You Need to See This Vintage Glam Meets Punk Rock Dance Party


Plus: sometimes you get the sweetest first dance singer

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Amy, vp of social media & Matt, lawyer

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: Vintage glam meets punk rock at a really fun dance party.

Planned budget: We had no idea where to start.

Actual budget: $40,000

Number of guests: 150

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Where we allocated the most funds:

The venue: The Bell House was converted from a 1920s printing press and is now a gorgeous concert hall. The venue fee included all alcohol and bartenders, so we knew at least if no food or furniture rentals showed up at least we’d have a place, a killer sound system, and booze. Dance party guaranteed.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Decor: Decorations were mostly handmade by my mother and my best friend—thank goodness for extremely talented friends and family.

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What was totally worth it:

Most of all, hiring a month-of coordinator. All of our vendors absolutely over delivered, but Kristy of Milestone Events by Kristy was a wedding ninja. I thought I would have trouble handing over control, especially after a year of planning, but when Matt and I first met her we trusted her completely to get every detail of the day down. I remember many, many people remarking on how calm I was in the weeks leading up to the wedding, and that’s mostly credit to her for completely taking over so we could relax and get married.

Also totally worth it: having a private ceremony at City Hall two days before the wedding! It was a fun little secret that we shared and a very fun but private way to kick off the big wedding weekend full of family and friends.

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What was totally not worth it:

Stressing out about the guest list and worrying if there were going to be enough seats for everyone. I lost a lot of sleep over this. Our original guest list was over 220, which was out of control. We didn’t want a huge wedding, as we didn’t have the funds, or frankly the desire to hold it in a huge ballroom type of venue that could accommodate that kind of party. So we had to make some really hard decisions. We ended up cutting all extended family and a few friends we would have otherwise liked to invite.

We invited 150 people thinking we’d get a drop-off (everyone tells you 10 to 20 percent won’t come!) and we knew we could comfortably seat 130. Well that math certainly backfired—and in a true twist of irony, not only did we have a nearly 100 percent RSVP rate of yes, but several of our close friends and relatives brought plus ones! We stressed over having to cut people we wanted there, so we really didn’t want people bringing guests we had never met.

After a lot of deliberation, we ended up saying yes to the plus one requests because we understood the reasoning behind them, and frankly we got sick of having so many awkward conversations. It ended up being easier, and it forced us to get creative with seating. We had to put some folks on bar stools near the DJ booth and we had to put a few tables on the stage, but it all looked beautiful and the unique seating arrangements added to the fairly non-traditional vibe we were going for.

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A few things that helped us along the way:

Our crafty and talented friends, not to mention my parents. My dad is a musician and he played the guitar and sang the song for our first dance, “Catch the Wind” by Donovan. It was surreal dancing with my new groom while my dad was standing on the stage playing a song we loved. Then there’s my mother—who my friend once referred to as “Mother Teresa meets Martha Stewart on speed.” Every time I sent her something I was thinking about buying on Etsy, she insisted she could make it better herself, and she was right. Instead of buying a garland to serve as the backdrop of the party and as we walked down the aisle, she created a ten foot garland from scratch. She found table runners made of burlap and lace that went perfectly with the farm tables we rented. She baked 150 cookies, pressed the words “Amy + Matt, Shotime, 7.9.16” into them, and individually wrapped and sealed them so we could give them out as favors.

My best friend from nursery school created our “program” in Photoshop—it was vintage rock poster that listed our names, our parents’ names, and the names of our bridal party. We had them printed and tacked them to the bulletin boards around the space. She also spent a day spray painting table numbers. I think I paid about $10 for some wooden table numbers I got on Amazon and spraying them in gold paint made them look much more high quality than they were.

The ceremony was also custom created by us. We asked our good friend Zaki to officiate, and in the months leading up to the ceremony we had all these ideas of different customs we were going to incorporate. Then, as it came together, we ended up scrapping most of the ceremonies because what Zaki had done for us was the most authentic ceremony we could imagine. He emailed our friends and family in the months leading up to the wedding to ask them why they thought we were a great couple, and then presented the ceremony as if they were all officiating together, represented by him. He pulled together all the elements they had described, wove in a few quotes, and then read the vows we had written to each other. The only “custom” included in our ceremony was the breaking of the glass to conclude it.

Lastly, the cake. Our friend Ali, who owns Sweet Peace Bakery, is an artistic genius! I was the worst “customer” because I gave her zero direction. One day I sent her a gold metallic cake I liked. Another day I sent a cool looking sprinkle cake. Then I showed her a graffiti cake I saw in a magazine. Three things that do not go together but somehow, she combined all three of those into the most magnificent, most personalized wedding cake I’ve ever seen.

