A Fashionable, Modern Fête in Brooklyn
Ana and Damon
Before meeting each other, Ana Schechter, a New York-based photographer, and Damon Gambuto, an executive producer for House Hunters International, had assumed "that kind" of true love wasn't going to happen to them. So, when they swiped right on each other on Tinder in 2014, they thought it was going to be a casual love affair—not destiny, as it turned out to be.
Fast-forward two years, and it was Ana's birthday. She had planned a party on a lawn at Pier 6 near the couple's home in Brooklyn. En route, Damon pulled over to the playground where they first said, "I love you"—which happens often, since they like to reminisce. Ana thought nothing of it (except, "make it snappy," so she wouldn't be late to her own soirée). After some nervous rambling, Damon got down on one knee and squeaked out his proposal. After Ana said, "yes," the happy couple returned to their apartment to change into their party attire, ready to share the news with friends.
When they walked in, Ana was shocked to see 70 of her closest pals in the couple's home—Damon had changed the digital invite to make it a surprise birthday party. Before they could reveal what had just transpired, Damon played a slideshow of photos from their travels and of their love affair. At the end, their proposal played, thanks to a quick addition by the secret videographer who had driven back to the apartment after filming the occasion.
With just a four-month engagement, Ana went from taking pictures of weddings to planning one. On October 16, 2016, the couple wed in a glamourous, modern affair with 188 of their friends and family at 501 Union in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
Ana calligraphed the script on her invites, which also featured a clean font designed by the bride's friend, Megan Lorenzo of Tiny Bones Press, and an embossed panda anemone drawn by Ceci Johnson of Ceci New York, another pal of Ana's. The suite also featured thick, white envelopes with a watercolor liner, based off of a painting by Ceci.
The bride handwrote the addresses on the 200 invites, which each had vintage stamps that kept with the guests' interests. "I took a photo of each finished one before it went in the mail," Ana says. "I was so sad to see them go, but happy, too."
A Memorable Moment
Ana and Damon held their first look—their favorite moment of the day—in the bedroom of their Brooklyn home. The groom was moved to tears as soon as he saw his wife-to-be, and was quick to give her a tender embrace. "Our closest friends and family were in there and it was so incredibly special," the bride says.
Damon donned a light gray Reiss suit, and paired it with a black tie and brown leather boots from COS. Deciding on an outfit was easy for the groom—he saw a light gray suit years before the wedding, liked it, and thought he'd get married in that color one day.
During her search, Ana loved all the dresses she tried on from the three salons she visited. She ultimately picked one she felt went with 501 Union's modern vibe—a cream hammered silk dress from Elizabeth Fillmore Bridal. "I felt so confident hugging people and dancing and 'woo-ing'—I'm such a woo-er," the bride says. Ana wasn't going to have a bouquet, but her childhood best friend insisted she have one. She ended up carrying an asymmetrical clutch of white flowers and, panda anemones, the flower of the day.
"I knew I'd only wear it for a second, but it was just too cool! I couldn't resist," Ana says of the Elizabeth Fillmore Bridal silk cape she wore during their portrait time.
Ana called on Damon's sister, an embroiderer, to help with her wedding gift to him. "He's a notorious crier, so I knew our wedding day would bring on the waterworks," the bride says. "I thought it would be sweet if he could blow his nose as someone's husband on a special hankie!"
In the Bag
To match the circular elements of 501 Union's event space, Ana sported an off-white fold-over clutch by Clare V., which featured a modern dotted pattern and a tassel and charm stamped with her new initials. Her hands were equally as show-stopping as her bag—she donned a pink, glittery manicure from Paintbox and her east-west cushion cut engagement ring with a half-bezel setting by RedStart Design that was created by the groom.
Ana and Damon were so caught up in wedding planning that they almost didn't get rings. The ring she used for the wedding was a platinum pave band that's she's had for years. This year for her birthday—one year after getting engaged—she got her actual band from RedStart Design that matches her engagement ring.
Damon forgot to buy himself a ring, so he ordered one off of Amazon two days before the wedding. "I keep trying to buy him a real one, but he likes it!" the bride says of her husband's precious Prime jewelry.
The littlest members of the bridal party, named "the petal people" in case they all wanted to get in on the tossing duties, were made up of nieces, nephews, and the couple's best friend's kids. They walked down the aisle to "Your Hand In Mine" by Explosions in the Sky.
The couple wanted the little boys in their wedding party to have something to remember the wedding by, so they gave them small wooden cars bejeweled with their first initial.
