Veil + Vow, Winter/Spring 2020

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Breathtaking beauty. Creative cuisine. Make your wedding a masterpiece! The Clark Art Institute and Constellation Culinary Group are now accepting reservations for private and corporate events. Contact Kelly Turner at 413 458 0403 to plan your special occasion. 225 South Street Williamstown, Massachusetts 01267

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Berkshire County’s 19-th century mansions make for a fairy-tale wedding day A bride descends the staircase at Blantyre in Lenox. Photo provided by Blantyre

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020 By Kimberly Kirchner The 19th century was a formative period for American wedding tradition. Victorian romanticism, filtered through a cut-throat social order and magnified by unprecedented amounts of wealth, inspired a new kind of wedding that was more lavish spectacle than solemn ceremony. Queen Victoria of England, namesake and chief taste-maker of the era, is credited with establishing a handful of enduring customs, including white gowns, wedding cakes and bridal veils. (Read more about the Queen’s influence on weddings on page 18.) The Gilded Age influence on weddings is especially apparent here in the Berkshires, where the era’s grand “cottages” — elaborate mansions built as summer homes for the wealthy — have embraced a new role as ceremony and reception venues. As event spaces, these estates offer a different kind of luxury than their modern counterparts: a fairy-

tale atmosphere rich with dark wood and candlelight. Combining Old-World tradition with drama, flash and plenty of glamour, these magnificent mansions make the perfect backdrop for a wedding that is both grounded in history and sparkling with individual style. If Victorian grandeur is part of your wedding-day fantasy, here are a few things to keep in mind:

These houses have character Unlike many modern event venues, which were built to be as neutral as possible for easy customization, Gilded Age estates come with plenty of their own distinct character. That personality is a large part of what draws couples to the cottages in the first place, and many properties have professional event planners on hand to help shape a wedding that embraces the venue’s charm, rather than trying to cover it up. “Events spaces in more modern venues often follow

a stunning former mill campus at the foot of Mount Greylock in North Adams, MA booking exquisite private and corporate events for 10 to 1,000 happy guests

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A wedding ceremony on the grounds of Ventfort Hall in Lenox. Photo by Berkshire Light Photography, provided by Ventfort Hall

West Mountain Photography Alisha Maria Photography

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020 The Music Room at Blantyre sits ready for the wedding to begin. Photo by dani. fine photography, provided by Blantyre

for pictures,” she says, and she encourages all of her couples to take advantage of the romantic photo opportunity.

They need to be experienced Walk throughs are a major part of choosing the right venue, but they’re especially helpful in the case of labyrinthine old mansions. Complicated floor plans full of nooks and side rooms are hard to capture with pictures alone. Both McDermott and Hajduk stress the importance of an in-person tour to get a true sense of the space. The walk through also gives couples a chance to communicate their needs and wants with the event planners,

who are experts on both the capabilities and limitations of the venue. “At the start of the wedding

planning process, we conduct a detailed property walk through to ensure wedding couples know the spaces that are avail-

able to them,” Hajduk writes. “This also enables us to protect the overall facility and advise what is and is not permitted.”

Let the serenity and pastoral beauty of our 129-acre campus in Williamstown be the backdrop for your special day!

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Want ant a Memorable Wedding? Picture perfect outdoor locations plus the best tried and true party space. Custom Menus, Custom attention to details. We make your special day, uniquely special. Visit for photos and more information. To set up a tour or inquire about dates: email:

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The “kissing chair” at Ventfort Hall is the perfect spot for a romantic couples’ photo. Photo by Stephanie Zollshan/The Berkshire Eagle

The house rules leave plenty of room for personalization

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While any historic venue will have guidelines in place to prevent damage to the property, staff at the Berkshires’ mansions work hard to give couples the most possible freedom in personalizing their event. “We believe the ability to completely customize every detail of every wedding is one of the things that makes Blantyre so desirable for couples,” Hajduk explains. “They can transform the space into whatever they want it to be.” For instance, many of the cottages offer a choice of locations within the property, so couples can pick the spot that best reflects their vision for the wedding. At Blantyre, Hajduk writes, “there are venue op-

tions that are more reflective of a ‘blank canvas,’ such as a tented garden party, and other locations that inherently don’t require extensive décor and accents, such as the Music Room or The Conservatory in the main house.” McDermott notes a shared appreciation for Ventfort Hall’s historic nature among couples who seek out the estate for a wedding location. “Anyone who wants [the venue] understands the oldness and respects the heritage,” she says. While the mansion does have some very basic rules for events — such as no decorations stapled or nailed to the walls — McDermott focuses on plenty of open communication and hands-on attention to bring couples’ dreams to fruition. “I’m up for anything,” she says.

