Planning your wedding to celebrate with your family and friends can be difficult no matter what. Some of the best places to get married across Upstate New York include more than 20 locations, from centuries-old buildings to lakesides by the Adirondacks. But no matter where you choose to tie the knot, some of the most memorable moments of a wedding happen in the aesthetics — the food, attire, decorations, atmosphere, season and even the themes. Everything has to mean something, and if you’re an Upstate New Yorker with strong roots to your hometown, you might be thinking about ways to keep New York a part of your special day, whether you’re getting married on Skaneateles Lake or an island in Hawaii.
In a survey conducted by The Knot, out of more than 15,000 couples who got married in 2021, 60% of couples find it important to incorporate their ethnicity, religion, and/or culture into their celebration.
“You’re just putting together all these details, and to them, it’s the most important day of their life, and you’re involved in that,” said Jontia Grady-Branch, founder of Pretty & Pink Party Planning, on wedding planning in Syracuse. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to try to give them what they want.”
New York designates more than 25 symbols that represent everything from scientific and historical beginnings to quirky staples. If you’re looking for ideas to decorate and excite, here are five ways to tie symbols of New York into your wedding day.
Explore apple flavorings in food or drink
The state fruit isn’t a surprise when you consider one of the best nationally recognized orchards is based in Upstate New York. Whether you’re planning your wedding around peak apple picking season or not, an apple flavor can be mixed into many food pairings at a celebration. Think about apple pies, crumb-cakes, crisps, turnovers, and cobblers. Explore martini or mule recipes to create a signature cocktail for your wedding that incorporates hard cider, especially from local breweries who specialize in it.
Incorporate roses or lilacs into bouquets, centerpieces, or scented gifts
As New York’s state flower and bush, the rose and the lilac can symbolize love and beauty for almost any occasion. These flowers can be used in bouquets, floral arrangements, decorations and so much more. To gather inspiration for your wedding, visit some of Upstate New York’s dozens of botanical gardens, and Rochester’s annual Lilac Festival is sure to be in full bloom. If you don’t want physical arrangements but enjoy their scents, consider offering rose- or lilac-scented gifts as table favors or in goodie-bags for guests.
Take inspiration from the garnet as a jewelry piece or color swatch
The New York state gem is connected to the history of the Barton Mines inside Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks, a ski mountain with the world’s largest mine for abrasive-grade garnet. If its beauty matched your current wedding aesthetic, finding small pieces of jewelry for the bride or bridesmaids to wear would be a subtle way to bedazzle your look. Or if the gem’s red hue inspires you, consider the shade for a bold bridesmaid dress or color to incorporate throughout your other wedding decorations.
Decorate with bay scallops shells or sugar maple leaves, especially for a seasonal wedding
Upstate New York has at least 20 great beaches to visit in the summertime, but the designation of the bay scallop as the state shell represents an homage to the aquatic species native to New York waters. Similarly, New York’s state tree, the sugar maple, makes sense when considering how fall foliage in Upstate New York peaks beautifully with native trees annually. Whether they’re represented as table accents, wall ornaments, or symbols on personalized note cards, adding colorful bay scallop shells or crisp sugar maple leaves can be subtle and perfect for those planning their weddings for the summer or fall.
Add a splash of milk (and its soulmate) for a fun dessert snack
The state beverage pays tribute to milk, and locals might find comfort in remembering how the New York State Fair’s Milk Bar sells cups of regular, chocolate, and even strawberry milk for just 25 cents every year to pay tribute to the state’s dairy farms, whose produce is essential to New York’s economy. Milk may not symbolize wedding romance on its own, but nothing goes better with milk than cookies. In addition to cake or other desserts, consider setting up a cookie bar with shooters of milk on the side. Guests can pick their own cookies and pair them with a small sample of milk (or two) to wash it down. This idea can be customized to include gluten-free, dairy-free, or local-favorite options (like half-moon cookies from specialty bakeries), which not only caters to guests but also allows for interactivity at the celebration.