June 3, 2023


We Bring Good Things to Life

How to Transform Your Place for an Intimate Wedding

The night before her wedding, Maya Posey-Pierre crouched on the living room floor of her Brooklyn apartment watching YouTube tutorials on floral design. She neatly laid out rows of orange and white roses, which she bought in bulk from Trader Joe’s. Armed with floral shears and sheer determination, she got to work.

“We wanted to go to an actual florist,” Mrs. Posey-Pierre, 29, an actress, said. “The only reason we didn’t go — timing. I believed I could do it, so I told myself, ‘I’m going to make it work.’”

“Make it work” is the unofficial mantra for many couples who planned their dream weddings for 2020, only to have the coronavirus pandemic turn everything upside down. While some postponed their nuptials to 2021 or beyond, others decided to plow through, emboldened by the “love is not canceled” philosophy that’s become somewhat of a rallying cry on social media.

Instead of lavish affairs, 2020 weddings are distinctly low key and intimate, yet very technologically advanced. But when your home becomes your venue and your main audience is a webcam, how does this affect your design decisions? We asked newlyweds and industry experts to share their best advice on beautifying any space — no matter how big or small — for a virtual wedding.

“The only thing I had my heart set on was using light on a stairwell,” Mrs. Posey-Pierre said. “The camera can’t see everything, so it doesn’t matter if the entire space isn’t beautifully decorated, but whatever the camera can see, you want it to look nice.”

However, she and her husband, Marc Pierre, a high school teacher, live in a 400-square-foot Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment without stairs. So they reached out to the couple who owns a renovated barn in the nearby South Midwood neighborhood, where Pierre, 28, had proposed on Valentine’s Day this year. The owners, who operate the barn as an Airbnb rental, practically insisted that they host their virtual wedding there instead.

Mrs. Posey-Pierre would get her dramatic, bride-coming-down-the-stairs moment. But not without a few headaches.

“It turned out to be the most difficult thing because the wires kept getting tangled,” she said. “Then literally at the last minute while I was making all these flower arrangements, I remember thinking, ‘Flowers on the stairs would be nice.’”

For a terrace or rooftop wedding, keep décor lower to the ground to highlight the views, advised Justine Broughal, the founder of Together Events, a wedding and event planning company based in New York and Portland, Ore.

“Create your own ceremony scene by repurposing items from your home: a rug to stand on, candles in holders of varying sizes, and a foraged bouquet or boutonniere,” Ms. Broughal said.

Andrea Loredo Bachalis, 30, a lifestyle blogger, and Peter Bachalis, 33, a financial adviser, did just that for their June 25 wedding, which took place on the terrace of their Chelsea apartment.

“I brought some indoor things outside — my floor-length mirror, and it really made the vibe much better,” Mrs. Loredo Bachalis said. “I brought out a clear console table and put that in the middle of the trees.”

They purchased the Chinese hibiscus trees from a shop in Manhattan’s flower district and worked with a florist to create a lush garden feel. Candles and vases that the bride ordered online completed the elegant, botanical-inspired look. Another clever internet find was a faux floral collar for Nala, their 5-year-old corgi who served as the maid of honor. Mrs. Loredo Bachalis said that the collar looked real in the photos.

“In the age of Instagram versus reality, I don’t think you have to be so concerned because you can edit some of these things,” she said, noting that a friend planning her own at-home wedding had placed large fake roses on her rosebush “because all the roses died, and you couldn’t even tell.”

Johanne Piverger-Thenor, 38, who owns JP Events & Design, was looking forward to celebrating 10 years of marriage. She and her husband, Mills Thenor, 42, who works in sales management, had discussed traveling to Bali, Greece or Italy with their three young children and having a small beachside vow renewal ceremony. When she realized that wasn’t going to happen, she began weighing options for their July 30 anniversary.

She turned to her business Rolodex of vendors. She called in favors and made 11th-hour trips to Home Depot, picking up plywood that her husband crafted into a makeshift flower tunnel for their backyard in West Orange, N.J.

“I wanted all you see is flowers,” said Mrs. Piverger-Thenor. “Like I’m walking in a tunnel of flowers to go to the ceremony. I spoke to my husband, and this happened literally at 7:30 that morning.”

For the altar, she placed a white drape over piping, which was propped up by stakes in the ground. She used candelabras and vases she already owned to fill out the space. While orchids are her go-to flower with clients, she recommends other varieties of flowers for making a statement over Zoom.

“If you want something to look bigger than what it is, use hydrangeas,” she said. “It will give you that lush look. Mix them with garden roses — you can’t go wrong.”

Credit…Fola Lawal

Ms. Broughal suggests turning the doorway into a ceremony arch and adding floral pieces to help spotlight a home’s architecture. Premade greenery garlands can be attached to railings, columns and a doorway using zip ties and removable command hooks.

“Be sure to embrace vertical lines so the viewer’s eye is drawn up to you and your partner, rather than dispersing décor horizontally and causing a distraction from the main event,” Ms. Broughal said.

Michelle Barnes, 37, an accountant, and Troy Barnes, 37, a program manager, incorporated some of these suggestions on a grand scale for their July 4 stoop wedding that spilled out onto Macdonough Street in Brooklyn.

“Troy and I grew up on the street,” Mrs. Barnes said. “It was great that everybody was able to see. If they couldn’t watch us evolve, they could watch us get married. And it was so special that way.”

Their wedding planner, Katherine Numa of KBelle’s Design, helped them translate the vision they had for their canceled Puerto Rico wedding — which was going to take place in a castle — to their Bed-Stuy brownstone. Black and gold were their original colors, so they kept some gold elements, including a metallic runner for the stairs and gold leaves in the bouquets. A deluge of white and ivory flowers lined the stoop.

Neither the bride nor groom stayed home the night before the wedding. They didn’t see the transformation until the day of the ceremony.

“It was exactly how I visioned,” Mrs. Barnes said. “To have everything happen on Macdonough, where it all began many years ago as a friendship. Now we’re able to start this new chapter of our lives together in the same place.”

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