A Greek and a Jewish wedding? Can it get much better than that?! Well in the case of this beauty, it does. Not only do we get the best of both cultures and traditions, it is literally oozing, hell, I’d even say *overflowing*, in style and creativity.
First off, Crystall and Ryan are one seriously hot couple. I’m talking hot with a capital ‘H’ guys, and I just know you’ll agree once you clap eyes on all the imagery below. Then there’s the fusion of the best Jewish and Greek traditions, plus the theme of music running through all the festivities, and on a fashion note, our lovely bride, Crystall wore not one but TWO fabulous dresses: a spectacular customised Oscar de la Renta for the ceremony, and a breathtaking Jenny Packham for the reception. I know – I must admit to being a teeny weeny bit green-eyed over this fact.
The backbone of Crystall and Ryan’s W-day is a certain symbolic willow tree in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden that was central in the early days of their relationship. The same tree went on to survive merciless Hurricane Sandy and the couple decided that this tree would form the framework of their chuppah.
I won’t delay you any further; let’s hear about this beautifully intertwined Jewish / Greek wedding day in the bride’s words. She infuses lots of lovely detail – you’ll feel as if you were right there at her wedding.
Crystall, the Bride: The summer that Ryan and I met, we spent a perfect afternoon wandering the grounds of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was the same day that Ryan moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, closer to where I was. We celebrated sitting under a large weeping willow tree, holding hands and completely in love. We had no way of knowing then that just 3 years later, we would be saying “I do” in that very spot in front of that same tree.
Very soon after getting engaged, we chose to marry in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a place that means so much to us. We wanted our guests to experience the sweeping 52-acre garden in an intimate way and truly be a part of the journey that led us full circle right back to that weeping willow tree.
INTEGRATING OUR CHOSEN THEME OF MUSIC
Music is what brought Ryan and I together. It is an integral part of the story of how we met and is a big part of our lives. Ryan is also an incredibly talented musician, so we tried to infuse that love and lifestyle in the details of our wedding.
A white guitar replaced our guestbook and was placed next to a bowl of custom messaged white guitar picks, a little gift from us to our friends and family. We also gave out traditional Greek favours (‘koufeta’ or sugar almonds) in a chocolate champagne flavour. They were enclosed in small glassine bags with a sticker closure asking guests to “Take Me home Tonight”, a nod to a song that Ryan and I both love.
Ryan and his groomsmen wore gold guitar pick cufflinks. Our chargers were old record albums we had spray-painted gold. The round menus that sat inside each plate were printed with one of our favourite music quotes with the menu on the opposite side. Attached to our place cards were small pin-back buttons with lyrics from our first dance song and the song I had walked down the aisle to earlier that day. And our cute little flower girls carried flowers in tambourines tied with flowing white ribbon.
CUSTOM LETTERPRESS INVITATIONS
Ryan and I worked with one of his best friends and groomsman Ali (a graphic designer) to make custom letterpress save the dates and invites , he even ran each paper through the letterpress which made it even more special and personal.
The phenomenal designer Sam of Samuelle Couture redesigned the bodice of my Oscar de la Renta dress. She layered delicate tulle and hand-sewn appliques to a bodice she completely rebuilt to fit me perfectly. The final result of her handiwork was a dress more beautiful than anything I could have ever imagined. And since it had been customised, it was also something unique to me that no one else will ever have.
Since the ceremony was being held on grass I wanted something with a thicker heel to avoid any incidents! I found beautiful Christian Dior runway shoes that were meant to resemble a ballerina shoe, they were dusty pink suede and 6 inches including the stack heel and platform!
HAIR & MAKE-UP
I decided to wear my hair down with a romantic wave. We used neutral shades throughout the entire makeup look to keep it simple. I wanted to look as much like me as possible, just glammed up a bit. My makeup artist Chrissy, owner of House of Makeup was wonderful she stayed with me until the end of the night touching me up all day and even changed my hair and makeup to an up-do with more dramatic eyes after I changed into my second dress of the evening.
