Throughout their eight years of dating, Gary Rosenberg made sure he stuck to one important Valentine's Day tradition: he always gifted Jill Badlotto a new teddy bear on the romantic holiday, which she kept and treasured over the course of their relationship. So when Jill came home to find each of those bears lined up on the patio, with the very first plush toy with a ring box in his paw and Gary on bended knee beside him, the bride-to-be happily accepted the sentimental proposal.
Like those gifts and the day the Gary popped the question, the future Mr. and Mrs. wanted their October 24, 2015, wedding to stand the test of time. "It was important for me to look back on our day in 20 years and not feel it was too trendy," says Jill. The couple turned to their grandparents' weddings, as well as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, for inspiration. With a classic color palette of ivory and maroon, the couple ensured no detail would ever go out of style. And, thanks to the talents of Charlotte Jenks Lewis, they can look back on the happy memories forever.
Using invitations from Minted, Jill and Gary invited 97 guests to join them in Brooklyn, New York, for a ceremony at the bride's childhood church followed by a reception at The Players club, a private townhouse for actors, writers, and artists. "The décor of the venue is unlike any other, with a poker table that Frank Sinatra played at, and the untouched bedroom of Edwin Booth," the bride says. "After receiving a tour of the place, I knew it had to be my venue, and that my guests would be in awe like I was. When you step foot into The Players, you are transported back into old Hollywood. It's a pretty magical place."
Despite the heavy head-to-toe lace on Jill's Oscar de la Renta wedding dress, she says it was light and comfortable. The dress came strapless, but Jill added tulle off-the-shoulder straps to give her big day look a dash of whimsical flair. "All the other dresses made me feel like I was playing dress up in bridal gowns, but when I tried on this one, I felt like I was a bride," Jill says. "Also, my mom started crying, which was a good indication I had found the one."
But as much as she loved her wedding dress, it was a wedding day accessory that she was most excited to wear. "I'll admit I was almost as excited for my veil as I was my dress," Jill says. Knowing she wanted something that felt like an antique, the bride-to-be sought out a store in Chicago that could create a custom veil using vintage fabrics and lace. Although she went into the boutique looking to have something designed just for her, the owner showed Jill a dramatic headpiece from the 1920s.
Jill's nude-hued Christian Louboutin pumps were a wedding day gift from Gary, and served as her something new. As for her something blue, the bride wore a blue bracelet that was once her grandmother's around her ankle.
She knew exactly what she wanted for her bouquet, choosing immediately to carry a small bundle of Lily of the Valley. "Growing up, my mother would grow them in her garden," Jill says, "and I loved the delicate nature of the flower."
Gary's one and only wedding request? That he could pair a bow tie with his classic black and white tuxedo, which each of his groomsmen also wore for the big day. "Gary loves color and loud prints, so the bow tie was a way for him to show his personality on our wedding day, and added some color to our neutral color palette," says Jill.
The groom also chose not to shave his beard for the couple's black-tie-optional wedding. "Everyone wondered why he didn't," Jill says, "but I love his beard, and that's how he's most comfortable, so he kept it. And I'm so happy he did."
"It's old Italian tradition for the bridesmaids and maid-of-honor to wear white on the wedding day, so that the bad spirits will get confused as to who the bride is," Jill says. In love with that idea, the bride asked her friends to choose their own ivory gown to wear on the day. "It all came out beautiful, and I loved that the overall look was cohesive, but each girl was unique in her own way. One design doesn't always have to fit all."
Jill and Gary returned to the bride's childhood church for their ceremony. "My father walked me down the same aisle he walked down with my mom, the same aisle he held me down when I was baptized, and the same aisle he watched me receive communion," Jill says. "He is a very tough guy, but when it comes to his family, he is very sensitive, so it was an emotional moment for us."
Luckily, because of the old building's breathtaking architecture, the couple needed little in the way of décor. "We let the stained glass windows and dramatic look of the church speak for itself."
Inside the reception venue, guests could take in framed portraits of Jimmy Fallon, Mark Twain, Walter Cronkite, and more on the townhouse's colorful walls. During cocktail hour, the couple offered guests one of their favorite foods: macaroni and cheese. "It was very important to Gary and I that our wedding day was a reflection of us as a couple," the bride says.
Thanks to The Players own unique décor, Jill and Gary didn't have to do much to dress up the space. "I didn't want to take away from it's beauty," Jill says. Tables were topped with ivory linens, candles, and tall centerpieces of baby's breath so guests could chat with each other across the table.
Jill's brother, an artist, hand-drew a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge, which the couple copied and gave out as favors to their guests. "He is so incredibly talented, and I love that it's a souvenir that they can take home to remember their trip to New York," says the bride.
Dessert was an epic ice cream sundae bar, but that didn't mean the couple skipped a wedding cake. In addition to scoops of their favorite flavors, guests also enjoyed traditional vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.
The couple danced together to Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love," then opened up the floor to their guests. "For the last song, we requested 'New York, New York' by Frank Sinatra, and my husband and I got up on stage to sing," Jill ssays. "It was one of my favorite parts of the night."
Jill doesn't regret going with her gut when it comes to wedding planning, and encourages other brides to do the same. "Do what you want," she says. "I had so many people tell me that having different bridesmaids dresses would look sloppy, or that I was spending too much money on a certain thing. We didn't listen to any of it, and everything came together perfectly. Don't sweat the small stuff also, because at the end of the day, nothing else matters but the love you two share. It will all come together."
Ceremony Venue: St. Patrick's Church || Reception Venue, Catering, & Rentals: The Players || Bride's Wedding Dress: Oscar de la Renta || Veil: Meringue || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Hair & Makeup: Michiko || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo, Alfred Angelo, Bhldn and Joanna August || Groom & Groomsmen: Men's Wearhouse || Florist: Fly Me To The Moon || Invitations: Minted || Music: Total Entertainment || Cake: Empire Cake || Videographer: Le Image || Photographer: Charlotte Jenks Lewis
Did you love this couple's Brooklyn wedding? Then check out another New York City celebration in the video below.