Joy and Andre

These two were taller than the Empire State Building. Sandy and I headed to Belvedere Castle in Central Park where Gino had planned the ultimate fairy tale wedding with a twist of Hip Hop.

The guests were traveling from out of town on a bus to New York. The bus ended up breaking down so that pushed the wedding back.

While Sandy was escorting guests to the castle from the street, Gino and I were at the wedding site taking care of last minute details. While doing so there was some drama that was not caught on camera. When the castle was closing down to the public there was one BIG guy that refused to come down. We had no idea what he was capable of, so NYPD evacuated everyone off the premises until they got him down. This put the ceremony behind even further. Once the police had the situation under control, Sandy showed up with the bride along with the bridesmaids.

You never know when you are going to be thrown a curveball. Anything can happen!

Despite all that the ceremony was beautiful. She got her fairy tale wedding and Andre got a Hip Hop surprise. We had a rapper perform at the end of the ceremony.

To end this fairy tale wedding we put Andre and Joy in a horse and carriage for a romantic ride though Central Park.

Belinda and Jerry

Poor Belinda and Jerry. Mother Nature was not on their side that day.

Their wedding was at the Worlds Fair Unisphere located in Queens. The weather started out perfect. As we were setting up we got word that a storm was heading our way. The clouds started to roll in and it was getting dark fast.

Sandy was with the bride helping her get dressed while I was helping Gino with the guests. Belinda was waiting for her sisters who were her bridesmaids to arrive because they had her shoes and bra. Wouldn’t you think the bride would have these already with her?

Everything was in place minus the bridesmaids: Now we were just waiting for the girls to show up. We found out Belinda’s sisters were lost in the park nowhere to be found and thunder and lightning was setting in. At that point Gino made the executive decision that we had to start the ceremony. OK, here we go with no bridesmaids, and a shoeless and braless bride. One thing you didn’t get to see is that Gino grabbed some guests to stand in as the bridal party. Brilliant! As soon as they were pronounced husband and wife it poured and we all ran for the hills. Isn’t it good luck when it rains on your wedding day?

Joy and Andrea

This was a long day for everyone. From the bus full of guests breaking down, bridesmaids emotions running high, to trying to get Joy’s mother there in time. Like I said it was a long day.

It was so brilliant how Gino merged each of their visions together for their wedding theme- fairy tale and hip hop. My role was to get all the guests from curbside and take them to the Belvedere Castle in Central Park where the wedding was taking place. I made numerous trips back and forth. It’s no short walk people and I had over a dozen blisters to prove it.

But the ceremony went beautifully with the violinist and then surprising them with the rapper. At the end of the ceremony Marisa and I put them in a horse and carriage ride for one last element. We had a graffiti artist create a “Just Married” sign to put on back of the carriage as a small wedding gift to Joy and Andrea. Like I said it was such a long day that our nerves were also shot. So when it came down to who was putting the sign on the back of the carriage Marisa and I had a spat. It was silly. At that point we just had enough of each other. (Uh hum, I ended up putting the sign on the carriage.)

Belinda & Jerry

All we needed were chairs for this location, that’s it. The World’s Fair – The Unisphere had such a strong presence that nothing else was needed. On the day of the wedding I was assigned to help Belinda get in her dress and to help her with any last minute touches.

I’ll admit this is not the easiest location to get to so needless to say her sisters that were her bridesmaids got lost. They were not only late, but had Belinda’s shoes, bra and “something blue”. Meanwhile the heavens above were about to open any minute and give us the thunderstorm of the century. The dark clouds were rolling in and the wind was picking up rapidly. At that point we had to start but she refused to come out of the trailer without her shoes, bra and something blue. I tried so hard to persuade her, which then led to begging. I finally said if you want to get married then you need to boogie now or there’s not going to be a wedding! She finally gave up and married Jerry shoeless, braless, and blueless. But I think she was more upset that her sisters weren’t present at the ceremony than she was about her missing shoes and bra.

Bridal Tip 101: If you put your family or friends in charge of any of the personal belongings that you’re going to need on the day of your wedding, make sure they travel with you!

