Capturing couples’ happiest moments makes me happy. Every moment has its own beauty and this wedding of a New Yorker, Damien, and a native Alaskan, Leilani, was truly unique and magical. The day tastefully incorporated elements of both cultures, celebrating the beautiful blend of traditions.
For the union of Damien and Leilani, both parties got ready for their big day at the Marmara Hotel in New York City. The Marmara is one of the best known luxury hotel chains in Turkey. Its NYC branch is located on East 32nd Street between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue. A spacious terrace of the hotel, which shows the gorgeous backdrop of the Chrysler Building, was the perfect place to start the day. Though it was marginally cold out, the couple braved the chill to take their photos on the outside terrace of one of the hotel’s suites.
The harmony of the happy couple matched the synchronicity of their chosen accessories. Both the groom’s boutonniere and the bride’s bouquet matched in rich color and paid homage to bride’s home state of Alaska. The groom’s boutonniere had a cute addition of a Ruffed Grouse’s feather, the most predominant bird in Alaska. The bride’s bouquet incorporated a strip of fur wrapped around the flowers. Both unique additions alluded to hunting, which is a significant part of the Alaskan culture.
From the hotel, both parties moved on to the Midtown Loft & Terrace at 267 5th Avenue where they held an outdoor ceremony incorporating some Jewish and native Alaskan traditions important to the bride and groom such as breaking a coconut by Leilani’s dad and breaking the glass by Damien. It was a beautiful ceremony taking place under an arch covered in burgundy and golden flowers. Those warm and welcoming tones were carried through to the reception, along with rich turquoise, to create an intimate and elegant reception atmosphere.
It was a fun and lively party, especially with the addition of the lifting of the chairs, another Jewish tradition. It was also an emotional evening at times with some touching moments such as parents’ dances and speeches by members of both sides of the family. The night ended with an available-light photo of a romantic kiss between a newly wed husband and wife, with the background of a lit up Empire State Building.
JW Marriott Essex House is a truly quintessential location for a perfect Manhattan wedding. This luxury iconic NYC hotel set in an art deco building is located just steps away from Central Park and Columbus Circle. Choosing the perfect venue for their wedding, the couple did many site visits and almost chose a venue in Long Island but then realized they ultimately and truly wanted a Manhattan wedding. The decor on the walls looked like a dream when they first walked in. It was a dream that came true!
Amber and David’s, my picture-perfect couple, met online. Here is their love story.
How and where did you and David meet?
We met on OKcupid. Our first date was on Valentine’s Day.
For how long have you been dating?
We have been dating for three years before we got engaged.
How and where did he propose?
The proposal was so wonderful! He surprised me by taking me to dinner and then he proposed near riverside park by the water. Then he took me straight to his rooftop for a party and surprised me with all my friends and family.
What did you envision your wedding being prior to planning?
I envisioned my wedding to be opulent, elegant and sophisticated with a touch or romance. I wanted the style to match the look of the magnificent chandelier in the exquisite ballroom. A Star studded event with endless dancing!
What was your color palette and your style vision?
My color palette was soft pinks and whites to go along with the stunning gold ballroom.
What unique elements or DIY details did you include?
We had a sculptural manzanita branches display with pale pink dendrobium orchids in a draping style hung with bubble glass candle holders above the seating arrangements. Something very special to me was that my 15 year old poodle (I got her for my Bat-mitzvah) was able to be in my bridal suite getting ready with the girls and taking photos with us. She wore the most adorable dress in silver to match my bridesmaids’ Alfred Sung gowns. We also had the presidential suite in the hotel with a wrap around balcony, I had a huge after party outdoors!
What was your favorite moment? Your favorite crafted detail?
When I sang “Dear Future Husband” by Meghan Trainor on stage in front of everyone and then jumped into the arms of my new husband standing in the crowd. That was by far my favorite moment. Everyone was in shock and I felt like a total rock star! One crafted detail that pops in my mind was during my parents welcome speech my Mother displayed a large picture frame with a photo of me sky diving 15,000 ft high to show how proud she was of me.
Tell us about your flowers, your gown, your favors, your cake, etc.
My bouquet was GORGEOUS. Cascading white phaleonopsis orchids. It is in the process of being preserved. The chuppah was filled with white, ivory and pale pink peonies and roses. The aisle hurricanes were gorgeous too, to match the chuppah.
