North Fork Weddings: Vineyards a great place to say ‘I do’ in the fall

COURTESY PHOTO | A recent wedding at Laurel Lake Vineyards in Laurel.

After high school sweethearts Ken Cereola and Meghan Barnett got engaged, they knew they wanted to wed at a farm-style vineyard, but were seeking a renovated venue big enough to accommodate their 130 guests.

They chose Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue.

“Meghan has been in love with that vineyard since the first time I showed it to her,” the future groom said.

Mr. Cereola knows wineries well. He’s worked for the past 11 years at Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead, where he’s now a sales associate and also serves during tastings. He decided his wedding will be next August, which is just before harvest season.

“The leaves are full, the fruit is ripe and everything is lush and green and looks awesome,” he said.

The majority of couples who wed at North Fork wineries choose either August, September or October for their big days, local vineyard employees say.

“September is typically the most popular month,” events director Valerie Hallock said of her vineyard, Peconic Bay Winery. “There’s fruit hanging from the vines and the vines are at their fullest. September is just beautiful.”

COURTESY PHOTO | The pavillion area at Bedell Cellars, where Coram couple Ken Cereola and Meghan Barnett will wed next August.

Molly O’Connor, event manager at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead, said September and October are typically the first months to be fully booked.

“It’s harvest,” she said. “Everything is literally bursting with fruit and vitality and fertility. It’s just a really lovely time.”

Many ceremonies at Peconic Bay Winery take place in the vineyard hollow, a wide aisle between the vines where the grapes grow.

Some couples who are especially fond of vineyards use the space in between two vines as an aisle to walk down during their ceremonies. Both Bedell Cellars and Laurel Lake Vineyards have hosted such weddings.

Couples who wed at wineries like to take advantage of the scenery.

Receptions at Laurel Lake Vineyards are often held on an outdoor deck overlooking the vineyard, said general manager Juan Sepulveda. An adjacent dance floor has giant windows into the winemaking room, where barrels and fermenting tanks can be seen.

“That’s a very unique experience,” Mr. Sepulveda said.

At more informal weddings there, guests are encouraged to take their shoes off and venture out into the vineyard’s grasses, he said. And guests can often be caught during receptions taking pictures in the barrel room where wine is aging.

Wedding ceremonies at Martha Clara are often held in an area called the “bridal path,” where the full extent of the vineyard’s property — complete with merlot vines, horse paddocks and a peach orchard — can serve as a backdrop to the ceremony. Guests can move inside a rustic barn for the reception.

As for Mr. Cereola, his 2012 wedding will be held on the lawn of Bedell Cellars’ property — weather permitting. He and his wife-to-be will say their vows under a large oak tree in the orchard.

“It’ll be a great set up,” he said.

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