Belinda and Jerry. He’s Puerto Rican & African American and she’s Haitian; there must be a lot of fire and passion in that relationship. Just don’t mention a super hero ice sculpture to Belinda! I took them on a helicopter ride which was amazing!!! While we were scouting for them all I kept thinking about were future Ultimate USA Wedding locations. By the time we landed they had decided on a Queens’ location, the Unisphere, one of New York’s most iconic structures and we booked it immediately for their wedding. It is the world’s largest global structure, rising 140 feet and weighing 700,000 pounds. The Unisphere was conceived and constructed as the theme symbol of the 1964–1965 New York World’s Fair. The theme of the World’s Fair was “Peace through Understanding” and boy when we get to the end of the episode you’ll know why that line came in handy.

Belinda seemed stressed about her dress, glad the girls we’re there to help out. We had a stellar wedding location, chairs, violinist, and flowers. All my vendors came through and made the trip out to the Queens in all that Friday summer traffic. I still didn’t have Belinda’s bridesmaids, who had her shoes! What we did have was a MAJOR storm 20 minutes away! Honestly this was very stressful. Do I call off the wedding? Try to find a last minute backup location? Belinda wanted an outdoor location. I love doing outdoor weddings but every bride should consider the weather.

We couldn’t wait for the bridesmaids any longer. The police were shutting down the park, so Belinda walked that aisle in her bare feet. I really admire her, she had a crazy moment but then realized it’s about the person you’re marrying not your shoes!

Joy and Andre met in a chat room… well, that’s what Joy’s son said! I marry a lot of couples who met online… who cares where you meet someone. Love is love and I’m all for it!

Cinderella was the theme for their wedding, only it was less than 24 hours away which was a bit of a challenge …. I knew I could use Central Park as my backdrop I just didn’t know if they were going to like it or not. Andre is a New Yorker and he’s easy to work off of. That’s the beauty of us New Yorkers, you always know where you stand. We are very straight forward people and I know the rest of America might think we’re a little brash… we’re unique and very clear on what we want!

They LOVED Belvedere Castle, which by the way means beautiful views in Italian. It was the perfect fairy tale location. I will go off my diet anytime for some of Sylvia’s food in Harlem … now that’s New York!

Poor Joy. She was supposed to de-stress at that facial salon. But between the bus breaking down on its way up from Maryland and those bridesmaids I thought she was going to have a breakdown. I ran into the bridesmaids in the hotel bar and told them to back off my bride. Excuse me but aren’t bridesmaids supposed to have a bride’s back? Fired! That’s what I was thinking. On the morning of the wedding Andre looked like he’d been out all night; I felt like his father giving him a lecture on “your wedding day behavior.” Central Park never looked better. All their family and friends made it. Andre’s vows were poetic and the surprise rapper pulled it off at the end.

Cinderella with a rapper…only in New York.

Melissa & Jerry

When I first met Melissa and Jerry I could sense right away they had a strong bond and connection. But when I learned that Melissa lost her father a year ago just 2 weeks before their wedding my heart melted. I, too, lost my dad 16 years ago and to this day I miss my “shorty” to pieces, but I know he’s with me every moment. So Gino and I (Gino having lost his father too) both felt we had to pay some sort of special tribute to her father during the ceremony.

When Gino landed the perfect location for Melissa and Jerry’s wedding, the Brooklyn Bridge Park, I thought “historical, vintage, outdoors” can’t get any better than this. Then Marisa got an email from Parks and Recreation that there was a sink hole there due to weather. She told me right after she received the news; after all, I was sitting right across from her. But she didn’t forward the email to Gino right away because she wanted to tell him in person that afternoon when we all met up. OOPS! Not a good idea. Next time Mother Nature decides to rain on our parade, alert Gino ASAP. But thank the wedding gods above for Pebble Beach!

In the scene where the balloon escaped from my hands and flew away, I really was mortified, I wanted to vomit. You didn’t see it on camera but I looked at Marisa and gave her look like I “God I wish I were you right now!” We did manage to get another balloon – yeah! When it was time for the ceremony to begin, I was in charge of the “munchkin” wedding party. It’s funny because whenever there are kids involved in a wedding party, Gino and Marisa always say, “Sandy will handle.” When the moment came of letting go of the balloon dedicated to Melissa’s father, we gathered her mom and sisters around. It was such a touching moment for all of us. They have a great story to tell…and will continue to add on to their story (hopefully having little munchkins of their own).

