Christine D’Ercole and Brian Hicks’ love story is nothing if not unique, and proof positive that love can happen any way, with anyone—often when you’re least expecting it. Theirs began from 3,000 miles away, between screens. Christine is a senior instructor at Peloton; she gave Brian a shoutout during a live ride, asking about the username he was riding under, "BreatheNitrox." He later sent her a Facebook message explaining the name: He’s a scuba diver and underwater photographer, and nitrox is a gas mix that allows him to stay underwater longer.
They exchanged more messages and connected over shared interests and goals; namely, her bucket-list goal of scuba diving and his interest in finding a good road bike (as a 10-time national champion track cyclist, she was just the person to ask for advice).
Christine found herself falling for Brian, a surprise even to herself, as she’d long identified as a gay woman. And yet, “I remember feeling this sort of swell in my heart and hearing these words in my head: I REALLY like this guy,” Christine remembers. “Until one day, ‘I just love him’ rang in my head a little louder. A lot louder. The volume of my heart couldn’t be turned down. All I could do was accept and surrender. I had fallen in love.”
She had the conversation with Brian, who was elated. He, too, had fallen in love. By 2019, things were serious, and Christine began thinking about marriage. “In October 2019, we were celebrating the biggest win of my cycling career, a gold medal at Masters World Championships in Manchester, England,” she recalls. “We were discussing milestones and bucket lists. I knew I wanted to plan ahead and have a sizable party for my 50th birthday in two years’ time. As I was saying this, it dawned on me that what I really wanted was to be married to him by the time I turned 50. I couldn’t hide the huge swell of emotion that had just come over me.”
However, she didn't want to put any sort of ultimatum on Brian. So she told him how she felt—“I suppose it may have been a sort of proposal on my end,” she says—but left the rest up to him. “A year went by. I started to drop lines like, ‘You know, you really should be married to me,’ and ‘When are you going to marry me?’” Christine says. “Mr. Hicks is a quiet man. He has a lot of wheels and cogs turning behind the scenes, silently.” Then, COVID hit. They were confined in their Brooklyn home together. “He made the right side of the sofa into his office, his laptop perched on the arm where, as I walked out of the bedroom, I occasionally noted advertisements on his desktop—the cookies of web browsing following him around. Flashing ads for bike helmets, weight racks, and diamonds. Diamonds!”
She couldn’t help but let him know she’d seen. They began discussing rings. "After finding nothing in the world that was both elegant and edgy, vintage and yet gritty, I started drawing pictures of what the ring might be,” Christine says. Inspiration struck. “We both love scuba diving, and an intrigue with octopi was a large part of what brought us together. With their eight independently thinking arms, they can perceive and process any given situation from eight different perspectives at once. What if we humans could consider any situation, any conflict, from eight different perspectives at once? I believe that we would all be far more empathetic and compassionate.” She continues: “This seems to be a useful awareness to bring into a relationship, and so it is represented in the eight-sided halo around the center diamond. Under this halo is a teeny-tiny second halo of black diamonds, a nod to my gothy, witchy roots.”
They turned to West Village jeweler Catherine Angiel, “who has been making ‘commitment rings’ for all kinds of couples for nearly 30 years,” to create the piece. By December 2020, the ring was done.
“Brian’s birthday is July 31. We had planned to cook one of the first romantic meals we ever had, when he made tournedos rossini for me. We planned to eat on the porch of our new home and open a fancy bottle of wine,” Christine remembers. But that afternoon, their cat went missing; they channeled all their energy into a search party. By 7 p.m. the cat was found—but the romantic moment had passed. “I later learned that this was the night he was going to propose. If only that cat hadn’t hidden under the stairs!”
Eleven days later, on Christine’s 50th birthday—the day she originally wanted to be married by—Brian finally got down on one knee. “We went to Aska, a two Michelin star restaurant in Williamsburg,” she remembers. “After languishing over every course of their divine tasting menu, he excused himself to the restroom. Upon his return I couldn’t help but notice a sizable cube in his pocket.” They went out on the patio for a photo. “It had just rained passionately. The air was heavy and steaming. The waiter took a couple pictures then left us there. Brian put his hands on my shoulders. He said words. Words I had been waiting for him to say, for so long. And it was all a blur. He got on one knee. All I wanted finally happened.”
