Real Wedding | Hallie & Marc

I love brides like Hallie.  Totally into their wedding and its significance, but not obsessed about the details or focused on the wrong things.  If all brides were like her, the term “Bridezilla” would be obsolete, and wedding planning would be a lot more enjoyable!

Hallie  & Marc | June 28, 2009 | Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York

How he proposed
When Marc and I met, I was living in Park Slope, Brooklyn– a gorgeous, historic neighborhood full of brownstones, great gardens and fun shops and restaurants. After we moved in together, we relocated back to Manhattan (much to my chagrin!) to be closer to Marc’s job, but we came back to Brooklyn almost every weekend to visit favorite restaurants and see friends. Marc proposed on a freezing cold December night. We had just finished an amazing dinner at our favorite neighborhood restaurant, and Marc suggested taking a walk. We were walking down the street where I lived when we met, and we realized we were the only ones outside. It started to snow. It was incredibly quiet (especially for New York City!), and Marc said he knew that was the moment! He proposed right there, in front of a block of brownstones, on the block where we spent our first months together as a couple. It was a perfect, urban proposal. As soon as we finished jumping up and down and kissing, we called our parents and friends. It wasn’t until we got in the car to go home an hour later that we realized we were numb from standing out in the cold all that time!

The ceremony
We had a Jewish ceremony, performed by an extraordinary rabbi who has since become our friend. We met with her many times before the wedding, and she really took the time to get to know us as a couple. This had a profound impact on the ceremony, as she managed to weave in so many of our goals, values and challenges and our vision for our marriage into the ceremony. We incorporated all of the typical Jewish traditions– we were married under a chuppah, or wedding canopy, with our parents standing next to us. We signed a beautiful ketubah (wedding contract) that was displayed under the chuppah, and I circled Marc seven times under the chuppah before our ceremony began. We also incorporated modern elements into the ceremony. We walked down the aisle to an instrumental arrangement of “Annie’s Song”, played by a trio of musicians, and our recessional was the Beatles’ “When I’m 64,” which made everyone laugh. We wrote our own vows in addition to the traditional Jewish vows, and I’ll never forget how special it was to make my own personal promises to Marc, and to have him do the same.

The moment Hallie will never forget

I loved being under the chuppah with our families during the ceremony. I could have lived under there! It was a breezy June evening, and I just remember listening to the birds chirping and the cows mooing (yes, cows!) and thinking to myself “remember how this feels.” We laughed so much during the ceremony and it felt so natural to be standing there with Marc. I will never forget promising myself to try to carry on that feeling of safety and “rightness” throughout our marriage.

The reception
We got married at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, which is an extraordinary restaurant set on a working organic farm about 45 minutes north of Manhattan. They grow most of the food served in the restaurant, and we thought it was very appropriate to start a life together in a place where we and our guests would be reminded of the cycles of growth and renewal. We’re also huge foodies, and above all, we wanted incredible food be the focus of our wedding. We had a 45 minute cocktail hour following the ceremony, with amazing hors d’ouvres and elderflower champagne cocktails.

Our wedding was small– 67 guests–and by the end of cocktails, we had already seen and hugged everyone present. So many people told me that I’d never get to visit with everyone who came to my wedding, and we felt strongly about bucking that trend. Having a small event helped! After cocktails, we had our first dance, to Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day” and then did the hora with our friends and family.

Then it was off to dinner– 4 courses of beautiful, perfect seasonal food and a delicious wedding cake. To this day, our friends still rave about the food. It really did steal the show, which was fine with me!

Splurges and Savings
We had a good balance of saving and splurging, but overall, our wedding budget was pretty modest for New York. I bought my Vera Wang dress at a sample sale (big savings!), and we bought Marc a beautiful Theory suit that he could wear again and again. We saved AND splurged on flowers– our venue supplied a small centerpiece for each table, and  we had envisioned something bigger. A great friend suggested that we simply order 2 more small arrangements for each table so we could take advantage of the “free” arrangement and still have enough drama on the table.

It was a great, economical way to do centerpieces, and it allowed us to splurge on our chuppah, which was draped with grapevines and flowers. It was insanely gorgeous. We also saved on music– we wanted a live trio for the ceremony and cocktails, so we booked musicians just for that short time frame. For dinner and dancing, we switched to an iPod mix that we made. It worked perfectly, and saved us thousands.

What made her wedding dress “The One”
I only tried on 4 dresses, all at the Vera Wang sample sale. I knew I wanted something with a good deal of ruching and detail but no glitter or beading. I’m also 5 feet tall and very petite, so I needed a dress that would make a statement without overwhelming my frame. When I put my dress on, it fit like a glove, and needed no alterations aside from hemming. I felt sophisticated and a little sexy, and that was the look I was going for.  I’m sure there would have been other dresses out there that worked, but I just don’t have it in my personality to try on tons of dresses. I walked into the sale and 20 minutes later I left with my dress. Done!

Her advice for other brides

The best advice I got was to forget the idea of anything being “perfect.” I think that expectation leads a lot of brides to obsess over little things and lose sight of what’s important– having people you love gather in one place to witness your marriage. There will be things that don’t happen as you envision them, some people will behave in ways you don’t appreciate, you will disagree with your family and spouse during wedding planning. Let it roll off your back to the best of your ability, because on the day of your wedding, you have 2 choices: you can enjoy every second or you can think about things that aren’t going as planned. Easy choice!!!! The journey leading up to the wedding really does set the tone for how you feel on your day, so try to approach it with enthusiasm, acceptance and grace.

Hallie’s Wedding Dress: Vera Wang / Photography: Erik Ekroth