "The combination was really fun and felt unique to us," the bride says. "We filled our wedding with our style and our sense of humor." The couple worked with planner Amanda Savory to bring their playful vision to life, and Chelsea and her mom embraced the design as yet another creative project to tackle together. "It was so great to have our families involved in the process," she says. "We definitely bonded!"
Keep reading to see more of this fun camp weekend, as photographed by Norman + Blake, below!
Chelsea and her mom admittedly reveled in the details, making sure their guests felt taken care of at every turn. "We picked out every item in the welcome bags, focusing on snacks since everyone would be staying on-site without easy access to a store," she says. They also created a series of notes and gift drops throughout the weekend, including 5 Hour Energy before the main event and chocolate covered Oreos late-night. "We kept the signage and paper items very graphic so it would fit in with our overall theme," Chelsea adds.
The couple loves country music, so Friday night's rehearsal dinner had a western theme that was a stark contrast from the upcoming disco party. "Because both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding would be at the same venue, we wanted to create two distinct looks," says the bride.
The design was inspired by the muted palette in Westworld, so the couple strictly used shades of beige in their decor, hanging tumbleweed from the ceiling and adding modern vases of wheat on each tabletop. But they had fun with the details: "We gave everyone hats and badges with their names on them and hired a bluegrass band," Chelsea says.
Chelsea came away from dress shopping feeling like everything she tried was either "too romantic" or "too sexy"—neither of which fit her vision for her big day. "My mom kept saying I should make my dress myself," Chelsea says. So she did! She spent four months working with her team to create a one-of-a-kind dress and cape featuring sequined fabric and a striking design.
Form and function came together in Chelsea's dress thanks to an off-the-shoulder neckline that featured dramatic bows, a detachable cape, and puff sleeves that she added for the reception. "I wanted the dress to feel like me, but to also be functional," she says. "I've cut or sewn enough of my friends' trains mid-reception to know what does and doesn't work!"
The designer bride added disco-worthy Altuzarra platform shoes and donned an engagement ring and wedding band she had also designed herself.
Bryan wanted a tuxedo as unique as Chelsea's dress and worked with Martin Greenfield Clothiers to design a black-on-black camouflage jacquard dinner jacket. "It was distinct and unique, but he won't look back on it in a few years and feel like it was too much," says Chelsea. Rye Workshop created a bouquet of light-pink long-stem roses, arranged in a modern style inspired by a recent Gucci Resort fashion show.
Chelsea also designed all of her bridesmaids' dresses as well. "Each dress was completely custom and spoke to their personalities," says the bride. They all wore bright silver sequins in a variety of styles and carried pink roses to match the bride's bouquet.
A surprise nor'easter rolled in the day of their camp wedding, so Chelsea and Bryan's planners and florist had to work quickly to transfer their ceremony vision inside the 100-year-old barn. "They created a super-cozy and gorgeous space with white benches, pink roses, and an acrylic chuppah," Chelsea describes. "The barn is completely open, so we had ear muffs, blankets, hand warmers, hot cocoa, and mulled rosé to keep guests warm."
The bride walked down the aisle with both of her parents to meet Bryan at an acrylic altar. There, they exchanged vows in a traditional Jewish ceremony. "During the wedding, my father performed 'Lullabye' by Billy Joel for me, which was very sweet and had everyone in tears," Chelsea adds.
"After the ceremony, we surprised our guests with a drum line to walk them from the ceremony to the reception," Chelsea says. "It was freezing but everyone really got into it! It was such a special memory and really set the tone for the party."
The reception kicked off with an extended cocktail hour: "My family loves a good cocktail hour," says the bride. "We wanted heavy hors d'oeuvres so we could have a quicker dinner service and get right to dancing." There was an Italian station with mozzarella sticks and eggplant parm sliders, a slider station with Reuben sandwiches and curly fries, and passed around comfort food that included gourmet grilled cheese and mini hot dogs. "I am a vegetarian and Bryan is very much not a vegetarian, so we had to have a good balance of both," says Chelsea with a laugh.
"Making such a large space feel intimate and cozy was a challenge," says Chelsea. To soften the barn setting, they hung velvet curtains behind the band and added dozens of disco balls in varying sizes over the dance floor, a shining contrast to the warm wood tones.
Each table was topped with a few low centerpieces to make room for the family-style meal. Each arrangement was composed of soft pink roses layered against lavender linens.
The reception was all about fun. "We had an amazing band, London Sound from Element Music, and added a rapper who was incredible," says Chelsea. The same went for the desserts—sprinkle-covered donuts and a Fudgie the Whale ice cream cake from Carvel!
Late in the evening, guests headed to a bunk in the woods that had been transformed into a cheesy Halloween party. "It was a real rave in the woods, with everyone in animal masks and a DJ keeping the party going," the bride recalls. "Remember, there's no right way to do a wedding. Just make it your own and enjoy the process!"