Real wedding: Anna + Liberty

I’m so jealous that Anna and Lib got to ride the ever-elusive Carousel in DUMBO….we took our wedding photos in many of the same spots down there but that was the ONE that was closed :(

Anna & Liberty
September 19th, 2008
SmackMellon Studios, BROOKLYN, New York

Lib and I had a GREAT time planning our wedding.  For us, getting married was just declaring publicly what we have known for a really long time, that we love each other deeply and are meant to be together.  We are a pretty non-trad couple and we wanted everything about the day to reflect our style.  Every thing we did had meaning and symbolism for us, we made it all count!  We knew we wanted a short, but very meaningful and spiritual ceremony and then…throw a huge, awesome party to celebrate with all the people we love!  We had a very diverse crowd – backgrounds, age ranges, country of origin – so we wanted to make sure we everyone felt included and part of the party, in every aspect.  We chose to use local businesses and artists as much as possible.  The quality of their work and dedication far surpassed anything we’ve ever seen.  We had the best day of our lives and when I think back, all I do is smile, the room was completely full of love – it was amazing!

Ceremony & Reception Site
We had our ceremony and reception at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn (www.smackmellon.org/rent.html) – we loved the venue from the second we saw it.  I really wanted a blank canvas for the wedding so we could set things up exactly as we wanted it to be.  The space is located between the foot of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges in DUMBO and the views are spectacular.  It brings the feeling of old Brooklyn, together with the new – and since Lib and I are both born Brooklynites, and so proud of it, we felt it fit perfectly.

Photography
Karen Mordechai (www.karenmordechai.com) of Brooklyn.  I found Karen through a post on Brooklyn Bride!  I thought her photos were fantastic, so I called her immediately and booked the date.  She met with Liberty and I and we were on our way.  She is talented, calm, sweet and extremely professional.  Karen shoots in more of a photo-journalistic style – and that’s what we wanted – someone who could go with the flow.  She honored all our requests and was genuinely concerned that we be satisfied and happy.  Karen totally surprised us when she told us she obtained permission for us to take pics on the beautiful antique carousel in DUMBO – something Liberty really wanted to do!

Always a Bridesmaid (www.alwaysabridesmaid.us)
Possibilities are endless when you rent a raw space, and so is the list of things you have to do to make it all work out.  Since the venue comes with, well, 4 walls and a bathroom, we were really going to need help coordinating the days leading up the wedding and the day of.  Xochitl and Mayra were the unbelievable!  They went above and beyond what they signed on to do, and the day went off without a hitch (at least none that I know of)!  They have a terrific relationships with their past and current vendors and knew exactly what to do when they were faced with new challenges.  Liberty and I enjoyed every second, they kept everything organized and on track, and were absolutely graceful and amazing and lovely.  Liberty and I don’t know what we would have done without them, and we cannot say enough about them and the amount of joy they brought to our day.

Our Amazing Ceremony
My sister was my maid of honor and Liberty’s nephew was his best man.  My mother walked me down the “isle” to Israel Kamakawiwo’oles’ version of “Wonderful World.”  Our officiate was Ali Berlin (www.aliberlin.com) who we feel blessed to know!  She is an amazing, spiritual woman who is a life coach in San Francisco, CA.  Liberty and I wrote our own vows and asked Ali to incorporate several themes into our service – including having our guests be a part of it.  Ali asked all our guests to join hands and pledge to support us not only on that day, but throughout our marriage.  Our ceremony was about 15 minutes, but every single word was meaningful!  After Ali finished her beautiful ceremony, we recessed to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. There was hardly a dry eye in the house!