Their wedding celebration channeled all the wanting, all the waiting, into an over-the-top celebration in their beloved Brooklyn. “We’d all been stuck inside for so long,” Christine says. “We wanted to make it an occasion, like the theater, to both escape the toils and troubles of the world and to create true self-recognition and self-inspiration. Our aim was to inspire our guests to embrace their biggest selves, to wear the ridiculous thing, to be the spectacle, and to celebrate like there’s no tomorrow. Because tomorrow isn’t promised.”
They found the perfect venue in Williamsburg’s Weylin, and the perfect date. “When we asked our venue for dates in May, they said the 28th was available. May 28th is my father’s birthday, and 2022 marks 20 years since he passed,” Christine says. “My father was my hero, my everything. It all just fell into place.”
Christine and Brian finally said “I do” in front of 125 guests on May 28, 2022. Read on to see all the spectacular details of their big day, planned by Kaitlin Donaldson at All The Best Moments and photographed by Todd Laffler of Laffler Photography.
The couple worked with Minted to custom design their dream invitation suite. “I was inspired by the art nouveau lines in an existing invitation and made a drawing of my own based on it,” Christine says. “The artist at Minted, Alungoo, was able to turn it into the correct digital file type and it became our invitation!”
Christine did her own makeup for the big day, beginning with a blank canvas prepped with her favorite skin care products: Sunday Riley Good Genes lactic acid treatment and Auto Correct brightening and depuffing eye contour cream, and Belif The True Cream aqua bomb. “I swear by these,” she says.
She used Fenty foundation, Hourglass and Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow products, NARS Orgasm blush stick, and NARS lipstick. “My signature is a bold red lip, but for this occasion I went for the eyes with a dramatic smokey eye,” she says. “This was really very close to my normal made up look, but elevated for the occasion.”
She booked Ever Good Hair to style her tresses in a large low bun. “I toyed with a viking maiden braided situation, but went the more vintage Hollywood route,” she says. As a finishing touch, she added a fragrance. “I have been wearing Le Labo Thé Noir 29 for years."
The color palette for the wedding was deep indigo and teal with touches of gold. The bride even wove it into her look with a pair of custom lace-up dark teal opera gloves by Wing + Weft Gloves. Her nails were “natural, with a subtle flash of pale rose gold,” she says.
Christine’s 23-year-old daughter, Victoria, served as best person, ring bearer, and flower girl wrapped into one. Christine even made her tea-length dress. “Her dress was from a vintage 1950s pattern in deep teal dupioni silk with a surprise of ombre teal tulle underneath and lined in gold silk,” the bride describes. “I have made my daughter many, many fancy outfits as a child—everything from everyday dresses in fine liberty floral fabrics to lined silk brocade mandarin collar jackets. We searched exhaustively for her dress online but found nothing quite right and nothing in the color we wanted. I am so grateful for the skill to be able to create this for her. It made it extra special.”
Christine had a custom necklace made by Poet & Crow, a sterling silver heart with a crown wrapped around it and a small blue stone in the center, to go with the gown. “I wanted her to have something special, in addition to the dress, that she could wear on a regular basis.”
For her own part, Christine donned the Aja gown by Woná—a silk mikado style with pointed sweetheart neckline and belted bodice. She included a custom detail as well. “I added an ombre tulle underskirt of dark teal to pale aqua to peek through when dancing," shares the bride.
This wasn’t always her wardrobe plan, though. “I found the Aja dress back in September, and LOVED it, especially the bodice. It felt like a super hero chest plate—very Wonder Woman. It is edgy, feminine, strong, confident, and sumptuous at the same time,” she says. “But I had it in my head that I wanted a laced corset top, and I wanted silk charmeuse.”
