A New Year's Day New York City Wedding
Lori and Jan
Lori Levine and Jan van Arsdale didn't have to go far to get to their wedding—just five blocks from their Gramercy Park home in New York City. They chose farm-to-table restaurant ABC Kitchen, not only for its Michelen-start rated chef, but also because they consider it their home away from home. "It's our 'Cheers,'" Lori notes, referencing the neighborhood bar of the television show with the same name. The bride (who founded celebrity marketing and events company Flying Television) and groom (a director in equity research sales) often share romantic meals at the chic spot, or take his four children there for family brunch. Not to mention it's where Jan proposed on January 21, 2014.
While basking in the afterglow of being engaged, Lori looked around the elegant dining room and declared the two should wed in that very space. And so they did, exactly 16 months after meeting. The New Year's Day black-tie celebration on January 1, 2015, also kept in tradition of the pair commemorating 1sts, as they always celebrate the first day of the month with a toast. It was also the first wedding ever held in the space.
The duo had issued in the new year with family and friends at a bar near their home the night before, and started a new stage of life—being husband and wife—with 127 loved ones in a white, silver, and lavender party that was tranquil, personal, and a bit magical.
Working with Cassandra Bette Events and Storkie Express, the couple selected platinum gray cardstock and gold foil stamping for the modern suite, which was designed using Copperplate Gothic Bold typeface. Wording for the other events surrounding the wedding was tongue-in-cheek, citing Jay Z lyrics for the after-party.
Welcome to New York
Lori, who also started Comes With Baggage, a company that sells a variety of customized clutches took the preexisting bridal doodle design that was on offer and customized it with the wedding monogram and printed them on a steel gray tote bag in white ink. They were filled with travel coffee cups and coffee, the bride and groom's favorite candies and snacks, custom PapaBubble candy with "J heart L" inside, and a welcome note and itinerary. Lori and Jan personally delivered them to each out-of-town guest—spread out at 24 different hotels!
For pre-ceremony portraits, in the park by the couple's home, Lori wore a Dee Hutton silk faile and silk tulle ball skirt (with pockets) and a Thomas Mason for J.Crew shirt that was gussied up with tulle-covered buttons made by Dee. A moonstone and diamond Verdura necklace, diamond Bader and Garrin earrings, and Alexander McQueen peep-toe shoes rounded out her ensemble. "I remember my heart soaring and the biggest smile appearing on my face," Jan notes of seeing her for the first time. Jan chose an Ermenegildo Zegna tuxedo, Brioni shirt, Hugo Boss shoes, and a blue bow tie from The Tie Bar.
For each item of clothing the couple wore that day, they sewed their JvL monogram inside. It was a surprise from the groom, who discovered them while getting dressed. Since daytime portraits were always in the cards, but Lori wanted to surprise her groom by walking down the aisle in something he hadn't seen her in, she opted for a complete outfit change before the real festivities began.
Lori's bridesmaids were asked to find gowns that felt like vintage Hollywood within a palette of platinum, rose gold, and champagne. "I told them to find dresses they would feel beautiful and glamorous in," Lori recalls. "And to make sure they could dance in them!" The bridal party paused for photos atop the Gramercy Park Hotel, where they also got ready.
The ABC Home décor and visuals team dreamed up the open chuppah, which was constructed with white birch branches, bistro bulbs, white gauze, and a piece of Lori's late sister's wedding dress woven in the middle of the draped fabric. White floral climbed up the poles.
As for the service itself, Jan walked down the aisle to Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," the bridal party to "Claire de Lune" by Claude Debussy, and Lori and her two cousins to Laura and Aton's version of "La Vie En Rose". Lori had changed into a silk Anne Barge gown that reminded her of two iconic New York landmarks—the Chrysler Building and the Guggenheim Museum with its architectural lines.
The Jewish ceremony incorporated the traditional seven blessings, which were recited by the bridesmaids. The couple wrote their own vows—and even though they wrote them independent of one another, they both ended up acknowledging the children first. Lori had also penned her words five months after meeting Jan, though at they time they were written as a heartfelt email. "It was so beautiful and poetic that I wanted to know who wrote the text," Jan says of receiving the digital correspondence. "I started searching online but the author wasn't coming up. Then I realized that Lori wrote it. I was so flattered."
Jan's children also lit a special candle set out to commemorate those no longer with them. The service concluded as "Wonderful Night" by Fatboy Slim played as the recessional kicked off the party.
A Wall of Love
Often seeing old photos of family member's nuptials when attending guests Lori and Jan wanted to put their own spin on the idea. Going online and finding wedding photos of all of the couples in attendance, they printed them out, and framed them in plexiglass frames, displaying them in an artful way. It was a nod to the loving couples in their lives, and the examples of long-lasting and full marriages.
Everyone moved to the front room of the venue for cocktail hour, where they dined on line-caught tuna sashimi marinated with ginger and mint; roasted kabocha squash toast, ricotta, and apple cider vinegar; mini veggie burgers; roasted beets with housemade yogurt; crab toast with lemon aioli; shaved raw fluke with crushed olives, lemon, and chilies; and pigs in blankets with mustard aioli. A jazz duo performed classic standards from the 40s and 50s, while guests enjoyed the eclectic fair and sipped on spicy basil margaritas, champagne, and whiskey, bourbon, and scotch from the special tasting bar that was also set up.
