Whenever a couple chooses to marry in a way that is exactly right for them, it shows in the pictures. Christine & David look so giddy in just about every shot! I really love that they chose a wedding that would have been considered the norm in the ’50s – midweek, ten guests, and an intimate luncheon with champagne toasts. (And PS: any bride who orders a cheeseburger for her wedding meal has a very special place in my heart!)
Christine decided to get ready with her bridesmaid, and not to see David before the wedding. She told us “I know we didn’t have a super traditional wedding, but I still felt strongly about spending the night before the wedding apart and not seeing each other until I ‘walked down the aisle’ — or in our case, stepped into the law library.”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? To be honest, I was mostly inspired by the simple post-World War II wedding of my grandparents. They had a very fuss-free ceremony and weren’t worried about any of the so-called requirements of weddings in 2017: nothing needed to be Pinterest-worthy! I just wanted to have a wedding that celebrated us and didn’t unnecessarily stress me out. And since it was a semi-elopement in New York City, I also wanted things to be city chic – I wanted a short dress with pockets, shoes that I could walk in, and the backdrop of Manhattan.
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? Although we originally planned on a City Hall elopement, a family friend who is a federal judge offered to married us in the law library at the United States Court of International Trade. It’s located right across the street from City Hall, so in a way we had the simple, straightforward, non-religious ceremony we wanted — but with the added benefit of a slightly more personal ceremony and a scheduled time. And as a bibliophile, I was thrilled to get married in a library!
Your ceremony in three words. Simple, semi-elopement, city chic.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? A family friend who was a federal judge officiated our ceremony. When David’s dad mentioned to him that we were getting married at City Hall, he kindly offered to marry us instead. He was great about keeping City Hall elements that we wanted, but also infused the ceremony with more of our personal history.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We had an initial meeting with the judge where we talked about our relationship and what was important to us in a ceremony. Although we wanted to keep things simple and we weren’t interested in writing our own vows (“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” was my general attitude), we did have a couple of readings we wanted included. The judge sent us two the transcripts of two ceremonies he had officiated before, and we mixed and matched until we got something that felt right to us. Having a template or a past example to refer to was very helpful!
You can see Christine & David’s full ceremony script right here!
What were your ceremony readings? I’m not an overly sentimental or romantic person, so I didn’t want anything too sappy! One was i carry your heart, a lovely poem by e.e. cummings., and another was Union, a reading that I found ages ago and summed up what I thought a wedding should be: less about the wedding day, and more about the foundation of the relationship and the marriage ahead.
What were your vows like? Our vows were straightforward and non-religious. Neither of us had any interest in writing our own vows: as a writer, I felt like it would be too much pressure and add a lot of stress leading up to the day. David felt like he would get too overwhelmed with emotion if he had to read anything more personal. And if it ain’t broke, why fix it! Although I’ve heard wonderful personal vows at my friends’ weddings, I’m really glad we stuck to the script.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? It was very intimate: just us, our parents, David’s sister and her now-husband, my best friend and David’s best friend. I didn’t feel any pressure to make it Pinterest-worthy or an “event”, which freed me to just enjoy the moment and the day. One funny memory is that Chris, David’s best friend and one of our witnesses, actually dropped the rings during the ceremony: it made everyone laugh and brought a bit of levity to the day! David says that he’s grateful for it because he was on the brink of (happy) tears, and this lightened things up and helped keep his emotions in check.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? It felt really joyful! We were both really happy to be there, and I think it showed.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We had a “City Hall” wedding, so we didn’t have many traditions from bigger weddings. We did have my stepdad walk me into the room and give me away, which was something important to my parents. And we had a champagne toast in the judge’s chambers immediately following the ceremony as we signed all of the official paperwork!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? I’m very grateful that none of our family pressured us to have a wedding different than the one we wanted. We had so many older friends and family who applauded our decision to have a smaller wedding, and in doing so save more money for a down payment (or a honeymoon!) My best advice would be to do what feels right for you, not because that’s what a blog or Pinterest or a well-meaning aunt says a wedding must be.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t be afraid to do something small! Semi-eloping can be a fantastic way to keep the focus on the two of you and eliminate a lot of the stress and cost of wedding planning.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your day. We took portraits on the streets of New York City on our way from the ceremony to the reception. Our pug puppy named Gertrude joined us, which was my favorite part of the day! The best part about a New York City ceremony: the energy of the city is just incredible, and the hospitality of strangers really pours out for newlyweds!
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? We only told our immediate family and witnesses that we were getting married, so it was a surprise elopement to the rest of our family and friends! We had a few friends over to our hotel suite later that evening to celebrate with drinks, but I would have loved to have been able to include more of our close city friends. It’s tough to balance the surprise element of an elopement with not wanting to offend good friends!
Christine told us “we did portraits in a few locations near City Hall between our ceremony and our luncheon, and I especially love the candid outtakes as our little crew made our way around the city.”
How would you describe your reception? After our ceremony, we had a lovely and intimate lunch at Tiny’s and the Bar Upstairs in Tribeca. We only had ten guests (plus our wedding photographer, Mat Rick, who is a close friend of ours!) for a long lunch with plenty of champagne toasts.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We wanted something close to the courthouse that would be easily for our families to walk to. I love the cocktails at Tiny’s, and it’s such a cute little pink façade in the middle of all the gray skyscrapers in the city. When I found out they had a private upstairs room, I knew it would be perfect for our group!
Did you have a signature cocktail? We served champagne, Old Fashioneds and West 12ths (a refreshing mix of vodka, mint and lemon).
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? It’s hard to pick a favorite moment – it was just so wonderful to be with our most important people in the same room. My husband’s parents, his sister, and both of our witnesses all made such moving toasts, the champagne was flowing, the food was delicious, and we were married!
What was your wedding menu? Tiny’s and the Bar Upstairs features family-style starters, and then everyone was able to choose their own main. Without a doubt, I think everyone loved the burrata the most! I had a cheeseburger, which felt surprisingly decadent and like a really fun wedding day choice.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? We opted to semi-elope on our fourth anniversary, even though it fell on a Wednesday in March! I always had dreams of eloping, but we did want our parents and best friends present. This was a nice compromise, and I love that we will always have the one anniversary.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a carrot cake! It’s David’s favorite type of cake, and we had it simply done with all-white icing. It was delicious and easy – his sister and her husband pick it up from the bakery on the way from the ceremony to the luncheon – and it only cost $45.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? We ended up spending about $5K on the day. The main things we spent on: our attire, the photographer and the luncheon. Even without buying much that was specifically ‘bridal’, we still spent a decent amount on what we wore. David invested in a custom-fitted suit (that he’s since worn several times) and I bought a new dress, a pair of nude heels and veil for the occasion (which altogether cost less than $1000). One of our good friends photographed our proposal (as a complete surprise!), and we were thrilled to hire him to photograph our wedding day. Even though he offered us a generous friends and family discount, it was still a major portion of our budget but definitely money well-spent. He did a wonderful job of capturing candid moments and plenty of portraits of us, along with our friends and family. Lunch at Tiny’s & the Bar Upstairs was in a warm and cozy wood-paneled private room. Although they don’t charge any venue fees, there is a $1000 minimum spend, and the set menu was $40 per person (not including drinks).