From the bride:
When we first started wedding planning, we immediately agreed on two things – that our wedding should feel like a big party, and that it should feel like us. It’s why we spun every wedding tradition into something that felt fun, relaxed and personal. We also knew that we wanted to get married in New York. It’s where most of our family and friends live so it just made sense.
We found 501 Union after taking a tour of the Green Building, their sister venue across the street. The Green Building was lovely, but 501 Union had more of the glamorous, yet fun atmosphere we wanted. The space was perfect for our 120 guests, but can definitely accommodate a lot more.
We chose to do a first look and all of our family photos before the wedding – something I really recommend doing, so that you can enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests. I was hesitant at first, because I didn’t know if I wanted to ruin the surprise of Joe seeing me for the first time coming down the aisle, but I’m actually very glad we did it this way. The day goes by quickly, and this gave us an extra moment together before the madness of the wedding began. And really,if anything, it made us both a lot more relaxed for the ceremony – which can be an intense thing, if you’re not used to being the center of 100+ people’s attention.
We chose not to have a bridal party, because we wanted all of our guests to feel special, and to reduce costs for us and our friends.
Instead of cake, we had donuts from Peter Pan – a shop in Greenpoint we visit way too often, or not often enough depending on how you look at it.
With the help of our awesome officiant, Hope Mirlis, we invented our own unity ceremony – the making of the Manhattan – instead of the traditional mixing of the wines. Despite reservations about mixing a cocktail during your wedding ceremony, this was a huge hit. It felt very personal to us, because we enjoy a cocktails, and it was a refreshing surprise for guests to see something different for a unity ceremony. It also helped lighten up our ceremony and keep it fun.
I have to give a shout out to our caterer, Butcher Bar, from Astoria. Hands down the best BBQ in New York, and they were a fantastic caterer that customized our menu, and really went above and beyond to make our day special.
Our DJ did a great job considering we wanted a lot of different types of music. For our cocktail hour, he played all of our favorite classic rock – music we love, but can’t really dance to. We hence dubbed it “Rocktail Hour.” For dinner he played a mix of our favorite classics from Marvin Gaye, Etta James, Ottis Redding and more. The dance party really got started when he moved through some 70’s disco, 80’s dance hits, and then a smattering of 90’s hip hop and R&B. Did we play Space Jam at our wedding? Yes.
One of my favorite moments from our wedding was when our good friend read a poem she wrote for us. When we first met with her to go through the first draft of the poem, we were both in tears. It never needed another draft. It was already perfect.
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably here because you’re planning your own wedding and want some inspiration and advice. My best advice is to throw all of the wedding “must dos” out the window from day one, and just plan an event that celebrates the two of you and the people you love in any way you want. Don’t feel like you have to do something because you saw it on Pinterest, and don’t feel like you can’t do something because someone else already did it at their wedding. We didn’t have a photo booth. We didn’t have a 6 course meal with monogrammed napkins. We didn’t have a marching band or a design your own mint julep bar. Not that there are anything wrong with those things. Those things are awesome. We just did what we wanted, tried not to compare our wedding to anyone elses, and everyone had an amazing time! Because that’s the thing. Your guests are there to celebrate with you, eat, drink, dance, and be happy. Keep that in mind as you plan.
Speaking of planning, try not to get stuck in decision-making limbo. Planning goes so much more smoothly if you just lock down decisions efficiently and early. If it feels right, lock it down! If it doesn’t, move on. The more things you get in place, the easier it is to envision the day, and the less you have to wonder about as it draws closer and closer. We had a year to plan, and in hindsight, it probably could have taken less time if we were more confident in our decision making.
Also, hire a day-of coordinator. This will make everything so much easier. You don’t want to be looking at the clock on the dance floor, wondering if it’s cake cutting time. That’s what a day-of coordinator is for.
Lastly, and not many people tell you this, but now that we’re on the other side of the planning, it feels really really good! Our wedding was one of the best days of our lives, but now that it’s over, we’re free to start focusing on what’s next. And knowing that we can do that with each other is the best feeling.