Whilst this is a big day in your life, have perspective. It’s a party, a celebration of you and your significant other’s formal bond — there’s no reason to be stressed because really, it’s a celebration.
Sage advice there from the beautiful Elise in this morning’s super chic Manhattan affair. I couldn’t not open with this mantra because I think it’s all too easy to forget amidst the madness of colour themes and dresses and table plans and favours and centrepieces. That’s not to say that all of these bits and pieces aren’t important but more that it’s about you and your partner and the love you have for each other that’s paramount on your big day.
But of course you all know this already. What you don’t know yet is how epic Elise and Michael’s big day was…but you’re about to find out.
I can promise you the sassiest bride, a super cool Manhattan location, fantastic photography, care of Hales Studio, and the most magnificent colourful blooms. In fact the colours of Elise’s bouquet (created by the super talented Floresta NYC) provided the inspiration for the bridesmaids dresses! Elise sent them a picture of the bouquet and asked them to choose a dress (or wear one that they already owned) that would match the flowers. And how wonderfully does it all come together?
Another thing I particularly love about today’s wedding is that Elise and Michael inviting their parents and Elise’s grandparents, married for 41, 44 and 62 years respectively to dance to her grandparents wedding song (A Sentimental Journey) to recognise the stable, long-lasting and loving relationships that they were lucky enough to be brought up around… Too fabulous, right?
How we met
Elise, the Bride: Mike and I met on Okcupid! We both had tried online dating in the past – both of us did JDate actually, but in the end we met on the free non-religious site. We went for drinks for our first meeting and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Italian food for our first official date.
Choosing to get married in the city we love
Mike and I wanted to get married in the city where we met, fell in love and started our life together. We knew that we didn’t want to get married in a hotel – we wanted a less formal, more atmospheric venue and when we came across the Manhattan Penthouse, a loft space in the heart of New York, boasting 360 ° views of Manhattan, we knew it would be the perfect background for our celebration.
A very personalised wedding
Everything in our wedding meant something to us. If we didn’t connect with it, then we didn’t have it. For example, having a cake and doing a traditional cake cutting didn’t mean anything to us so we didn’t include that in our reception. We invited the siblings and our best friends who were in the wedding party to speak, and it was one of the highlights of the evening.
Natural, Autumnal colours
We planned our wedding ourselves. We wanted it to be personalised, with each touch reflecting our personalities and likes. We based the colour scheme off of a bouquet I fell in love with, which had unique colours with a natural, Autumn feel.
We did hire a ‘day-of planner’ who ran the day perfectly. Me, Mike and our wedding party and family were able to relax and not worry about one thing the entire day.
We found our invitation at Minted, however, I used my marketing background to customise it so that the colour matched our theme and the verbiage was what we wanted. For example, instead of a more formal yes or no, the reply card said, “woohoo, can’t wait” or “will toast from afar”. We used that design as a jumping off point for menus and drink signs at the wedding, using my design and Photoshop experience.
I wanted classic so I went with a loose finger wave swept to the side and held with a pin. My make up was perfect – not too caked on, but highlighted eyes and lips. We got ready at Lotte New York Palace Hotel and Erin Kennedy and Allison Wadsworth from Artworx made-up all of the ladies and myself.
A custom-made dress
I didn’t have a vision of the dress I wanted, nor did I have that “special feeling”. I wanted our wedding to be about us and celebrating our union, and not about the clothing. I was looking for something in a reasonable price-range, and was every time I liked something that I tried on, I would wish it didn’t have one thing or I could want to add something else. So, I found a local designer, Pret a Marier, and she made the dress custom for me. She was brilliant, a pleasure to work with and included all of the elements I wanted (straps, flattering shape and no sequins or glitter).
However, once the main part of the reception was over, I did change into a green sequin dress and Converse sneakers (Mike had sneakers to match), in order to dance my butt off!
A birdcage veil for a vintage look
I wanted a chic look rather than a traditional veil. The veil was beautiful, a birdcage style, unique and exactly what I wanted. I found it on Etsy just weeks before the wedding, I also had a vintage-looking hair clip that I bought online for when I took off my veil.
Jimmy Choo kitten heels
I didn’t want to fall or have my feet ache all night so I sported beautiful, pointy, metallic Jimmy Choo kitten heels.
The handsome groom
Mike wore a three-piece, grey suit from J.Crew, a tie from Penguin and beautiful black leather monk-strap shoes. Him and the men went for a fresh shave in the morning and when I saw him on the stairs of the Lotte New York Palace Hotel, I swooned because he looked just like him. I was just so excited to be married to him!
Bridesmaids and groomsmen
Mike and I decided to have our siblings and our dearest friends by our side on the big day. Standing by Mike’s side were his parents, two older brother, sister-in-law and his oldest friend from childhood, Alexis. By my side were my parents, brother, his girlfriend (now wife) and my closest, most favourite person, Lesley. Also in the wedding party, leading the aisle were my grandparents, who sat in the first row, and Mike’s niece and nephew, also seated in the first row.
I sent the ladies a picture of the bouquet and asked them to get a dress (or wear one that you have) that would match the bouquet. Long, short, pants, sequins, lace – it didn’t matter to me!
The men wore grey suits and were each provided with a tie and pocket square that went with the colour palette but were not all the same. Our nephew wore the same tie as the groom (I bought an adult one and cut and sewed it so it would fit his 7-year-old stature. Similarly, our 11-year-old niece had a lovely charcoal bridemaids dress. Each person standing with us looked different, with individual style, but all together looked amazing.
