It’s October, and I bet you are starting to plan your Halloween costume. How about wearing your costume to a wedding? Please meet Nancy and Jeff. This anime-loving couple went the full ComicCon at their Bear Mountain Inn wedding, complete with guests dressed in costume. I have all the details in today’s blog.
It was a controlled chaos start to Nancy and Jeff’s wedding day. As any DIY bride knows, while you may tell yourself that you will finish all your wedding projects before your big day, the reality is that you will be finishing your cape, writing your introduction board, and putting together your centerpieces — all while trying to apply your makeup on the day of your wedding. This was Nancy’s morning. I was impressed with her productivity, and while she and her crew put the finishing touches on all of her projects, I took her three wedding outfits into the woods to be photographed.
Bear Mountain Inn Wedding – The Outfits
Yes, you read that correctly – three wedding outfits. Nancy walked down the aisle in a floaty, Grecian-style dress topped off with an ‘armor’ breastplate made of leather which she crafted herself. As a ComicCon devotee (I will share with you photos from their adventure to the convention closer to Halloween), her dress could not have been more perfect. It was elegant, but not over the top, and a splendid match to Jeff and his sword-wielding character. For the cocktail hour, Nancy wore a stunning red silk outfit that looked like something straight out of the film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Finally, dancing at the reception required a shorter, flirtier dress. What better way to burn up the dance floor swing dancing then with a dress that provides its own electricity? With a battery-controlled set of string lights ingeniously sewn into the dress, Nancy lit up the night in a stylish fashion. Her shoes for all three outfits, by the way, were Naturalizer heels which she painted herself with blue leather paint.
Not to be outdone, Jeff’s ensemble was equally unique. Neither he nor any of the groomsmen wore a jacket, which was a smart move in the 80° October heat (!). Jeff distinguished himself with a darker vest and pocket watch, and for the ceremony at least, all the men wore swords (bought on Amazon, believe it or not). Each groomsmen also donned a handmade boutonniere made of foam and a mini character.
Speaking of the bridal party, I should note that Nancy and her bridesmaids eschewed the usual flower bouquet in favor of holding a Squishable stuffed animal. Their dresses may have come from Etsy, but each bridesmaid got to walk her own spirit animal Squishable down the aisle.
Bear Mountain Inn Wedding – The Portraits
So let’s talk about the wedding day schedule. Nancy and Jeff decided to do a ‘first look’ and to take care of all their photos before the ceremony. I have discussed in the past if you should do a first look or wait to see each other before you walk down the aisle. There are advantages to both options, but a first look does take care of all your photography ‘chores’ front and center.
For Nancy and Jeff’s wedding, we set the first look in front of the carousel with the idea to walk from there to the lake and lodge for more portraits. It is at the carousel that I should note an unexpected surprise: be prepared for lots of tourists. While the carousel technically closes to the public at 4:00 p.m., when we were there the merry-go-round kept spinning until 4:15 p.m. or so. My original plan was to have the carousel all to ourselves from 4:00 p.m onwards. Alas, that plan was not to be. One other item to note: since the carousel doesn’t have a full kitchen, the staff will be loading in around the side of the building and setting up within the carousel space making photos virtually impossible. The staff at Bear Mountain was very accommodating, but the trucks and filled parking lot was a bit unsightly. Not a problem: I just cropped in the shot for the first look. Still, keep in mind that you won’t have the place to yourself for photos.
Also, that empty field you see in front of Nancy and Jeff for their portraits? I Photoshopped out every park visitor. Again the crowd levels at Bear Mountain are nothing like Central Park, so give thanks for that, but just keep in mind that the park is still very much open to the public while you are there.
Bear Mountain Carousel Inn – The Ceremony & Reception
Moving on to the ceremony, Nancy and Jeff’s nuptials were as original as their outfits. Preceding the bridesmaids were the ring ‘bearers’: stuffed bears on a remote-controlled wagon that blew bubbles as it moved down the aisle. Nancy walked down the aisle to the ‘Imperial March’ from Star Wars (of course). The ceremony was officiated by the pastor of Nancy and Jeff’s church, Dr. Sammy Kim, who delivered warm and hilarious stories about the couple.
The carousel ran all night long, and it was a blast to see most of Nancy and Jeff’s friends dress in costume for the occasion. Seeing how their wedding that was held on day three of ComicCon, if guests couldn’t attend the conference then they might as well still get to use their costumes, no? The centerpieces for each table were paper flowers made by the bride and augmented by sprigs of greenery bought online. The guest favors for the event were hand-decorated little jars of honey, the covers of which were made to look like one of the five resources in the game, Settlers of Catan. Dinner was buffet style, and while there was no full wedding cake, there was a mini cake layer shaped like a castle. Guests also enjoyed a cupcake tower and an exhaustive candy buffet. Oh, and the guestbook for the wedding was a set of Jenga blocks. Each guest could write a note to the couple on an individual block with a Sharpie. This is a creative idea that I hope more game-loving couples copy. Who needs a basic guest book when you can ‘play’ with your guests for years after your wedding?
Everyone kicked up a storm on the dance floor at the reception. I should make a special mention of the expert swing and salsa dancers in the group — they were a sight to behold. The night ended with cigars under a full moon. This was a fun group, and Nancy and Jeff’s wedding was one of the highlights of my year. I hope their wedding earns me a reputation as a photographer specializing in weddings where guests come in costume!
Nancy & Jeff’s Love Story
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not tell you how these two met and fell in love. As Nancy recalls, ‘My friend Cindy set us up while she and Matt were dating. Jeff and his friends (who live in Rockland County) came over to the apartment Cindy, Janice, and I shared in Midtown. It was April 3rd, Jeff’s birthday, and we ended up playing board games even though I was surprised that a bunch of random guys just showed up on a Sunday night. Cindy pretty much guided Jeff on what to say/do. Left to his own devices, Jeff ended up finally asking me on a date in June, but the date was set in September at the Food & Wine Festival (yes, three months in advance). The first date we actually went on took place earlier in mid-June, and on August 12, we became official.’
So just where and how did the proposal take place? Nancy: ‘It wasn’t exactly a surprise: Jeff accidentally told me in June that the proposal would happen in July while recounting a conversation he had with a friend who wanted to know about the proposal. One morning in July, I woke up to a bunch of photos and props that Jeff made (including a cryptex that I had to solve in order to read the instructions inside that told me where/when to meet him). The props included the dress that I wore one night in August before we started dating and the umbrella we shared that night. After work, I met him in front of the apartment building I used to live in, where we first met. Cindy and Alan were there to capture the moment, although the actual moment of me saying ‘yes’ was blocked by a car pulling up because they were across the street.’ Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.
Enjoy the photos and I’ll have more for you this week on a wedding I photographed at 26 bridge in Brooklyn. Also, don’t forget to check out Nancy and Jeff’s engagement photos at Riverside Park and photos from their terrific trip to Comic Con.
Ceremony & reception venue: Bear Mountain Inn and Overlook Lodge
Catering: Bear Mountain Catering
Wedding cake and cupcakes: Homestyle Desserts Bakery
Wedding dress: Designer Catherine Deane Cascada, purchased at BHLDN
Cocktail dress: Mingmenhualisha purchased on Tao Bao
Reception dress: Baby Online D.R.E.S.S. with string lights added by the bride
Bride’s shoes: Naturalizer, with added blue leather paint by the bride
Bridesmaids dresses: Etsy
Groom’s swords: Amazon
Centerpieces: paper flowers created by the bride; greenery from FiftyFlowers.com
If you would like to see more images from my wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com