When Nicole & Andrew asked me to officiate their wedding, I was both flattered and panic-stricken.  They were both friends, yes, but they were also both wedding photographers, which meant that they had seen it all and had probably heard more than their fair share of boring ceremonies.  And while I pride myself in creating "antiboring ceremonies." I couldn't help but wonder if I would do them and their relationship justice.

Why don't we just do what we want?

The first time I met with Andrew & Nicole to talk about their wedding ceremony, I was excited to find out what they had in mind.  I knew only a few basics - that the wedding was to be held at Peck's Arcade (@pecksarcade), a "casually chic bistro" in Troy, NY (the Brooklyn of Upstate NY) on a Sunday evening in July.  As we started talking, I realized that they had a fully formed, non-traditional, idea of what they wanted.  The wedding ceremony was to be the "casual interlude" between a social cocktail hour at Lucas Confectionery (@12secondstreet, an "industrial-chic wine bar" with a rustic garden) and a intimate dinner party at Peck's Arcade.  Now, I've recently become a huge fan of "drinks before the ceremony," as it loosens people up and sets a social, instead of a formal, tone for the ceremony. But this was a whole new level of "turning tradition on its head" - the cocktail hour BEFORE the ceremony.  "Tell me more!" I thought. They went on to describe how they wanted to casually ask guests to join them in the courtyard for the ceremony, and that there would be no "processing in" of anyone.  Everyone would simply gather in a circle around them and I, with several seats reserved for parents and grandparents.  As the guests stood, circling them with their love and support, we would hear several readings from friends & family, I would talk a little about their relationship, and they would exchange personal vows. After pronouncing them married, a friend would play guitar as they did a "first dance" (yes, DURING the ceremony!), and everyone would then head into the dining room of Peck's Arcade for dinner. As creative as I like to think I am, I had a little trouble envisioning how this all would flow... but in the end, it was PERFECTION.


Nicole & Andrew chose to stay overnight and get ready on the day of the wedding at the Green House Mansion, a 164 year old brownstone on a private urban park in historic downtown Troy. (check out their story and photos on Instagram @thegreenhousemansion) They knew of the location because they had done photo shoots there and saw how it fit the relaxed but classy vibe they were going for.  And because they are both (fantastic!) photographers, they made the wise decision to hire an out-of-town photographer (Jessica Perez @whoajess) whose work they liked, as opposed to choosing one photographer friend and disappointing many others. The collection of photos (not only from the cocktail hour, ceremony, and dinner, but both before and after the wedding) are nothing short of inspired brilliance!

Ceremony Planning

As we were putting together the ceremony, Andrew & Nicole had originally wanted to write their own vows and keep them a secret from each other until the day of the wedding.  But during the process of writing them, they both decided that there were things that they wanted to share with each other, but not in front of all their guests.  So they each wrote a letter to the other that they exchanged the morning of the wedding, and they worked together on some very simple but personal promises that they shared with everyone during the ceremony.


I usually share some of the couple's story and some thoughts on love and marriage during the ceremony, but given Nicole & Andrew's personalities, and they way they had made such non-traditional choices with the rest of their wedding, I decided to go in a different direction.  I shared two amazing modern poems by two vanguard poets that I thought fit them and their story.  The first was "Typewriter Series #1" by Tyler Knott Gregson, and the second was "A Mouthful of Forevers" by Clementine VonRadics.



A Magical Evening

There was something really magical about the evening as it unfolded. Everyone was over the moon, as guests always are, for the couple. 

But there was something extra - we all knew that we were a part of something very special - deliberately constructed to emphasize the enjoyment of the evening while eliminating the traditional elements that didn't fit Nicole & Andrew's idea of how they wanted to get married. 

 Oh, how I wish that all the couples I work with felt the freedom to do this! It was really extraordinary to float through the evening with a sense of

 "I wonder what's next?" as opposed to "ok,now we listen to speeches/watch the first dance/etc."

  • "May all those who are lonely find a love like yours." Lily Alayne Owen, best friend speech

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Accommodations:  The Green House Mansion

Photography:  Jessica Perez

Hair & Makeup:  Kyle Ann Garcia

Florist:  Samantha Nass Floral Design

Bride's Dress: Reformation

Groom's Suit:  Suit Supply

Cocktail & Ceremony Venue: Lucas Confectionery

Officiant:  Chaplain Claudia Meyer

Dinner Venue:  Peck's Arcade

Cake:  Sugar Lane Cake Shop