How to Plan a Small Wedding

Updated: Jan 1

It’s officially been six months since my wedding day, and I can’t stop dreaming of all the perfect little moments. If I could relive my wedding day every single day, for the rest of my life, I would be the happiest girl on earth. Who else is with me? Now, my husband and I did things a bit differently. For over a year, we had been talking about what our perfect wedding day would look like, and we both decided that a small NYC elopement style wedding was the way to go. Elopements in our modern day world don't necessarily have to mean you ran away to Vegas and got hitched without telling anyone. Elopement style weddings (or small weddings) are becoming more popular, because of the meaning behind them. It means you are focusing on the experience, rather than all of the extra stuff like a menu and food choices, seating charts, a coordinating wedding party, etc. It means you are focusing on the most important thing: your love, and what YOU want for your day.

On July 14th, 2019, at 9:00 in the morning, our immediate family members joined us for a small ceremony on Roosevelt Island at the very edge of Four Freedoms Park. If you have never been, you will want to go after seeing our view.

We made the final decision on this date a few months ago in June, went to City Hall to get our marriage license, and planned our intimate ceremony in exactly one month. Yes, you heard that right. ONE MONTH OF PLANNING and it was done! I know what you’re probably thinking. Why would a wedding professional, of all people, plan such a small and simple wedding? Doesn’t that go against everything you stand for? On the contrary, every single thing we did in our planning stages and leading up to our big moment was exactly what I stand for. I aim to focus on small (or intimate in fancy terms) weddings, elopements and adventurous destination weddings. My main goal is to work with couples who believe in being true to who they are as a couple, and highlighting what makes their love story unique.

So my hope is to set an example for all of the creative and adventurous couples out there, who want to branch out and have the most unique, fun and stress free wedding. If you aren’t sure where to begin, I’m here to give you all the tips! For those of you who aren’t into big fancy venues and inviting hundreds of guests, or are terrified of reciting personal vows in front of a huge crowd, I’m here to tell you YOU DON’T HAVE TO. Always remember that your wedding day is meant to celebrate your love, and should be exactly how you imagine it. If the thought of a big fancy wedding sounds overwhelming to you, hang in there my friend! I’m about to blow your mind with so many fun ideas on how you can creatively make your wedding day special, one of a kind and true to your love.

The Invitations

This was one of the most important steps in telling our love story. If you are eloping or planning a small ceremony with immediate family members, and you’re contemplating just ditching this step...hold on, not so fast! If this is an elopement between just the two of you, you’ll need to send proper announcements to your family and friends. Trust me, they will appreciate the gesture, and will feel like they were a part of your day in some way. PLUS you can host a small (or large) party months to a year later, when you’re ready to celebrate with everyone! Why not send an invitation and an RSVP with that announcement?

If you are having a small ceremony with your immediate family members, you can still order beautiful invitations that your loved ones will be able to cherish forever. The best part is, you won’t break the bank doing so. Your invitations can be even more intricate than they would be if you would’ve ordered 100 or more. Ordering 10 invitations with silk ribbon, a wax seal, envelope liners and guest addressing is nothing compared to ordering 100. ;)

I must tell you, I had a blast designing our invitations. I was able to tell our story in a fun, adventurous and poetic way, and they represented everything we are as a couple. Jerry and I met on the L train on April 14th at the 14th Street Union Square station, just a couple weeks after I moved to NYC. We stood next to each other the entire ride back to Brooklyn, as Jerry casually struck up a conversation. He radiated confidence and had me laughing in minutes. I gave him my business card before we parted ways, just two stops away from each other. It was the definition of the perfect meet cute. A few days later he asked me to dinner, and the rest is history. We’ve been inseparable ever since; taking this city by storm. We have supported each other’s dreams as we build our life together in this bustling city, and continue to go on adventures every weekend. Our first date was at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, and on our second date he took me on the Air Tram to Roosevelt Island. This is something I would have never known about if I hadn’t met him, and let me tell you, it is breathtaking.

We incorporated our favorite places and memories into our wedding day, and we wanted our invitations to reflect this. NYC is very dear to our hearts, because it brought us together. It is everything that makes us strong, loving and happy. Naturally, I went all out with this theme. This suite features line drawings of the city, overtop a bright yellow and blue abstract acrylic painting. Each piece is double sided with the subway map on the back, and a heart over Roosevelt Island, right where we got married. This was Jerry’s special touch. The envelope liner contains a poem I wrote for us, and the embellishment is the symbol for the L train. My personal favorite touch!

