Chris and Rob’s Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Wedding

Two grooms dancing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

I’ve photographed three nuptials here before, but seriously, Chris and Rob’s Housing Works Bookstore Café wedding was the one that had every guest shedding tears of joy. Even though it rained buckets in the hours prior to the wedding, nothing could dampen the love inside when Chris and Rob said ‘I do.’ Here are all the details of their Housing Works Bookstore Café wedding from portrait session to groom-led Greek line dance. Yep, think of this blog post as tales from a big, fat, Greek, gay wedding.

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Wedding:

Non-Traditional Traditions and Portraits

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Let me start by introducing Chris and Rob. These two met the really old fashioned way: through a matchmaker. They wanted their wedding to reflect both their love of everyone in the room, and of course, each other. Their wedding was uniquely their own, and they created new traditions such as having a first dance AND duet, speeches of gratitude rather than the typical toasts, and finally, cupcakes over a basic wedding cake.

I was scheduled to photograph the wedding for four hours. This is not a lot of time when you factor in portraits, a ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, so the key was to be organized ahead of time. I worked with Chris and Rob to create a timeline for their day, and the plan went off without a hitch. We started with portraits of Chris and Rob. As I mentioned, it had been raining all morning, so the bad weather plus the fact that the area is currently mired in construction meant that I concentrated our portrait session inside the bookstore. On my venue check the previous weekend, I found ugly scaffolding everywhere. That, plus the fact that the SoHo neighborhood has become such a mecca for tourists made me want to stay inside for the majority our shots. I made sure to work around the event staff who were assiduously putting together the wedding, and stayed mainly on the mezzanine level. One upside to the couple’s table configuration for 90 guests is that the moveable staircases were available to be used as props. In most of the other Housing Works Bookstore Café weddings I have photographed, there were long tables for guests to sit at thereby preventing access to the bookcases. The open seating plan for Chris and Rob allowed me to make full use of the bookstore, and the venue felt so much more accessible this time. We did end up taking a few photos outside, and the big puddles were a great photo opportunity. In comparison, check out the photos from another Housing Works Bookstore Café wedding I shot a few years ago where we did the majority of the photos in the neighborhood.

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Wedding: Cocktails, Then Ceremony

Two grooms with handkerchiefs at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Chris and Rob were fantastic hosts at their wedding. They started the evening with a welcoming cocktail hour, rather than waiting until after the ceremony. Guests got to have a drink and mingle all before the vows.

Speaking of the ceremony, this was the portion of the evening that truly drew all the guests together as they witnessed Chris and Rob profess their love to one another. There were many tears shed by the grooms, but as I tell all of my clients, don’t worry about the tears…they make for great photos. During the ceremony, Chris and Rob called upon their cadre of talented friends to perform. Two friends sang, and the ceremony ended with a beautiful Irish blessing sung by three guests.

The ceremony was located in the normal spot for the Housing Works Bookstore Café: underneath the art and design book section. I should mention, however, that the lighting was quite dark, and I felt compelled to use flash during the ceremony, which I don’t normally do. I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, but if you are hosting your wedding at the Housing Works Bookstore Café, think about turning the lights up just for the ceremony.

Ceremony at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Singers at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Wedding:

The Talent Continues at the Reception

Speeches at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Like I said, Chris and Rob have a very talented crew of friends. The wonderful performances continued at the reception. First off, the evening was emceed by Rob’s brother, Tim, who did a great job. Both the grooms spoke about their love for another, and Chris additionally took the time to give thanks to everyone present, including mentioning each vendor by name. It was a really sweet moment.

Guests were then treated to performances by the grooms. Rob sang, Chris and Rob performed a duet of ‘Something Good’ from the Sound of Music, and finally, the couple had their first dance. Chris is a former ballroom instructor, and they both put on a fun routine.

Afterwards dinner was served as a buffet, and guests had the room and access to mingle throughout the space. Seeing this set up with my own eyes, I think the open space plan works wonders over having assigned seats. Everyone had a seat if they wanted one, but the tables and chairs were spread out on the mezzanine level and throughout both sides of the space. There was enough room on the dance floor for spontaneous Greek line dancing to erupt, and Chris and his mother led the charge to dance the night away.

Greek line dancing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Tango dancing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Wedding:

The Details

Flower centerpieces at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

The couple’s flowers were beautiful, but low key. Chris and Rob used books (of course) to supplement the centerpieces on each table. This is a fantastic idea to split up your centerpieces and use non-flower materials to cut costs. Also, note that the flowers were low, and thus guests could talk to one another over the flowers. In terms of boutonnieres, each groom had a matching, simple flower on his lapel, while the mothers of the grooms had wrist corsages.

It was cupcakes over cake all day, and guests seemed thrilled to be able to select their favorite flavor. Chris and Rob had their initials on the top of each cupcake. The food for the evening was presented by Great Performances Catering. I should note here that Housing Works has changed its catering policy: they no longer do in-house catering, and instead you are allowed to bring in your own choice of caterer. It worked out wonderfully with Chris and Rob’s event, and the food looked as good as it tasted. The main choices for the evening were salmon and flank steak with a chimichurri sauce.

Finally, Chris and Rob did not have a guest book. They did have a social media hashtag – #ChrisAndRob2018 – that encouraged guests to write in through social media. The guest favors for the evening were two items: a CD of songs sung by Rob and his talented guests, as well as a little bundle of candied almonds. The bundles, called bonbonnieres, are the traditional wedding gifts given at Greek weddings. Opa!

Cupcakes at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

If you are planning a wedding at the Housing Works Bookstore Café and would like to chat about your wedding photography, please give me a call.

Coming up in the next blog: all the details on a wedding at Terrace in the Park at Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Venue: Housing Works Bookstore Café

Caterer: Great Performances

Day-Of Coordinator: Gillian Todd

Florist: Rebecca Shepherd Floral Design

Officiant: Jeddah Vialakis

Rings: Van Cleef & Arpels

Cupcakes: Georgetown Cupcakes

DJ: BOK-Music

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Wedding rings at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Groom, guest, and baby at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Ceremony guests at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Guests crying at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Guest singing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Guest singing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Two grooms at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Groom performing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Grooms singing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

Groom and guest dancing at a Housing Works Bookstore Cafe wedding

If you would like to see more images from my wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – www.KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.