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The Nyack Wedding Collective Is Seeking Grant Money To Put The Village & County On Wedding Tourism Map
By Tina Traster
What constitutes tourism?
Nature, museums, historic sites, walkable downtown with shops and restaurants. All the above, and more. Visit Nyack, a nonprofit that’s been working to put Nyack on the map for several years through county-issued tourism grants and public relations efforts, is working with an associated group that has another concept to add to the list of tourism opportunities: weddings.
At a time when millennials and other engaged couples are seeking to have more creative, destination-based events to celebrate their nuptials, Nyack and the county at large has a palette of offerings that are not well known regionally. The important thing is to package collectively.
And that is the idea behind the nascent The Nyack Wedding Collective, which is for now a list of more than 100 vendors in the wedding business, ranging from florists, photographers, venues, and hotels to other ancillary services.
The idea fittingly began in a church. Let us explain.
Nyacker Susan Wilmink, florist Kris Burns, photographer Kellie Walsh, and Leslie Solan were putting their heads together one day to discuss saving a local church that has a dwindling congregation. In an effort to save one of the church’s missions to feed the hungry, it occurred to them that the building could be a venue for weddings, which would help supplement operating costs.
But one thing led to another that no longer was about the church. Instead, the foursome began to brainstorm over Nyack as a wedding destination.
“To market Nyack is to float a lot of other boats,” said Wilmink, who is heading up The Nyack Wedding Collective. “Nyack itself, like so many businesses and nonprofits, was hard-hit by the pandemic, specially event and wedding spaces. We see the wedding industry as an economic opportunity. A new way for Nyack and the county to think about tourism.”
More than a year ago, The Wedding Collective team got busy and began interviewing couples to find out what they were looking for.
“When you search for Nyack as a wedding destination in the Hudson Valley online, it doesn’t show up. We were hoping to band together to create a presence, a brand. The Collective has applied to Rockland County for an $8,000 grant to promote “Marry Me in Rockland”. Other Hudson Valley counties, including Ulster and Sullivan, have developed a robust presence in the wedding market.
The Collective says it’s necessary to get the word out. They’re looking for exposure on high-profile sites like The Knot and Here Comes The Guide. The Nyack Wedding Collective is located on Visit Nyack’s site, and while it is mostly Nyack-centric, the list includes vendors that cater to the wedding industry countywide.
Outdoor venues are particularly sought after in the post-pandemic world.
“We’ve got Marydell Center, the Hopper House garden, the Cropsey Farm (Rockland Farm Alliance,)” said Wilmink, pointing out that Nyack and Rockland have settings designed to incorporate art and nature. Which is not to say that traditional hotels and catering halls are not part of the gestalt of wedding tourism.
To help get word out, The Collective since last February has held three meet-and-greets for industry vendors, and is planning a fourth in January. Wilmink understands packaging Rockland as a wedding destination truly does demand a collaborative effort. A good example, she cites, is the small city of Beacon, New York, which has built up a wedding industry around the Round House. Many wedding-supportive businesses have popped up along the Main Street, as the city has become a wedding destination.
“The wedding industry touches so many businesses: hotels, restaurants, florists, jewelers, breweries, local musicians, and nonprofits,” said Wilmink. “It’s the coordination of these services that’s important. So we’ve started the conversation and we’re brainstorming because we believe the county has great infrastructure to support the wedding industry.”