Instead of a details card and an RSVP card, we incorporated an itinerary for the day, (which included a boozy brunch, the classic NYC Sunday pastime) as well as a directions card, explaining how to get to the island. There are plenty of ways to make your suite complete, besides the traditional details card and RSVP card. Especially when you already know your family members are attending the ceremony. If you’re stuck on how to make your suite complete without being traditional, I am happy to brainstorm and give you some ideas!

To complete the ensemble, our vow books were decorated with balloons, representing our favorite movie, Up. (We are literally the real life Carl and Ellie) The cover reads: “To our new adventure.”

Jerry was by my side approving the designs and adding his creative input every step of the way. It is so fun dreaming up your invitations together and creating an heirloom piece you'll be able to cherish every anniversary. I highly recommend doing this step together.

The Engagement Ring

We were not traditional in this step of the process, and I want everyone to know that it’s okay to break tradition if it makes sense to you. Jerry and I do everything together, from going on adventures, to cooking and cleaning, to running errands and thinking up new creative ideas for our apartment. So naturally, we wanted to design the engagement ring together as well. I had no idea what I wanted in an engagement ring until I started browsing. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, and I quickly realized that there are many styles that don’t appeal to me. So instead of Jerry surprising me with something I might hate, we carefully designed the engagement ring together with the amazing Joanna Dziemianczyk of The Tailored Diamond. The Tailored Diamond is a private jeweler in New York City’s Diamond district, creating custom jewelry for all occasions. We sat down with Joanna and discussed the design from the size of the stone, to the color, the cut and how we wanted it set in the ring. We ended up choosing a timeless style unlike any rings we’ve seen in the jewelry stores today. In the center is a salt and pepper diamond. A salt and pepper diamond simply has black inclusions, or impurities in it. In my eyes, it was perfectly imperfect. It reminded me of the galaxy, and I was immediately attracted to the natural beauty of this diamond. On either side lies a small black diamond, which brings out the beauty of the black specs in the salt and pepper diamond. We decided these two small diamonds represent the first two years of our relationship, and the third represents the year we decided to make things official! *Cue in simultaneous awwww’s

The Wedding Bands

After custom designing the engagement ring, we started thinking of ways we could make things a bit more cost effective. While shopping around at Fitzgerald Jewelry in Williamsburg, we discovered that we could take jewelry classes there. As soon as we got home, we looked up the class schedule and to our luck, there was a class held just a couple weeks before our wedding! So, we booked hopes that we wouldn’t royally mess up our wedding bands LOL. We only had one chance! Turns out, it’s very hard to mess that was a relief. We sat through a four hour class on a Saturday morning, learning how to create a ring from a piece of silver. There were so many steps, I couldn’t even tell you all of them. In a nutshell, over the course of a few hours, we figured out the size of our bands, cut them down with a saw, bent them into ring shapes, put them in a solution and fused them together. We went through about 6 different steps of buffing them out with sandpaper, then about 3-4 turns of shining and washing them.

Side note: I wanted my band to be extremely thin, in order to match my engagement ring band. I was advised to start with a thick band first because it is NOT easy to cut a thin band. Well, Jerry wanted me to have the band of my dreams, so of course he carefully cut down the thinnest band you could ever imagine, and it was perfect. Now THAT is pure husband material right there!

This class was truly special. Not only was it another thing we could check off of our adventurous bucket list, but it brought us closer together during our planning stages. We now have beautiful wedding bands that will turn into heirloom pieces to cherish and pass down in our family.