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Creativity — and expert advice — bring the space to life An old-fashioned venue does not necessitate an old-fashioned ceremony. The mansion setting is just one piece of the whole: a foundation for the countless other details that make each wedding unique. “They have marvelous imaginations,� McDermott says, recalling the couples she’s worked with. “I’ve never seen two weddings that were the same.� Thanks to the Berkshires’ bustling wedding industry and high concentration of 19th-century luxury cottages, the county’s bridal vendors have plenty of experience working with these venues. “We are fortunate to collabo-

rate with the finest event designers and florists, and their creativity, style and design aesthetic never ceases to amaze me,� Hadjuk writes. “From up-lighting versus strung lights, to large statement pieces, to art installations on our grounds, they bring the magic of our fairy tale setting to life.� That magic, more than any oversized fireplace or grand staircase, is what makes these historic homes such fitting spaces for a wedding. “There is no shortage of stunning new and contemporary wedding venue options out there,� Hadjuk writes, “but what we offer at Blantyre cannot be created or duplicated. This turns weddings events into transporting experiences that reflect the timeless elegance of a bygone era.�

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We have everything you need for your perfect wedding in the Berkshires.

Weddings with 25 to 250 guests! Contact Laura Gratz to take a tour of our beautiful venue. 413.528.1996

A wedding gown hangs ready in the Manor House at Blantyre. Photo provided by Blantyre

Visit us ~

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The Berkshires’ Gilded Age Cottages An overview of the county’s wedding-ready historic homes Blantyre


Built for: Robert W. Paterson, merchant Year built: 1901 Current use: Resort, spa and restaurant Facilities: Full-service wedding venue features multiple unique indoor and outdoor spaces, and on-site wedding professionals. Address: 16 Blantyre Road, Lenox, Mass. More information: weddings



Built for: Daniel Chester French, sculptor Year built: 1901 Current use: Sculpture and historical museum and gardens Facilities: Outdoor-only venue with cocktail hour access to the studio and porch for guests. Address: 4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, Mass. More information: private-events-rentals


plus two days accommodations and meals (excluding reception dinner) for 150-200 guests. Bookings are limited to 5-6 weddings per year. Address: 430 East St., Lenox, Mass. More information: wedding-receptions

The Kemble Inn


Built for: Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, former U.S. Secretary of Treasury Year built: 1881 Current use: Inn Facilities: Indoor and outdoor spaces available, accommodating up to 175 guests. The Inn also offers full-mansion buyouts for destination events.

Address: 2 Kemble St., Lenox, Mass. More information: celebrate/weddings

The Mount


Built for: Edith Wharton, author Year built: 1901 Current use: Museum and cultural center Facilities: Ceremonies are held in the award-winning gardens. Designated tent site accommodates up to 250 for the reception. Guests also have access to the mansion and thirdfloor exhibits. 1902 Stable is available for rehearsal dinners, after parties and other events.


Built for: Harris Fahnestock, stockbroker Year built: 1910 Current use: Resort and event venue Facilities: Inclusive packages provide banquet hall and breakout rooms,

The Mount, Lenox. Photo by Stephanie Zollshan/The Berkshire Eagle

Creating Wedding Magic in the heart of the berkshires | 413 298-3926

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Address: 2 Plunkett St., Lenox, Mass. More information: weddings-2



Built for: Joseph Choate, attorney Year built: 1884 Current use: Museum and gardens Facilities: Outdoor-only venue with multiple distinct gardens to choose from Address: 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, Mass. More information: naumkeag.

Tanglewood Mansions More information: tanglewood/other-events/book-anevent-at-tanglewood

Highwood Manor House Stockbridge Built for: Samuel Gray Ward, poet Year built: 1845 Current use: Administrative offices and practice rooms for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, open to the public for weekend buffet dinners and Sunday brunch Facilities: Room for 100 including BSO-owned tables and chairs, ready room and bathrooms in Highwood and use of Highwood Lawn Address: 297 West St., Lenox, Mass.



Built for: Kate Sturges Buckingham, heiress and philanthropist, later home to conductor Serge Koussevitzky

Year built: 1912 Current use: Guest lodging for BSO VIPs, and site of the members-only Seranak Supper Club Facilities: Use of the first floor and veranda, with tables and chairs for 100 Address: Richmond Mountain Road, Lenox, Mass.