Not only was the entire wedding gorgeous, but as I looked around the room, every single detail was so personal to us, so customized, and handcrafted by the people we loved.

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My best practical advice for my planning self:

I want to say don’t stress because it will all come out perfectly, but honestly, it was our stress that inspired us to think of things that could go wrong and come up with preemptive solutions for them. For example, when we found out that our staffing company wasn’t legally allowed to serve drinks from the bar to the guests at the tables, we feared an overly crowded bar where it would take forever to get a drink. The solution? The venue agreed to open a few bottles of wine and place them along each table. Not only did that provide booze for all guests without forcing them to get up and go to the bar, it actually added to the beauty of our table scape! So my advice? Stress but don’t drive yourself crazy. Come up with solutions. Trust your instincts. Trust your vendors. Trust your partner. Have fun.

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Favorite thing about the wedding:

The people who were there! Also, the fact that we pulled it off—seeing every little detail come together flawlessly was beyond amazing and we took so much pride in the type of wedding we threw.

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Anything else we should know:

When we began the whole wedding planning process everything was so overwhelming. We had never even attended a wedding like the one we wanted to have ourselves, and we had no idea where to start, what kind of budget to set (or if we could even afford it), how to even begin what seemed like an unattainable, near impossible task. When we found the Bell House and learned they provided all alcohol, and then Matt came home one day with the idea to cater via this famous New York Italian specialties store (Faicco’s), we realized we could do something really, really special like nothing we had ever seen before. It took a lot of work (thank GOODNESS for APW Planning Spreadsheets!!) but it really all came together perfectly. Faicco’s truly went above and beyond, and they ended up bringing us so much food that we stacked up takeout boxes of leftovers along the table near the exit and begged guests to take food home.

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The Info:

Photography: ein Photography | Wedding Location: Brooklyn, NY | Wedding Venue: The Bell House | Amy’s Dress: Watters | Amy’s Shoes: Kate Spade | Flowers: Zuzu’s Petals | DJ: Jarrell Entertainment | Month-of Coordinator: Milestone Events by Kristy | Rentals: Party Rentals LTD | Staffing: Amerivents | Food: Faicco’s Italian Specialitises | Cake: Sweet Peace Bakery

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  • Emily

    This wedding looks like so. much. fun! Congrats and way to roll with it!

  • StevenPortland

    Wow! That looks amazing! And I really like that you accepted all the +1s and came up with a creative way to seat everyone. I wish you could have posted an extra photo of the cake so I could see more details. Congrats!!!

  • sofar

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE her dress.

    Also, every time someone says, “Bridesmaids and groomsmen *have* to match,” I am going to show them this picture.

    We had a non-matching wedding party, too, so I always cheer when I see someone really pull it off FLAWLESSLY.

    • Amy Schoenberger

      This is the best compliment I have ever received – thank you! I was SO anti matching bridesmaids dresses, and I surprisingly took a lot of flack for it! I told my bridesmaids to pick their own dresses, and they ended up coordinating with each other. This is the magnificent result!

      • sofar

        *high five* I told my bridesmaids the same, and it also worked out well (all ended up picking bright colors that looked great together).

        I also got flack before the wedding (wtf), although, afterwards, several people told me they thought I’d picked the bridesmaid dress colors deliberately to coordinate. In truth, I had no idea until pretty much the wedding day what they’d be wearing, and one of my bridesmaids changed her mind on her dress last minute.

  • Anon

    Dress dress best dress lovely amazing lace dress
    This is the happiest I’ve felt all week, y’all. This rocked.

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  • I saw a someone use the term “pre-engaged” on another post, so I am going to identify as that :) My boyfriend and I want to have around 75 people at our wedding. On a whim, I recently just put together a comprehensive spreadsheet for “my side”–and the grand total came to 130 people!!! And this is not even counting anyone from his side! I was SHOCKED, considering I thought he would be the one with the long guest list. (I call him “the popular one” all the time.) I am not good at saying NO to people and am terrified of having “those” conversations. How do I get away with a sub-100 wedding, when we clearly know 300+ people? (and apparently had no idea *eye roll*) I appreciate this particular bride’s comments on the subject but would welcome some more!

    • jammers

      Make rules and follow them. E.g. “All aunts and uncles. Only cousins we’ve seen in the last year. No second cousins. Only friends who we’ve asked to be in the bridal party.” My parents have been really great at setting expectations among the extended family– so you don’t necessarily have to navigate this alone.

      When we first got engaged, my eyeballs bulged when I put together the list for “my side.” BUT there are probably a lot of your people who you definitely want to invite but who you already know probably won’t be able to make it. We included those on our guest list spreadsheet but greyed them out so it would be easier to keep track of people who were likely to come if invited.