Katie Sands remembers her first date with Brian Bochner like it was yesterday. “We were set up on a Monday, July 23, 2018, by fellow fashionista Elizabeth Savetsky,” says Katie, the lifestyle blogger behind @honestlykate and an on-air correspondent who’s appeared on "The TODAY Show," "Good Morning America," and E! “I walked into hotspot Dante in the West Village 45 minutes late. I thought for sure Brian probably already left because I was so late at this point that it was rude, not at all fashionable.” But to her surprise, he was still there.
“I found the dimple-faced boy I begged Elizabeth to set me up with sitting at the bar. He was deep into one of his many crossword puzzles that week. Calm and smiling, Negroni in hand, not phased or bothered in the least. That was the moment I knew I met my complete opposite in every sense of the word.” Their dinner lasted hours, but the date didn’t end there. “Somehow I convinced him to come with me to my favorite place in all of Manhattan, Marie’s Crisis, where I proceeded to sing for him until two in the morning,” Katie says. “I remember thinking ‘this feels different,’ and I was ready to trust the simple fact that I may have found my forever.”
She had. Three years later, Brian proposed in Mexico with an heirloom stone reset in a gold bezel setting. “We immediately knew we wanted to be married within the year,” Katie says, so they got right to planning. But, they weren’t just planning a wedding. They were planning an entire weekend of events in Miami—all from New York. So, they enlisted help from Posh Parties founder Heather Lowenthal. “Heather and her team were incredible to work with throughout the entire process,” Katie says. “I have been a bridesmaid in more than 10 weddings so far, and I have never experienced a more seamless process. They brought my vision for the weekend to life in a way I could never have even dreamed of.”
That vision was bold, bright, vibrant, and colorful. “We wanted to embrace being in Miami, so each night had a different theme,” Katie says. “We went from tropical and fun to seashell-filled to eclectic and vibrant. We had a monogram created—KB in the middle of a scallop shell—that was seen throughout the weekend to weave the themes together. My last name is Sands after all, so we had to incorporate the beach as much as possible!” Coming up with each event’s vibe was the easiest part of planning for the bride. “I am a producer at heart.”
“The entire wedding weekend was very much a reflection of the two of us and our favorite things,” Katie says, “From the reggae band at the welcome party, to the Argentinian smoked barbecue for the rehearsal dinner, to the whimsical retro feel of the wedding, we incorporated all aspects of our life into a weekend that seemed to level up a notch night after night.”
The guest experience—and what they’d say about it afterward—was at the forefront of Katie’s planning decisions. “I wanted a whimsical wedding where everyone in attendance would say it was the most fun wedding they had ever been to,” she says. “I didn't want anything to feel stiff or serious. I wanted it to be happy, colorful, and embrace the location, since it was a destination wedding for everyone invited.” In the end, her dream was realized. “I would say by the state of guests Monday morning we accomplished that and then some.”
Read on to explore all three days of epic events, planned by Heather Lowenthal of Posh Parties and photographed by Olivia Rae James.
Anna Schwartz hand painted a chic invitation suite that set the tone for the colorful weekend, complete with scallop shell detailing and tropical motifs.
The weekend kicked off with a Margaritaville-themed welcome party—and bride Katie dressed the part in an ombré Zimmerman set with a ruffled organza crop top. She paired it with a pair of metallic lace-up Stuart Weitzman sandals and Jennifer Behr butterfly earrings. Her chic Olympia Le-Tan clutch was the perfect accessory, a nod to both the wedding destination and color palette.
“For the welcome party and rehearsal dinner I wanted to make a statement with my glam,” Katie says. “The welcome party theme was Margaritaville, so it was only fitting that we went with a Make Up For Ever eyeshadow for a bright orange Miami look, matching a bright bold lip.” Her groom Brian was perfectly on theme, too.
The opening event was high-energy and experiential. “We had custom coconuts with our logo that were a hit, and cigars wrapped on site with our wedding shell logo for an extra touch,” Katie says. “It was important to us to choose music to match the theme of each event. Friday, we had a steel drum and reggae band—Pan Paradise, a favorite reggae band of mine based in Miami—who brought island sounds.”
The rehearsal dinner on Saturday likewise had its own theme—Argentinian barbecue—and curated set of details. “Brian loves to smoke meats, fish, and veggies, so this was quite a fitting theme for my chef hubby,” Katie says. A seashell-framed mirror was calligraphed by Laura Hooper as the seating chart, and a Latin trio from AA Musicians provided the soundtrack.
