For Laura Lajiness Kaupke and Kirk Frates Kaupke, it was like at first swipe. The couple first connected on Bumble in 2017 and finally met when they grabbed drinks around Laura’s then-apartment. Naturally, drinks turned into an impromptu dinner—Kirk serendipitously chose Extra Virgin, a West Village haunt Laura loved for years—and the rest was history. A little over three years later, Kirk popped the question during a casual walk in Central Park.
“We live just a block away and meandered down a path that we have many times before. [We had] spread some of my aunt’s ashes on it with my mom and her fiancé, Scott, a few years ago shortly after she passed,” Laura shares. “Clearly, Kirk kept the significance of this spot in mind despite being a routine path for us. I was distracted with Bingham Eugene, my now seven-year-old Chihuahua-mix, at one point. When I turned around, I was completely surprised to see Kirk down on one knee.” Of course, she said yes.
The couple always envisioned an elegant outdoor wedding that didn’t feel stuffy. “Rustic minimalism was the vibe,” the bride shares. “We wanted to feel comfortable and connected with our guests throughout the day and avoid feeling like people were attending a super formal or overly structured event. We just wanted to hang with the people we love.” Laura and Kirk ultimately opted for a destination wedding in Lyons, Colorado—and swapped vows in May 2021 in front of 90 guests.
With small, personal touches—right down to the specially curated party playlist—the day captured the couple’s laidback vibe perfectly. Keep reading for an intimate look at the special day, photographed by Annaleisa Friednash of Meraki Wedding Photo & Film and planned by Dahlia Events & Designs.
The couple centered their day around Lyons Farmette, a private residence that also acts as a farm and educational center. “Farmette is beyond magical and totally captures the aesthetic we dreamed about, from the garden beds to the giant oak tree overlooking the huge lawn to the antique furniture and wooden barn,” the bride shares. “They even have chicken, alpacas, and dwarf goats—so fun!” Upon arrival, guests spotted a blue vintage pick-up truck swathed in flowers, a signature feature of the venue.
The groom looked dapper in a light blue suit from SuitShop, peppered with a white shirt and a green printed tie from Brooks Brothers. Rounding out the look were light brown leather shoes by Paul Smith, a coordinating belt by Hugo Boss, and his signature glasses.
Prior to slipping into her wedding dress, Laura wore a Hill House Home dress and PJ Salvage slippers to get ready.
The dress was exactly what I’d hoped and barely needed alterations.
As a freelance journalist—and Brides contributor—who writes about fashion and weddings for a living, Laura was determined on her hunt to find the perfect wedding dress. As luck would have it, she spotted a strapless floral lace gown from Oscar de la Renta on a site filled with pre-owned wedding dresses.
“I contacted the owner of the dress I was now leaning toward and asked if there was any way we could coordinate a way for me to try it out before buying as she lived [nearby],” the bride shares. “The dress was exactly what I’d hoped [for] and barely needed alterations. Even better, she never wore the dress after changing her mind, so this was brand new apart from being worn by a model once. She originally bought it from a sample sale.”
The bride accessorized her look with Gianvito Rossi heels, a tennis bracelet from Zales, her custom Barbela engagement ring, and a cathedral-length veil she borrowed from her friend.
The couple was able to squeeze in a first look before the ceremony. For Laura, it was important to grab some one-on-one time with her now-husband. “We sort of divided and conquered spending time with our guests as best we could during the reception,” she explains. “But, despite the hours spent with everyone, it still didn’t feel like enough. As a result, we spent a lot of the evening apart in an effort to be good hosts and spend time with each guest.”
The bride’s bouquet of white flowers and greens was decked out with a sentimental touch. “My mom gave me a beautiful heart-shaped locket at lunch after a spa day that she treated us to two days before the wedding,” she shares. “Inside are two black and white photos: one of my grandparents and the other of me and my aunt, all of whom have passed. I decided to pin this to the ribbon on my bouquet, along with a beautiful diamond, sapphire, and turquoise enhancer pendant given to me by one of Kirk’s grandmothers, who sadly could not attend the wedding.”
Having our rescue Chihuahua mix, Bingham Eugene, by our side throughout most of our wedding was definitely our biggest personalization.
“Having our rescue Chihuahua mix, Bingham Eugene, by our side throughout most of our wedding was definitely our biggest personalization,” the bride shares. “During our first look, we took pictures with him, he walked down the aisle with me and my dad, stood at our feet during the ceremony, and cozied up next to me during dinner.”
The couple swapped vows under a wooden arbor, with two asymmetrically hanging sprays and compotes placed on wooden barrels that flanked the aisle. When guests arrived to their seats, they found customized packs of dried flowers to throw during the recessional.