The Details

If you couldn’t tell by now, I am not the traditional bride. Naturally, I was not going to wear a traditional wedding dress. Not only to cut costs, but to stand out, be unique and most importantly be myself. I chose to wear an ivory lace crop top with a flowy mustard yellow skirt and simple white floral sandals. I did my own makeup and hair, which consisted of my favorite natural bohemian wavy look. To complete the look, I wore a flower crown, my mother’s pearl necklace and earrings, and my mother in-law’s pearl bracelet. To continue with our yellow and blue theme from the invitation suite, Jerry wore a navy suit and a yellow tie decorated with blue florals. His mother gave him a beautiful boutonniere to match my flower crown, and he wore typewriter key cufflinks I had gotten him for his birthday, which had his initials on them. FUN FACT: We now share the same initials! (We’re just a pair of JZ’s)

I was originally going to go to a deli the night before our wedding to pick out a bunch of flowers for my bouquet (no joke). But then, I stumbled upon Love Adorned. This eclectic shop is full of beautiful jewelry, vintage finds and home goods. But when we first walked in, I was immediately obsessed with their bouquets. Their “love forever flower shop” consists of beautiful dried and rehydrated flowers that will last a lifetime. The colors are vibrant and beautiful, and it was the perfect touch of wild to complete my free spirited vibe. I carefully wrapped the bouquet in my something blue; a beautiful silk ribbon from Hey It’s Oh So Pretty, along with handmade lockets from my best friend, carrying photos of my grandparents in them so they could be there with me every step of the way.

The Wedding Day

We started our day at 5:30 in the morning to catch the sunrise on the Brooklyn Bridge. We had a two hour private couple’s photo session with the amazing Amanda Vaelynn, an adventure elopement and couples photographer. We had never been on the Brooklyn Bridge together, so we thought what better day to start a tradition than our wedding day? Amanda was wonderful. She made us feel so comfortable, like no one was watching and we were the only two people on that bridge. She had us laughing and dancing in no time as we watched the sunrise in a picturesque cotton candy sky. This experience was truly unforgettable, and was by far my favorite part of our day. It allowed us to stop and take in every single moment, and made us feel like we were on another adventure together. Except this time, it was the adventure of a lifetime. Any nerves we had about the upcoming ceremony just melted away. Suddenly, nothing else in the world mattered. We were in our own little world, dancing on the bridge and in the cobblestone streets around Dumbo. It was magical, breathtaking and a true definition of our love for each other and this city. Our day would not have been complete without Amanda. She really helped us to stop and take it all in, and put us in the right mindset for our ceremony. I highly recommend that everyone takes a chunk of time out of their wedding morning to do an intimate couple’s photo session. You will be able to enjoy the moment and focus on what’s really important: the celebration of your love.

From there, we did the New York thing and grabbed a coffee at Starbucks, before we headed to Roosevelt Island to meet with our family for our ceremony. Before we knew it, it was finally time to say our I do’s! At 9:00 am, we walked down to the edge of Four Freedoms Park. With the sun shining down on us, and a picturesque skyline in the background, the procession began. My father walked me towards Jerry as we played “Married Life”, the opening song in Up. If you don’t know this song, go listen to it and/or watch the movie. I guarantee you will come back to this all teary eyed. After my father gave me away, I looked into Jerry’s eyes. I cried tears of joy throughout the entire ceremony, as he lovingly wiped them away. Our Officiant, Harris Bloom, gave us the most unique and personalized ceremony we could have asked for. He talked about our quirks, memories and what we loved about each other (which made me cry even more). I was basically laugh-crying the entire time. It was truly the most beautiful moment of my life, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Afterwards, we hopped on the tram back into Manhattan, and by 11:00 am we were ready to get our party started! I'm telling you, a morning ceremony is the way to go. Enjoy having fun for the rest of your wedding day. You're welcome.

I can honestly say that because we didn’t have a huge wedding, I was able to stay present in the moment the entire time. This is extremely important. This is precious time you won’t get back. I know plenty of people who have told me they enjoyed attending other weddings more than they enjoyed their own. I’ve heard many complaints that the couple barely got to spend time together, or that they barely danced or ate their cake. We didn’t have a cake, but we had a damn good brunch, complete with donuts and champagne. We danced and had a great time on a rooftop with family, friends and coworkers, with no obligations but to enjoy each other’s company. I enjoyed every single second, and I owe it all to my husband, our loving families, and the wonderful vendors who made all of our tiny details come to life. If you’re still reading this, thanks for sticking with me! I hope you enjoyed our story, and I hope you can follow in our footsteps. Whatever you choose to do for your wedding day, just remember to honor your love and what you want for your day. Remember to stop and enjoy the little moments. Kiss. Dance in the street. Look into each other’s eyes. That is what marriage is all about.

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