Holy crap. Yes, we’re married. I’m a Mrs.
We finally did it. After almost 12 years together, knowing each other for almost 15 and with almost 2 of those years being engaged, we tied the knot/jumped the broom/took the plunge/bought the cow/hooked up the ball & chain/got hitched on Friday, April 3, 2015. And what a beautiful day it was.
Not so much weather wise. It was definitely still a mixture of “March” & early April (April showers & all that) in New York City weather time. And so it was rainy, but not heavy, just an annoying off-and-on drizzle that made NYC look even moodier than usual. It was gray, but it wasn’t even that cold (around 60° F), despite getting snow less than 2 weeks before. I didn’t so much mind the weather, to tell the truth. No one did. I actually quite liked it.
We planned this wedding in roughly 2 1/2 months. A little less. That’s it. Granted; I had already bought my dress a year before and we basically knew exactly what we wanted. But after I was so sick in December & hospitalized for two days, I realized we were stupid to wait any more. I mean, why? Add to that the deaths of the two NYPD police officers on December 20th, combined with the fact that the doctor told us about a patient with what I was close to- a thyroid storm- going into cardiac arrest and being resuscitated, I thought, WE ARE STUPID FOR WAITING. Why the hell didn’t we just do it right after we got engaged? No clue.
But we did it.
And we did it our way. Click on through to read EVERYTHING! And I do mean everything, so be prepared- there are a LOT of pictures here… A LOT. So here goes: my big fat wedding post!
The Planning: We knew we didn’t want the traditional wedding from the start. We had discussed this, as one does when one is in a relationship of over 10 years. Neither of us wanted the white wedding that followed the traditional route; no religious ceremony, no huge catering hall with a cocktail hour and sit down dinner, no big bridal party, etc. I also knew I didn’t want to just elope; I’m an only child and that wouldn’t have been fair to my parents. We also both knew we didn’t just want “nothing.” While we weren’t into the traditional idea of a wedding, we wanted to mark the occasion somehow. So we were both on the same page with wanting an intimate, family-only City Hall-esque affair. And where better to get married than New York City!? It’s just so perfect in every way. The key word: simple. Simple. Simple. No fuss. The less that had to be done, the better.
Basically, it was easy in that regard. What wasn’t easy was the drama that always accompanies weddings… but thankfully ours was minimal (and over quickly!). I did have a lot of ideas swirling around my head beforehand, but the hardest parts were over once I found my dress & then again once we found the venue for the afterparty. Then we just kind of worked around that, as odd as it may seem. Once we finally decided to do this, it was fully planned, paid for and done in less than 10 weeks.
(Marriage license photo by me)
All in all, according to my calculations, we ended up spending (on what was mentioned here but not including the drinks/food at any venue or our hotel) about just a little over $4,000 (if you count the engagement ring value that jumps to over $15,000, but I don’t because engagement rings have nothing to do with actual weddings, and also because mine is inherited and wasn’t purchased). That was actually beyond what I had wanted to spend, but being that we had specific things we just really wanted, it was well worth it. The average wedding costs $28,979. According to my research:
Average Wedding Cost in New York, NY: Couples that live in or travel to New York, NY spend between $28,979 and $48,298 on average for their wedding. However, most couples spend between $10,000 – $19,999.
So that means we came in at either $24,000 or $44,000 less at the top end and between $6,000 and $15,000 less on the lower end. No matter how you slice it, we saved money & did it our way. And we have no regrets! Awesomeness all the way! I’d do it again every week, if I could.
(Disclaimer slash side note: speaking of awesomeness, while I had a lot of ideas myself, I couldn’t have done it or come up with some of the things I did without the help of a few resources: Offbeat Bride, A Practical Wedding, Rock’n’Roll Bride, Rock My Wedding, amazing Etsy vendors, Minted, Pinterest and of course, Google. I swore I’d never be one of “those” brides who reviews “vendors”, because I saw it as the ultimate in self-indulgent “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” behavior, but after seeing all the amazing wedding posts on the websites above, I realized I really just want to share the positive experiences I had with the amazing people who helped make my day awesome. So here you’ll get credits/sources/reviews for every store I used or everything I had or did- almost- because when I was searching for help and ideas, I got so excited when I found something that applied to me… so maybe this will help someone else! I tried to cover everything in depth as much as possible without dragging it on too much or being too sappy. If I fail in doing that, I apologize! Anyway, here goes. Brides in black rule!)