Thomas Colt House


Built for: Thomas Colt, paper manufacturer Year built: 1865 Current use: Whitney Center for the Arts Facilities: Indoor space rentals available Address: 42 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, Mass. More information: rentals

Ventfort Hall


Built for: Sarah Morgan, sister of J.P. Morgan Year built: 1893 Current use: Home of the Museum of the Gilded Age Facilities: Four rooms including the Great Hall, dining room, library and billiard room, accommodating 100150 guests. Small butler’s pantry/ kitchen is available for caterers. Private guided tours of the mansion may be arranged for guests. Address: 104 Walker St., Lenox, Mass. More information: weddings

You’re invited. Our lovely fireside dining room overlooking the golf course makes Northampton Country Club a beautiful spot for your special day.

13 Main Street, Leeds, MA 413.586.1898 |



Built for: Henry H. Cook, financier and real estate tycoon, as a gift for his daughter, Georgie, and her husband, Spanish Count Carlos de Heredia Year built: 1893 Current use: Hotel, restaurants and wine cellar Facilities: Indoor and outdoor event spaces, with catering by the hotel’s Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant. Full-Palazzo reservations include luxury guest accommodations and exclusive use of the estate. Address: 11 Hawthorne Road, Lenox, Mass. More information: events/#events-weddings

Wyndhurst Mansion


Built for: John Sloane, co-owner of W. & J. Sloane home furnishings firm Year built: 1894 Current use: Houses the Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort, currently under renovation to be relaunched as Miraval Berkshires, an inclusive wellness retreat, and Wyndhurst Manor & Club, a more traditional golf resort. Soft opening of the rebranded facilities is expected in the spring of 2020. Facilities: Mansion features six different event spaces including a ballroom with room for up to 200 guests. Outdoor spaces also available on the estate grounds. Address: 55 Lee Road, Lenox, Mass. More information: wyndhurst.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Celebrating 18 Years!

Your Wedding Planning Services and Resource Headquarters

Specializing in Wedding Day Coordinating Services! is designed for you to scroll through and come back to again and again as you need it in your wedding planning process! Our services are FREE for you to utilize! We’ve been marrying brides since 2003! Check out our resources, blogs, articles, tips, contests, testimonials and events. Browse our vendor list with over 130 local businesses.

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Veil & Vow | The Berkshire Eagle • 13

2020 Berkshire WEDDING EXPO

Meet us at:

The Stationery Factory

Saturday, January 11th Over $12,000 in Giveaways! For details and to REGISTER, log on to

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Plan your special day with Carr Rental -

Digital Photobooth Tents Chiavari Chairs Arches Tables Chafers Folding Chairs


Linens China Serving Dishes Silverware Lights Portable Bar Wishing Well

- Amp & Speakers - Champagne Fountains - Fog Machine - Dance Floor - MUCH MORE!

Lenox North Adams Lee Pittsfield 179 State Rd. 547 North St. 489 Pittsfield Rd. 57 Park St. 413-442-0983 413-243-2541 413-663-6600 413-443-5611

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

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Photo by Metro Creative Connection

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020 By Kimberly Kirchner There are more reasons than the sentimental to walk down the aisle in a loved-one’s gown: it’s more eco-friendly, it bypasses the stressful shopping experience and, with the average price of a new gown on the rise, it could potentially be a way to cut costs. That said, rewearing an heirloom gown usually isn’t as simple as pulling it out of a box and shaking out the wrinkles. Depending on the age of the dress, the materials used and the alterations needed, getting a used dress wedding-ready can be a time-consuming and expensive process. With creativity and the help of skilled professionals, however, it can be a meaningful way to blend personal history with the start of a new life.

Restoration versus redesign Photo by Metro Creative Connection

The first step in reworking a gown is deciding how much

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Veil & Vow | The Berkshire Eagle • 17

Wednesday, January 1, 2020 you’re willing to change. Is it important to keep the original design intact, or do you want to adapt it to your own style? There is no rule for deciding the “appropriate” amount of alteration on an heirloom gown; it comes down to personal preference and what part of the dress holds its sentimental value. When in doubt, discussing the changes with the gown’s previous owner can help everyone feel comfortable with the end result.

Looking at condition Even the deepest emotional attachment can’t reverse the effects of time, so it’s important to get a frank assessment of the gown’s condition before going all-in on restoration. Mild damage, like yellowing, rips and wrinkles, is often reversible, but some fabrics hold up better to repair than others. Especially old or delicate materials may

not survive the cleaning process, or be strong enough to support new stitching. Beads and sequins can also complicate things, as they impact the chemicals that can be used. Simple gowns, however, present their own challenges. Without extra layers or decorative detailing, it becomes harder to hide any imperfections that can’t be removed through cleaning. A restoration specialist will be able to look over the dress and set realistic expectations for how much work it can withstand. There are sophisticated techniques available for salvaging fragile textiles, such as bonding the old fabric with a supportive backing layer, but they require expert hands and can often cost as much as, or even more than, a brand-new gown.

