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With proper planning your guests can use their wedding weekend downtime to get creative with a customized gift from the Village Blacksmith in Greenport. (Credit: Lauren Parker)

Beyond the prepping, rehearsals, brunches and the wedding itself, there’s still time to have fun over a wedding weekend. 

Guests are often visiting the North Fork for the first time, so couples want to make their experience extra special. 

What about arranging a special activity for the bridesmaids? Or a male-bonding excursion for the groomsmen? Or maybe something everyone can enjoy together as they get to know each other? 

Here are some ideas for exercising, playing, relaxing and even crafting over the wedding weekend. 

Special Effect Salon and Spa combines tea and other goodies with your wedding weekend spa needs. (Credit: Madison Fender)

Tea time at Special Effects

For the bridal party or other small groups, Special Effects Salon and Spa (455 Main Street, Greenport, 631-477-2265) recently converted its fashion boutique into a full-on tea house (think fancy teas, cucumber sandwiches, scones and jams). The beautiful vintage tea sets were even sourced at local estate and yard sales, adding to the North Fork ambiance.. 

Owner Debbie Schade and her daughter, bridal specialist Victoria Schade, run the business from a restored Victorian home, which features the Tea Salon on one side and Serenity Salon & Spa on the other. Bridal party mani-pedis are offered in the garden the day before the wedding (the spa now offers organic/non-toxic manicures) and brides can also get lash extensions, spray tans, massages and more. 

“I highly recommend a skin treatment with our aesthetician, Debbie, prior to the wedding day, as the makeup application will be flawless,” says Victoria Schade, who is also a makeup artist. On the special day, all wedding party members can get groomed and have their hair styled, relaxing in the tea lounge while they wait their turn. There’s also a lovely backyard garden to enjoy once everyone is primped, relaxed and ready to go. 

Gin from Matchbook Distilling Company. (Credit: David Benthal)

Create your own spirits

Winery tours are most likely already on a wedding guest’s weekend agenda, but you can blow their sipping minds with something unexpected: a create-your-own spirits session. Matchbook Distilling Company (230 Corwin Street, Greenport) offers private tours of its craft distillery plus an intimate gin-making session guests will never forget. 

Owned by the creative hospitality and spirits professionals behind the hip Lin Beach House, Matchbook Distilling is eager to share its passion. On each 60- to 90-minute tour, guests will select herbs from the “botanical wall” (think lavender, cardamom, chamomile), train their noses, then create a custom-blended gin to take home in a stylish apothecary bottle. The distillery labels and dates each bottle by hand, listing the botanicals used, then files away the custom formulas for your next visit. 

Wedding couples can also work with the distillery to create a 200-bottle batch of customized spirits for their event or to give as party favors. And for that wedding after-party? Take the diehards back to The Lin’s bar, Days Like This, which can accommodate up to 55 people. 

Katie Peters of Underground Training in Southold leads a class. (Credit: David Benthal)

Fitness time

Nothing calms the pre-wedding mind and relaxes the body like a good yoga workout, and there are numerous places to do this over the wedding weekend, including North Fork Yoga Shala (430 Main Street, Greenport, 516-443-5626), The Giving Room (56215 Main Road, Southold, 631-765-6670) and Aura Hot Yoga (140 Pike St, Mattituck, 631-304-4735). For vinyasa with a view, however, check out Greenport’s Sound View hotel (58775 Route 48, Greenport, 631-477-1910) which overlooks Long Island Sound and works with yoga instructors from The Giving Room. The hotel’s yoga room can be booked for a private group session as long as it doesn’t interfere with the scheduled programming already taking place on site, according to the hotel.

The door is kept open to let cool breezes in, and the salty Sound air is invigorating. Plus, there’s truly nothing more soothing than hearing the gentle waves crash on the beach’s polished stones during Shavasana, or final resting pose. 

For beachside or vineyard yoga, Jess Kelleher of Om With Jess (617-821 – 4462) offers single or multiple 60- or 90-minute sessions. 

“A bridal party may want to do yoga for a bachelorette party, the night before the wedding, perhaps an early morning ‘relax and refresh’ for the bride to calm her wedding jitters, or even hangover yoga for the next morning!” says Kelleher. She also has access to an incredible property in Cutchogue that is owned by her mother, acclaimed landscape and home designer Conni Cross.

For a gym studio sweat, Underground Training (53345 Main Road Unit 10-1, Southold, 631-463-1603) offers wedding weekend workouts for guys and gals, either solo or in groups. Owner and personal trainer Katie Peters will tailor the workout to the group, adjusting the intensity level as needed. 

