Jessica and Michael were married on a beautiful spring day at the St. Columba Church in New York City with a reception at the New York Botanical Garden. The day began with preparations in the suite at the Eventi Hotel.

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Jessica and Michael shared a first look outside the church just before the ceremony. Jessica shares, “My favorite moment was our first look. All the planning. All the effort. All of it was worth it to see the look on Mike’s face. To see the man I will spend the rest of my life with so happy brought tears to my eyes.”

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After the ceremony, we all headed to the gardens for portraits and the cocktail hour. A special exhibit of glass artworks by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly were on view throughout the gardens. We were able to take some photos with one of the dazzling pieces outside of the conservatory.

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Mike shares, “My favorite moment was a few moments in the late afternoon in between photos when the two of us were able to sit on a bench alone and just take it all in. That is when it finally started to hit me: that we did it! We were finally married!”

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Jessica shares, “For our venues, we chose St. Columba Church so we could be the fourth generation in Mike’s family to be married in that church. For the reception, we wanted something classic and romantic, yet a venue with its own flare. This is why we chose the New York Botanical Garden. We were able to have the natural beauty of the garden combined with the unique murals in the venue space to make this a very special once-in-a-lifetime event.

Once we had our venue, we knew our style was going to be classically floral themed – perfect for a spring wedding. Everything from the floral appliqués on my gown to the lush floral arrangements for the reception fit in with this romantic spring garden vibe.”

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Congratulations Jessica and Michael!

Special thanks to the team:
Church: St. Columba Church
Officiant: Rev. Fred Pelligrini, SJ
Reception: New York Botanical Garden, Garden Terrace Room
Caterer: Starr Catering Group
Cake Baker: Lulu Cake Boutique
Hair and Make-up: Once Upon a Bride
Bride’s Gown Designer: Bonnie Bridal
Bridal Salon: Glamorous Bride
Groom’s Tux: Black by Vera Wang
Florist: Bride & Blossom
Transportation: Luxor limo
Photo Booth: Iris Photobooth
Hotel: Hotel Eventi, a Kimpton hotel
Photography: Jessica Schmitt Photography with Eric Swartz

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Matt surprised Erica with a romantic proposal in Central Park. Details including a rain backup plan, a birthday candle wish, a knee drop, and two surprise photo shoots are all below!

bethesda terrace central park

Matt and Erica are both single parents with very busy schedules, but were able to find each other online. They met for a round of chip and putt golf back on September 15th. Matt shares, “We both truly experienced love at first sight. It was the perfect day with a crystal blue sky offset by a soft breeze. We also actually had the entire course to ourselves. Since we were casual, we could just be ourselves. We were at ease (well, as far as first dates go). We had a total blast! We laughed just about every step of the way (and gazed quite a bit too). Everything was as it should be. And, after walking Erica to her car, I capped the date by giving her a lavender rose I’d stowed in my car.

Everything since that day and the proposal a few weeks back has been all we could possibly hope for. We flat-out love being together. My son Jake (16) and her daughter Greta (12) get along great too. We’re really lucky.

Now, fast-forward to April 22nd – Earth Day! I’d been planning the engagement for weeks. It was Erica’s birthday that following Tuesday, so I had the perfect cover for a special weekend in NYC. As it happens – up until then – neither of us were very familiar with “The City.” I got show tickets and booked the hotel some weeks in advance as well as made reservations for a special restaurant.

The one detail I hadn’t pinned down up until the day before was finding the right photographer to capture the moment. I corresponded and spoke with no less than 10 photographers. The options were all over the place. I didn’t get to speak with Jessica until late in the day, but it’s an absolute fact that I was hoping she’d be the one that came through. For one, I pretty much set my sights on proposing in Central Park and liked that she was close by. But, more than that, I did take notice of the sincerity in her voice when I left a message and then I really connected with how she presented so genuinely on the website. Everything fell into place late in the day with her being the final part of my big plans.”

There were a number of reasons why I wanted to go with the park, not the least of which that doing it at the restaurant wasn’t original enough and that I probably wouldn’t hold out having a ring in my pocket while waiting to do it at some point before, during or after our 8pm show. It was looking to be a nice day and I totally had set my sights on the image of leaning forward and having my knee on the back of a rowboat following the reservation I’d made at The Boathouse restaurant just before.

