I’m so excited to finally be blogging our own Garner Arts Center wedding: part 2 of our wedding story! #thefoxmarriedthehare
In case you missed it, Steve and I were also a covid couple and held our backyard ceremony in October 2020 at my grandma’s house in Florham Park, New Jersey. As wedding photographers, we weren’t going down without a fight, though, and postponed our bigger day to October 2021. And now that we’ve gotten to do the full experience on the other side as “bride + groom,” we have A LOT to say. So buckle in. TL;DR <– We warned you, lol.
Our vision was Industrial-Modern, Boho-chic with botanical elements. We were in formal attire (Steve wore a custom tux) but we wanted a casual feel for the guests. The interior of the reception space of the Dye Works building at Garner Arts Center has wooden beams and exposed weathered brick with string lighting. A river runs through the entire place. We love the mix of nature and industrial at the Garner Arts Center complex. If you’re unfamiliar, Garner Arts Center is an old textile mill located in Rockland County, New York. It used to be a Civil War/World War II uniform factory. There’s so much history and character to the architecture. On site, you’ll now find other various businesses including our fantastic caterers Hudson’s Mill NY and Industrial Arts Brewing where we sourced our beer kegs for reception! Additionally, the fact there are artists’ lofts and the Frank Welles Gallery space meant so much to us and our mutual love of art.
We also really wanted to hold our wedding in a venue that we hadn’t worked at before, which was hard to find! One of our couples (shout out Izzy & JT!) told us about this place and we immediately drove up for a visit. We were instantly in love and had a gut reaction immediately. #thismustbetheplace
We also wanted to evoke the darker moodiness of the beginning of Fall, reminiscent of an Italian Baroque painting. The goal was tastefully Fall without being so blatantly obvious of a Fall theme. Colors in mind were sage, merlot, deep purples, deep greens, champagne and ivories.
“Home for holiday break freshman year of college, Jen met Steve while checking out his band at Cafe Incite in Lyndhurst, NJ. Jen went back to school for the semester, but they talked on Facebook and texted for the remainder of her school year. Over the Summer break, they met over coffee and talked about everything music & art-related and even how they both worked in supermarkets. They couldn’t run out of things to talk about. By September of Jen’s sophomore year, they made things official and started dating.
Steve proposed to Jen on the “Hook” end of Sandy Hook beach on a clear, blue sky 80° day in the Summer of 2019. Jen loves the beach way more than Steve, he’s more of a mountain & lake kind of guy. He tolerates the beach because Jen loves it. They often go to Sandy Hook because it’s more quiet than some other beaches along the Jersey Shore. Steve asked Jen to go for a walk down to the end of the hook where the fishermen fish. It was extra quiet, no one was around except for a few fishermen. After admiring the view of the skyline on the clear, blue day (one of the charms of Sandy Hook) Steve suddenly put his arm around Jen and in his hand in front of her face was the ring. He said “So, do you want to do this??” (Lol I swear guys this was actually super romantic. We had MANY discussions regarding marriage already). So Jen replied, “OMG, wait this is happening today?!” Jen also said “Yes!!” and they strolled back up the beach in elation. Realizing they never got a picture of anything that just went down, Jen asked a bystander to take a picture of them. She had to explain “we just got engaged!” because no one saw it happen except for some uncaring fishermen. They still joke that they are photographers who didn’t have their own proposal documented, but sometimes it’s just nice to live in the moment!
After 2020 plans were derailed due to the pandemic, they celebrated their wedding on their 10 year anniversary of togetherness in 2021!”
We have so much admiration and gratitude to all of our vendor friends who made our day possible. The entire list of vendor credits can be found at the very end of this post. But we first and foremost have to thank the already-mentioned venue (thank you Miles!) for hosting us, our caterers who went ABOVE and BEYOND (Michelle & Jim, you two are literal saints. Chef Peter your food just leaves us speechless every time). Off Beet Productions, Kate & John we are endlessly indebted to you for your hard work and beautiful memories preserved in these photos. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making time for us during the busiest weekend & season ever!! You two were non-stop. Kyle & Kim with Clean Canvas Media thank you for documenting everything via video, even though Kim was just supposed to be a guest!! You two are always so much fun to have around!! Angie of SociaLife Events. I would’ve lost my mind without you. You are a life-saver. You made it so that we didn’t have to feel compelled to “work” on our own wedding day. You did more than I ever expected and I’m forever grateful. Our florist, Park and Bloom. I was stunned. Blown away. Gasped. Couldn’t have been happier. I now have my bouquet dried and hanging in my office so I can look at it every day. Our officiant, Rev. Maureen Jeffries thank you for giving us the most beautiful marriage ceremony TWICE. You gave us a safe space to open our hearts and unify our lives forever. We love you.