“I typically offer a circuit-style workout that offers something for everyone —battle rope drills, TRX exercises, Bosu ball challenges and the oh-so-popular slam ball moves,” says Peters, noting that groups who prefer something less intense can opt for a low-impact, mat-based Body Sculpt class outside, on a deck or in the Feather Hill studio. 

Peconic Water Sports offers plenty to do around a summertime wedding weekend. (Courtesy of Peconic Water Sports)

Get out on the water

Want to try your hand, and balance, with stand-up paddleboarding? Greenport’s One Love Beach (211 Main St, Greenport, 631-333-2064) is there to help, through either a private guided SUP tour or simple board rentals. One Love Beach is already known for its Paddle Tuesday group tours, so they’re well-equipped to take guests out during wedding weekends. 

Tours are 90 minutes, including a 15-minute lesson for beginners, and max out at 18 people. “We have two guides for each group, one in front and one in the back to account for any beginners who might be struggling,” says owner Chris Dowling, who adds that their expert knowledge is invaluable in finding the best spots, depending on the weather. 

Not up for organized tours or want to use the boards more than once? One Love Beach can drop off rental boards for the weekend at the hotel or house where guests are staying. 

Many people who get married on the North Fork are already boating aficionados, so an on-the-water excursion or sports activity is a perfect plan for guests. In warm weather, Greenport’s Peconic Water Sports (631-680-0111) offers a number of activities that fit the bill, from water skiing to Jet Ski tours. A fleet of rental boats, ranging in size from 21 to 23 feet, is available to rent for a half-day, full day or longer. Charter boats can accommodate groups of up to six for fishing trips, with multiple boats for larger groups. Captains Rob and Evan have been fishing local waters for a combined 50 years, so they know the best angling spots for bluefish, porgies, fluke, striped bass and more. Gas, crew and equipment are all included. 

Nicolette’s For the Home is one place to find that last minute gift idea or just to shop for yourself in the days before the wedding. (Courtesy of Nicolette’s for the Home)

Shop ’til you drop

What’s a wedding weekend without a little shopping? For a local excursion, swing by Nicolette’s for the Home (53245 Main Road, Southold, 631-407-5417), which is chock-full of wedding gifts, bridal party gifts, wedding guest favors, and plenty of items for the home.

For the wedding couple, there are romantic, sweet and cute items sure to get a chuckle. Some favorites include matching “Mr. Right” and “Mrs. Always Right” coffee mugs, signs that read “Happy Wife, Happy Life”, pillows that say “Always Kiss Me Goodnight” and “XOXOXO,” hand-lettered “This Is Us” signs,and Happy Cubes, which have inspirational messages on each of the six sides. Custom items also make the perfect gift, like a painting of Long Island on barnwood that says “home,” with the couple’s names and marriage year. 

A North Fork Affair, a division of event production company TK New York, recently launched a craft series that’s perfect for bridal parties. Teaming up with local retailers, florists, wineries, caterers and other businesses, it has held craft session with titles like Rosé and Macramé (creating macramé plant hangers at touchGoods home store in Southold) and Floral Hoops (creating wire “half wreaths” with faux flowers at Nicolette’s for the Home). 

“For Saturday weddings, bridesmaids can gather on Friday to make floral hoops with real flowers that the bride can use for a photo booth backdrop,” says owner and event planner Tracy Kessler. “There’s no limit to the creative events we can come up with. I had a three-day wedding at Bedell and all my friends came in from the city for it, so I understand the need to come up with things for them to do!”

Village Blacksmith Thomas Barry crafts a heart-shaped piece. (Credit: Lauren Parker)

Get creative

For the ultimate local North Fork gift, swing by the historically preserved Village Blacksmith Shop (101 Front Street, Greenport, 631-477-2100) in Greenport. There, master forger Thomas Barry heats horseshoes to a glowing orange in his 2,000-degree forge, then hammers them into hearts on his anvil while you watch. 

The hammered hearts can serve as rustic décor for a barn or vineyard wedding, or as a gift for couples, members of the wedding party or guests (volume pricing is available). They can also be customized with the couple’s names and wedding date. 

“A horseshoe symbolizes luck, and a heart symbolizes love, so a heart forged from a horseshoe symbolizes that you’re ‘lucky in love,’ ” says Barry. “I told that story to a man here and he said, ‘That’s my father-of-the-bride speech right there.’ ”