Real Weddings

An Elegant Outdoor Wedding at an Iconic New York Venue

Cupid's arrow struck Anna and Akshay on their first date—a date arranged through the online cherub "We felt incredibly lucky," the bride says. Nearly three years later, as the couple lounged in New York City's Fort Greene Park, Akshay popped the question. "The funny part was that we had tickets to see King Lear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in a couple of hours—so we had to go, and that is the least celebratory play ever!" Anna exclaims. "We got to go out for champagne afterward, though."

The couple wed at the Bronx Zoo. They strove to make their wedding "feel elegant and special but still relaxed and comfortable—kind of like the zoo itself," Anna says.

While the bride fell for the do-it-yourself craze, she also "wanted to make sure that any of those personal touches still felt authentic to me," she explains. "I was very wary of cutesy wedding cliches."

"The zoo is crawling with peacocks that roam free, and I absolutely love the colors of their feathers. The peacock also happens to be the national bird of India, and we had sort of a half-Indian wedding," the bride says. With the peacocks as their inspiration, the couple's color palette came easily: Rich jewel hues of blue, purple, green, and gold. "I liked not being super strict with the color scheme—it felt more authentic than trying to carefully make everything one of two specific colors," Anna explains. "Sometimes I feel like that can get a little stiff or cheesy if you're not careful."

The bride sought a simple and elegant gown to counter the elaborate and vibrant Indian sari she donned during the ceremony. "I tried this dress on early in the process and just couldn't get it out of my head," Anna says of her Jenny Yoo dress. "I didn't have that amazing aha moment, but even as I tried on several other gorgeous options at other stores I just kept thinking about it. So I finally went for it!"

"The most important accessory for the dress itself was the purple and gold sash," the bride says. She searched "high and low" and across the Internet until she found the perfect strip of fabric for sale by an Indian eBay vendor. "I had my seamstress attach it to the dress. It definitely helped make for a nice transition from the sari," Anna says.

The bride describes her sari, which was purchased by her in-laws in India, as "purple and green silk with tons of gold embellishments and beading."

Days before the wedding, Anna hosted a Mehndi party for herself and her six bridesmaids "so I had henna on my hands for the big day," she says. Bridesmaids also wore the decorative ink.

Bridesmaids wore mismatched jewel-toned dresses the bride discovered on Polyvore. "We organized via Pinterest," she says. Because the dresses were purchased online, sight-unseen until the wedding day, the experience was a little "nerve-wracking," Anna says. "But it worked out perfectly. Everyone looked great, and they all looked awesome together."

The bride's bouquet was a luscious mix of 10 types of flowers, including pink and white peonies, lisianthus, garden roses, and clematis.

With their backs to the sea lion pool, 160 guests watched the couple exchange hand-written vows. "I was reluctant to do it—being a writer and editor, it just feels extra nerve-wracking writing about myself—but Akshay really wanted to, and I'm so glad we did," Anna says.

The ceremony space—just beyond the zoo center, where the rhinos roam—was "so beautiful that we really kept everything else simple," the bride says. The couple wed beneath a classic Indian mandap that was decorated with birch, foliage, ribbons, and flowers.

Purchased on Minted, the couple's invitation suite was called Royal Plumage, the perfect complement to their peacock feather-inspired color palette.

Escort cards were tied to tiny plastic animals the bride bought online and spray-painted gold. "Pretty much my only DIY," she admits. The type of animal corresponded to a table name—guests whose names were attached to a zebra were seated at the zebra table, and so on with the other members of the small animal kingdom.

But the small animals presented a conundrum for the children at the wedding. "I'd originally been a little worried that some of them wouldn't get the animal they really wanted and would be upset," Anna says. "What happened is a few of the little rascals ran around to all the tables and tried to steal everyone's animals when they weren't looking! Obviously no one really minded, but it was pretty silly."

At each table sat a gold picture frame, which held a printed image of the animal for which the table was named. "I used PowerPoint to lay them out along with the actual number for the table and had them printed out at Walgreens," the bride says as she describes perhaps her only other do-it-yourself project.

A mixture of textured purple, cream, and orange blooms made up the centerpieces, which were held in mercury glass vases. Vintage books and votive candles also decorated the table tops.

Uber-hits Call Me Maybe and Gangnam Style drove people to the to dance floor in droves, the bride recalls. "Those are two of the best wedding-dancing songs out there," she says.

"One of my favorite dancing moments was when the DJ played Shout," Anna says. "I'm not generally the biggest fan of those kind of cheesy wedding songs, but people got so into it. There's literally a photo of someone lying down on the floor during the 'a little bit softer now' part. Amazing."

Momofuku Milk Bar designed a four-tier wedding cake made with layers of chocolate pretzel and birthday cake. "They don't really frost the outsides of the cakes," the bride explains. "They just look kind of unfinished and super cool."

—Jillian Kramer

Wedding Planner: Erganic Design || Ceremony Venue: Bronx Zoo || Reception Venue: Bronx Zoo || Bride's Wedding Dress: Jenny Yoo || Bride's Shoes: Kate Spade || Bride's Wedding Ring: Soho Gem || Groom's Tux: Theory || Groom's Shoes: Cole Haan || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Name || Bridesmaids' Accessories: Name || Henna Artist: Akiyo Ogura || Florist: Sweet & Flower || Caterer: Bronx Zoo || Stationery: Minted || Cake Baker: Momofuku Milk Bar || Favors: || Linen Rentals: Name || Entertainment: Carlos Rey Sebastian || Transportation: DeCamp Bus Lines || Photography: Oh, Darling! Photography

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