Invites, Cards, all things paper (and beyond)
All by Jessica and her staff at Artez’n on Atlantic Ave (www.artezn.com).  We knew the vibe we wanted and Jessica caught on right away.  We wanted to use a photo Liberty took of the Brooklyn Bridge, so she worked her design magic and made it into our “Save the Date” postcard.  The invites, envelopes, place cards, table cards, menus and our thank you notes all keep in the same “Brooklyn LOVE” theme. We got so much positive feedback about them – some of our guests framed them!  Jessica also put together our hotel bags which were Brooklyn themed and contained Brooklyn Soap, Brooklyn Fudge, Brooklyn maps, magnets, postcards…

Music
Our talented friend Scott Bragin of Rhythm of the Night Entertainment (Brooklyn again!) ruled the turntables!  Liberty is a musician and he and I met when I was working in the music business – so this was perhaps the most important part of our reception for us!  Lib had stacks of song lists by the hour and after a few meetings with Scott, we knew it would be flawless.  Our guests were pretty surprised that with a room full of musicians we chose to have a DJ.  For us, it was a no brainer  – we wanted our guests to dance, not play music all night (which is what happens when musicians and instruments are in the same room).  Originally we didn’t want a “first dance” but so many people told us that we needed to get the party started by getting up there first, I’m glad we did!  Lib dedicated, “Feels Like Home” to me and I dedicated “No One” to him.  We played music during our cocktail hour by our musician friends who were in attendance, mixed in with Americana and Lounge and the rest of night covered everything from Funk and Soul to the Stones and Jane’s Addiction. Scott did an amazing job – the dance floor was always FULL – including all the musicians who kept going, “Oh – I love this song! (info@rotnentertainment.com).  We closed the evening with The Beatles, “All You Need Is Love.”  I would not change a single note played.

Food
Steve Carapella, Three Brothers Butchers/Caraleo Catering – We are way into food and Lib has serious Italian roots, so we really wanted everything to be outstanding.  It was.  We worked with Steve who also helped us with rentals of staff, chairs, tables, linens, silverware – lots of planning and sampling (which was fun). They even brought in uplighting for us for the room.  We didn’t want any “typical wedding food.” Our menu was completely custom created from our wishlist and they tweaked everything we wanted so that we could make it work in a space that does not allow open flames and has a limited kitchen.  We added Brooklyn Wine (www.redwhiteandbubbly.com) and Brooklyn Beer (www.brooklynbrewery.com) to our full bar, as well as several ‘non-alcoholic’ customized drinks for our guests – so they would have more than the same old soda and juice options.

Brooklyn Dessert
We didn’t want a traditional wedding cake, so we brought in all of our favorite desserts, gigantic chocolate cream filled cupcakes (they look like the famous ones with the white squiggle on top – only twice the size) from Downtown Atlantic Bakery on Atlantic Avenue (www.downtownatlantic.com), trays of caramel bread pudding from 3 Brothers,  all different flavors of delicious Junior’s Cheesecake (www.juniorscheesecake.com), cannolis, fruit and pastries and…what turned out to be the biggest hit of the night – and a surprise for Lib from me -a Mr Softee truck (www.mistersoftee.com)!  We attached tickets to the back of everyone’s place card that they could turn in to the ice cream man for whatever they would like.  In a matter of seconds, all the guests turned into a bunch of kids running out the door to get to the truck!  It was terrific (and it is a great value)!
Flowers & Decor
We are all about the vintage and antique vibe and I wanted something really special for our centerpieces, so we spent months collecting vintage antique depression glass pitchers and glass sets from flea markets and antique shops – no two were the same.  I printed out tons of pictures of flower arrangements and color schemes and brought them to Joe at Langdon Florist (212 962 4371).  After being endlessly patient with me  (I am clueless about flowers) we decided on arrangements that were antique looking and let the beauty of the glass shine.  Joe filled each pitcher with flowers and the matching glasses were filled with tea lights and placed around the pitchers on each table. I bought tons of vintage amber juice glass sets and amber candleholders and we used them on the tables, window sills – everywhere!   Joe also made a few large arrangements that we used for multiple purposes at venue (on the card table, as a backdrop for the ceremony, then the bar, then the buffet – you make the most of your budget that way) as well as the bouquet for my sis, boutonnières for Liberty and Eric and flowers for our parents.  He went out of his way to make sure everything was perfect.  Joe took our budget and showed us how to get the most out of it.  At the end of the night, whomever had a purple ribbon tied to their chair, took the vintage pitcher and glass set home as their favor.  Also, we set up 2 Polaroid cameras and sign in books for our guests to take pics, and write notes (lots of people snuck extra pics and took them home as mementos).

