Planning a wedding is hard work; planning a wedding during a pandemic is nearly impossible, and planning a wedding in 8 days is either masochism or the epitome of real love and passion for the craft. If you think it can't be done, read on to learn about my experience as a wedding planner in New York City during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
I had the perfect clients - I mean perfect. I met Melissa & Christopher 2 years ago when they hired me to style and plan their engagement party. It turned out beautiful. Honestly speaking; it was a wedding in-itself. It was the kind of event that you'd go to and say, "if this is the engagement party, imagine the wedding..." Whoever said that though- you were right, because the wedding was a dream come true after-all.
Following the engagement party, Melissa was ready to plan her big day! She knew what she wanted and spared no details for the perfect New York City wedding. She would marry Christoper on October 10th, 2020 (the perfect wedding day 10.10.2020, just imagine it on an invitation). She would marry him in the heart of the city, at the breathtaking St. Patrick's Cathedral, where they would both say "I Do" and later make their way to the Lotte New York Palace for dinner and dancing, with their favorite 150 people. One year out and all the important venues and vendors were secured- we were ready to get to the fun part of planning!
I met with Melissa & Christopher and we held our first consultation and tour of the palace on February 8th, 2020. It was breathtaking. The palace is stunning. It offers a symbiotic combination of old-world elegance and modern-day glam through its stunning architecture and its lush furniture. It was truly the perfect setting for my clients. As weeks passed, the media began alerting us of the COVID-19 outbreak - but neither of us knew what that would mean for us in the long-run.
As months went by, all of New York City was shutting down and we figured, "we have time; right?... this should be far behind us in October". It was and still is, truly, an uncertain time. The media, the internet, our government - everyone had lots to say about COVID, but nothing seamed like steady, solid information. So we waited - patiently.
In August, we received great news from the palace. While we could not dine indoors, the palace would re-open with outdoor dining options and we would be able to have the wedding in their whimsical courtyard on Madison Avenue -- with social distancing rules in place, a plan suitable to follow all New York City safety procedures and guidelines, and of course - a 50 guest maximum capacity ( a third of her original guest list). Despite all those nuances, we were relieved we could finally start planning this wedding! As weeks progressed, I started to draw out my designs, toured the courtyard with vendors, measured the space and developed stunning concepts, suitable for an unforgettable night at the palace.
September rolled around quicker than we expected and Governor Cuomo announced that indoor dining would be permissible later that month. With 3 weeks left, we made the ambitious decision to bring the wedding indoors. 3 weeks, 3 rooms to design and one master stair case to flood with flowers - all while the world is battling a pandemic and the planet can't produce Sahara roses soon-enough for my event. But I can do this. I can do anything I set my mind to...
And so, we pushed! 8 days left for this magical wedding and I've never felt more prepared! Courtyard, check. Master staircase, check. Cocktail room, check, and the magical Villard Ballroom, check, check, check. All my furniture was rented, my flowers ordered and my prayers in place for God to get me those thousands of flowers and pampas grass imported on time.
On Wednesday, I received a call from the palace with some bad news. I knew this would be the turning point for my bride. That day, Gov. Cuomo announced his new safety protocols for indoor dining. While allowed, a number of safety measure were put in place that truthfully, were unrealistic for this wedding. We had already made so many adjustments to make it work at this venue, but these new restrictions were just the end of it for us. I knew this was going to be it for my bride. It had been such a whirlwind -- so many changes, indoors, outdoors, indoors again and now this?! I was certainly glad I wasn't the one who was going to be responsible for delivering the news.
After a roller coaster of emotions and some optimistic positive mind-shifting, we came up with Plan B: Scratch the palace, we're going to Valbella. And to Valbella we went!
We rolled up at around 9pm on Wednesday night. We were met by Daniel, the Owner at Valbella Midtown, a well-known and acclaimed Italian fine-dining restaurant located on 53rd Street off of Madison Avenue. Daniel was most flexible and open to us turning his courtyard and restaurant around. While he was a piece of work himself; I was ready to get to work and all I could think to myself was "I have 8 days... over 10,000 thousands stems of flowers and a whole new floor plan to work with...Jesus, send help!" - and so I got to work!
Within 48 hours I had a full new drawing, my design concepts approved, and by Monday my custom furniture and print items were in production. Each day leading up to the big day was a greater relief as I scratched off items from my "to-do list".
Saturday 10/10/2020 arrived. It is fall in New York, and the weather was an astounding 80 degrees! If that wasn't God, I don't know what it was. All I know is, we were blessed and someone with more power than I, had made this happen for us...The day and everything within it, was simply perfect.
I will say the rest is history - a day etched in many of our hearts. A time in life we can always reflect back on which serves as a reminder that anything driven by love and good intentions will always see its way through, and nothing; not even a pandemic, could stop true love. When I saw Melissa & Christopher walk into the venue, it felt like I was watching them run past the finish line of a marathon after having gone through the most turbulent of storms. But they made it, hand-in-hand and very much... in love.
For photos of this magical day, visit www.mypartypixies.com
Marilia Nunez, Owner, My Party Pixies
What People Ate
Italian Fine Fare
What People Drank
Couples Signature Drinks: Riptini - Vodka, dry vermouth, olive The Wild Rip - Tequila & Spice
Wedding Cake by Ron Ben Israel
Godiva Signature Truffles