Ninon and Dan’s Quaker New York City Wedding

I’m so delighted to get to share Ninon and Dan’s wedding with you. I’ve shared a number of reader weddings that used a Quaker-style wedding service, but this is the first honest-to-goodness traditional Quaker wedding I’ve had the privilege of sharing. As Ninon says, “Dan and I were married ‘Under the Care’ of Flushing Meeting, which is the real deal.” Their wedding is beautiful, and I’ve found that Ninon’s words have had particular resonance with me this week. As I’ve noticed my brain running off to obsess about things like “Oh, goodness, do we need ceremony decorations?” I keep coming back to the importance that Quakers put on simplicity. For me it’s been an important reminder that simplicity has i’s own beauty and its own value. And with that, I’ll let Ninon take it away:We married the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, 2008. One of my best friends said it was pretty smart getting married around a nationally mandated holiday of thanks. Dan and I quite agree! Our wedding was informed by both joy and loss. My mother, who passed away five years ago this May, was a big inspiration. Finding creative and non-morbid ways to include her spirit and love was important to me. Celebrating with family was central to us both. When you have suffered a loss, like the death a mother, really taking the time to savor and hold up an occasion of joy becomes a beautiful thing. Bringing our families and wonderful friends together to truly celebrate life and love was our main focus.Our wedding was held in Flushing, Queens. We had a traditional Quaker wedding ceremony at the historic Flushing Quaker Meetinghouse which dates back to 1694.The outside of the Meetinghouse was under construction, scaffolding surrounding the old wood building and everything. When I first found out, just three months before our wedding, that the scaffolding would be up I was heartbroken. A construction site was not what we had pictured when we set our date. But then it helped me embrace my motto for the wedding. “It’s not going to be perfect! It’s going to be amazing, but not perfect.” This motto kept me sane and kept me focused on the things that were really important – friends and family coming together to celebrate Dan’s and my love and union.We had the reception across the street at Flushing Town Hall, another historic site that is a working theatre. Dan and I are both actors, so it was perfect. Umm, I mean amazing!What made our wedding creative:
Our Save the Dates and our New Yorker inspired invitations were really fun. Our dear friend and creative soul mate, Paige Panzner-Kozek ( helped us realize our literal take on the Save the Date (we sent actual dates, as in the dried fruit, all across the map). And she created a mini New Yorker magazine for our invitations.These both set a fun tone for our wedding and the response from our family and friends was amazing. We also incorporated fall in a lot of creative ways. Instead of vases for our centerpieces our florist used hollowed-out squash. The escort cards were die-cuts of pumpkins and leaves that I found online. My in-laws grew large pumpkins that we used to line the stage at the reception.

What made our wedding thrifty:
Many things:
We got ready at home, good friends did my makeup and hair,we took the subway out to Flushing, my dress was a bridesmaid’s dress from Jenny Yoo (just done in white) and our DJs were recent college-grads who had worked at their university’s radio station – dance elves solidly outside the WIC. Dan wore his grandfather’s tux. It just needed slight alterations and it was a wonderful way to incorporate family and be a bit green as well. His “groomsmen” wore suits they already owned.
But, hands down the biggest thrift was my amazing brother, Chef Dan, who did our food. He hand cooked most of it, spent the days leading up (even Thanksgiving!) prepping it all himself and then had staff day-of to help. I told my brother early on, “I don’t want you to work my wedding.” But he wouldn’t have it any other way. He poured all his love for me and my husband into one of the best dinners we and our guests have ever had. It was the best wedding present we got!What made our wedding sane:
Our day-of coordinator Jessica Prunell. Now, I never thought I’d be a bride with a wedding coordinator! I’m a Quaker for god’s sake; we take simplicity very seriously. But I also did not want to run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I wanted to be in the moment which I knew, for me, meant getting professional help. We found the amazingly talented Jessica, who was organized, thorough, calm and truly worked so that we would have a wonderful and magical day. She was worth her weight in gold.My motto, “It’s not going to be perfect! It’s going to amazing, but not perfect,” was the linchpin of my sanity. And the Quaker wedding ceremony itself really grounded the day.With its moments of contemplative silence and meditation, Dan and I got to sink down and truly feel the moment. It was, dare I say, perfect.
And last, but certainly not least, A Practical Wedding helped me keep perspective on a daily basis. It even made me laugh when I was in the throws of obsessing about things that, in the end, did not matter. (Editors note: Awwwwwwww…)

Thank you to you both. May your lives together be long, and filled with as much love and intention as this first perfectly imperfect day of marriage. Cheers to you both!

All photos by Jenny Ebert

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  • New Yorker wedding invitations! Holy crap, that’s so cool. This wedding seems sincere and full of love. Congratulations!

  • I love your quaker marriage certificate. Not only does it look lovely, but it’s such a wonderful sentiment to carry with your through your marriage!

  • How beautiful! Congratulations!

  • Desaray

    very inspiring. its awesome to see a quaker wedding, thanks meg for covering such a wide range of traditions and perspectives.

  • the sheer joy of the first picture just warmed my cranky heart. thank you for posting this today. :)

    and much love to another practical couple in queens.

  • What a beautiful wedding… I love it. And yes, perfect it is ;-)

  • Congratulations – I’m sure that this was one of the most beautiful, sincere, and memorable weddings. Even with the scaffolding!

