Cassandra & James' modern Manhattan wedding is a pretty apt one to be sharing today.
We didn't spot the date when we scheduled it, but September 11th is always a day when the whole world looks to New York, and recalls what a unique and special city it is. Everyone has a personal NYC memory, whether they've visited the city, or seen it from afar, in the movies.
We're also getting goosebumps looking over this glamorous wedding, because, *drumroll please!* we're off to New York ourselves! Elizabeth and I will be visiting for Bridal Fashion Week in October, and will be bringing you endless updates on the latest trends, most stunning gowns, and gorgeous accessories (we can't freakin' wait!)
So, on a day when NYC is most certainly on our minds, we think you'll agree, this iconic, romantic, stylish and resilient city, is a pretty special place to get married…
With an abundance of orchids, incredible food, and simple mixed metallic and glass decor, the entire day was a nod to the stunning skyscraper backdrop.
But it was the glamorous couple who stole the show. James, looking entirely dapper in a Hugo Boss black tie suit. And his bride, was a bona fide bombshell with a dramatic Austin Scarlett gown, and movie star waves.
Wedding Day Snapshot
Our Love Story
It turns out that we both started college at Yale in the fall of 1997, living just yards away from each other on the freshman campus.
However, we never crossed paths until almost 15 years later in New York City, where James was working in finance and I was working as a lawyer. We bonded over a shared alma mater, similar professional lives, and a love of dining out.
Keeping with my modern taste, I wanted a wedding gown that was not too traditional but that was still feminine.
I had originally seen a gorgeous Austin Scarlett silk satin fit and flare gown with a cascading petal skirt on a runway model shot and loved it but thought it would never look good on my body type. Imagine my surprise when I came across it at a bridal salon and thought it was the most flattering of all of those I had tried on.
The bridesmaids wore silk chiffon dresses from Amsale in styles and lengths of their choosing in metallic gray tones, and the groom and best man looked handsome in their tuxedos.
The First Look
One of my favorite moments from our wedding day was my first look with my then-fiance before the ceremony. We met on the steps of the New York Public Library, which was a short walk from our venue.
At the time I didn’t even register the look on my fiance’s face when he saw me in all my bridal attire, but our photographers captured what I would describe as his look of surprise and happiness so perfectly.
Unbeknownst to us, our wedding day happened to be the 30th Anniversary of The Ghostbusters movie and a crew of fans dressed in full Ghostbusters garb were there on the steps at the same time to join us in a few pictures.
We also had lots of well wishes from strangers as we walked the Manhattan streets to nearby landmarks to get some other shots.
Their style is immediately distinguishable from typical wedding pictures and is just so fun.
I was much more of a planner than my fiance, so after agreeing on a smaller to mid-size wedding with just close family and friends, I ran with it.
I have modern taste and wanted to create a unique experience for our guests. I also wanted to pay homage to the city where we met and lived.
When I found The Skylark, it was still under construction and had not yet opened for business. Despite visiting the site in a hard hat before any interior design had been done, I knew that the 30th floor venue with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Times Square on one side and the Empire State Building on the other side would be perfect.
I also loved that they planned to have a resident mixologist on staff and that their catering was done through Abigail Kirsch, a very highly regarded caterer in the NYC area.
The Paper Goods
Our paper goods, from invitations, to escort cards, table numbers, menus and programs, were all custom designed. I was definitely looking for a NYC skyline motif but couldn’t find one that felt right.
I then found a reputable stationer on Etsy that was eager to do custom work, and they created a more quirky-looking New York skyline/landmark theme and accompaniments such as starred envelope liners that were perfect.
The Decor & Flowers
Once I saw the interior design renderings of the venue, I decided on mixed metallics for our linens and black, gold and silver for our paper goods to complement the black and brassy tones of the venue decor.
As for flowers, our florist and I agreed on all white to keep it modern and an easy complement to the metallic elements. I was inspired by the light and glass of Manhattan and asked the florist to put minimal green in the arrangements and to avoid traditional garden flowers such as roses and hydrangeas to keep the look more “city.”
My bouquet was filled with white gardenias, peonies and ranunculus, but no greenery.
The ceremony backdrop and reception table arrangements consisted solely of white phalaenopsis orchids draping over tall test tube vases of staggered heights with white candles at the base.
One of the most important elements of our reception was for our guests to be well fed! Our caterer is known for serving high-end food in a fun and creative way.
For cocktail hour, which was one floor up on an open air terrace overlooking the Hudson River, we had a taco and blood orange margarita cart and a bavarian pretzel cart with chicken sausage rolls and lavender infused beer shots.
We also had lots of great passed appetizers such as mac and cheese cupcakes, watermelon dominoes, mini fried chicken and waffle bites and sushi rolls.
For dinner, we had a formal served three course meal starting out with a savory lasagna cupcake as an appetizer, herbed chicken, beef provencal or a vegan choice for the entree, and warm peach and blueberry crisp with vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.
Of course, we also had wedding cake, which I custom designed to match the skyline motif and colors used for our invitations.
We sent guests off at the end of the night with mini kronuts as a late night snack and gourmet brownie pops as favors.
Our Favourite Moments
After the “we did it “ high following the ceremony and the fun of our first dance, one thing I will always remember from that night is sneaking out of the cocktail hour for a few minutes to see the room set up for the reception before our guests came down.
We timed the cocktail hour to occur during sunset so our guests could enjoy that view from the roof. The sight of the reception tables’ draping orchids bathed in the gold tones of sunset over Manhattan through the venue’s floor to ceiling windows was just breathtaking.
We splurged in some areas and saved on others. Given the smaller size of our wedding, we spent a fair amount on flowers, but the same flowers were used in the ceremony backdrop, rearranged, and then used for the reception tables.
I also worked with a new service which picked up the flowers at the end of the event, sold them at a discount to their subscribers, and gave a portion of the proceeds to a charity of our choice. We chose to donate to the rescue group from which we adopted our cats. [The cats also made an appearance with the bride and groom on our cake topper].
Because of the custom work, foil stamping and high quality paper, our invitations were not inexpensive on an individual basis, but we didn’t have to order as many of them as couples having a larger wedding would.
Catering was the largest portion of our budget, but we had guests raving to us about the food so it was worth it. We did save money by hiring a DJ rather than a band, but the DJ was more practical and appropriate for our small venue.
Finally, we decided that we didn’t need videography in addition to photography. One of our family members agreed to record the ceremony for us so that we would have those words for the future.
We had a guitarist to play an instrumental version of “Marry Me” by Train for the Processional and “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles for the recessional.
For our first dance, our DJ played Seal’s cover version of “Stand by Me.” We wanted something a little more upbeat and fun than the traditional slow love song.
We also took lessons in advance and did a rumba-inspired dance to go with it. While neither of us was going to win any dance competitions, I think our guests enjoyed our effort.
We visited the Big Island of Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui.
The natural beauty there is incomparable and it was definitely a “bucket list” trip.
New York, we love you. But we might just love this wedding more! That orchid backdrop is beautiful, and so cleverly repurposed for not just the centrepieces, but resold for charity too – how thoughtful!
Is it too early for us to start packing yet?