We just love the way Lauren and Phillip approached planning their wedding: “It was important that we create an environment that was elegant and simple, and most importantly, fun,” says the bride. “We did not want a fancy, stuffy, overly-structured atmosphere. Our main goal was to have an event that focused on our guests and ensuring they would have a great time. Our families and friends comprise a truly diverse set of lifestyle and cultural backgrounds, and it was important that everyone feel welcome and see parts of themselves represented. It made us so happy to see all of the different groups interacting with each other.” Read on for all the details of how they brought this vision to life!
“Our first thought was to have a small simple wedding somewhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn, but as the guest list grew, we turned our attention outside of the city. When we saw Shadow Lawn, it just made sense. We knew that we could have the simplicity and stylishness we wanted and it would be far more accessible for our guests. Shadow Lawn was the first place we looked at, and after going to 10-12 other locations, nothing seemed to compare to what Shadow Lawn had to offer. It has such a relaxed yet elegant vibe to it that we knew our guests would be able to let loose and have a good time while still feeling like they were at an important event.”
Did you include any other traditions in your wedding? Phil wore a tie clip and I wore a matching brooch, both from my grandparents’ trip to Japan in the early 1950’s. The tie clip was my grandfather’s favorite.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? It is definitely worth it to make room in the budget to hire a day-of event coordinator to deal with the details of the day so that you can relax and have fun!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Realize that you’re the only one that will notice anything that goes wrong, and any missing details. Decide what is truly important to the wedding ceremony and reception experience and make those things happen. Your guests won’t notice that you got the fancy table runners or the top of the line chairs.
“Getting lost in the ceremony and feeling like it was only the three of us in that moment was incredible. It was important to us to share our story with all of our guests, and we were so happy that we were able to do that in a heartfelt, sincere and fun way.”
Your ceremony in three words. Honest, nontraditional, and fun.
Who officiated your ceremony? Barbara Ann Michaels. Her ceremony was unconventional in a lighthearted way while still honoring traditions and respecting the emotional magnitude of the ceremony. She spent a lot of time with us to understand us, our relationship, and what it meant to us to get married. She was very respectful of both the traditional and nontraditional aspects that we wanted to cover in the ceremony and she made all of it work seamlessly. She was able to keep the guests engaged in the ceremony was able to make them part of the event. Barbara Ann was simply fantastic. Some guests commented that they had never been to a wedding where the ceremony was actually a fun and entertaining part of the event!
What was your ceremony music? As the guests took their seats, “Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel was playing. Lauren walked down the aisle to Iron & Wine’s version of “Such Great Heights.” The ceremony concluded with “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oats.
What were your ceremony readings? Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet 17.
What were your vows like? Our officiant helped us write our vows. We met with her on a few occasions where she spoke to us individually and as a couple. We then sent edits back and forth until we settled on a finalized version. The idea was to have some humor and still be respectful of the fact that marriage is deeply emotional and spiritual event. And because Phil likes surprises, she kept some of the edits/additions from us until the actual ceremony so that we could include that element in the ceremony as well.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Phil was so focused on Lauren that he leaned in to kiss her at the wrong time. Our guests had a good laugh.
“I would describe our reception as very loosely structured and with plenty to drink and eat. Again, our foremost goal was to create a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Eat when you want, drink when you want, and dance as much as you can. We minimized breaks in the music and used variations in the pace to give people an opportunity to slow dance or talk and eat. We decided not to include any traditional dances (first dance, mother/son, etc.) so that the event could be more about our guests celebrating with us rather than watching us celebrate. We had no assigned seating (though we did reserve tables for elder family members) including for ourselves. We wanted to be in the crowd of our friends and family rather than separated from everyone at an assigned table.”
Why did you choose this location for your reception? Aside from the beauty of the venue, it was easier and far less expensive for guests than if we held the reception in Manhattan or Brooklyn. People took time and effort to travel to be with us. We took that into consideration.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We wanted the reception experience to be as free from structure as possible. We were really looking to do something that was more like a fun party where everyone could interact and feel like they were a part of the event. We wanted it to be relaxed and comfortable for everyone.
Please tell us about any other special details from your reception. Music was a high priority. We mixed in classic music for the parents, including 50’s, 60’s and Rat Pack, and even the Electric Slide (no joke, Filipino moms and aunts love it), as well as a broad mix from the 80’s to contemporary, but everything had to be dance-able. // Lauren had the idea to have a Girl Scout Cookie table. It was cleared out in minutes. // We had a bonfire with smores, blankets and hot cocoa. It just made sense, considering the surroundings. // Cappy set up a photo booth and brought boxes of props. People took to it immediately. The results were hilarious.
Menu: Food is a big part of both of our lives, and it was a priority that the menu truly represent our culture and experiences. Passed Hors D’oeuvres: Truffled Mac ‘n Cheese Bites / Lumpia (Filipino spring rolls) / Mini Oyster Po’ Boys on Garlic Crostini with Tartar Sauce / Pigs in a Blanket with Spicy Mustard / Dates Stuffed with Almond and Bleu Cheese, Wrapped in Bacon / Brazilian Coxinha* (herbed pulled chicken wrapped in mashed potatoes or yucca, deep fried) / Beef Filet with Gorgonzola and Horseradish Sauce on Mini Baguette Toast // Dinner Stations: “Filipino” with Chicharrones; Full Lechon; Pancit; White Rice / “Gastro Pub” with Lamb Shepard’s Pie; Slow Cooked Beef Short Rib over Egg Noodles; Mission Fig, Red Beet, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad with Champagne Vinaigrette / “First Date” with Branzino al Cartoccio (Seabass with Fennel, Tomato, and Capers); Roast Cornish Game Hen with Pancetta and Honey, Wild Mushroom Ravioli with Brown Butter and Sage; Asparagus Bundles Tied with Leek Ribbons Drizzled with Lemon Olive Oil
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Justine’s famous carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, bourbon pecan diamonds, lemon bars, brownies, and Girl Scout cookies. Just to bring us back a bit. We also had a bonfire with s’mores.
Did you have a signature cocktail? No signature cocktail. We had a full bar and a whiskey tasting table. We included four types of whiskey – Irish whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch, and Rye with descriptions of each. The beverage manager at Char No. 4 in Brooklyn helped us a TON in picking out the whiskeys. A lot of our friends told us they discovered some new favorites! // Our beers were Lagunitas, Heinekin, Corona Light, and Six Point. // For the wines, we also enlisted the help of some professionals. We went to a few classes at Corkbuzz in Manhattan and then got some recommendations from their sommeliers. They were amazing in giving us suggestions about different types of wines to strike a good balance and also stay within our budget. The wine was amazing and we are super thankful we have a few bottles of each left over!
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? It’s easy to think that every tiny detail will make or break the experience for your guests. Decide what your priorities are and allocate your budget to satisfy those needs with minimal compromise. After that, you’ll realize that there is a lot you can do without. We put half of our budget toward food and drink. Having met that need, it became clear that smaller details were less critical, and small compromises and omissions add up to significant savings. We also decided to buy all of our own alcohol which helped a lot to keep within our budget. It also gave us the freedom to choose the liquor/wine/beer and that made us super happy. It was definitely worth the effort!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Philip: My favorite part of the reception was seeing so many different groups of people eating, drinking, laughing, and dancing together. There was never a moment when there weren’t people dancing and laughing. // Lauren: I was so happy to see the dance floor was always full! Our guests really were eating, drinking, dancing whenever they wanted and having a great time. Seeing so many people smiling and having a good time, interacting with friends and strangers alike – it was just amazing to see.