The bride glided down the aisle to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” with her father and dog in tow.
Laura and Kirk’s wedding ceremony was officiated by Scott Gallagher, the mother of the bride’s fiancé. “Since college, he’s been in my life—we call each other ‘bestie,” shares Laura. “And, he’s gotten to know Kirk very well over the years, too. He has a flair for the dramatic, having studied and performed theatre for several years. He’s very entertaining and a powerful projector!”
Before the couple slipped on their custom Barbela wedding rings and shared their first kiss as husband and wife, they recited personal vows. “We planned to keep them [on the] shorter side to avoid a too-long ceremony,” Laura shares. “I knew I would have a hard time getting through them while sobbing.”
Bingham Eugene joined the happy couple as they recessed down the aisle to the tune of Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be.”
To ensure the big day went off without a hitch, the couple enlisted Tracey Eaton from Dahlia Events & Designs as their month-of coordinator. “Tracey helped us out a ton at the beginning to help us understand pricing for our vision and group size, really guiding us through things we weren’t familiar with,” the bride adds. “She assured us that our vision was achievable within the budget we had in mind.”
Mosey over to the reception area and you’ll spot a bunch of personal touches such as a guest book, instant-cameras, and a seating chart that was made by the mother of the bride.
“We opted for loose table greenery and white florals on our wooden harvest tables in simple, clear vases with coordinating bud vases and pillar candles,” the bride says. “Our plates and cutlery were timeless in white and silver with off-white linen folds.”
Each place setting was decked out with bespoke candles from Cuba Candle Company and personalized name cards, courtesy of the mother of the bride. “The cutest part was a lot of the guys started sticking the cards in the pockets of their suit jackets with the flowers poking out à la pocket squares or boutonnieres,” Laura shares. “My mom loved it!”
Local artist Paul Frost sang and played the guitar throughout the arrivals, ceremony, and cocktail hour. “He learned two songs for us as well, the songs for my walk down the aisle and our recessional,“ Laura adds.
Catering service Sugar Pine Catering provided a delicious, farm-to-table style menu, which even incorporated produce grown at the venue. Highlights included appetizers such as mini mushroom-and-squash quesadillas, as well as peppercorn filet-mignon crostini. For dinner, guests chowed down on onion-crusted salmon as well as watercress and vegetable ash-rubbed pork loin, complete with beer-mustard cream and grilled peaches.
“We actually forgot about [the dried flowers from the recessional],” Laura recalls. “Our photographer and planner made a quick, game-time decision to do a reception entrance where we ran past our guests who lined up in two rows and showered us in the petals —Bingham included! It was so fun and resulted in one of the best photos from the day!”
After dinner, guests enjoyed a dessert station packed with mini bites like sticky toffee pudding with a lavender anglaise sauce, flourless chocolate terrine with sea salt and whipped cream, and New York-style cheesecake bites, drizzled with sweetened sour cream and a sour-cherry compote.
As for the wedding cake? “We took the money-saving route on this one and procured a small cake from Whole Foods,” Laura shares. “That berry chantilly cake is good! Our florist adorned it with non-toxic flowers grown at Farmette.”
Overall, we loved how relaxed and comfortable we felt on our wedding day.
“Overall, we loved how relaxed and comfortable we felt on our wedding day,” the bride shares. “I’m super emotional, so I assumed I’d be crying almost non-stop throughout the wedding. But surprisingly, I felt so at ease and just elated through everything.”
Of course, no party is complete without a great soundtrack. Laura and Kirk asked their friend—musician and composer Gareth Hobbs—to create a playlist for dinner and dancing. Suffice to say, he delivered. “Many of our guests and several of the staff members working the wedding commented on how great the vibe was and the flow of everything,” the bride recalls. “The songs were unique and a far cry from the overplayed wedding tunes they hear at every event.”
The happy couple shared a first dance to the tune of Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest.” “Kirk picked this out and the lyrics are so sweet and emotional,” Laura adds.
Laura and her father swayed to “My Girl” by The Temptations, while Amos Lee’s “Sweet Pea” was the backdrop to Kirk’s mother-son dance.
Needed a break from dancing? Guests could enjoy the receptions’ designated s’mores section. “Farmette has a wonderful fire pit, and we wanted to ensure we have lots of fun activities throughout our wedding, especially for the kids,” the bride shares.
While the bride admits to crying in a few moments throughout the day, she said laughter and joy was the main theme of the day. “Those tearful moments aside, I mostly felt so happy and excited to see and talk to everyone,” Laura shares. “Of course, the day flew by as everyone says it will, and each conversation was hardly enough time with each person. But it was so special and meant so much to have nearly our entire families present and really good friends, many from our childhoods, supporting us on such a momentous occasion.”