Jess was awesome in helping with the details. She actually sent me a map about how to get into that part of the park with a mark on it where she’d be standing in proximity to the boat and right down to how I’d angle the boat to get the best shot. That was it. I was ready. Everything was set. Then, to my near disbelief, it turned out to be a rainy day. So there I was, throughout brunch, looking out the window at all the rowboats lined up along the pond – not being rowed – and realizing my main plan washed-out right down the drain. All that planning and I’m suddenly coming up empty. Needless to say I was feeling a bit discouraged. Ok, I was totally sick to my stomach. But the one thing I knew is that I wasn’t going to let this stop me. This is when I had decided to do it and it was going to go down one way or another.

I found the opportunity to text Jess and try to work out Plan B. Actually, there were more than a few texts and emails throughout lunch while struggling to keep Erica clueless. Then I actually was able to sneak a quick call with Jess, which ironically led to the best option among all the others I’d painstakingly researched and arranged. She directed me to the Bethesda Terrace on the other side of the pond. I’d never been there. We worked it out that Jess would be wearing a red scarf so I’d recognize her and that she’d be standing where she thought would be the perfect spot to lead Erica. It was.

There – by that iconic stone railing and the arches a few feet behind her with the drizzle and fountain for ambiance – I turned to face Erica under her umbrella, still holding her other hand. She felt so right. I eased into the moment by telling her that I was wondering what it was she’d wished for when blowing out her birthday candle in the dessert I’d arranged minutes before at The Boathouse.

She looked at me almost shyly and said something along the lines of wishes told don’t come true. I asked her to try me and she admitted that she’d like to be my wife someday. It was then I looked more deeply into her eyes than ever before. I said that sometimes told wishes do come true. I was more in the moment than ever. I gave her a comforting smile and eased my right knee down to the ground. I had her.

She, of course, knew what was happening but somehow couldn’t quite process it at first. Perfectly confused, she softly asked, “This is it?” and I confidently replied, “This is it.” I think her saying “Oh my God” was somewhere in there too. The box remained hidden, clasped in my right hand while I took my time telling Erica how much I love her and why and that it would make me the happiest man on Earth to spend the rest of our lives together. I savored every moment knowing she was now doing the same. Here’s where I think we’ll leave words to be told by Jess’s work.

Of course, it wasn’t enough for me to just pop the question. I’d spent months working on a poem about our first date titled, “Foretold by a Lavender Rose.” It ended up being 22 verses, so that gave Jess plenty of additional time to photograph the moment. It wasn’t until about 2/3rds of the way through my reading that Erica later admitted noticing a photographer that seemed to have her sights on us. I honestly couldn’t have planned it any better, except for one last thing …

That Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for us to be back in Central Park to enjoy being on the grass field across from Tavern on the Green where we had brunch. I’d planned for us to make our way to the scene of the Fountain Terrace to reflect on the day before AND over to the rowboats which were now in full row. It wasn’t until about halfway through the hour that Erica noticed I’d teamed up again with Jess to do a second shoot of us in the boat this time.

I admit that I kind of needed the fulfillment of seeing through at least part of my original plan. It wasn’t quite the same without a knee to drop, but we definitely got some amazing shots with double thanks to Jess for capturing these moments we’ll cherish forever. She actually sent us an advance copy of our special moment, which we posted online. It got well over 1,000 “likes” and took us the entire train ride home to simply “like” the more than 500 comments we’d already received.

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Matt says, “Of course, everyone is eager to know when that next big day will be. Our current answer is that it will happen on a beach somewhere, sometime in 2018. For now, we’re fully enjoying simply being engaged.”

Congratulations, you two!

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Emily and Josh were married at a very special and unique location in New York City: The Strand Book Store! The preparations began at the Nomad Hotel.

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Such a clever idea! In keeping with the literature theme, their save the date was a bookmark and the wedding invitation was a library card.

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Emily and Josh shared a first look in the hotel room.

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The couple both agreed one of the best moments of the day was the first look.  Josh shares,”It was a moment that we could just share between the two of us–to be together, laugh, and take a few pictures.” Emily adds, “I wasn’t completely sold on doing the first look, but Josh really wanted to. In the end, I’m so glad we did. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment when he turned around and saw me in my dress for the first time. It was just a wonderful moment.”

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When you get married in New York City sometimes you walk past a little graffiti on the way to your wedding!

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We made our way to Madison Square Park for some pre-ceremony portraits.

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Emily shares the story of how they met, “We met at a summer party at the home of mutual friends. We started as friends, but quickly realized that we had a lot in common. It became this ongoing joke every time we found one more random thing we both happen to love. After a couple months, Josh was looking for a new apartment and I just happened to know of a studio opening up in my building. A few weeks later he moved in and we’ve pretty much been together ever since.

