Shortly after Anna Kostenko joined Eric Guggenheimer’s group at their investment banking firm, the pair began flirting with one another—and the bounds of professionalism. “We worked together for just under a year before we started officially (and secretly!) dating,” Anna says. They managed to keep it under wraps for two and a half years, at which point Eric decided to leave the company and the couple had decided to move in together. “Our secret unraveled soon after Eric left, and our coworkers revealed they’d been suspicious for years," she says.
Four and a half years after their secret romance began, Eric and Anna headed north from Manhattan to Ogunquit, Maine with their shih tzu puppy in tow for Labor Day weekend. “Eric had arranged with a local photographer to be on the beach one night while we took a walk,” says Anna. “He asked me to take a selfie, and the next thing I knew he was proposing as the sun set behind us, with the photographer a hundred yards away capturing the whole thing. It was a complete surprise, and truly magical.”
They love living in the city, but wanted to bring their 140 guests outdoors for their October 15, 2016, wedding. “We wanted to find a property with incredible views, luxe on-site accommodations, and top-notch food and service,” Anna says. “Finding everything we wanted was a challenge!” Thankfully they discovered Cedar Lakes Estate in Port Jervis, New York, and they quickly embraced the venue with a camp wedding. Alex Deagle and Carrie Sartor of Lyndsey Hamilton Events mixed contemporary urban details (think perfectly-appointed lounge furniture) with the warm and natural setting (the reception took place in a barn, natch!) to create a chic-meets-casual camp wedding, photographed by Judy Pak.
Anna found a dress (and even put down a deposit!) but almost immediately wasn’t sure it was the one. “I frantically emailed my consultant at Mark Ingram Atelier, begging her to cancel the order,” she says. “Thankfully it had only been a few hours and the deposit hadn’t been sent to the designer yet, and I was able to get another appointment the next day.” She was still nervous, but decided to order a gown from Mira Zwillinger, and this time she headed home with a smile from ear to ear.
The winning design was a soft and flowing a-line gown with a chiffon skirt and a short sleeve beaded guipure lace bodice. The delicate floral motif and sheer neckline were the sweet spot between refined and relaxed. Strappy silver Jimmy Choo sandals and a classic bouquet of dahlias, ranunculus, and garden roses were the perfect finishing touches.
Eric’s dark gray custom suit was hand-made in Milan. He added a steel blue necktie for a pop of color, and donned a matching kippah for the ceremony.
After playing a role in the proposal, the couple’s puppy, Cooper, was invited to the wedding, of course! He walked down the aisle with the ring bearer, who looked adorable in a navy blue bowtie.
Anna’s bridesmaids wore convertible Jenny Yoo dresses in various tones of purple. “I didn’t want them to match, but also didn’t want to take to much of a risk,” she says. The shades complemented one another beautifully, and the junior bridesmaid fit right in wearing a coordinating floral print.
The centerpiece of the ceremony was the spectacular floral chuppah, set in front of uninterrupted views of the Poconos. Italian ruscus and smilax vine were wrapped around the wooden structure, then topped with blush pink garden roses and hydrangeas.
Instead of exchanging personalized vows, the couple had their rabbi incorporate their words into his ceremony. “We each wrote things for him privately in advance, then he wove our words into his own. Our guests thought they were just part of the ceremony, but we knew that he was sharing what we’d written to one another—it kept our vows a little more private,” Anna says.
“The barn can hold 400 people, so our planners got creative with ways to make the space feel more intimate,” Anna says. Uplighting added warmth, while a lounge area, photo booth, and a long bar helped fill the space. Centerpieces combined hot pink dahlias, garden roses, blush astilbe, and hydrangeas for an elegant mix of pink tones.
The couple served "His and Hers" cocktails at cocktail hour. “We each picked our favorite drinks from the NoMad Bar in our neighborhood,” Anna says. Her drink of choice was the Summer Jamz (aquavit, elderflower liqueur, Zucca, lingonberry jam, and lemon) and Eric’s was the Start Me Up (bourbon, rum, strega, honey, ginger, lemon, and orange bitters).
Anna and Eric’s soft blue wedding cake, finished with touches of gold around the edges, had layers of almond cake with fresh pear filling and Poire William buttercream, as well as classic vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream. Guests were also treated to carrot cake mason jars, buttermilk panna cotta, and a summer camp favorite: S’mores!
The morning after the wedding, Eric and Anna realized they may not have been the best hosts. “Our band, Soulsystem Orchestras, was so incredible and created the most amazing vibe that Eric and I spent the entire night on the dance floor and forgot to make the rounds of our guests,” says Anna. “We don’t regret it though—our time on the dance floor was one of the most memorable parts of our wedding weekend!”