The Summary. Best day ever! Okay, bye. Haha… no seriously. We had our ceremony at the City Hall Marriage Bureau in Manhattan. Both our parents, Jay’s sister & her boyfriend Joe, my maid of honor Sami & her husband Scott and Jay’s best man Richie were in attendance. We got there around 2 p.m. and since it was both Good Friday and the first night of Passover, things were a little dull in there, which worked to our advantage. Yes, there was still a wait of about an hour & a half, maybe two hours. I can’t fully remember because we were taking photos the entire time, or laughing, or talking and having a blast. But all things considered, for a Friday, we were in & out fairly quick, which was great. We then went out to take some photos in the Chambers St. subway, the Supreme Court and Civil Court buildings and the Wedding Garden, and then made our way with just our families and our closest friends who attended the ceremony to the City Hall Restaurant where we stuffed our faces (I had Delmonico steak with a thick, almost butter-like slab of Maytag blue cheese- HELLO), laughed, and toasted to our “new” life as man & wife. The best part was that our two favorite people & our “bests of honor”, Sami & Richie, could make it. It was very, very special. It meant a lot that they were there. It was sweet so many people wanted to see us get married. And celebrate with us, too- but more about that later.
SO MANY PEOPLE have told me or Jay since the wedding how amazing it was. Or how unique it was, or how “us” it was… and said what a blast they had. It made us feel really good, because thats what we wanted. Something memorable for not only us, but our close friends & family. We didn’t want a wedding where in 6 months people won’t remember what they ate or where the venue even was, because it was identical to someone else’s.
Why did we pick Good Friday/Passover? Because it was a Friday, Jay was on vacation, and he & his bandmates were leaving on a European tour the next week. It just worked out. April 3rd won’t always be on those nights every year, so it didn’t matter. And anyway, we aren’t religious in the slightest. We don’t subscribe to any religion, it was just another day for us. There was no anti-Christian, anti-Jewish or anti-religious protest in this, nor intentional “disrespect”… not that it matters. We didn’t pick it for anyone else. We picked it for us.
And ironically, as we sat down to eat in the restaurant, I found out April 3 is also the day F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre got married in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in 1920. I didn’t plan that- but its very cool for me!
The Ceremony. We woke up that day, and then got ready. Together. Sharing one bathroom. That’s just how we roll. I think he actually took more time than I did! It was super laid back, very us. We got ready then we drove in to Manhattan… waited for our families & friends & the photographer, and got married! It was amazingly awesome.
In New York City, getting married at “City Hall” is really getting married at the office of the City Clerk Marriage Bureau, which is a separate building on Worth St. We got married in the West Chapel (there are two; East and West). First, let me just say there is no dress code for this. There were brides in huge white dresses & veils, brides in jeans and brides in suits. No rules. If you want that big white dress but none of the fuss of a big wedding, City Hall can work for you! The only tip I would give is that if you have more than 20-25 people in your party, you might want to consider doing it elsewhere. We had 11 people plus the photographer and it was totally fine; while they don’t put a limit on the number of people you can have there, the waiting areas are packed. It was also a Friday though. I’m sure Monday’s aren’t quite as busy.
When you get there, you sign in at the main desk (you need one witness with you for this, as well as your marriage license and ID cards) and get a number. Similar to the DMV! There are screens all over that show what number they’re up to, so you know how much time you have. When your number comes up, you move to the desk where you fill out the official certificate with the witness(es). After that, you move on to the chapel area, where you wait.
The ceremony was very simple and sweet. No fluff or needless crap. Our officiant (Damaris Acosta) was so cool & to the point! If you’re thinking about possibly getting married at Manhattan City Hall Marriage Bureau, I can’t recommend it enough. No crazy fees, no tipping a religious officiant, no mention of any religion at all, no renting space or getting permits, etc. It was a super smooth process & went by without a hitch. Great people watching, too. It was such a cool experience.
There are original marriage register books on display in both chapels, some of which go back to the early 1900’s, which is very cool. One of them has the book open to Babe Ruth’s wedding, and you can see his signature. On a busy day (i.e. Fridays) you won’t have a lot of time to look at them, since the weddings move pretty swiftly. But if you do it on a slow day (or a snow day, haha) you’ll have time.
And there are a lot of picture opportunities there, it being downtown Manhattan. Even in the building itself- like the famous photo wall of the old City Hall.
Check out those gangstas!
The Brooklyn Bridge isn’t far away, but we didn’t make it there because we were cutting it close with our reservation time at the restaurant and the weather was threatening to rain. It actually was gray and cloudy all day long, which made for cool pictures! The old Supreme Court building & Civil Court buildings are also perfect for photos (they’re the buildings you see in our outdoor photos). And of course, the Wedding Garden! Plus the Chambers Street subway station is actually great for photos too.
I also liked the gift shop at the Marriage Bureau. So cute. Sami & Richie should really have bought those “WITNESS” t-shirts. And yes, we got the magnet my mom is holding in the below photo, which says “I got married in New York City.”