Josh asked Emily to marry him while they were in Los Angeles for the wedding of their dear friends, Erik and Mike. Josh shares, “Emily loves data and research, so I spent weeks putting together a PowerPoint presentation filled with charts and graphs of our relationship and data points for why we are perfect for each other. I had grand plans of proposing to her on the beach, but by the time we got there the sun had set and the moment wasn’t right. We ended up grabbing a bottle of wine and going back to our room.”

Emily continues, “He gave me the presentation and I wasn’t completely sure what I was looking at. I got a few slides in before I realized what was happening and burst into tears. When I looked up he was on his knee. It was perfect.”

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Emily explains why the Strand was the perfect place for their wedding, “About a week after we got engaged, we heard about the Strand, went to tour the space, and fell in love with it immediately. We didn’t even look at other options. Once that was decided, everything else just fell into place around the book theme. Within a week we had the save the dates, invitations, decorations, and guest book all figured out. It was meant to be.”

Surrounded by beautiful rare books, twinkling lights and their loved ones, Emily and Josh said, “I do.”

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The Strand doesn’t need much added decoration, but the couple found ways to add extra touches to make the day feel personal and elegant. They used books, votives encircled with pages, small bouquets of flowers and wonderful framed quotes throughout tables in the space. This one includes a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald, “I love her and that’s the beginning and end of everything.”

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Emily and Josh shared their first dance to Bright Eyes’ First Day of My Life.

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This cake was amazing! Emily shares, “Josh was a pastry chef for many years, so choosing the right cake was very important to him. We got the cake from Momofuku Milk Bar because it’s one of Josh’s favorite bakeries in the city.  The three layers were strawberry lemon, German chocolate, and birthday cake.”

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Congratulations Emily and Josh!

Special thanks to the team:
Venue: The Strand Book Store, rare book room
Caterer: Pies ‘n’ Thighs
DJ: The Remixologists, Ben Coleman
Cake: Momofuku Milk Bar
Dress: Augusta Jones
Hotel: The Nomad
Hair/Makeup: Red Door
Officiant: Kevin Jennings
Photographer: Jessica Schmitt Photography

Gramercy Park and Union Square are such classic, romantic spots in the city. Full of charm, beautiful spring blooms and an exceptional coffee spot, the streets we walked down were the perfect setting for Adriana and Dom’s engagement photos. Look out for a gorgeous canary yellow diamond ring, taxis whizzing by and Adriana’s adorable pup!

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Adriana shares, “I met Domenick 3 months after returning home from 3 years living and working abroad in Shanghai China. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like committing to social plans or going out late at night but, somehow on that fateful Friday night in September, I was game to keep my promise to a girlfriend and join her to support her boyfriend at the time who was playing in his band on the lower east side.

I was tired from a long work week and remember telling my girlfriend that I wasn’t even going to  wash my hair. I had met this friend of mine when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I mention this because I believe that from every challenge life throws at you comes a great blessing and so, while I got a challenging disease to manage, its through this disease in a roundabout way that the stage was set to meet Domenick.

Dom was there because he had gone to college with my friend’s boyfriend’s cousin. Confused yet? It doesn’t matter. Basically, all anyone needs to know is we met unplanned, randomly and could not have been more removed from the social groups pulling us into that room. Can you say FATE??? Dom introduced himself to me and we ended up talking the whole night. He called me using the phone (a real man’s power move) the next day, and took a chance I might want to go out with him again. I said “yes” and the rest is history.

I grew up just up the block from Union Square, around the corner from Gramercy Park, and was living at home again for a little while as I got used to life back in New York. This was the backdrop for our courtship–the parks, the restaurants, the coffee shops, even the benches for late night chats and strolls with my puppy, Shera Connie. One of our favorite spots to meet was the lobby bar at the  W Hotel where we will be getting married this fall.”

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Adriana continues, “Dom and I are both very sentimental and want a wedding that falls in line with the examples of sacrifice, patience and true love that have been modeled before us in the unions of our parents and grandparents. In keeping things timeless but with a personal touch it was important to me to have my best friend’s mother help design a ring that would be perfect for me. I went with a yellow diamond because I wanted something different but elegant.

I want your blog readers to know that this post could be called, with humor, ” I bagged a younger man” or “My ring sings just like a canary” but the truth is it should be called “I am marrying the best person I know.” So much of the engagement and wedding is about the bride but every opportunity I get I want to make sure everyone knows how blessed and lucky I feel to be marrying Dom across the street from where I was raised and shown love everyday. It is the perfect union in Union Square.”