A Typewriter For Messages
A "mail station" was set up using a vintage typewriter from Gramercy Office Equipment Co., an antique metal desk, and paper prompting guests to type out their advice to the bride and groom. Each note went into a vellum sleeve in a binder at the couple's home, and is proudly displayed on their coffee table. Whenever anyone new visits the couple's home, they are asked to leave a note in the same book.
The bride and her planner went on a mission to source interesting items to display on the reception tables, which were set with hand-dyed table runners from ABC Home, mini candelabras from Jamali Garden which were then oxidized to give them a patina, cloches from Restoration Hardware filled with twinkle lights for a bit of winter wonderland feeling, sequin strands from M&J Trimming that were washed to mute the color a touch, silver crochet string, rose quartz specimens and assorted geodes, and plenty of candles. White and pink flowers in a mix of petite vases filled the rest of the table. Menus doubled as place cards, with each person's name printed atop the card, which was tucked in to the folded napkins.
Everyone enjoyed the feast of slow-cooked salmon with celery root and brussel sprouts; fried organic chicken with swiss chard and hot sauce butter; and fresh fettuccini with pistachio pesto. "We wanted guests to mingle with each other through the meal so we thought it best to serve family style," Lori explains.
DJ James Vincent spun a variety of songs—many of which were requested by guests as they filled in the blank to "the song I want to hear most at the wedding … " on the response card in the invitation. The most requested tune? "Groove is in the Heart" by Dee Lite. Toasts were given, including a hilarious and heartfelt one by the bride's friend of 20 years, actress Fran Dresher.
The Sweetheart Table
The newlyweds shared a small, square table under the chuppah, in the very same place they officially became husband and wife. The bride's rose bouquets (there was one for the day-time portraits and another for the wedding itself) served as the main décor.
Angela's Piñatas made custom disco ball piñatas—hiding a surprise for the guests in plain sight. Five of the spheres, ranging from 16" to 36", covered in over 785 hologram stickers, held over 18 lbs. of goodies—candy, gift cards, and even a pair of tickets to see a Broadway show. No one suspected they weren't real disco balls. When Lori took out the bat, she had the teenage boys line up and take a whack first. "The look of shock on the guests' faces was priceless," Lori recalls.
During a meeting to discuss the cake, Sylvia Weinstock asked the bride about the wedding. When Lori explained that she'd be changing into a lace "tuxedo" for the after-party, Sylvia asked to see the material and took her cue from there. The light blue, four-tier confection boasted four different flavor pairings, including chocolate cake with cannoli cream and almond cake with blood orange and key lime buttercream.
Deconstructed s'mores, churros with melted chocolate, whoopee pies, and monogrammed French macarons were also on offer.
The Groom's Cakes
BCake NY created a pair of bride and groom skulls in the style of Dia de los Muertos figurines. Having a groom's cake is a traditionally southern custom, and since the groom's maternal family hails from New Orleans it was only fitting.
The groom's cake was infused with white tequila and lime and layered with tequila buttercream and was decorated with a top hat. The bride's cake was dark chocolate with chocolate mousse and ganache filling, with a floral sugar veil topper.
A Sign of Love
Lori and Jan always sign their notes to each other with the same ending: "I want you, I need you, I love you, always." As a nod to the sentiment, and to add some lighting to the dance floor, Lori asked Krypton Neon to create the custom, freestanding piece, which doubled as a keepsake for the newlyweds.
That wasn't the only special installation. Flowers were strung to spell the word "love" on one wall, and three wood panels by artist Nicole Dana—including a brick background painted with a graffiti-style heart and the couple's hashtag inside—were on display.
To All A Good Night
Lori (in her pale blue and white Dee Hutton after-party outfit, Christian Louboutin shoes, and Chanel headband) and Jan (in a white Brioni dinner jacket, Giorgio Armani shirt, and custom Nike iD sneakers) walked to their after-party at the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel.
After being handed warm chocolate cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows in to-go cups printed with "Baby, It's Cold Outside" guests followed, with 40 revelers keeping the festivities going until around 3 a.m.
Photography: Trent Bailey Photography
Location and Catering: ABC Kitchen
Flowers: Celadon & Celery
Portrait Photography: Brian Ach of Swell Wedding
Videography: moho creative
Officiant: Rabbi Zoe B. Zak of Temple Israel
Stationery: Storkie Express
Cake: Sylvia Weinstock
Groom's Cakes: BCake NY
Bride's Accessories: (pre-ceremony) Bader and Garrin earrings; Verdura necklace, Rose Ross engagement ring, Alexander McQueen shoes; (ceremony) Peter Langner veil, Bader and Garrin earrings and necklace; Christian Louboutin shoes; (after-party) Chanel headband; Verdura earrings; Christian Louboutin shoes
Hair: Yianni Tsapatori
Makeup: George Miguel
Lighting: Play Music Consulting
Transportation: Ready to Roll
Décor: ABC Home
Nail Art: Nails by Mei
Portrait Photography Station: Brian Ach
Wedding Rings: Bader and Garrin
Wedding Stylist: I Do I Do I Do Bridal Styling