Lisa and Ross

Lisa is a serial marry-er with 3 marriages already under her belt and the 4th counting. One thing Ross said about Lisa is that she changes her mind often. Really!? Lisa has such a magnetic personality, so full of life, so beautiful, what man wouldn’t fall in love with her? I hope it stops here with Ross because he’s such a sweet and down-to-earth guy. Gino put me in charge of decorating the wedding venue, which I so love to do. I didn’t want to go overboard with the decorations because the rooftop’s backdrop already provided such a beautiful setting.

On the day of their wedding Gino and I had a quick pow-wow on how he envisioned the layout of the space. He was literally climbing over every piece of furniture trying to convey his “vision.” Meanwhile I was chuckling to myself thinking, “Wow, you are like King Kong the Wedding Planner right now!” But I stayed focused. Marisa wasn’t present because she was working another wedding. But I certainly had everything under control. In moments like this it’s good to have Marisa there because Gino is sometimes like the Tasmanian Devil. He throws out idea after idea, so if I happen to miss something, Marisa will catch it and vice versa. Once again, Mama Sandy took control of the ‘tween wedding party. I love that part!

Overall, Lisa and Ross’s wedding was so magical from her dress, to her walk down the isle with her son Anthony and even to their “special” dance. It certainly was their “New York wedding moment.”

I love getting to know my couples and really getting into the nitty gritty of how they met, how they proposed and the special things they share. Melissa and Jerry are my borough couple.

He’s from Queens, she’s from Brooklyn and they decided they wanted an outdoor themed wedding in NYC…now that’s a CHALLENGE! It broke my heart that a year ago they had to cancel their wedding two weeks before the date because Melissa’s father passed away. I lost my father too and immediately felt a connection to her. My first priority was to incorporate Melissa’s father into the service …I didn’t know how but I was hell bent on making it happen. So I started brainstorming with the girls about possible locations and how to personalize their wedding. THEY ARE not the couple you find on top of the cake, THEY ARE hip and cool and slightly edgy. They like vintage cars and steel structures (well New York has a lot of that) hmm…OK!

Well we were so excited; we FINALLY nailed her wedding location. In NYC you practically need a permit to go to the bathroom, and trust me I’m a New Yorker; it can be a lot of red tape getting the perfect location legally locked down. Melissa and Jerry were going to be married with the most beautiful view of all of New York City. Then we got the e-mail about the sink hole… helloooo?! I’m a wedding planner I didn’t even know what a sink hole was and I still don’t but someday I’ll Google it. All I’m thinking about now is plan B. BTW, seriously I had no idea there was a pebble beach in Brooklyn, and I used to be a NYC tour guide. At the end of the day it wasn’t THEIR first choice and it wasn’t their second choice, but it ended up being the PERFECT location for Melissa and Jerry’s wedding. More importantly we got to pay tribute to her father, and I have to admit part of me was thinking about my dad when we let those balloons go. It was a very emotional moment for everyone.

Congratulations, Melissa and Jerry!

Lisa and Ross, what can I say, I LOVE THIS BRIDE! Even though it was her 4th wedding she acted like it was her 1st …good for her! Whether it was selecting her wedding dress, location or flowers, she never made a decision that she didn’t change later. When she finally settled on the right dress (I still loved mine Lisa!!!) the right flowers and a flawless hairstyle, she got it all right. Here’s a new Gino rule: if you are a guest at a wedding, don’t RSVP on Facebook as most brides are too busy to check their page! So when the day finally arrived, Lisa had a big surprise, there were 25 more guests, ugh! I seriously thought that the fire Marshall was going to shut us down, and I think I lost 5lbs worrying about it. This was a wedding with a lot of beautiful moments. I think one of the most touching was when Lisa asked her son Anthony to walk her down the aisle. She might have been married before but Anthony loves and believes in his mom and so do I. Lisa and Ross’s wedding vows were very real, they spoke from their hearts and I don’t think you got to see but everyone got really emotional … even the waiter cried! To me what really makes a wedding intimate is when you can stand there in front of the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with and all of their guests including that fire Marshall and speak from the heart!

I know Lisa finally found her soul mate; I could feel it …couldn’t you?