Intimate Shakespeare Garden Wedding at Vassar College

Courtney and Nate’s Shakespeare Garden wedding at Vassar College was an absolute highlight for us over the last year. It was a new venue for us (we haven’t said that in a while!) because you can only get married here if you are a Vassar College alumni. Talk about an exclusive wedding venue! On top of that, the Shakespeare Garden has extra sentimentality to Courtney and Nate, as it was her mother’s graduating class that had made donations toward the renovation of the garden. They were ready to reap the full rewards of this stunning space, and we can’t wait to share a few of our favorite images from their wedding day!

bride and groom portraits at their wedding at Vassar College

Planning a Wedding at Vassar College

Before we dive in though, we wanted to address something. Couples considering a wedding at Vassar College often overlook hiring a wedding planner because despite the venue only offering weddings for past graduates, it is often fully booked. Once you have secured your wedding date, there is a list of required caterers to choose from. It’s easy to feel like “the hard work” is already done. However, if you care about personalized and unique wedding details, and want to ensure a less stressful wedding planning experience, we would strongly encourage you to hire a wedding planner to bring your vision to life. What wedding planners do for you is a lot more than booking a venue and choosing a caterer (we promise!).

If you feel like our team might be the right fit, you can learn more about working with us here. Already know you want support for your wedding at Vassar College? Fill out our contact form to book a call.

5 piece white wedding invitation suite

Fun fact about these ring boxes: When Nate proposed to Courtney on the beach in Gearhart, OR (Courtney’s happy place), she said “F*** YES!”. This is only the beginning of the personalized details of their wedding day, but was a fantastic way to start!

custom ring boxes hanging sheath wedding dress bride stands in front of fireplace at Vassar College putting veil on bride wedding photos at Vassar College bride holds bouquet closeup of bridal bouquet

Courtney and Nate’s First Look at Vassar College

During their first look, Courtney and Nate’s reactions to one another were priceless. These two have a 15+ year love story. They were both athletes at Vassar College in the early 2000’s and had known of each other but never really had a chance to connect. Nate admits to having a huge crush on her the entire time! Almost 15 years later, they connected at a party and the rest is history. Nate said this: “I learned that patience is a virtue. I’m not sure anyone has 15+ years in mind when waiting for their shot. But given how much I’ve fallen in love, I’d gladly wait another 15 if I had to.” Cue the waterworks!

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Shakespeare Garden Wedding Ceremony at Vassar College

With their wedding ceremony in the Shakespeare Garden and their wedding reception at the Alumnae House, Courtney and Nate had to keep things intimate (the maximum occupancy for weddings at Vassar College is 100 guests). One of the things we loved about working with Courtney and Nate throughout their wedding planning was their desire to be intentional every step of the way. They didn’t want to do anything because “it’s just how it done”.

As Hudson Valley wedding planners who love to design weddings outside a traditional ballroom, they were speaking our language! They also wanted to ditch patriarchal terms like bridesmaids/Maid of Honor, and prioritize hiring female-owned businesses. Throughout the planning, they made sure to be thoughtful about why and how we’re adopting traditional wedding etiquette.

bride and groom walk around Vassar College campus bride looks back at groom during wedding photos Vassar College wedding portraits wedding ceremony in the Shakespeare Garder bride stands with bridesmaids in mismatched dresses groom groomsmen and ringbearer photos

Relaxing Wedding Day Vibes

If you’ve ever thought “I wonder how we can make our wedding day relaxing”, Courtney and Nate are the same. They both wanted to really enjoy their wedding day and wanted the flow of the day to feel relaxed and simple. We were happy to oblige! With a first look and their wedding portraits in the afternoon, the ceremony could happen later in the afternoon and then roll into cocktail hour and their wedding reception without harsh transitions.

Almost more important than how you want your wedding to look, is how you want your wedding to feel. As you scroll through the photos below, you’ll see a couple who was thrilled to get photos out of the way and just enjoy each other’s company for the remainder of the (very fun!) party they had planned.

white placecards charcuterie wedding board meat and cheese tray at wedding simple wedding decor aerial view of cocktail hous groom performs song and dance for bride during wedding at Vassar College groom performs song and dance for bride during wedding at Vassar College groom performs song and dance for bride during wedding at Vassar College bride performs song and dance for groom during wedding at Vassar College first dance during wedding at Vassar College

Designing their Wedding at Vassar College

Early on in the design process, Courtney and Nate agreed they wanted a lighter wedding color palette, as the Alumnae House can be pretty dark. They wanted to brighten the space up with their design. They wanted to include peonies, as they were the first flowers that Nate ever bought Courtney, and like everything else on their wedding day they wanted the design to feel thoughtful and inviting. Every design was intentional and significant to them and their love story.

simple and elegant wedding decor dogs in flower girl baskets blush and burgundy wedding centerpieces small floral wedding centerpieces simple and classy wedding reception blush and burgundy wedding centerpieces black and white table numbers decorating the fireplace at Vassar College bride and groom sit at sweetheart table at wedding at Vassar College bride and groom sit at sweetheart table at wedding at Vassar College bride and groom sit at sweetheart table at wedding at Vassar College three tier wedding cake

A Beautiful Wedding & A Great Time

We always ask couples what their “must haves” are and Courtney and Nate wanted to ensure a rockin’ dance party and a great time. They wanted downtime to enjoy their wedding day, and not feel like they were whisked off from one activity to the next. Courtney and Nate really prioritized their guest’s experience (a growing “trend” we are loving!), and wanted people to walk away feeling happy and excited. The best is yet to come! We were grateful to have played a part in their love story.

3 tier white wedding cake bride and groom cut their wedding cake guests at photo booth

Planning & Design: Elite Wedding and Event Planning. | Venue: Shakespeare Garden at Vassar College & Vassar Alumnae House | Photographer: Forever Photography | Makeup & Hair: Boho Hair Salon & Stacie Ford Beauty | Catering: Main Course Catering. | Ceremony Music: Maura + Co | DJ: A Perfect Blend Entertainment. | Rentals: Events Unlimited Party Rentals. | Florals: Viridescent Floral Design | Transportation: JTR Transportation + ANN Transportation.