Remembering
This was a very important part of the day for Lib and I and we wanted to make this happen in a way that was positive and happy.

I asked our photographer Karen for one posed shot – and one only!  When my mom got married, her photographer took a few pics of her getting ready with my Nana in front of her vanity mirror.  My nana passed when I was little, but we were very close.  My mom still has that mirror, so she brought it to our apartment where Karen helped set it up in my bedroom, and we placed a photo of my nana and pop off to the side.  My mom posed in the mirror with me, and I got a new version of her picture.  Karen also took photos of the original Polaroid’s, which was a nice surprise to see when I got my pictures back!  Also, I put my nana’s bedspread and a pretty little pillow she had on our so it’s in the background of all our “getting ready” shots.

During our ceremony, Ali spoke about those whom we wished could be with us, more specifically mentioning Liberty’s brother who passed away very young.  She pointed out that he was there with us through his son Eric, Liberty’s best man.  Ali also thanked my mother on my behalf, for being both my mom and my dad my whole life, and how much that means to me. The photos of nana and pop went on my mom’s table, as well as a few other photos.  My cousin, Father Giles (who is 80!) is a Franciscan priest and he blessed our marriage and said grace prior to dinner, pulling all of our family members and guests together. I searched all over for a vintage locket that could hold multiple pics for a gift my sis (which I found on Etsy).  I filled it with photos of all the generations of strong women in our family who we are descendants of.  I wanted her to know that’s he is one of those strong women and that I love her not only as my sister, but as my best friend. I added my mom’s blue butterfly pin to my bouquet, as well as a locket (Etsy again) with pictures of my family who could not be with there with me, but were all definitely there in spirit!

Beauty & Attire
My hair was done by the talented Paul of PANYC Salon in NYC (www.panyconline.com). I’ve been going to him for about 10 years now and he never lets me down!  Brooklyn make up artist Elizabeth Kamp was amazing!  She not only did my make up, but also did my sister’s and mom’s.  She is the calmest person in the world and she’s a great listener!  Fellow redheads will understand this – she didn’t try to cover my freckles or cake on crazy amounts of makeup!  Both Elizabeth and Paul offer amazing pricing for what they do.  My dress is Jenny Packham, Liberty’s suit is John Varvatos.

Accessories
My earrings were borrowed from my oldest friends, Jennifer Gandia of Greenwich Jewelers NYC (www.greenwichjewelers.com)  I carried a purse that my sis got for me from a vintage shop specifically for this purpose – when I got engaged (5 years ago)!  My sister’s jewelry is by Maleeka on Atlantic Ave (www.maleeka.com).

[images by Karen Mordechai]

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  1. jane

    I have a question about this LOVELY wedding – what was your budget (for photography/venue/ceremony/reception) – not for beauty and dress. i love the way this wedding works – and was just wondering how much it cost – as I have no idea what things cost just yet – just started exploring.

  2. If possible, it was even more awesome in person! It was really a special day for two awesome people and we were so happy to have been a part of it. :-)

  3. Melissa

    Hi Anna!
    Lovely wedding…
    Wondering if you could pass on your makeup artist’s contact info? I am looking for one for our Brooklyn weddding next month and have no clue where to start!
    Cheers- M

  4. Molly & Junior

    We certainly are sorry to have missed a wonderful day in your lives but delighted to have the opportunity to get a taste and flavor of this magical Brooklyn wedding. You took us step by step leading up to and the wonderful day itself, You left nothing to chance and we loved the detail right down to Mr. Softee. You made us part of your day for which we say a great big thank you, Junior & I wish you both every happiness in the years ahead. It is nice to know we share the same wedding date, even if more than forty years seperate us. Much love and God’s blessings on you both,
    Molly & Junior