We had gotten our marriage license two weeks before the wedding at the Town of North Hempstead City Hall, which was also a super quick & easy process. Took about 10 minutes total & we were out! The only reason I mention this is because if you get your marriage license in the NYC marriage bureau, you only need one witness, if you get it outside of NYC in Manhasset/North Hempstead like we did, you can have two. We liked that- this way both Sami & Richie were our witnesses. And we give both the Town of North Hempstead & NYC City Clerk Marriage Bureau ★★★★★ for sure.
(Side notes: My gorgeous Matron of Honor, Sami, got her green & gold dress at ModCloth, and my bridesmaid Jen got hers from Francesca’s.)
The Food. The City Hall Restaurant is perfection. I knew right from the start nowhere else would do. Right when we first got engaged and were tossing around ideas this was one of the first places we wanted to look in to. It’s gorgeous, accommodating, and they’re used to having people come in after getting married at City Hall. The vibe is precisely what you want after having your ceremony a few blocks away. Historic, classy yet easy-going, fancy but not too stuffy, and they have delicious food. We walked there from City Hall Marriage Bureau and took photos along the way. The restaurant is beautiful.
The Delmonico steak and caramelized cauliflower were to die for, as was the macaroni & cheese. Unf. And the duck fat potatoes! OHMAHGAH. Loved them. Basically every single dish that we ordered was perfection (and I know this because I sampled most of them). My Matron of Honor Sami was very disappointed they didn’t have the vanilla whipped sweet potatoes, however. I think she’s still in tears over it.
The bar is stunning, as is the area you wait in to be seated.
They were very awesome and accommodating for the photographer and our party size. The wait staff was amazing and bent over backwards for us. And they gave us a great table by the windows! ★★★★★
The Invites. We sent out invites only to avoid going through 65 million text messages and the ensuing questions & mass confusion. I love the invites, anyway. They were just begging for us to use ’em. And they made it feel real to me, writing those out.
And yah- I totes did that crazy lettering by hand on every. Single. Envelope. Around 80 invitations. My thumb was numb for days. But thanks, Micron.
The invites were from Minted, and they were everything we wanted. Vintage, old timey, unique. At first I had wanted more of a total Art Deco Gatsby-vibe invite, but these really caught our eyes (and hearts). We purchased them immediately after finding out that the logistics of our day/night was possible. We didn’t do RSVP’s or anything else; it was just a one-piece postcard invite printed on one side. It was so straightforward and because we weren’t paying per-plate or per-person, we didn’t need to know an exact number beforehand. Most folks did indeed hit us up via text or Facebook or what have you to say they’d received the invitation and whether or not they were coming anyway.
(invitation photos by me)
They’re called A Blessed Union by GeekInk Design & we did minimal changes to them. The wording was fantastic. They actually 100% went with the vibe of the Soho Cigar Bar too, which was great. Supporting independent designers! We also chose the kraft paper envelope option because we loved it. I’d give Minted ★★★★★ for the coolness of their designs alone, but they earned it with the fast proof turnaround and shipping!
The Afterparty. After the ceremony & dinner, we originally wanted to just book two nights at a hotel (we ended up staying at the Jade Hotel in Greenwich Village) to celebrate/have a two-day “minimoon”, or mini- honeymoon, and after doing so decided that it might be fun to include some other special friends in our day. We decided that we’d reserve some tables and some space at SoHo Cigar Bar for later on that night. Our actual first (and second, and third) choices fell through, and we were debating giving up on the idea altogether… but we stopped in there for a second time in February after a concert with Jay’s sister and her boyfriend, and it came up again as an option. The waitress was so sweet and knowledgeable, and excited for us. We had actually first gone there back in June 2013, the night we got engaged, so there’s definitely an agreeable symmetry to us having a wedding afterparty there. Plus, it’s a cool venue. After realizing it would be perfect, and seeing how awesome and accommodating they were to us, we reserved space for 30-40+ people, 8 p.m. to midnight. No open bar, no sit down dinner, no traditional wedding stuff, etc. Like I said, the staff were super accommodating and amazing, especially compared to other places we had inquired at. Some things are just meant to be!
(Photo courtesy of Soho Cigar Bar)
We skipped photography for that part of the evening, preferring a more casual, cocktail party vibe. No photographic evidence. Haha, just kidding, everything was perfectly legal. It’s one of the few places in NYC you can actually smoke inside of legally.