She decided to go the custom route and began working with Atelier Andreé Ciccarelli, a sustainable bridal label. “We began designing a dress together and through the process, I realized that what I really wanted for my wedding was that first dress I had tried on! Andreé and I discussed, and she was so, so graceful.”
A pair of pale teardrop earrings with a black diamond border added another pop of blue. “The crown was a last-minute addition,” Christine says. “I had originally planned to include it as a prop on the walk from home to the venue, but I loved it and stuck with it.” She and Brian did a first look at their apartment before walking to their venue nearby.
Our personal styling was classic with an edge.
“Our personal styling was classic with an edge—if Siouxsie from Siouxsie and the Banshees was an old-school movie star,” Christine says. Brian wore a traditional morning suit from Alan David with vintage accessories: an antique pocket watch and chain from Etsy, a gold and sapphire tie pin found on eBay, a top hat, and a walking stick.
“I found a design of Van Gogh’s ‘Almond Blossoms’ that I thought would make a perfect ascot,” Christine says. “We used this to pull in the deep turquoise, which suggested the underwater world, and also was a color tie to the crinoline underskirt on my dress. Romy McCloskey of Faden Design Studios found a silk scarf with the design and made it into an ascot!"
Christine made her own veil. She used white tulle sourced from MOOD and stitched it to a comb.
“We deeply enjoyed many aspects of the planning process,” Christine says. And, like every other aspect of their relationship, they made it their own. “We made an agreement going in that I would handle the theatrical elements and do the narrowing down of choices. He would manage the spreadsheets and payment schedules because he actually enjoys math. I promised to come to him with only three to five options for flatware, tablecloth colors, and so on. Brian has far less bandwidth for the rabbit holes I will venture down.” She continues: “Accepting these roles helped manage expectations. We both know what we like and what each other likes, so there was really nothing we disagreed on.”
She’d advise other couples to take a similar approach: “Begin the process with a very real discussion about what each other has the bandwidth to do. Decide what really matters most for both of you and what you are flexible about. Do not be offended when the other isn’t interested in which flatware is chosen; respecting one another's boundaries is key to a positive experience.”
The former Williamsburg Savings Bank-turned-event venue, Weylin, is walking distance from Christine and Brian’s home. “When we moved to the area in 2019, we just fell in love with the building,” the bride says. “We love large imposing architecture and a vintage aesthetic. We had no idea what it was for a while, but thoroughly enjoyed its grandeur. After doing some research, we fell even deeper in love with it. We love the bits of history, including the fact that, in spite of its very fancy appearance, it was a bank ‘for the people,’ serving the underserved in the working community.” She adds, “We love that is has been restored and reinvented, kind of like us, in each other.”
The octopus symbolism once again came into play for their ceremony. “We built a six-foot wooden octagon as a backdrop for our ceremony with fellow cyclist and expert woodworker Shane Kline of Walnut Street Woodworks,” Christine says. It was draped in florals: calla lilies, hydrangeas, peonies, garden roses, and sweet peas, all in shades of white. Oversize black urns held even more white florals, and candles glowed in hurricane glass. “We chose vintage-inspired velvet sofas to be randomly placed among the chairs to give a bit of a Victorian parlor feel.”
Preceding her mother down the aisle as flower girl, Victoria carried feathers instead of florals. It was an homage to Christine’s father. “Someone once told me that when a feather falls in your path, it is a sign that a lost loved one is looking over you,” the bride says.
Christine worked with Minted again for the ceremony and reception paper items. “We incorporated a drawing I made of an octagon with calla lilies swirling up the side on nearly all of our paper goods, which came courtesy of Minted,” Christine says. “We were able to create many customized elements that are reflected in the signage, programs, and menus.”
We each walked ourselves down the aisle. No one can give us away; we are our own to give to each other.