My gown was designed by Romona Keveza. It had the sophistication of Grace Kelly. It was form fitting with soft ruching. Mermaid style, off the shoulder with a pearl coloring. My favorite part was the sequined lace at the bottom edges setting it apart from any other gown in similar style. My cake was stunning. L’esti’s specializes in cakes and hand painted a 5 tier white and gold cake with pearls and flowers on the top to match the room. My first look was so romantic. We had a red velvet horse and buggy pick me up to do a photo shoot.
One of my favorite details was hiring our Cantor- Shimon Craimer to sing popular tunes in Hebrew as we walked down the aisle. His voice was hauntingly beautiful and romantic. The crowd was captivated by his talented singing and the unique traditional aspects our Rabbi Exler helped us create during our ceremony from start to finish. Even my Bedeken before I walked down the aisle was so special to me.
What is one piece of advice that you could give brides-to-be?
Always make sure that you have more than one person come to your last fitting so that multiple people know how to bustle your gown. But most importantly, try not to let ANYTHING bother you that day. Brush it off.
Slideshow ~ Amber & David’s Wedding at JW Marriott Essex House NYC
Dress- Romona Keveza (from Bridal Reflections)
Venue- Essex House
Photographer- Artvesta Studio
Florist- Quatre Coeur
DJ (band)- Veronica Martell
Caterer – Northern Valley Affairs
Videographer- Sunnyville Films
Invitations- Invitations Plus (Crane & Co.)
Cake- L’esti’s Desserts
Rabbi- Rabbi Steven Exler
Cantor- Shimon Craimer
Photo Booth- The Bosco
Hair & Makeup Team- Betsy Elisa Inc.
Sweetheart Table Linen- FloraRosa Design
Dance Lessons- Fred Astaire
Catherine and David. Carlton hotel, St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, and Midtown Loft & Terrace
“Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.” —Franklin P. Jones
Life certainly can be one wild and unpredictable ride. It comes fully equipped with smooth and rough patches that nobody can seem to predict occurring no matter how much people emphasize planning ahead. But that’s one of the most beautiful things about life—how spontaneously it can shift with pleasant surprises, such as meeting the person you eventually marry (although when you meet that person, you aren’t going to know it’s your future spouse).
There’s probably no experiences in your life quite as amazing as your college years or your first day of newly wedded bliss. And when the two come together at once, with a mix of love and college you’ve got one great combination. Catherine, the Belgian bride, and her Greek-American groom David first encountered each other at Columbia University while both attended as graduate students. That first day they met left no indication that the two scholars would walk down the aisle; but thanks to fate’s intervention they are now together crossing the path into another first day together; the first one as newlyweds.
The immediate family of both the bride and groom chose the Carlton Hotel to stay at for the occasion, and the photography team started its professional coverage right on location at the hotel. My initial photography shots demonstrate some of the bride’s and groom’s soon-to-be worn accessories.
One of the most memorable snaps that took place during the getting ready stage is the groom’s quirky photo with his groomsmen, taken in the hotel’s signature Broadway Dive suite.
The styles selected by the bride helped set the stage for the design of the festivities. The bride donned a lovely custom-made wedding dress from Belgium and went even more multi-cultural with her shoes, which were purchased in Paris, France. One of the more unforgettable accessories worn by the groomsmen were their colored socks, which coordinated to match the colors of their wives’ dresses.Implementing creative photography, photos snapped of the shoes, the rings, the bride’s dress, and the groom’s watch. Once that aspect of the shoot was done, the photography crew moved to focusing in on the getting ready photos.
With a warm and sunny wedding day greeting all guests in attendance, the weather helped reflect the mood of utter happiness and love, allowing for many smiles to exchange and spread the good cheer. The wedding ceremony itself took place at St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University. This beautiful chapel acts as a venue for hundreds of religious and campus events each year. Performed according to Greek tradition, during the wedding ceremony the couple exchanged Stephana crowns, to important cultural symbols that each had been handed down for generations.
Following the ceremony, the reception followed, taking place at Midtown Loft & Terrace.
With the end of the ceremony and the reception, the newly married couple was cemented together forever as a single entity. As Friedrich Halm stated, “Two souls with but a single thought; two hearts that beat as one.”
As the celebration wound down to a close, it ended in an unforgettable manner and mood, with the Greek folk custom of plate and glasses smashing, a tradition long known to apply to celebratory occasions.
Photography: ArtVesta Studio
Floral Designs: FLO NY Events
Wedding planning & day-of coordination: Allie Levine Events
Getting ready: Carlton hotel
Ceremony: St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University
Reception: Midtown Loft & Terrace
Reverent: Mary-Rose Engle