Side note: The food at the cigar bar is pretty snazzy too- bacon wrapped scallops and pink pizza and filet mignon croissant sliders. I’m sorry I didn’t actually get to eat there! I was so busy greeting everyone, saying thank you, etc. I know you wouldn’t associate the two things, smoking and good food, but it’s true. And forget the cocktails- amazing. I know that will rub a lot of folks the wrong way- but oh well. Not your wedding. This place is one of our favorites. Plus, Jay & his friends are very much into cigars, so it was basically his dream come true. I’m a great wife. Add to that the fact that about 6 days after we got married, he left for Europe without me to go on tour for 18 days? Yeah. I’m a fucking great wife. Go ahead, you can say it. But no kids- smoking isn’t cool. And it causes forest fires. /end PSA
Originally, because of the polarizing venue (“eww, there’ll be smoke in the air!?”) and the date (Good Friday & first night of Passover), we thought, “Nobody is gonna be able to come, so we’ll have PLENTY of space! A reservation for 30-40 is plenty!” WRONG. It turned into the event of the year. Almost every single person who received an invite was psyched on it, thought it was the coolest thing ever, and suddenly everyone was going. At one point, we turned out having almost the full 75 people/couples we invited, plus a few friends of my dad’s that came last minute, plus the “bridal party” & our families there! Thankfully the Soho Cigar bar was super nice about it. We did end up having plenty of room, just not everyone could sit at the same time! And we might have taken over the entire place at one point. Oops.
(cigar photos by me)
About two weeks before, we bought a bunch of custom hand-rolled cigars from the their cigar menu and had custom cigar bands printed up for them. We designed them ourselves, and I created them in Adobe Photoshop. Yes, that’s our Indy boy’s face. We kind of did them to go along with the invites, same colors & scheme. We wrote “Liff Cigar Co.” and our names, with “Est. April 3, 2015” at the bottom. They were so cute. We passed them out to the people in attendance who were cigar smokers, as a kind of party favor (these photos were taken by me, sorry for the awful iPhone quality).
Soho Cigar Bar: they get sixty gajillion ★ and many, many thanks from us!
The Mini-Moon. We knew a honeymoon right after the wedding wasn’t happening. For a lot of reasons, mainly like I said: we bought a house not even a year before, Jay was leaving for Europe in 6 days, etc. So we decided to just spend the weekend together in Manhattan. After looking at a few hotels, we happened upon The Jade Hotel. And it was perfection. Seriously. I’m obsessed. The style of this hotel is everything I want in life. I need to move in there. It was so 1920’s slash Curse of the Jade Scorpion slash film noir detective movie. LOVED IT. Every room has an awesome retro Bakelite rotary phone in it, which is so cute. We got the penthouse suite with the huge marble soaking tub and the balcony, and it was lovely. So quiet too. They even had cookies and a bottle of chilled champagne waiting for us in our room when we came back from the party! And the restaurant in the hotel, Grape & Vine, is also to die for. I ate so much that weekend, I thought I’d have to be rolled around the house when we got home. WORTH IT. We stayed two nights, checked out on Easter Sunday, and went home… only to get changed & ready to go out to eat for Easter dinner with my parents. Yeah. Food coma. ★★★★★ for The Jade Hotel.
(Jade Hotel photos by me)
The Dress. My dress was Victoria’s Secret (unfortunately for everyone else, it’s no longer available). It cost me $150, I ordered it online after seeing one photo. Its a black, gauzy, racerback, floor-length, knife-pleated dress that I can (and will!) wear again. Fully lined. Comfortable, sexy and versatile. It came with a belt tie and I added a vintage brooch to it (see below). Talk about ★★★★★!
And I got SO many compliments on it, too! People were totally in love with it.
My jewelry was half vintage/half new. The long necklace with onyx & pearls is from Tiffany’s, part of the Ziegfeld Collection. It was part of my Christmas gifts from Jay.
The rhinestone earrings belonged to my grandmother, same as the brooch that matches (which I wore on my waist, you can see it better in the photos below).
(Jewelry photos by me)
I got inspired pretty much directly from this engagement photo shoot. I saw it and thought; THAT is how I want to look when I get married. No muss, no fuss. Simple. Black. Me. With my own spin. Then this fantastic wedding cemented all of my decisions 100%. Black dress? Check. Fur? Check. Gorgeous couple? Check. Offbeat? Ab-so-fucking-lutely. We live together and have been together 12 years. White wasn’t happening even if I had wanted it to, which honestly, I really did not. Thats just not my jam. Nothing against all of you lovely & beautiful white dress brides. The lace shrug is “vintage” Forever 21 with black shimmery bugle bead trim that I bought second hand. I won’t even tell you how much it was. Haha.
Jay’s suit is Kenneth Cole from Men’s Wearhouse (and so is his shirt, which is Joseph Abboud, and tie which is Calvin Klein). It too will be worn again, because duh. The vest is actually a third piece from a different suit. The tie clip is vintage; it belonged to my great-grandfather, Thomas Rooney.
The Rings. I KNOW I said the engagement ring had nothing to do with the wedding, but I get a lot of comments on it, so I thought I’d discuss it here anyway. My engagement ring is vintage, it belonged to my grandmother. It’s circa late 1930’s/early 1940’s. The closest I’ve found to seeing anything even remotely similar to it has been on Trumpet & Horn and Leigh Jay Nacht‘s websites. So no, you can’t purchase this exact ring, but you might find something close enough. I’m partial to mine *wink* but all vintage rings are awesome and one-of-a-kind! You definitely won’t see the same one twice.
