Someone Else’s Wedding: Opus 40
Our drive up to Herkimer a couple weeks ago also allowed us to hit up a couple other Hudson Valley destinations. I was able to explore some long-repressed curiosity about venues I had seen online during my search, but didn’t actually pursue. A call for suggestions of fun things to do in or near Poughkeepsie led us to Opus 40, in Saugerties, NY.
I first came across Opus 40 when searching for sculpture parks in the Hudson Valley. We’re big fans of Storm King, which is comprised of over 100 site-specific or large scale works set in a 500-acre environment, and we were interested in exploring something similar for our wedding (I swear to god that when I was feverishly venue-searching in March, Storm King’s official party line was “no weddings.” That appears to have changed, but we wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway. Also, besides the point). I can’t remember why Opus 40 didn’t make my short list- it’s a pretty rad place. COMPLETELY different from Storm King- it’s less sculpture park, and more A sculpture in a park. As we learned upon arrival, Opus 40 is the name of the 6 1/2 acre environmental piece that is the heart and soul of the grounds. It was built by one dude, Harvey Fite, a sculptor and teacher at Bard, using only traditional quarry tools and dry stack techniques.
Opus 40 has a magical forest feel with a SLIGHTLY sinister edge- there are twisting, maze-like subterranean walkways, mysterious pools, and a giant monolith. A small selection of Fite’s figurative work, as well as a rotating selection of other artists’ sculptures, hangs around the edges of Opus 40, like silent guardians. Away from the main structure and in the same building as admissions lives the Quarry Tools Museum, which is essentially a freaky-ass barn with a million sharp and scary objects. But seriously, this place is amazing, torture tools aside. There’s an energy coursing through the grounds that’s hard to explain.
And yes, you can get married here. Site rental fees range from $750 for a weekday morning ceremony with 75 guests, to $6500 for an evening weekend wedding for 226-300 people. Now, Opus 40 was named for the number of years Fite expected to spend on the work. He died 37 years in, from a fall onto the rocks while working on an open air theatre section of Opus 40. So he’s DARFINIITELY haunting the place, no question- keep that in mind when formulating your guestlist and table plans, because you’ll need an extra seat. You can read all about the wedding guidlines here, but there are a few callouts. First, nothing can be hung, nailed, or staked on the structure for obvious reasons, so no chuppahs, garlands, etc etc. Many of the pictures I’ve seen of other people’s weddings at Opus 40 really embrace the magnitude and grandeur of the sculpture. Second, Opus 40 does NOT really like kids. There was a sign at the admissions desk that all children need to be holding their parents’ hands at all times. Similar story for their wedding policies- lots of required babysitters and extra security. Makes sense- your little hellraisers could pull out a keystone and send the whole thing tumbling down. Then the ghost of Harvey Fite will REALLY get mad.
He might live in this red mirror- that wouldn’t surprise me at all.
So, in closing- if you’re a Tri State area couple with a thing for quarries, monoliths, and epic landscapes, Opus 40 is for you. If you are looking for a clean slate to decorate to your heart’s content, you might want to move on. Either way, it’s very much worth a visit.
**If you want to learn more actual facts-and not just the snippets I remember from my Wikipedia research in the car- about Harvey Fite and Opus 4o, head to their website.