The Chuppah was magical – it was composed of birch poles that featured succulents and air plants sitting on a bed of green moss. A floral arrangement was composed of white hydrangea, baby green hydrangea, coral and peach dahlias; peach, orange, and ivory spray roses; pittosporum, and eucalyptus seeds.
Most importantly, it was topped with the our grandfather’s and father’s tallises. We stood under a gorgeous chuppah topped with our history and tradition.
We had piano for our processional and recessional and chose the piano only version of Holocene by Bon Iver because it was not only beautiful but upbeat.
We wanted the ceremony to correspond with the ending of Shabbat. We held a havdalah service to mark the end of something and the beginning of something- Shabbat and the new week, our past, separate lives and our new married life.
One of the most special parts about the ceremony was who performed it… Our Rabbi, Rabbi David Frank, the bride’s family’s Rabbi, came all the way from San Diego to perform the ceremony. To stand under the chuppah with Mike and say our vows led by someone I was so connected to, was truly significant. The seven blessings were read by our family members and our parents were under the chuppah with us.
The glass that Mike broke was gathered and saved and then made into a mezuzah for us to hang by our front door.
A bright and colourful Ketubah
Our ketubah is lovely. We wanted something bright and colourful, that we would like to look at for years to come. It has a tree designed with intertwining roots and the verbiage is a mix of modern and traditional and very significant to us.
A special moment after the ceremony
When we walked back down the aisle after the ceremony we were greeted by Monika, who is the coordinator for Manhattan Penthouse, was waiting with our signature drinks so that we could toast to our new union. That was such a lovely touch and it meant a lot to us to have that private moment.
Our florist, Floresta NYC , did more than bring my vision to life- they went above and beyond to make the room and our day beautiful and memorable. From the chuppah to the centrepieces, working with Floresta NYC was one of the best decisions that we made during our wedding planning process. They stayed within our budget but went above and beyond in execution. Our chuppah was unforgettable and the bouquets were exactly what I wanted.
The aisle was lined with assorted sized, antique-style white lanterns, that housed pillar candles, at the edges of the central aisle leading to the altar.
Our fabulous photographer
When we found Rebecca of Hales Studio, we couldn’t book her fast enough. On your wedding day, it’s really important to surround yourself with people who are nice, professional and a pleasure to be around. Rebecca is kind and considerate and unbelievably talented, and Rebecca and her assistant photographer carried our vision through brilliantly.
Other than the wedding party and family photo sessions before the wedding, I didn’t even notice her there – THAT was what we wanted! She didn’t stop our guests from enjoying themselves to pose. The shots Rebecca got were pictures I will forever treasure. We took pictures on a side street near the venue, it looked a little European and the way that Rebecca staged the photo took advantage of this unique location. We had our photos almost immediately after the wedding and when Rebecca sent over the thumb drive she included chocolates and a note – so sweet!
I loved working with Hales studio and after spending several hours with Rebecca, I walked away with a major friend crush because that’s how great she is!
Doughnuts and a candy buffet
We did not have cake at our wedding. Rather, we brought in doughnuts from our favourite doughnut shop in the city – Dough. We also had a candy buffet with all of our favourite kinds of candy and petite fours, fruit and chocolate covered strawberries on each table.
We had a great band, The Metropolitan Players. So great that Mike’s brother is having them play at his wedding in August. They were professional but most of all talented. They learned specific songs that we loved how they pumped up the guests. All of our friends raved about them.
We invited up our parents and my grandparents, married for 41, 44 and 62 years respectively to dance to my grandparents wedding song, A Sentimental Journey by Doris Day. It was important to us to recognise the stable, long-lasting and loving relationships that Mike and I were lucky to be brought up around.
Our guestbook was a puzzle a friend and guest of the wedding made of wood which when put together read Mike & Elise, 10/17/15. The pieces were in the cocktail area where our loved ones wrote notes. We now have that framed in our house.
Advice to brides and grooms currently planning their wedding
Whilst this is a big day in your life, have perspective. It is a party, a celebration of you and your significant other’s formal bond. Remember that when planning and preparing for your day. There’s no reason to be stressed because really, it’s a celebration.
Make lists of things you need to do, afford yourself help where you will need it, for example, a day of planner or pre-addressed envelopes.
Try not to focus on your expectations so that you won’t get disappointed. Ask your parents for their non-negotiables and work around them – this will help avoid arguments and late requests. Also, talk to your fiancà© about their non-negotiables as well, realise that you might need to compromise on what you want and your spouse will too.
Build your budget realistically, get comfortable with Excel and add tips and weird expenses so that you come in at (or under like in our case). Lastly, if you are getting married in NYC, have your fiancà© bring some money or tuck some in your dress because you might end up taking a cab back to the hotel, and those cost money 🙂
Everyone asked me why I was so calm and didn’t appear to be stressed at all and it’s because I was decisive. I didn’t struggle over every decision that needed to be made. This event will not define your life. You have a choice whether to make the day stressful. You have a choice about what you ask of your wedding party. Remember, the clothes, flowers and dessert are a lovely addition, but in no way is it the important part of the event- you and your spouse- to- be are.
Elise & Michael’s little white book
Photographer — Hales Studio
Day-of Planner — Emily Snider
Venue — Manhattan Penthouse
Pre-wedding — Lotte New York Palace
Florals — Floresta NYC
Bride’s Dress — Pret a Marier
Bride’s Veil — Etsy
Bride’s Shoes — Jimmy Choo
Groom attire — suit from J.Crew, tie from Penguin and Converse trainers
Hair and makeup — Artworx
Invitation — Minted
Doughnuts – Dough
Entertainment — The Metropolitan Players
Rabbi — Rabbi David Frank