(Photo by me)
My wedding band is a custom milgrain-edge platinum (the jeweler did it himself). Jay’s wedding band is a unique situation- his “real” ring was not going to be ready for the wedding, so the jeweler, Joe, created him a “placeholder” ring in plain domed sterling silver just for that day (more about his real ring in a sec). Both our bands were made at/purchased from Joseph Anthony Jewelers in Manhasset, NY by Joseph himself. He specializes in estate and antique jewelry and I will not let anyone else touch my ring (seen above, in the original box). This ring has so much sentimental value, I don’t really think it’s even enough to explain. Sure, it was my Nana’s. Of course, it’s stunning, yes it has monetary value. But this ring was also stolen from a vault during a jewelry theft & robbery in the 1960’s, and the NYPD found the ring! Yes. It was recovered from a robbery. How often does that happen? And it was one of not many that had been recovered before being melted down or broken apart and sold. It has a LOT of sentimental value.
Anyway, back to Joseph Anthony Jewelers. Joe was also the personal jeweler for the Fortunoff family. Anyone in the area looking for a reputable, trustworthy, talented jeweler, look no further. He not only resized my 70+ year old platinum engagement ring twice, but when the shank split a while back he fixed it so perfectly you’d never know. And my wedding band is exactly what I wanted. I wanted a plain band, old-fashioned looking. I knew that I’m so hands-on and DIY that I needed something I could leave on while rolling out dough, kneading, bread, painting, gardening, etc., and not have to worry about diamonds coming loose or getting clay or cake batter or fertilizer under them.
At the jeweler, I saw a (possibly 3mm wide?) vintage white gold milgrain version of what I wanted in his case, and I almost bought it on the spot, however he offered to create a platinum one for me just like it. Perfect. I appreciated that. He also worked with us on timing, since we only went to order the rings on March 13th, and he had to custom make both of them. Yeah, I know. I told you… we started planning this mid-January. Of 2015. *ahem* Anyway, Joe, too, gets ★★★★★! And definitely not just because he’s the best man’s brother-in-law, too!
Jay’s “real” ring is from WedgewoodRings on Etsy. It’s a hand-wrought Damascus steel ring with an inner piece made from the oak that came from a used Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrel. It’s basically Jay, in ring form. I was super psyched that he found one he loved, but it was sad that it was such a big custom job and we found it so late that he didn’t have it on April 3. But he got it three days later, plus he has a spare cheapo sterling silver custom ring to wear when he goes on tour or whatever. An heir and a spare, haha. Sadly its not in any of the official wedding photos, but I took these when it arrived:
(Photo by me)
It’s amazing in person. The outside has a really cool texture. What better or more unique ring for my bourbon lover? None! Thank you Steve at Wedgewood Rings, for all your patience & your remarkable craftsmanship. ★★★★★
(Photos by me)
The Headpiece. The stunning feather headpiece was handmade in Poland from BlueSkyHorizons, which is also a shop on Etsy (surprise, surprise). It was an alligator clip which I ordered thinking it would be super easy to wear on my short hair. But right now you’re saying, “Wait, where’s the feather headpiece?” Well… *ahem* yeah, that’s right: about 40 days before the wedding, I gave myself a mohawk (and bleached my hair from dark brown to blonde… err, pinkish/lavender, which had since faded. Mostly, you can still see a little tiny bit of blush to it.). Because of that, I only wore the headpiece by using it clipped it to my (vintage) clutch/purse (there’s a shoulder strap hidden in these pictures, you can see below in the pictures from the wedding day). I thought it looked amazing! It took my plain black vintage bag to a whole new level. This whole wedding was so different, why wouldn’t I clip a headpiece to a purse?!
You can see it in the below photo, which is blurry because Janai (the photographer, who I’ll get to in a minute) asked us to have our “first dance,” and we were in motion. But I just love how happy I look in it!
It was so beautiful, though, and I am heartbroken because I lost it getting out of a cab in Soho! I know, I know. It just came off, and I had no idea until later. Very upsetting, but I highly recommend BlueSkyHorizons for headpieces of any kind, including more traditional white bridal ones, if you’re looking. Her pieces are all stunning. ★★★★★
The black satin & rhinestone headband I actually ended up wearing (on my head *wink*) cost me $5 in Ulta Beauty, and I bought it two nights before the wedding on a whim. I’m glad I did because it was perfect for my much-shorter and much blonder hair.
