Why This Bride Didn't Want An Engagement Ring

Photo: Courtesy of Mackler Studios.
When Joe and Caren met working at an NYC financial firm in 2003, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. So, when Caren needed a place to stay during grad school, it seemed like a no-brainer to shack up with Joe — platonically, at first — and his roommate Sean in their three-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side.
“But, after months of eating together every night, spending all of our time together, and seeing each other go on dates with people who were weird, crazy, or boring, we thought we would test it out,” Caren said. “And, that was that!”
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Eventually, the couple moved in together sans Sean. One weekend, after a long trip to Atlanta for the Final Four, they were sitting on their couch eating takeout and just sort of decided it was time. “We were in our mid-thirties and we couldn’t decide if we wanted to get married or just have children,” Caren said. “Joe looked at me and said, ‘What do you think?' And, that’s literally how it happened.”
So, after a five-month engagement — “Nobody really needs a year to plan a wedding,” Caren joked — the couple got married at the Cedar Lakes Estate in upstate New York in a picturesque outdoor ceremony.
Click through to see the beautiful wedding, and find out why Caren went rogue when it came to the engagement ring.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mackler Studios.
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“Joe wanted something classic and loved the idea of black tie in the woods.”

Vera Wang Black tuxedo.
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Invitations and other paper goods: Jennifer's Paper.
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With a short engagement, Caren was forced to gown shop early, and she had a simple, sheath number in mind. And, even though multiple stores turned her away when they heard about the five-month time frame, Madison from Yes To The Dress in Pennsylvania stepped up and created a custom gown for the bride.
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“Going to summer camp as a kid was a life-changer for me. When Joe and I first started dating, I mentioned to him that I loved camp so much and would love to get married there. It was more about having a weekend with all of our family and friends together in one amazing place that I loved the idea of.”

Venue: Cedar Lakes Estate.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mackler Studios.
"We got engaged and planned our wedding in five months,” Caren said. “We fell in love with Cedar Lakes Estate and they only had one more date in 2014, so we just jumped on it. Nobody really needs a year to plan a wedding. We’re pretty organized and knew once we found the right vendors everything would fall into place.”
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“Joe and I looked at a few really great places — everywhere from Panama to the Carolinas to Florida — all up and down the East Coast. Then one day, we thought about renting homes around a lake, and that's how we found Cedar Lakes Estate. The minute we drove up, we both fell in love with it. They grow their own produce in their own garden, and make everything from scratch. Ironically, I went to summer camp 20 minutes north of Cedar Lakes."
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Photo: Courtesy of Mackler Studios.
“I actually didn't want a ring,” Caren said. “There wasn't anything out there that I felt strongly enough to have Joe spend so much money on that would tell me he loved me any more than I already knew that he did. If we spent money on anything, I would rather it be our first home.”
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Caren's 93-year-old grandfather, a WWII veteran, walked her down the aisle with her mom.
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“Meg from That Time Events did all of the decorations for our event. I cried when I saw the chuppah and my bouquet because it was everything I never knew that I wanted.”
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“I love that we had two of our friends officiate — Joe's best friend, Jeremy, and my best friend’s husband, Abram. It was beyond special. It's so hard to find a Rabbi and Priest to marry people, so why not just make your own?"
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Bride's hair: Sylvia’s Hair.
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Bride's makeup: Lauren Wells Makeup.
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“It was kismet that Julian [Mackler] be our photographer,” Caren said. “We wanted somebody unique and special with a quirky quality — somebody who would capture our day and not make us pose it silly ways or have us all jump in the air together.”

Photography and video: Mackler Studios.
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After trying on almost a dozen dresses, Caren let Madison put her in a not-so-simple dress that fit like a glove. “I didn't love the top portion of it, so she went and got a belt from another gown and tied to around my waist," the bride said. "Then, she sent me to Priscilla Costa Bridal to have the belt placed, and practically made my dress out of two!”
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"Both of us really wanted a food truck to provide lunch in a city-meets-the-woods event that also provided top-notch food for our guests," Caren said. “Chef Dave DiBari from The Cookery restaurant in Dobbs Ferry is a childhood friend of Joe's, and The Cookery has a mobile brick oven pizza truck that can be found all around the Hudson Valley."

Food Truck: The Cookery's Dough Nation.
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Take a peek at the video that Julian Mackler from Mackler Studios put together from their engagement shoot and wedding. If you're human, it’ll probably make you cry.

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