After becoming engaged during a romantic proposal in Napa Valley, California, Mackenzie Cowles and Alexander Lucken began their wedding-planning journey. Their relationship began as college undergrads while attending Cornell University, and since it’s where they met, the betrothed knew that they wanted to host their nuptials at the sentimental site. 

Through the professional guidance of their wedding planner at Erganic Design, they did just that – and more. “Sojourner [Auguste] went above and beyond to make our dreams become a reality. She made the weekend even better than we ever could have imagined,” describes the bride. 

As guests checked into their hotel rooms, they discovered themed welcome boxes to help make them comfortable and get acquainted with Ithaca. “These boxes included essentials for the weekend and some treats to help people learn about Cornell, such as Tazzy lollipops, founded by one of our wedding guests, a Cornellian!” details Mackenzie. 

The ceremony – held on the gorgeous grounds of the couple’s alma mater – was decorated in a lovely, understated fashion beautifully arranged for the memorable occasion. The monochromatic cream color concept included sprinkles of blue, but mostly, the bride wanted to focus on the elements that Sage Chapel already showcased, including the vibrant stained-glass windows and gilt touches on the altar. Arrangements of vanilla roses, garden roses, hydrangeas, delphiniums, phalaenopsis orchids, and cymbidium orchids were dotted about the sanctuary. 

Bridesmaids wearing champagne-hued long dresses of their choosing preceded the bride down the aisle to the soft sounds of a string quartet. Mackenzie was resplendent, wearing an elegant off-the-shoulder gown featuring a slight flare at the skirt and an eye-catching slit, paired with a custom cathedral veil. Her groom looked dapper donned in a classic black tuxedo complete with a hand-tied bow tie. Mackenzie admits that she will forever cherish her walk down the aisle to meet her beloved. “I remember realizing… we are getting married!” she muses of the exciting fairy tale that had come to fruition. 

“We wanted the color palette to be classic, yet bold and unique […] variations of white and ivory, layered with slate blues and bold tones of black and gold.”

Attendees made their way over to the reception held at a nearby luxury estate surrounded by Taughannock Falls State Park. They were led to an alfresco grass area for an upscale cocktail hour where bartenders offered customized drinks, such as espresso martinis and spicy margaritas, on which to imbibe while they mingled. 

Lounge areas arranged with plush dark-blue couches and chairs, mirrored coffee tables, and modern high tables were made available for guests to get cozy, while taking in the breathtaking setting. They found their seating assignments on an oversized standing chart bedecked in fresh blooms and were also encouraged to grab a glass of Champagne from the greenery wall holding pre-filled flutes before taking their seats. 

The vision for the evening reception was to bring the chic, sophisticated vibe of New York City to Upstate New York. “We wanted the color palette to be classic, yet bold and unique. Our wedding colors included variations of white and ivory, layered with slate blues and bold tones of black and gold,” illustrates the bride. A stunning floral double-arch display in shades of crème brûlée and powder blue was situated at the entrance, serving as an excellent statement piece. 

A sit-down dinner service carefully curated for the summer wedding celebration was enjoyed by guests, as well as slices of the four-tiered chocolate wedding cake. Choices of fare were printed on personalized menu cards sitting atop each bullion charger plate. Tablescapes highlighted a mix of equally impressive tall and short floral centerpieces, collections of candles, and gilt pieces, such as single-stem vases. Eye-catching black chairs with gold framing surrounded tables and made for an impressive final touch. 

An elaborate display of florals was suspended over the dance floor along with thousands of twinkle lights. “We wanted the tent to look unique,” shares Mackenzie, who admits that one of her most memorable moments was the reveal of the space. The pièce de résistance undeniably captured the attention of guests as they danced all night to the live band, granting Mackenzie and Alexander’s wish to “create an environment where everyone had fun and danced the night away.” 

The big day was magical and ended with a glittering sky full of fireworks. As the newlyweds watched on, hearts full of happiness, clasping each other’s hands, they were excited for what their future together held – and for the impending after-party where they planned to celebrate into the wee hours of the morning alongside their nearest and dearest.

This real wedding was originally published in the Summer 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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