Ana made keepsake purses for the little ladies, rhinestoning their first initial onto shell purses from Monsoon.
The "petal people" carried white baskets of dissolvable confetti circles (to not clog the grates in the atrium) from Plantables & Paper with white and blue dried flower petals, topped with die-cut panda anemones inspired by the stationery design. The bride took this opportunity to turn this into a DIY project by adding vintage striped ribbons from Caramelos Artful Supplies to the handles.
The Program Poster
Work of Art
The ceremony was held in the atrium room of 501 Union. When Ana was beginning to plan, her mother gave her some advice—figure out what one or two things you cannot picture your wedding without, and indulge in them. So, when she saw a branch installation online, she knew that was one things she was set on having. She decided on this 30-foot asymmetrical dried lunaria hanging installation created by Amanda Luu of Studio Mondine, who spent two days building the floral structure. "We connected immediately after meeting, and when I hired her I basically said, 'let's have something weird, wild, and gigantic hanging from the ceiling,'" the bride says.
Throw it in the Air
Ceci of Ceci New York fashioned her panda anemone design from the stationery into paper cones that held confetti for guests to throw at the end of the ceremony.
Ana and Damon took a moment during the ceremony to share their vows, which was the groom's favorite part of the day. Donning a Carol Hannah headpiece and veil, the bride thanked the groom for swiping right two years ago. The groom promised to love and cherish his betrothed forever. They then looked out into the crowd—something the groom recommends other couples do at their own ceremony—and basked in the love and community. Their friend officiated and before the confetti toss, he declared, "Kiss, you fools!" before the couple announced they were married.
Guests then threw dissolvable confetti into the air. "I had a friend instruct people carefully when to toss so they would do it at the right time," Ana says. "It was a non-traditional ceremony so I was worried people might miss their cue!"
A Little Rain
It was rainy during the ceremony, but it held off during pre- and post-ceremony portrait time. "I think Mother Nature was scared of my will to have the photos I wanted," Ana says. "It was the only thing I felt Bridezilla about!"
While the bride and groom were outside taking photos, guests moved to cocktail hour, where they munched on sandwiches from Defonte's of Brooklyn while drinking prosecco, gin, and grapefruit punch.
From there, they traveled to the main reception space. Paper panda anemones by Ashely Norton marked where the bride and groom would sit.
Wide farm tables were set with all white flowers and berries, votive candles in clear glass holders, and china and cutlery from Broadway Party Rentals.
Pristine Place Settings
Two menus letterpressed by Tiny Bones Press were placed on each table in wooden holders by Esselle. The outlined the family-style meal of cremini mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and cavatelli with roasted cauliflower and browned sage butter, all prepared by Frankies Spuntino, the restaurant where the couple went on their first date.
Put in Place
The place cards featured the bride's handwriting and Ceci New York's letterpressed panda anemone design, which was blind pressed to be a tonal and textural interpretation.
Decals on bathroom mirrors complimented guests as they primped before returning to the reception. "I loved the idea of people having a big smile and 'oh, cool!' moment in the mirror!" the bride says.
Women in Black
Ana didn't have any formal bridesmaids, but asked her best friends to wear black so they'd get a picture-perfect photo-op.
Signed with Love
At the reception a small triangular sign attached to a faux panda anemone encouraged guests to sign the black paper backdrop of the photo booth to serve as the couple's guestbook. After the wedding, Ana took a picture and refitted it, where it now hangs in a four-foot frame in the entryway of the couple's home. "Everyone's well wishes are the first thing I see when I walk in each day," the bride says. "It's a beautiful maze of handwritten love."
Ana and Damon made their first moves as husband and wife to "Feeling Good" by Nina Simone.
Nine Cakes designed this dark-chocolate and Funfetti-flavored confection that also featured caramel and vanilla buttercream and pecans. Studio Mondine topped it off with real lunaria. The bride ate three pieces of cake, which was much-deserved after planning her own wedding ("Everyone should use a planner," she now insists).
Photography, Shannen Natasha
Location, 501 Union
Catering, Frankies Spuntino Group
Flowers, Studio Mondine
Videography, Gold & Gumption
Cake, Nine Cakes
Bride's gown, Elizabeth Fillmore Bridal
Hair and Makeup, Emily Kate Warren
Groom's suit, Reiss
Groom's accessories, COS tie and shoes
Engagement ring, RedStart Design
Photobooth, The Kiosk