As the summer of 2009 came to a close, Amanda Ortel, 29, and Grady Frank, 36, were enjoying one of their last weekends in the Hamptons when a mutual friend made an introduction on the dance floor. The pair hit it off, and Grady took Amanda to dinner when they were back in Manhattan a few days later. "We got together again over Labor Day Weekend in the Hamptons, and from that point on, we were officially dating!" says Amanda.
Two and a half years later, Grady suggested that they take a "staycation" to New York's Gramercy Park Hotel. "Going into Gramercy Park had been on our to-do list," says the bride, "but you have to live on the park (or be staying in the hotel) to get a key." After dropping their bags and having brunch at Gramercy Tavern, Grady and Amanda picked up a key from the front desk and headed into the park. As they sat down on what they now refer to as "their bench," Grady got down on one knee and proposed! "The park is so special to us," Amanda says, "that we snuck back in for our engagement photos!"
The couple wanted to have an early fall wedding, but couldn't bear to wait a year and a half to tie the knot, so they kicked planning into high gear and picked a date a mere six months later!
Keep reading to see their beautifully classic wedding, photographed by Laurie Bracewell Photography.
Amanda and Grady invited their 225 guests to join them in her home state of Maryland. The bride DIY-ed the welcome boxes, filled with Old Bay popcorn (a nod to Baltimore), honey glazed pecans (for Grady's hometown of Huntsville, AL), and Tate's chocolate chip cookies (made in the Hamptons, where they met).
"I didn't start dress shopping looking for a lace dress," says Amanda, "but when I put this one on, I fell in love." She chose a strapless A-line dress by Monique Lhuillier, and tied an ivory satin sash around her waist for the ceremony.
Amanda's bridesmaids wore blush chiffon dresses also by Monique Lhuillier. Four wore a v-neck style, while the other four wore halters. They carried white bouquets of hydrangeas and roses.
Grady wore a tuxedo with a white Paul Stuart dinner jacket. "I really love how men look in tuxedos," says Amanda, "but Grady wasn't sure about requiring that all of our male guests wear them." So the pair settled on a "black tie optional" dress code. Well, optional for everyone except the wedding party!
Amanda's bouquet featured white roses, hydrangeas, and stephanotis accented with pink garden roses. The stems were wrapped with extra lace from her dress.
The flower girl, in an ivory dress with a blush sash, wore a crown of rosebuds in her hair.
The bride and her father arrived at the ceremony, at the Second Presbyterian Church, in a vintage car.
The church was decorated with arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, and vines. "The church is so elegant," says Amanda. "We loved all the natural light that pours in through the arched windows."
Grady's two-year-old nephew served as the ring bearer. "He did a great job walking down the aisle on his own," says the bride, "until he saw his dad in the front pew, tripped, and fell. Thankfully his mom was nearby to scoop him up and calm him down."
After the ceremony, the couple and their guests headed to The Elkridge Club for a tented reception. "We chose early September because we really wanted to be outside," says Amanda. "The weather was great." Guests were seated at round tables topped with textured linens and tall arrangements of white hydrangeas and pink garden roses to match the bride's bouquet.
The bride and groom shared their first dance to Ray Lamontagne's "You Are the Best Thing," then started the dance set with "Wanna Be Startin' Something" by Michael Jackson. They cut into a four-tiered cake topped with garden and polo roses.
Grady and Amanda got adventurous for their honeymoon, exploring the jungles and beaches of Bali. "We even stayed on a tiny island surrounded by monkeys, deer, and sharks!" she says.
Their advice? "Enjoy your engagement," says Amanda. "You have your whole lives to be husband and wife, but just a short window to be fiancé(e)s!"
Ceremony Venue: Second Presbyterian Church || Reception Venue: The Elkridge Club || Wedding Planner: Diana Venditto, Eventi Planning || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Shoes: Oscar de la Renta || Jewelry: My Baubles || Hair & Makeup: Behind the Veil || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Attire: Paul Stuart || Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank || Wedding Bands: My Baubles || Florist: Wicked Willow || Invitations & Paper Goods: The Pleasure of Your Company || Music: Ceremony - Mulberry Street String Quartet, Reception - Infusion || Catering: The Elkridge Club || Cake: Sugar Bakers Cakes || Rentals: Select Event Group || Videography: Bowen Films || Photography: Laurie Bracewell Photography