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Congratulations Adriana and Dom!

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Bridget and JP planned their engagement along the scenic stretch of the High Line to commemorate their first two engagements. There have been three! Read on for the whole love story.

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JP shares, “If you’ve had a conversation with Bridget in the last four years, you’ve probably heard this story before. But it’s a good one!

Bridget interviewed me for the position of boyfriend. Actually, Bridget was supposed to be interviewing me for the position of attorney at the Legal Aid Society.  She was a forensic social worker there and on the hiring committee, and I had just graduated from law school.  When I walked into the interview room, Bridget thought, “he looked good on paper, but he looks FANTASTIC in person.” (OK, I added that part.)  Bridget made sure the appropriate boxes were checked, and I was hired.

As it turned out, when I walked into that interview room and saw the panel of five people, I immediately noticed the apparently demure girl in the back left corner. My actual thought at the time was “she definitely isn’t single.” But I took note that she was named Bridget and that she was a social worker.

That interview was May 2012. I didn’t move to New York and start the job until nearly four months later, in September. But I didn’t forget about Bridget. So you can imagine my consternation when, well into the second week on the job, I had been introduced to all the social workers. . . but. . . no Bridget.  Finally, as nonchalantly as I could muster, I asked someone, “wasn’t there a blonde social worker who used to work here?”  And they said, “Oh, that’s Bridget.  She’s been on vacation in Croatia.  She’ll be back on Monday.”  Faith in the universe restored.

The ensuing courtship was tentative and shy, but aided by unreserved colleagues who, not even knowing if we were interested in each other, decided we should become a couple.  “JP, you’re single.  Bridget is single.  You should date her.”  “JP, do you like chocolate? Bridget likes chocolate.  You should take her to a chocolate shop.”  And “So have you guys made out yet, or what?” These things were said when both of us were in the same room.  The obvious embarrassment was highly entertaining to everyone else, apparently.

Well, the joke was on them. We had our first kiss outside the office Christmas party and our first date a few days later. And we managed to keep the whole thing a secret from co-workers until Bridget transferred out of the unit 3 months later.”

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Bridget shares the story of how they got engaged, but first JP defines it as: “Slowly. With much prodding.  And in three stages.”

She says, “I call JP “Peter Pan” because he is, according to me, “the boy who doesn’t want to grow up.” And so three years and six months after we started dating (JP says this is approximately three years, five months and 29 days after I was ready to get engaged), I announced to JP that I was going to propose TO HIM on August 11, 2016.  JP rolled with it.

So I made reservations at Mario Batali’s swankiest restaurant, and then took JP up to the adjacent High Line Park after dinner. I said some lovely things, got down on one knee, and popped the question. To my utmost surprise, JP was actually prepared for the moment. He pulled out a legal pad and flipped through a series of previously written messages (a la “Love Actually”) that included, of course, a “YES!” Engagement #1. But then, another of JP’s notes said that until he could afford a proper engagement ring, he’d like me to wear a Claddagh ring as a substitute. JP pulled it out from his pocket, got down on HIS knee and put it on my finger. Engagement #2.

JP continues, “Fast forward a few weeks. We were walking along the waterfront in Brooklyn Bridge Park when Bridget spotted an old brick façade where someone had written in chalk: “Will You Marry Me?” Bridget decided it would be funny—since we were newly engaged—if I stood by it and she took his picture. But as she snapped the photo, she realized I had a black ring box in my hand. Completely and utterly shocked—again, this was the procrastinatory and cash-poor schlub who couldn’t get it together enough to propose to her first—she approached. I opened the box: it was Bridget’s grandmother’s wedding ring! In the weeks since the initial proposal, her paternal aunts Arleen and Kathy had reached out to me and made the tremendously touching and generous offer to pass the ring on. We pulled the Claddagh ring off her finger, and replaced it with the real thing.

So…Bridget didn’t know if she was ever going to get engaged, but it eventually happened. Kind of three times. She can relax now.”

Bridget adds, “Oh, and JP didn’t write the “Will you marry me” message in chalk.  He had been walking around with the ring box in his pocket, waiting for the right moment, and it presented itself.”  JP has told me he recognizes that he is quite a lucky dog when it comes to Bridget, and really hopes the streak continues!

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This is the spot, with it’s quiet corner, where they both got down on one knee and they both said “YES!”

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They will be getting married in Manhattan this September. Congratulations you guys!

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