  • wow, such a beautiful post. i got weepy.

    i love her mantra about letting go of perfection. what a smart lady!

    congrats to the happy couple!

  • Love your wedding! Thanks for sharing. Your pictures are amazing and really capture the spirit of your day. Beautiful.

  • Amy

    What a beautiful wedding! I was wondering if Ninon would be willing to share some of the ways in which she incorporated her mother’s memory in her ceremony? I lost my father 5 years ago this last Valentine’s Day, and I’ve been having trouble deciding how I want to incorporate his memory in my upcoming wedding. I absolutely want him to be a part of the day, because he was such a huge part of my life, but I want it to be in a joyous and celebratory way and it’s leaving me pretty stumped.

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    What a gorgeous and heart warming day. It’s been ages since I read about a wedding and got all warm and fuzzy!

  • Meg

    We’ll talk a bit more about that tomorrow, and that might be worth it’s own post at some point too.


  • What a beautiful and grounded bride! I loved this post.

    I’m wondering if they might share how they found their wedding coordinator for a fellow thrifty NYC bride? Thanks! :)

  • Those invitations are excellent. Very creative!

  • This is soooo beautiful. I love the picture of the couple sitting among everyone else during the ceremony. Oh, I just love the whole thing.

  • Wow, thank you guys!! I’m honored that Meg featured us. This I such a wonderful blog and community– thank you Meg!

    Amy, there are many ways to honor your Dad. I chose things my Mom loved–which Meg will write a little more about tomorrow. Simple things like food, flowers, things that remimded me of her spirit. My friend Kim, whose father passed away a couple of years before her wedding, put pictures of her Dad dancing all around. He loved dancing! The pictures were joyful and part of the celebration. It also inspired Kim and her husband to include other pictures of family too. All around their cocktail party joyful pictures of family. I also tried to focus on the ways my Mom would be there, just… well… on a differnt plane, if you will. The fact that my brother was the chef and he first cooked in her kitchen; that all of her sisters would be there; that my brother’s son, her grandson, carried in our rings and that he and the children Dan and I will have will continue her legacy. Your Dad will be there, Amy. He lives in your heart and your heart will be so full on your wedding day.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Ninon,
    Thank you for sharing…such a beautiful wedding. It is an inspiration!

    We are getting married in NYC too, and if you’d like to recommend your college DJs we would love the information. Thanks,

  • What a beautiful and special day.

  • Ella,
    Our DJs were Anna and “Snacky”. They are AWESOME! anna.waluk at gmail dot com, mysnacky at gmail dot com

    Congrats and good luck with your wedding planning!

  • I am looking for ways to honor my mother as well. It will be ten years this September (I’m getting married in July).

    One of the things I’m going to do is incorporate fresh sprigs of basil into my bouquet. My bouquet will be a mix of herbs as well as white and yellow roses. Basil was my mom’s favorite herb to cook with and it just seems right to mix it in.

  • Mandy,
    Brilliant idea with the basil!! I had rosemary in my little hair piece–“for remembrance”. There’s a great post at OffBeatBride on picture charms that can dangle from you bouquet. Small and subtle. I didn’t have a bouqet, just a single flower (purple lavender–my mom’s favorite =). If I’d opted for a bouquet I may have rocked the charm idea:

  • Oh, I like that. I’m a Quaker getting married in a traditional Quaker ceremony, too.

    I sort of like seeing how our traditions have influenced people so much (I’ve seen a lot of ‘Quaker’ marriage certificates, for example), but it also makes me sort of sad. And I can’t explain why that is.

    BUT this just made me happy, and now I’m looking forward to me own even more!

  • Meg

    I think that’s very normal, Peppered Moth. I get very sad when I see huppah’s used in non-religious ceremonies just because they are pretty. When powerful symbols are stripped of some of the depth that you know that they have, it can be sad. Wonderful to know that people like your traditions, but sad too. Normal.

  • Ninon,

    Thanks for the idea. In planning my wedding, I’m finding that I miss my mom more and more. She should be here. But I know she is always with me.


  • Just one more contact, for anyone interested. The phenomenal Jessica Prunell, our day-of coordinator: jessicaprunell at yahoo dot com
    She does day of and much more in-depth coordination, too.

    Mandy, I missed my Mom so much during the planning. Weddings are often thought of as THE mother and daughter experience. My whole mantra of “It’s not going to be perfect!” may well have begun with recognizing that her absence was “imperfection” in the ultimate sense. In many ways, it’s another fantasy that the WIC sells us; the idealized picture of mother and daughter picking out all the perfect little details; the proud father giving away his little girl. How many women out there are estranged from their fathers or have done nothing but fight with their mothers all their lives. How does that picture fit in with the wedding fantasy? Ok… it’s late here on the East Coast. I would say more, but I feel like I’m starting a rant, and that may not be helpful. Savour these happy times, Mandy! That’s the important thing. Celebrate you, your love, your life and that will honor your mother and make her alive in ways you only dreamed of. =)

  • Hi!

    What a great wedding. I am looking for a DOC for my wedding, is there anyway you can link me to the wedding planner in this article?


  • George Timlin

    Dear Friends

    Lovely photographs. I hope you don’t mind I have used a couple of your pictures in school to show the children the joy of a Quaker wedding. I hope your lives are full of love and peace.