I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on flowers that were out of season (I actually really, really wanted Calla Lillies, and I wanted plum/purple or dark almost black ones at that- no ifs, ands or buts) nor did I really want to go through a florist and buy something that had to be special ordered or that would last a few days tops. I was originally going to do a brooch bouquet or a paper flower bouquet, but when I thought about making more than one plus corsages, etc, I got too lazy to do it myself and couldn’t find ones I really, really wanted anywhere. Then I thought maybe I’d just buy a fresh bouquet at City Hall that day. But then I was browsing Etsy and I saw these and fell in love and thought, “Who wouldn’t want to keep their wedding bouquet perfectly brand new in a vase on their dresser or shadow box forever?” Plus, they’re so dramatic and Daisy Buchanan & so moody, that I was sold on first look.
Plus, here’s the thing; I LOVE flowers. I grow tons of them and my backyard is filled with roses and peonies and every kind of annual or flowering perennial you can imagine. And I love buying fresh cut flowers. But I couldn’t stomach buying that many cut flowers for so much money, only to enjoy them for one day. Again- that’s just me.
I think people were a little thrown by it at first. Fake flowers?? What is she thinking!? Even I knew I was taking a big risk- because of ordering them so late & everything that goes into making them custom (I ordered them February 9th, they arrived March 24th), I didn’t have much time to figure out another option if they weren’t all they were cracked up to be. I had NO backup plan either! None. Other than just going and buying whatever was available fresh, last minute, which would’ve been disappointing. But I’m an adventurer, a rebel. I take chances!
So… I just hoped & crossed my fingers that they’d be just as beautiful and realistic looking as in the photos on Etsy, and they were. They’re stunning. I was happier than I thought I would be! The photos don’t lie. Even my mother & MOH were like, “I can’t believe they aren’t real!” I ordered the plum RealTouch mini-Calla Lillies with black feathers and diamond brooch accent bridal bouquet, one groom’s boutonnière, the maid of honor bouquet (a smaller version of mine, with feathers but sans pearls), one bridesmaid bouquet (a smaller yet version), two “father” boutonnieres, two “mother” wrist corsages and a best man’s boutonniere… all for basically under $220, including the shipping. LilyOfAngeles is amazing and sweet and uber talented at what she does.
Plus, each flower, like real flowers, are unique and different, and they even felt real to the touch. The colors are varied as well, so they don’t have a “uniform” look, and are much more realistic. Depending on the lighting, they looked either very dark or almost a light plum to almost reddish, and that was cool too. Jay was very impressed with them, and that’s saying something because he can be a bit of a PITA, if ya catch my drift. *wink*
And it was so affordable I was able to get all the flowers I wanted- three bouquets and 4 boutonnieres and 2 corsages -and stay within a reasonable budget!
Everyone was shocked that the bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres were not real. Jay’s mom actually wanted to put them in water and keep them in the fridge because she thought they were real! Not to mention the waiter at the restaurant asked if we wanted vases of water to keep them in through dinner. So LilyOfAngeles gets a million ★! Thank you, Lily!
Aww. That’s my gorgeous momma dukes, holding my bouquet. Oh- and keep in mind that there are tons of flower varieties, stem wraps and colors available, and LilyOfAngeles does custom work, as well as center pieces and “toss bouquets”!
(My mom’s dress could be found at David’s Bridal, by the way, but it’s no longer available.)
(Photos by me)
The Charms. Another idea I had seen on Pinterest & fell in love with. The bouquet “memory” charms are also from Etsy, via JrocksJewelry. Above are two (iPhone taken and edited) photos taken after I first attached the charms, a few days pre-wedding. Below are some photos of them during the wedding day/at the wedding by the actual photographer. Basically, I sent JrocksJewelry scanned photos of my grandparents, my great-uncle Pat and Jay’s grandma Dotty and in two hours she e-mailed me a photo of the completed charms! Amazing. And once I physically got them (in just under a week from the order date) they were so beautiful. I couldn’t stop looking at them. Just another way to make sure that they were “there with us” (which I truly believe they were).
I tied them on the bouquet myself with thin black satin ribbon I got at Michael’s; which was really the only thing other than the cigar bands that we DIY’d ourselves, despite a lot of things being handmade, they weren’t handmade by us. I used Fray-Check to seal the ribbons and prevent slippage, both on the bow part near the knot and on the cut ends and it was perfect. No staining, no color-changing, dries clear. The last thing I wanted was to lose any of the charms & this stuff really worked. It also stays pliable and shiny and doesn’t make the ribbon crunchy.
FYI, you could also tie one of these charms to a boutonnière, or hang them off of shoes, plus they come in smaller sizes (mine are the larger 2″ size) and round shapes. Definitely ★★★★★ for JrocksJewelry.
The Shoes. We were VERY into our shoes that day. It took us a long time to both get what we wanted. My shoes are called “Moscato” by Chelsea Crew. I initially had a lot of problems finding the perfect ones. Thankfully I’m stubborn.
