I’m always such a sucker for weddings full of Gatsby-era details and inspiration, and Bettina and Daniel’s is a gorgeous example of just why I love them so much! From the Art Deco ceremony “arch” to the bride’s and bridesmaids’ flapper-inspired dresses, from the Art Nouveau invitation to the gold fan adorned wedding cake, you’ll find tons of inspiration for any Gatsby-inspired celebration.
“I was very much inspired by the film, Midnight in Paris. I’ve always been such a huge fan of The Lost Generation, Jazz Age, and the Art Deco and Art Nouveau periods, and I loved the film’s modern take on it, so I wanted to recreate that feeling in our wedding,” says Bettina. “Our décor was a reflection of this modern-yet-nostalgic glamour: the ceremony was conducted under a rectilinear arbor wrapped in fan-like foliage and calla lilies, and our reception tables had sequined chevron-patterned linens and crystal, rhinestone, and mirror votives. My florist did a fantastic job creating lush, decorative arrangements that featured huge blossoms with succulents and air plants. My graphic-designer-bridesmaid-
“I wore an ivory silk and tulle wedding dress, with delicate beading and rhinestones, that felt very Gatsby, although it was a contemporary design, and I selected silver-sequined dresses for my bridesmaids, made by a company that specializes in Jazz Age and flapper dress replicas.”
“As a person who considers herself the non-conformist, I didn’t think I would want a traditional wedding,” says Bettina, “but that wasn’t the case. I was surprised to find myself really appreciating wedding traditions, from creating and delivering wedding invitations to the traditional format of the wedding day. I would say many of the elements of our wedding “traditional,” with a twist of individuality.”
Your ceremony in three words. Inspired, non-
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We live in Manhattan, and we wanted to put some distance between our special day and the typical energy and high stress that defines the “City.” So we chose The Garrison, a venue in upstate New York (45 minutes from Manhattan) that was known for its gorgeous views in the spring and, very importantly to us, its fantastic food.
Who officiated your ceremony? A very good friend of mine from law school happens to also be an officiant, so that was a no-brainer choice for us. It was a family affair, actually, because his wife was a bridesmaid and their two children were my flower girls!
What was your ceremony music? The processional was Jose Gonzalez’s version of “Heartbeats” (originally by The Knife). Daniel and I really love this song. The recessional was the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s song, “Hysteric.” We both are huge fans of the band and this song seemed very fitting.
What were your vows like? We wrote our vows together, and then we each wrote a short, personal message, which we chose not share with each other until our wedding day.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? My favorite moment was when I shared my personal message with Daniel. His eyes welled with tears when I said aloud, “I have loved you for a very long time.” I had never seen him shed tears before, and it was such a beautiful moment – the sun was literally sparkling through the windows into our ceremony – that my voice broke and I had to pause before continuing. I don’t think our love has ever been more palpable.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your ceremony? As an agnostic, I knew from the outset that I did not want a religious ceremony, which could have caused some issues with my in-laws, who are Christian. But they were such good sports about absolutely everything – including the fact that the ceremony would not be religious – that I wanted to give something in return: I asked my father-in-law to read aloud a blessing and prayer during our ceremony. I think it meant a lot to him, which in turn made me very happy.
“I really wanted to make sure every visual and sensorial element was carefully considered – that everything felt authentic to my husband and me – so I was hands on with all my vendors. But the most important thing was that at the end of the day, the only thing that mattered is that we had fun. There comes a point in time when you have to stop planning and nitpicking and just focus on the family and friends who show up especially for you!”
First dance song: Our first dance song was “All I Want Is You” by U2, which my best friend, Ted, sang and played on his guitar. U2 was a childhood favorite for all three of us (Daniel, Ted, and me), and that particular song – especially the title – encapsulated how Daniel and I felt about each other pretty accurately!
Father/daughter, mother/son dance: My father’s favorite song is “Unchained Melody” – he used to make me play that piece on the piano thousands of times! Although the lyrics totally didn’t fit, I couldn’t think of a better song to share with him. Daniel danced with his mother to “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan, which is one of her favorite songs.
Did you have a signature cocktail? We did! All our guests received custom 5-spice Asian bitters as a favor, which could be added to alcohol or tea (you can even cook with it). The bar served the bitters in our signature cocktail, and guests got to keep a sample.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? As is traditional Chinese custom, I changed into a qi pao dress that I had custom-made for my wedding. While I was changing into my qi pao, my mother and aunts (her sisters) spent time adorning me with a ton of gold jewelry that is passed from generation to generation, which was a really beautiful moment.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? There was a lot of DIY! I was very hands-on with the whole process, from conceptualizing our motif and the illustration for the invitation, to working on our our wedding website, to creating wedding favors. And I had a lot of help: my friend and bridesmaid is a graphic designer and illustrator, so she helped me with the visuals and the invitations, menus, and signage; my cousin-in-law helped with the wedding favors.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Our cake was so delicious. It was an angel food cake filled with strawberry preserves and white chocolate mousse. I found some inspiration online for an “art deco” cake design and asked our pastry chef to re-create that feeling.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Make sure to set aside time for you and your groom to eat. We served delicious food, but we neither Daniel nor I had much of a chance to eat!
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I would have done a sound check before the wedding! The only issue I had with my wedding at all was that the speakers were way too loud for a portion of the ceremony and reception.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? Our wedsite!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? My favorite moment was actually when my husband and I had a chance to sneak away from the party. We spent so much time speaking with and thanking our guests that we didn’t have much time for each other. It was really lovely to step away for the moment, sit outside with our shoes off under the moonlight and stars, hand-in-hand, my head on his shoulder, and just enjoy the happy quiet.