THE GORGEOUS GROOM
Ryan looked so handsome in a deep navy blue Hugo Boss tuxedo and white shirt with black bow tie and, black and gold braces.
A VERY MEANINGFUL CHUPPAH
The tree we stood beneath for our ceremony was a beautiful symbol for us of everything we value in our own relationship. The tree had recently withstood Hurricane Sandy and though some of the branches and leaves were destroyed in the storm, it remains strong and rooted in the ground. We chose to create a symbolic chuppah by gently draping this tree with 100ft of white fabric, in homage paid to Ryan’s Jewish faith. To us, this was the perfect representation of our wish for our future together: strong, grounded and able to take on any storm that comes our way.
Ryan and I both maintain extremely close family ties. It was important to both of us that our families be involved in our wedding process every step of the way. Ryan and I truly looked at our nuptials as a joining of our families and treated it as such. As a true symbol of that sentiment, Ryan chose my brother as his best man and I chose his sister as my maid of honour.
A GREEK / JEWISH CEREMONY
We also added the crowning or ‘stefana’ ceremony to our wedding, a very important Greek tradition. The stefana ceremony is where the best man places gold crowns atop the bride and groom’s heads, connected by a single white ribbon to represent the union. After my brother placed the crowns on us, we were led around in 3 circles that represented our past, present and future (a modification we made) followed by the best man and the maid of honour, our siblings.
Our families stood up beside us at the altar, which is something customary in both Jewish and Greek cultures. Feeling the happy and supportive energy of both families standing up there with us put us instantly at ease, we’ve never felt so connected as we did in that moment when we all became a family. I know some couples feel that nothing changes after a wedding, but for us, in that moment, it did.
IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY
It was truly thanks to them that we were able to have the wedding of our dreams. They were a source of endless love and support throughout the entire wedding process, accepting us for who we are as people and what we mean to each other. They allowed us to create a day that was special to us as a couple. Combining different religions and cultures can be a difficult task, but with their help we were able to utilise and combine only the cultural and religious traditions that were meaningful to us. And it wasn’t just the big things, either. Every little moment was important for them too – right down to my mum helping me put my dress on!
I had five bridesmaids and they each wore a different style and colour gown by designer Adrianna Papell . The gowns all followed a neutral colour scheme and were covered in delicate beading. These are some of the most important women in my life and I wanted them to feel beautiful and glamorous at my wedding, I wanted them to be the best dressed guests there!
ACOUSTIC VERSIONS OF CLASSIC ROCK SONGS
We had a musician, Jason Liebman, serenade our guests at the ceremony with acoustic versions of classic rock songs . As I made my way up the aisle with my father, he sang “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” – the song Ryan’s parents first danced to at their own wedding. Jason later played some more modern rock tunes as everyone enjoyed dinner. We danced our first dance to an acoustic version of Smashing Pumpkins “Tonight, Tonight” performed by a close friend. And of course, Ryan took the stage to serenade me with a song he had written for me that morning!
Garlands of greenery were prevalent throughout; they were draped behind the ceremony chairs, they decorated the outdoor bar and hung over our escort boards. They also ran the length of the long banquet tables in our glass-panelled reception room, winding around white pillar candles of different heights and pocketed with large white peony blooms.
The organic decor was a perfect blend to the hall set within the gardens that was reminiscent of a greenhouse. To pull together the natural garden feel, a massive hanging chandelier made entirely of greens and bursts of white florals hung over the centre of the room. It was a beautiful and elaborate centre point whose height allowed it to be visually stunning while not distracting from the action below.