The Gallery, A Salon, Alyssa & Gina. ALYSSA – My hair has never looked so good. Please teach me your ways. I cried taking the bobby pins out later that night. Gina, all my girls and my mom looked beautiful! Thank you!!
Kathleen Marie Benjamin makeup, Gina (different Gina^ lol) was fantastic! My bridal look was everything I hoped for. Fresh but deep with a Fall color palette on my olive skin tone. Not too dark. I’ve never felt so beautiful!
Veronica at Vesa Brides, THANK YOU for performing miracles and snatching my dress to my body as well as making one of the most incredible creations, ladies and gents: THE VEIL-CAPE. (We’ll get to more of that below).
Bijan at BBespoke Apparel for making Steve’s custom tux. He was so concerned/nervous about the color but you NAILED it! He looked SO handsome. Still can’t get over it.
Christina of The Cakes of Wrath, every cake you’ve made for us (first wedding, my bridal shower and second wedding) has been the most delicious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. And insanely gorgeous. You’re a talented artist.
Thank you Angelica with 1890 Studio for our beautiful stationary (invites, wooden signage & table numbers). It was exactly what we envisioned and tied everything together beautifully.
Justine!!! (Steadfast Strokes) I don’t know how your hand didn’t cramp doing all those escort cards and chalk signage. But you’re the BEST. And shout out to the guest appearance by Mr. Met who kept the party alive and surprised Steve!! The real MVP, lol.
Thank you all so much times a million!!!
Now, *ehhem,* without further ado – here is the entire day. Feel free to watch our video first!
Steve’s wedding gift to me was a Miyabi Chef’s Knife. LOVED. IT. I use it every day. (On food, not on my husband..lol).
Had an issue with my original stone from my engagement ring and had to have the stone in the ring replaced. I wasn’t ready to let go of the stone that was in the ring when Steve proposed. So I had it turned into a matching necklace!
Shout out to Diamonds by Dawn!
Rabbits/Hares are a running theme in my life since I was a kid. It was only fitting I found a wooden one in the prep space.
OH! And I had that ring box engraved by Foster Engraving.
Don’t know what I would’ve done without these girls to keep me sane that entire weekend. Also shout out to the best 2 Matrons of Honor and all the girls for throwing a Mean Girls themed bachelorette party for me (our original wedding date and anniversary is 10/3/20. It’s October 3rd. #iykyk).
Had to pose with a camera, LOL.
This was the moment I waited 2 years for. I just wanted Steve to see me in my dress and see his reaction. And I couldn’t wait to see how he looked in his tux. It calmed my nerves to see him.
Our first look was my favorite moment of the entire day. I wish I could relive it IRL forever.
But thanks to the photos and video, I basically can. 🙂
Told my girls to pick whatever they wanted, as long as it was a “Fall jewel tone” and sort of boho. They all NAILED it. Mismatched is the way to go.
When thinking about your own wedding party, remember that everyone has a different body-type and style. I’ve always thought that bridesmaids should be allowed to pick whatever makes them feel good! (As long as it goes with your vision! If this is your tribe though, they should be like-minded and won’t disappoint you).
My Grandma Gloria is so special to me. She’s 94 and with the pandemic looming, we didn’t know how much of our wedding she’d be able to attend. She opened her home to us in 2020 when we got married officially in her backyard. I’m so glad she could be here on the bigger wedding day, even if she didn’t stay for reception.
VEIL-CAPE. Guys. GUYS. What are you doing? Why do a regular veil when you can do a veil-cape? I’ll have more to say on that later…
*Note to self* Biodegradable confetti is wonderful, but maybe next time get bigger pieces of dried flowers. Do not do lavender, like rice – it WILL get stuck in your hair!!
(Took a solid 10 min of us picking it out of each other’s hair post-ceremony, lol).
Chef Peter at Hudson’s Mill is the best!!!!
Alright. I’m about to convince you to nix the veil you were thinking of wearing and go for a veil-cape. You can find them on Etsy, but I had Veronica at Vesa Brides in Nutley custom make this for me.
#1 There were barely noticeable clear snaps that helped adhere the cape to the shoulders of my dress. They were hardly detectible when I took the cape off. It was a BREEZE to snap the veil-cape on and off for pictures.
#2 Since the cape snapped to my shoulders and wasn’t inserted into my hair, it didn’t cover the amazing hairstyle that I spent money on. It fell into a U-shape and didn’t obstruct the back of my dress, either, which was my favorite part of my dress!! It also doesn’t tug on your hair the whole day or pull your hairstyle out. And, it doesn’t weigh your head down!!
#3 It was lightweight and easy to move in. I had a very simple one because I had so much lace on my dress already. But you can definitely have something made that is more ornate with more lace/appliques if that’s your style!