The original pair I wanted (“Cheerful Steam Ahead” heel, also by ChelseaCrew) was sold out on ModCloth and I refused to wear anything other than spectators. I then did some research and read reviews of them and everyone said they were uncomfortable, so I was super sad. Sure, I found some other really cute retro-looking shoes; in fact in my immense sorrow, when I couldn’t find anything else, I almost bought these, (and then these, and then these… what was with me & green I don’t know), but thankfully I didn’t. I held out. I had a very specific vision for what I wanted and I would not be swayed. Spectators or bust!
I found these exact shoes on ModCloth a while later, only to get excited for nothing because, again, not in my size. Boo hoo. I wasn’t sad for long, though… I always get what I want *wink* I happily found them at 2 a.m. one night on Shoegasm.com and the shipping was crazy fast! And free! ★★★★★ for both Chelsea Crew & Shoegasm. They were very, very comfortable and sturdy, the best kind of wedding shoes you can imagine. And super cute. They were actually more of a cream color than white, but I liked ’em that way. Like I said, the other shoes I brought were white Doc Martens (but there aren’t any photos of them ’cause I never ended up wearing them since these were so comfy). I won’t review Docs, you all know Docs are awesome.
Jay’s super awesome vintage-y cool subtle two-tone wingtip shoes are called “Tristan” and are by Bar III. It took him forever to find them, too. We ended up ordering these about a week before the wedding. Two-tone wingtips that aren’t too “costume-y” for men are very hard to find.
Basically, if you see these photos and the opening theme to Boardwalk Empire doesn’t play in your head, we’ve failed.
The Pictures. The very talented photographer who took our photos was Janai McNeil from Pixel Perfect Photography. She does a lot of City Hall photography so she was insanely knowledgeable, she was affordable so we stayed within our budget and most important: she understood our vision perfectly. She spent time researching my Pinterest board and spent the entire afternoon and evening (almost) with us. I wasn’t going to go with having professional photos taken, but after seeing so many City Hall wedding photos online, I had to!
And I’m SO GLAD I did. How amazing it is to have these to look back on! And she was super prompt. I ended up getting the first batch of photos not quite a month after the wedding, the rest came after that. We opted to not have them printed, just digital. We will eventually be creating our own wedding album and we’ve been printing our own photos for framing (which is proving to be very difficult- what to choose!?). I love HP photo paper! And our Canon Pixma printer, too.
For this blog post, ALL PHOTOS ARE BY JANAI MCNEIL UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED. Aren’t they awesome!? I just love them. I love that they’re not the usual stuffy, boring wedding photos. We don’t have a lot of those traditional posed shots, which are so boring and overdone (to me- that’s only my opinion of course!). They have so much personality- like us!
And they’re so New York. The architecture, the streets, the subways, the vibes. Everything about them screams “NEW YORK WEDDING!” And I think they scream “us”, too.
I also felt like I was in a time warp at times; some of the photos just made me feel like I was in 1920’s New York and not 2015. Also perfect for us, since I often say I was born 81 years too late and should’ve been a flapper!
Janai was amazing. She was so patient with us. And her eye is fantastic! Like I said, she had checked out my crazy “wedding” Pinterest board and so she knew exactly what my style was and what I wanted in wedding photos. She knew exactly what kind of photos to take, where to go, and what to do. She instructed us and directed us and she wrangled the crazy, loud mess that is our family /friends! She really made everything go smoothly. Not just the photography! But because she knew the deal with getting married at City Hall like the back of her hand, she helped us immensely. I have no idea what we would’ve done without her, haha. Thank you Janai! ★★★★★
The Rest. Jay & I planned/paid for every single part of this ourselves, except for the photographer which was a gift from my father. I was so grateful to have someone to plan a wedding with that was on the same page as me! As far as other credit goes, I couldn’t have done it without my awesome mom, my dad, and my MOH Sami- most especially for her sympathetic texts & listening to me rant. Without them to bounce ideas off of (and help me make those ideas a reality) I’d have been lost. And the support! Oh man. It can be hard to be a “unique” bride making “unique” decisions; even if you don’t think a black dress is terribly unique, other people will think it’s downright insane. So it’s nice to have backup. But also… the internet. What did brides do before it? No idea. Not only did I get ALL of my inspiration on the ‘web, almost every single thing was ordered online; from the flowers and charms to my shoes, from Jay’s ring to my dress & shrug to what my MOH wore (ModCloth) and back to my mother’s shoes (Nina) and of course my accessories/shoes/etc. And naturally, the groom’s gift I gave Jay was ordered on Etsy, and his gift to me was also an online purchase. Our thank you’s will also be ordered from Etsy! Thank cupcakes for the interwebs.
It was so amazingly easy to not have to leave my house and order my shoes, my headpiece or flowers online at 2 a.m. while eating cookies in my pajamas.