  5. debbie

    Anna,
    I can’t believe I had to miss this event but thank you for sharing it with us this way. Jeff tried to describe what it was like and he did pretty good. This really gives me great details and images of you and Lib that I can remember for myself. I wish I could have been there but this is the next best thing. The pictures Jeff brought home were interesting but, Anna, you looked stunning. We wish you guys all the best for the future.
    Love,
    Jeff and Debbie

  6. Anna (the bride)

    Thank you for such kind words!
    Jane – I’m happy to discuss the budget with you, just send me a note with your email address and we can discuss off-line, anna.leath@gs.com
    Melissa – Elizabeth Kamp was wonderful! You can contact her via email at: elliekamp@hotmail.com. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them!
    Thanks,
    Anna

  7. Maddy

    What a gorgeous wedding! DUMBO’s probably my favorite part of Brooklyn – I love all the warehouse spaces there.

  8. Melissa

    Thanks Anna! Thank you for the info and of course CONGRATS!!
    xo

  9. Wonderful wedding details and what a view from the venue!

  10. Jessica

    Congrats Anna and Liberty!

    My fiance and I are planning a wedding this year at Smack Mellon and have been trying to figure out the best way to do both the ceremony and reception within the same space. Can you share how you were able to pull it off or perhaps you have photos?

  11. Anna (the bride)

    Hi Jessica,
    As I mentioned above, this is THE biggest reason you need a “day-of-coordinator” at this space. The transition was seamless – the chairs were in two colums facing the “alter” – the tables were off to the sides of the room, along the windows and white wall. Buffets were set up along the front, sides and back of the room, as well as two bars – but they were completely covered during the ceremony. We only had passed sparkling water available during the ceremony. After the ceremony was over and we exited, the food was brought up/uncovered and the passed hors d’ouevers came out immdiately and the bars opened. During this time, the chairs were slid into place at the tables, guests gathered their seating cards and made themselves at home! When we came back in – about 10 minutes later – the music was going and the cocktail hour was in full swing and the dance floor was open. If you’d like more details or photos, please email me and I’d be happy to help. It was the most beautiful space – congats to you!
    anna.leath@gs.com

  12. Rory

    Brides, friends, and family who are looking to shop for their own and/or their friends’ weddings, here is a great idea…Complete your place settings and table top registry while donating to charity!

    God’s Love We Deliver will receive 10% of all Bloomingdale’s Table Top sales on Wednesday March 18th (in the 59th Street store).

    In addition, please stop by and participate in the silent auction by bidding on one of the Wedgewood designer table top displays. Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Wedgewood, Bloomingdale’s will be displaying place settings from: Vera Wang, Jasper Conran, Barbara Barry, Lord Wedgwood, Monique Lhuillier, Tricia Foley, and Charolette Moss.

  13. what an adorable idea to take pictures in a carousel! Too cute! I am going to pass this along to all my indian brides to be!

    shawna
    http://www.maharaniweddings.com

  14. Jessica

    Hi Anna, I just love you wedding pictures and the description of your ceremony and reception – it all sounds so wonderful. I went to visit Smack Mellon today and loved the space. The one question that I had was what the deal was with the wine and beer. We live in Brooklyn and also want to support local vendors, but we also are trying to watch our costs. Were you able to buy the wine from red white and bubbly yourselves and bring it to the location and have the staff serve it or was that something that the caterer organized. We’d like to take our own to Smack Mellon. I’m only just starting out looking for venues so I have no idea how this all works. Any advice would be appreciated. Congratulations and thanks for sharing the pics – like I said, it honestly looks and sounds like it was amazing.

  15. Beautiful wedding. And great planning. Nice work!

  16. jesse

    Its as it should be…

  17. mark

    Lovely event, makes me want to travel back to BKYLN again, love the whole Dumbo area.

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