COLOURS: LIVELY GARDEN GREENS AND SIMPLE BRIDAL WHITES
Our vision for the decor was clean and simple, a nod to the lush garden that surrounded us. There was no need to over decorate and distract from the beauty of the gardens themselves. The concept was to use lively garden greens and simple bridal whites, arranged so to look as if they had been picked just that moment and put into a vase. We chose different patterned and sized cut glass vases throughout to emphasise that idea of freshly cut florals. We wanted to see the stems to truly emphasise that natural and organic feel.
OUR FABULOUS PHOTOGRAPHER
After securing our venue, our photographer Brooke of Brookelyn Photography was the very next vendor we booked. I had seen a wedding she shot at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where it had rained, and I remember thinking that the photos were so beautiful and inspiring that it could actually make you WANT a rainy wedding! After looking at more of her work Ryan and I were convinced, we felt a connection with her photos that we didn’t feel with any others we looked at. She has such a passion for what she does and it real comes across in her work, not to mention she is so sweet and just a pleasure to be around.
A TRADITIONAL WEDDING CAKE WITH FLORAL TOUCHES
The delicious cake was made by Ana Parzych Cakes. It was white Tahitian vanilla cake with raspberry preserves and chocolate mousseline layers covered in white fondant with fondant flowers and vines decorating the entire cake. We wanted a very traditional white wedding cake that still had some floral elements. Our cake topper was two gold dinosaur figurines that I had bought Ryan (loves dinosaurs) when we first moved in together to make him feel more at home. Our overall catering was by the incredible Charles, Sally & Charles.
MORE MUSIC AND AN AWESOME PARTY DJ
Jason Liebman sang and played guitar for our ceremony, and while our guests ate dinner. We then switched to a DJ Gaza of 74 Events for the dancing portion of the evening, we required such a range of music (traditional Greek music, Jewish music, rock, hip-hop, etc.) that a DJ seemed to be the perfect fit for us.
OUR WONDERFUL VENDORS
The one thing that made all the difference in the success of our wedding day was our amazing vendors. They were truly the glue that held everything together. We were so blessed to have worked with such amazing people that truly love and have a passion for what they do. We were lucky enough to have a florist, Flowers By Emil, who was willing to pull together a floral chandelier in the 11th hour. It is rare that a photo or even video captures the genuine beauty and emotion of a moment. Our photographer, Brookelyn Photography, and videographer, NY Filmworks, were true artists, giving us perfect memories of our day.
MY AMAZING WEDDING PLANNER
Our wedding planner, Christine of Exquisite Affairs Productions, was nothing short of superwoman. She made sure every detail was taken care of before, during and even after the wedding. Her expert planning allowed me to have such a beautiful day with no stresses or worries and just a lot of happiness and laughter. If there were any last minute disasters, I had no idea. I was able to actually take the advice so many try to give and so many fail to follow: Just slow down and enjoy the day.
CRYSTALL + RYAN’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Ceremony + Reception – The Palm House, Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Photography – Brookelyn Photography
Cinematography – NY Filmworks
Wedding Planner – Exquisite Affairs Productions
Event Designer – We Create & Co
Florist – Flowers By Emil
Wedding Dress – Oscar de la Renta
Dress Customisation – Samuelle Couture
Reception Dress – Jenny Packham
Bride’s Shoes – Christian Dior
Groom Suit – Hugo Boss
Hair + make-up – House of Makeup
Bridesmaids dresses – Adrianna Papell
Flower Girls – Dainty Girl’s Tutu’s
Officiant – Rev. Jeddah Vailakis
Invitations – Ali Reza Malik
DJ – 74 Events, DJ Gaza
Guitarist – Jason Liebman
Getting Ready Hotel – Wythe Hotel
Catering – Charles, Sally & Charles
Cake – Ana Parzych Cakes
Crystall and Ryan totally smashed it with their wedding. I love they way they meaningfully and sensitively combined both their cultures with an awesome layer of creativity and personality on top.
It was a total joy to blog. Thank you Crystall and Ryan for sharing your special day, and to the wonderful Brooke Fitts for leading me to this very special couple.