“We each walked ourselves down the aisle,” Christine says. “No one can give us away; we are our own to give to each other.” That said, “We wanted dramatic entrances.” Brian entered to a string quartet version of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” “We choreographed the curtain unveiling and the step through and the walk for maximum impact, and the audience was very into it,” Christine remembers. “Our guests took a second, recognized the song, and joined in the enthusiastic aaa-aaaa-aaa-aaa-aaa-aaa-aaaaaaa-aaa.” Afterward, Christine entered to Sophia Urista’s rendition of “At Last” by Etta James.
New York Times bestselling author Emily Rapp Black officiated the emotional ceremony. The couple wrote love letters to each other that encapsulated the emotions of the day and their belief in second chances. Included in Brian’s: “You have taught me how to love again. At one point I had written off the idea of ‘falling in love’ and being in a happy relationship. I told myself that those are just fairy tales, and real life doesn’t work that way. Until it does. Our life does work that way.”
They also wrote their own vows—based on a mantra Christine has made popular through her public speaking and Peloton classes. “Our vows were built around the mantra ‘I am, I can, I will, I do,’” she says. “I created a call and response using the mantra as a template.” The last line of the vow exchange was, “Do you promise to keep your hands firmly planted on each other's backs, through all things and for all time?” To which the couple responded, “I do.”
Their ceremony also included a handfasting ritual. “It is an ancient Celtic tradition and we both have deep roots there,” Christine says. She collabed once again with Faden Design Studios on a custom embroidered handfasting ribbon. “Romy is a master embroiderer and she created an extraordinary heirloom textile that we will treasure forever,” Christine says. “It showcases a series of motifs representing everything we are passionate about and the things that brought us together and keep us together." The symbols included an octopus, a camera, a manta ray, a bicycle, a bee, flowers for Christine's daughter, and a feather for her father.
To conclude the ceremony, the strings took up Florence + the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” as the newlyweds recessed down the aisle hand in hand.
“In this post-pandemic world, where so many are struggling and dealing with the repercussions of isolation and loneliness, we wanted to make our wedding a dramatic occasion to celebrate, and invite our guests to wear ‘that thing’ they’ve always wanted—to be as dramatic and outrageous as they wish, to dress like tomorrow isn’t promised,” Christine says. “Our invitation said ‘top hats and tails encouraged.’” Christine’s crew of fellow Peloton instructors, seen here, thoroughly understood the assignment.
“Weylin is such an amazing space, we really wanted to let it speak for itself,” Christine says. “Every detail of trim, the doorknobs, the hinges, the vaults, and the ceiling is a show of exquisite craftsmanship. Our florist Tatiana and I agreed that we should not go overboard, so that elements were not competing with each other.”
The vibe for decor? “Gothic elegance,” says the bride. “It was vintage, Victorian era-inspired, with teal velvet table linens, black candles, gold details, and etched acanthus on the glassware. There were faded shades of white, ecru and cream peonies, hydrangeas, calla lilies, ranunculus, mercury glass, and sterling silver containers.” They repurposed the velvet sofas from the ceremony into dual “cozy living room” vignettes to the side of the dance floor. “We paired them with sleek modern gold side tables for a bold contrast.”
“In February I had purchased several raw velvet and silk ribbons from a shop on Etsy, Lab of Shades, to tie our escort cards to their table numbers,” Christine says. “After several weeks they hadn’t arrived, so I decided to check in. The shop had a message saying ‘due to war in our country, shipments may be delayed.’ The shop is in Ukraine. Immediately I wrote to them saying I do not care about the ribbons and when or if they ever come. I wanted to know if they were okay. Aleksandr wrote back saying that air raid sirens and bomb shelters are a part of everyday life now.”
She continues: “We had a few exchanges. The gravity of the situation is unfathomable. The ribbons eventually showed up and have so much more meaning knowing where they came from. I think it is important to remember that while we are celebrating here in Brooklyn, there is real tragedy happening elsewhere in the world—and to let that be a reminder to live our lives to the fullest now.”
Their reception was a celebration of living life to the fullest, indeed. And, it was fueled by a few signature cocktails: a Spring Mule, Old Fashioned, Negroni, and a Rumhattan made with black rum, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters, and cherry.