Adapting style If you’re more invested in the idea of a hand-me-down

than the particular style of your inherited gown, you may consider making more substantial alterations to create something that better reflects your own tastes. Simply removing sleeves or shortening the skirt of an old gown can make it feel like a new dress, while retaining its history. Added details, like floral appliqués or a rhinestone belt, bring some flash and can also be used to cover up stains, rips or other issues. The more elaborate the alterations, the higher the chances of something being damaged during the process, so it’s a good idea to seek out an experienced professional to tackle complicated changes.

When it just doesn’t work out Sometimes, it’s simply not possible to make an old gown work for a new bride. The fabric may be compromised, or the fit too far off to be fixed

with alterations. In these cases, you may consider pulling pieces from the heirloom dress to incorporate in your own wedding look. Veils made with fabric from a loved one’s gown are a popular option, as are embellishments like buttons and lace reused as accents on a modern gown. Even something as simple as a ribbon, constructed from the old fabric and wrapped around the bridal bouquet, can be a way to include the spirit of a gown that can’t be worn again. Ultimately, the gown should be a reflection of the person wearing it today, and not just the person who wore it before. For many people, family heritage is a core piece of their identity, and wearing an heirloom gown — in whole or in pieces — is a way to infuse their wedding day with a long history of love.

MEMORIES & CELEBRATIONS an iconic new england tradition

Weddings, rehearsal dinners & elopements A charming historic Inn Indoor & outdoor spaces available

Contact Joanne Haggerty 413.298.1616 or 1604 30 Main Street, Stockbridge, MA 01262

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For an incredible high point in your life

Jiminy Peak offers stunning views, cozy lodging, professional planning, and a 100% renewable energypowered venue – for weddings any time of year. • • • •

Ceremony locations, from summit to base area Receptions locations, from large to intimate 4 seasons of lodging, amenities, and local attractions Food & beverage for all tastes and budgets

Call Jiminy Peak today for details and an estimate. Contact or call 413-738-5500 ext 3010

Victoria’s vows How a 20-year-old monarch, 18 decades and an ocean away, shaped the modern wedding

Queen Victoria on her wedding day, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Royal Collection/Wikimedia Commons

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White dresses Prior to Victoria’s wedding, brides rarely wore white gowns on their wedding day. Most women, especially in the lower classes, simply wore the nicest dress that they already owned. If the bride was wealthy enough to procure a designated wedding dress, more attention was paid to the richness of the fabrics and opulence of the trim than the color.

An engraving from the 1886 book " True Stories of the Reign of Queen Victoria," by Cornelius Brown, depicts the marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840. Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

Edward Acker Photographer


For all the trouble we Americans put into getting out from under Mother England’s thumb, we never quite lost our obsession with royal weddings. In 2018, more than two centuries after the Founding Fathers bid a formal farewell to Great Britain, approximately 29 million Americans tuned in to watch Prince Harry wed Meghan Markle, according to Nielsen ratings data. That’s almost nine percent of the U.S. population. Shockingly, royal weddings used to be an even bigger deal. Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert in 1840 was so influential that, even in a world without Instagram, Pinterest or the E! Network, her choices sparked wedding traditions that still hold strong today.

Enter Victoria, in her white lace gown. Ironically, her decision to wear white had more to do with stimulating commerce than making a social statement. She reportedly picked white for her gown because it best displayed the hand-made Honiton lace, which she wanted to promote in the hopes of boosting Britain’s lace industry. Her practical rationale didn’t stop the press from painting her choice to wear white as romantic symbolism. Just a few years later, the popular American women’s magazine Godey’s Lady Book would rewrite cultural history to give the Queen’s gown a moral significance, claiming that, “custom has decided, from the earliest ages, that white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.” This breathless insistence that “pure” brides wore white, coupled with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and mass production, created both the desire and the means for brides across the social spectrum to choose white gowns for their weddings, turning a single sartorial choice into an enduring tradition.

By Kimberly Kirchner

Time Flies • Get Pictures

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Orange blossoms

Queen Victoria, photographed in 1897 to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee, wearing her bridal veil. Public Domain photo/Wikimedia Commons

Unlike white dresses, orange blossoms were a common ingredient in weddings at the time, thanks to their connotation of chastity. Victoria rocked the traditional boat, however, by using an orange blossom and myrtle headpiece rather than a more typically royal jeweled tiara. In the years following, orange blossoms became so ubiquitous in Victorian weddings that artists began selling wax blooms to keep up with the demand, and society pages reporting on wedding ceremonies would call out real orange blossoms as a sign of luxury and good taste. The orange blossom craze carried through into the 1950s, with British royal brides up to Queen Elizabeth II incorporating the flower into their gowns or bouquets.