I joined Offbeat Tribe because I am such a huge fan of Offbeat Bride (before I was ever even engaged, I loved Offbeat Bride). I didn’t talk much, not really at all. But I absorbed so many amazing ideas. It also gave me a lot of confidence in my choices! And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention A Practical Wedding because they basically guided us through the City Hall marriage process. In terms of inspiration: Rock’n’Roll Bride because, hello, have you SEEN the wedding porn on there!? And Rock My Wedding might be from the UK but I got tons of inspiration from them as well. Wedding Wire helped me find the photographer. Google helped us with so many things, from restaurant ideas to finding invites to hotels. Minted had the coolest invites, speaking of. And Pinterest! Oh man. What would I have done without that? That was a treasure trove of ideas!
I wouldn’t have done ONE thing differently. There is one main thing that I am insanely happy that we did… I am really glad we decided on having a photographer after all, because it so great to have tangible memories from that day. That was definitely money well spent. I know its not a priority for everyone, but for me I just knew that you only get married once (well… hopefully, but either way you only have your first marriage once!), and it was important that I have pictures. Just because you decide on a small, intimate wedding doesn’t mean you can’t have a photographer! Even if its just the two of you, I think its important. For me the day was such a whirlwind there were a lot of things I missed or forgot about, and having it preserved in the pictures is priceless. Plus, when else am I going to be this dressed up with my man, in Manhattan, with a photographer at our disposal?
What did I learn from this experience? Well, some things I knew already, but in short: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DO THE STATUS QUO. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FOLLOW EVERYONE ELSE’S PATH. You do not have to do what your mom did, or his mom did, or their mom’s did. You don’t have to do what your daddy wants. THERE ARE NO RULES. LET YOUR WEDDING SPEAK OUT LOUD ABOUT WHO YOU & YOUR PARTNER ARE. LET YOUR FREAK FLAGS FLY. Don’t let people tell you your ideas or wants are stupid or inappropriate or wrong. Do you, and everything will fall in line. If you want big & traditional (and you can afford it), then do it! If you want small & offbeat, go for it! If you guys feel like you want to elope, just the two of you, well then good for you- do it! You wanna wear purple? Or a bikini? Or no shoes? Awesome. Wanna get married underwater on a scuba diving trip? Sweet. And the same goes for the rings. Want a ruby because you’re anti-diamond? Do it. Want a simple silver band? Great. Want a huge Tiffany sparkler? Awesome sauce. No rings at all? Good for you! You should have and get everything you want. No regrets! The only key here is that you should have what you want. The most important thing is that YOU two love it, and YOU two want it. If other people don’t want to attend your wedding because your dress isn’t the right color or its not at a place they approve of, or its not on a date that they like, then those people really shouldn’t be at your fucking wedding anyway. End of story. Nobody has to “get it” but YOU. And if anyone gives you shit about any of your choices, just send them this article from Offbeat Bride. It covers everything without you having to say a word.
And also, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are people for whom your wedding will never be offbeat enough. Whether it’s “too much” or it’s “so traditional!” to them, they’ll have something to say about it. They’ll say, “Oh, I thought you didn’t want a wedding at all.” Or they’ll say, “Wow I would’ve expected something edgier.” Maybe they want to get married by a Shaman on a volcano wearing authentic Dashiki’s, or maybe their idea of the perfect wedding is one where every guest wears a death metal t-shirt, so to them your wedding seems… blah. Well, in that case, point them in the direction of this article right here. Every wedding is personal and should speak about that couple. Not what other people expect from them.
Traditional things we DID NOT DO OR HAVE: I did not wear white (duh!), we did not have a cake (we did feed each other from a shared slice of cheesecake, however), we did not have a cake topper, there was no garter removal/bouquet tossing business, no first dance (we did have a “first dance” on the steps of the old Supreme Court, it’s one of the above photos that’s slightly blurry), no DJ or band, no father/daughter or mother/son dance, no speeches, no veil, no matching dresses or suits, not many of the traditional posed photographs.
Traditional things WE DID DO OR HAVE: Champagne toast at the restaurant, exchange of wedding bands during ceremony, a photographer, had a best man/MOH/bridesmaid, had a “traditional set” of flowers, picked “a song.”
The best part? Not only that I’m now officially married to my best friend, but that we did it our way. It’s not just a day I’ll never forget, with a dress I’ll never wear again and flowers that will become just a memory, and food I was too busy to eat, and guests I was too busy to really see. It was so much more than that. And I thank everyone who came to celebrate with us- and brought us gifts even though we said you didn’t have to/shouldn’t! And a big thank you to those who couldn’t make it and still sent us gifts!
So that’s all folks.
I’m an old married lady. I think that’s quite enough wedding talk for now. I’ll be back soon with more recipes & fun. If anyone has any questions about anything feel free to ask! Either comment or shoot me an e-mail; I’d love to answer (if I can). For photos you might not have seen here (if you’re still curious!) go to the hashtag #April3bitches on Instagram.