#4 I didn’t wear it for my first look. I wanted to surprise Steve when I came down the aisle. He thought it was SO cool and didn’t realize there would be more surprises in store about my dress! And it really tied my whole entire look together for ceremony.
#5 It’s a damn cape and you feel powerful and amazing in it!! I swear. There’s something about it. It’s great for movement in photos, too.
SO, ladies. I hope I convinced you. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk on veil-capes.
This wooden table was actually made by one of the artists at Garner Arts Center. A very talented woodworker who generously let us borrow it for our escort card display!
“This Must Be The Place” is one of our favorite Talking Heads songs. It was the last song of the night. It’s how we felt when we saw Garner Arts Center. We had to have a neon sign made!!
Thank you to my bff Autumn & Steve’s brother Kyle for the best, most heartfelt speeches! We love you guys!
My big surprise for Steve! He couldn’t believe I actually pulled off getting Mr. Met to come. I kept that a secret for 2 years!!
Our favors were apple cider donuts, also provided by Cakes of Wrath. Everyone raved about them!!
So we’ll leave you with some final take-aways and things we’ve learned now that we’ve been on the other side.
#1 SLEEP the night before. Take some Zzzquil. Something. Anything. You probably still won’t sleep but maybe you’ll get more than we did (which was 2 hours tops).
#2 Hire a day-of coordinator, ESPECIALLY if you have a DIY venue like ours. Angie did everything we couldn’t do. Including breaking down and putting decor away at the end of the night. She lifted so much weight off of things we thought we’d have to do ourselves. She kept the show running smoothly and on time.
#3 Do as much as you can on site or in close proximity to your venue. At Garner Arts, the prep space (Frank Welles Gallery) is only provided for 2 hours. I knew hair + makeup would take much longer so we found a beautiful Airbnb only 10 minutes away in Stony Point. We did hair and makeup there, then drove over to get dressed in the gallery prep space. Even though there was minimal traveling, we still had time for lunch when we arrived because I buffered the time! Everything else was on site which kept things stress-free!
#4 Hire vendors you love and trust. Get to know them well, it’ll make you feel that much more comfortable and at-ease!
#5 Although we didn’t heed our own advice, please don’t sweat the small stuff. There was a moment I got frustrated that I had gotten a little tomato sauce on my dress at the reception (nothing a Shout Wipe couldn’t fix) but it stressed me out and I let it momentarily get in the way of my good time. DO NOT concern yourself with that stuff. Do not concern yourself with drama that doesn’t involve you. Don’t worry about a few things going awry/not as planned. (Because that WILL happen). Your day is uniquely yours and it’s all you have so have fun together and make the absolute most of it!!
Jen & Steve
Venue / Garner Arts Center
Catering / Hudson’s Mill NY
Photo / Off Beet Productions
Video / Clean Canvas Media
Video Edit / Katie Mills Photography
Coordinator / SociaLife Events
Florist / Park and Bloom
Officiant / Rev. Maureen Jeffries
Hair / The Gallery, A Salon – Alyssa & Gina
Makeup / Kathleen Marie Benjamin – Gina
Dress / BHLDN : Wtoo by Watters (Philomene Gown)
Dress Alterations & Veil Cape / Vesa Brides
Bridesmaid Dresses / Baltic Born, ASOS, Lulus, and BHLDN
Custom Tux / BBespoke Apparel
Groom’s Loafers: Steve Madden
Groomsmen Suits / Men’s Wearhouse
Cake / The Cakes of Wrath
Stationary (Invites, Wooden Signage, Table Numbers) / 1890 Studio
Hand-Painted Welcome sign / Iorio Designs
Chalk signage + Escort Cards / Steadfast Strokes
Neon sign / Electroromantic
Save the Dates / Minted
Beer Kegs / Industrial Arts Brewing
Guest Appearance / Mr. Met
Rentals / Parties by Porcelli & Taylor Rentals NJ
Rings / Alexis Russell Jewelry & Riverdale Forge
Necklace / Diamonds by Dawn
Ringbox Engraving / Foster Engraving
Vow Books / PrintSmitten on Etsy
Zodiac Sign Bracelet / dua770 on Etsy
Boho Leaf Hairpieces / vintagestampjewels and BelleMichelleUSA on Etsy
Bride’s Wooden Dress Hanger / vowsandvinyl on Etsy
Celestial Earrings /glaciermistco on Etsy
Bride’s Heels / MIASshoes on Etsy
Shoe Adjustment / Denville Shoe Repair
Card Gift Box / KellyMarieCollection on Etsy
Fox Head Pendant Cufflinks / AvantGardeDesign on Etsy
Bridal Robe / AmericanCuteness on Etsy
Bridesmaid Robes / OliviaJaneCouture on Etsy
Cheesecloth Table Runners / SnassyCrafter on Etsy
Biodegradable Confetti / bloomersnbites on Etsy