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Wedding veils Wedding veils were also around long before Queen Victoria put her stamp on bridal tradition, dating back at least to the ancient Romans. At the time, the veil was a piece of armor, meant to ward off evil spirits as the bride made her way to the wedding. To really scare off those demons, the Romans favored yellow veils that mimicked a flame. The veil also served to help arranged marriages go smoothly, by hiding the bride’s face from the groom so that he couldn’t get a good look at her until it was too late to back out. By the 18th century, veils were no longer common in weddings. Instead, brides decorated their hair with ribbons, jewels and other, more colorful signifiers of wealth. Victoria was largely responsible for bringing veils back into vogue, thanks to her 12-foot-long veil, made from the same lace as her

gown. The Queen reused the veil on multiple occasions, including family christenings and at her Diamond Jubilee. Per her instructions, she was buried with the veil covering her face. The new Victorian veil served two functions. On a symbolic level, it reflected the era’s ideals of purity and modesty. On a social level, it was an easily quantifiable way to flaunt wealth: the longer and fuller the veil, the richer the bride. The use of veils waned a bit during the later part of the 20th century, but has recently picked up again. The Knot, an online wedding planning platform, reported that 76 percent of brides wore a veil in 2018, up from only 47 percent the year before. Maybe it’s coincidence that, in 2018, the Duchess of Sussex appeared on television sets across the country in a 16-foot veil. Or, maybe, royal weddings still have the power to shape the public’s idea of the perfect “I do.”

Share your joy in

Engagements, weddings & anniversaries Publishes every Sunday. Available in two sizes: 2 Cols. (3.56”) x 5” 2 Cols. (3.56”) x 8”

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For more information, call 1-800-245-0254 or email

HOLIDAY INN & SUITES PITTSFIELD MAGIC FOR THE NIGHT, MEMORIES FOR A LIFETIME. The Holiday Inn & Suites Pittsfield offers: ღ Newly renovated wedding venue ღ Dedicated wedding coordinator

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For more information call Caitlin Davis at 413-553-2188 or email at Visit us at:

Already have a venue, but still looking for vendors? The 4 Seasons Wedding Expo & Dream Dress Giveaway is the place to finish all your details for your special day!

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Advertiser Index Berkshire Botanical Garden 10

Hotel on North


Jiminy Peak


Berkshire Travel Group


KJ Nosh


Berkshire Wedding Expo


Leslie James Events







Northampton Country Club 11

Buxton School


Carr Rental


The Clark Art Museum Inside Front Cover

Only In My Dreams Events Inside Back Cover Porches


Crown Jewelers


Red Lion Inn




The Rose and Goat Retreat 8

The Dream Away Lodge


Saint James Place


Edward Acker Photographer 19

The Stationery Factory


Transport The People


Greylock Works


Tux Express



Ventfort Hall



Whiskey City


Hancock Shaker Village Holiday Brook Farm

Holiday Inn & Suites Pittsfield 21

Whitlock & Cooper Events Back Cover

• Professional Showmanship • Over a 1000 songs from multiple genres • Announcement of the wedding party, special dances, toasts and more! • Voted Berkshires Best Band for 8 out of 9 years • Very experienced in helping organize this portion of your special day! We make it easy and worry free

The oldest full service travel agency in Berkshire County. Centrally located in Pittsfield, MA. PHONE - 413-443-9188, FAX - 413-499-7087 ADDRESS - 1450 East St, Suite 6N, Pittsfield MA 01201 OFFICE HOURS - Monday through Friday, 9 AM - 4:30 PM

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Veil & Vow | The Berkshire Eagle • 23

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

EvEnt SpAcES

Weddings, Galas, celebrations, Meetings, Music, Art Shows & More...

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Extraordinary Elegance in Gilded-Age Style

16 Blantyre Road, Lenox, Mass contact Megan or call 413.551.7443

24 • Veil & Vow | The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Say ay I do

in the City of Peace

B ook your wedding at one of the most beautiful historic venues

in the Berkshires. For information, email or call 413.443.0188. Routes 20 & 41 • Pittsfield, MA •

nly in my

Dreams EvEnts Birthdays Weddings Anniversaries Non-Profit Galas Bat/Bar Mitzvahs ... and anything else you can imagine...

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