“Deciding the menu was so much fun,” Christine remembers. “The Thomas Preti experience was top. The thoughtfulness and attention to detail was so special. Every option on the menu was perfection.” The couple ultimately chose a mushroom and leek cannelloni first course, and an entree choice of roasted Arctic char with truffle pea puree or braised short rib with herb gnocchi. Desserts included New York cheesecake with cherry caviar, cookie dough shooters, brown butter blondies, and mini frozen chipwiches.
The guest experience was paramount to Christine and Brian; it was a celebration for all. They booked a few vendors that provided experiential elements, like the Haikuists. “We hired poets to write personalized haikus for everyone,” Christine says. “This was a reflection of my passion for words. We also brought in MirMir for our friends to be able to take away a really beautiful photo of themselves. This was a reflection of Brian’s passion for photography.”
One of the most difficult planning decisions was the cake, the couple says. “We had to try them all twice! It was so, so hard. Jay Muse, owner of Lulu, makes ridiculous cakes. We tried seven and could have had them all.” They eventually decided on a combination dubbed Graham Central Station: vanilla cake with graham cracker frosting, caramel swirl, and honeycomb sponge.
They were center stage for their first dance—to Labrinth’s “No Ordinary”—spotlights and all. “We choreographed our first dance on the rooftop of our building four days before the wedding,” Christine says. “I wanted to take lessons and create something dazzling, but we ran out of time. I told Brian this is very important to me. I said, ‘It would be such a meaningful gift to me if you could invest some interest in this,’ four days before the event. He checked the weather and said, ‘Let’s take the little speaker to the roof deck and see what we can do.’” Christine was elated. “He very quickly rose to the occasion and was so invested in that process. He paid so much attention to the counts and the lyrics and even helped nail the choreography. I had no idea he would hear and feel the song the way I did. I fell in love AGAIN.”
But, the theatrics didn’t end there. “We wanted to have something spectacular and theatrical to share with our guests,” Christine says. “As a competitive cyclist, I follow many other cyclists on Instagram, including ‘artistic cyclist’ Viola Brand. We searched everywhere locally for someone who could do what she does, which is, in effect, dancing on a bike. Finally I had our planner Kaitlin reach out to her to see if she knew anyone in the U.S. who does this. There is no one. So, we got Viola herself and it was the best decision ever. Guests were absolutely dazzled and blown away. It was incredibly joyous to bear witness to this. When I discovered Viola’s work, I witnessed the magical union of everything I loved about dance fused with cycling.”
Christine's custom teal underskirt made a splash as she took to the dance floor.
There was a surprise for the groom, as well: a groom’s cake in the shape of a diver’s bell helmet wrapped, of course, in an octopus. The flavor? Crumbella Deville—a vanilla cake with almond cheesecake filling, Michigan tart cherries, and streusel crumbs.
Guests danced the night away and left with favors of Linzer tart cookies by caterer Thomas Preti. The day was the ultimate celebration of Christine and Brian’s unique love story. “The theater of a wedding punctuates a moment in time, as a public declaration of a commitment and community; it announces that this is sacred and serves to recognize that,” Christine says. “Theater can also serve to distract from our woes and inspire.”
She goes on: “I hope the story told through the theater of our wedding serves to inspire. Second chances happen. We can refurbish our hearts and we can reword our belief systems about what is possible.” Now that’s exactly what she and Brian are doing, from this day forward.
Planner All The Best Moments
Officiant Emily Rapp Black
Bridal Gown Designer Woná
Bridal Salon Lotus Bridal
Bride’s Jewelry Outlette
Bride’s Gloves Wing + Weft Gloves
Bride’s Shoes Vintage
Bride’s Hair Second Nature Denver
Groom’s Shoes Magnanni
Rings Catherine Angiel
Floral Design Kraft & Co. Floral Design
Guest Book Kara Gasbarro
Catering Thomas Preti
Rentals Patina Rentals
Photo Booth MirMir
Photography Laffler Photography
Videography Jody Zorn Photography