“For our rehearsal dinner, the tables had assigned seating,” Katie says. “Instead of traditional paper place cards, we had a calligrapher write names on seashells.” In a break from tradition, they invited all of their guests. “The hardest part was trying to figure out how everyone was going to fit at our rehearsal dinner. Finding the right space was challenging as it’s hard to accommodate 200-plus people in a space that isn't a wedding venue. In the end, it all worked out and we did an unconventional rehearsal dinner, which I always prefer over something more formal.”
Katie donned the Phoebe dress from Elizabeth Fillmore’s Spring 2019 bridal collection for the rehearsal dinner, paired with slingback pumps. “I felt like a Bond girl in this sexy, silky number,” she remembers. “The theme for this night was Fuego Fiesta, so I had to amp up my bridal game.”
For glam, “We were channeling our inner mermaid goddess with the deep shades of blue and iridescent pearl overtones,” Katie says. “We used Urban Decay shadow for our ocean blue and their Moondust eyeshadow in Space Cowboy for shimmer over the lid.” The Daniela Gozlan team gave her hair goddess waves to match.
The glow was happiness—and a strict skin care routine. “I did three rounds of the PicoSure laser treatment from Cynosure, which really helped improve the overall firmness of my skin,” Katie says. “The week leading up to the wedding I visited my favorite facialist in Miami, Melissa Fox, for a Ject Peel. Melissa has the hands of an angel. I wish I could fly to Miami monthly just to have her touch my skin.” She stuck to an at-home regimen, too. “I have been newly obsessed with the Herbal Face Food serums. Mark my word, they are about to take the beauty world by storm!”
Katie and Brian had originally hoped to get married where they got engaged, the Chablé Maroma in Riviera Maya, but moved the wedding stateside due to COVID. Here they found their dream destination in Miami Beach. “The Faena Hotel used to be the Saxony Hotel, and the bridal suite is still under that name,” Katie says. “My mother-in-law grew up going there with her family; it's where Brian’s parents actually met. We knew Miami would be the perfect mix of a tropical beach getaway that was easy for both Brian’s Canadian and Californian family to get to.”
“One of my best friends, Lucas Bowman, did my makeup all weekend long,” Katie says. “He has been doing my makeup for TV appearances for the past four years and knows how to bring that ‘you, but better’ look. I felt very natural the day of. We went for the ‘classic Katie’ look: not too overdone, but effortlessly glamorous. Lucas added fresh glowing skin with bronzer and contour using Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer, and bronzed eyes with a natural cat eye using a shimmer brown eyeliner from Stila Cosmetics.”
She made a last-minute switch on her hairstyle. “After months of thinking I was going to go with a low chignon bun, I decided that I really wanted to feel and look like myself on the day of the wedding, so instead I went with long, loose, beachy waves—my signature.”
“Karen Mabon created custom PJs for my bridesmaids, and a robe for me,” Katie says. “She even made a mini set for my flower girl, who was so happy to be part of the action.”
For her nails, “I went with Funny Bunny from OPI, which is my go-to,” Katie says. Last but not least, she spritzed on Fracas by Robert Piguet. “There is nothing I love more than the smell of gardenias.”
“I went into dress shopping saying I would try on anything except a dress with lace on it,” Katie remembers. “And there I was buying the first dress I tried on at Vera Wang. And, of course, it was entirely lace.” Dubbed Hazel, the gown featured a removable topper—also entirely lace—that could be added for the ceremony. “I originally thought I would go with a new up-and-coming designer, but truly no one does it better than Vera.”
“I have worked with the Stuart Weitzman brand since the inception of my blog, HonestlyKate, and never looked back,” Katie says. “They truly are the most comfortable heels in the game. It was a no-brainer than I would wear SW my entire wedding weekend; they are the only heels I don’t have to take off mid-party.” She wore four different pairs throughout the weekend, opting for the Allison 85 sandal to go with her gown.
Her other accessories were equally as meaningful. “One of my favorite jewelry designers, Marlo Laz, created a beautiful flower ring out of my uncle’s sapphire stone,” Katie says. “I really felt like Princess Diana in it. She then created the most stunning diamond eternity band to match as my wedding band.” Katie’s diamond flower earrings were “something borrowed” from Verstolo; for something old, she carried a family heirloom. “My lace wedding bag was my mom’s wedding bag, and before her it was my grandmother’s,” Katie says. “I hope I can pass this on to my future daughter or daughter-in-law one day.”
Katie recognized the beauty of a first look—you capture the best light of the day and it takes some pressure off the ceremony—but “to be completely honest I have always felt the first look photos to be a bit cheesy,” she says. So, the couple made it their own. “Instead we opted to face each other as we both walked outside into the Mammoth Garden. This made it feel like more of an even playing field. It was the first time the entire wedding we were alone, just the two of us; it was a moment for us to know that this day was about the two of us and we were going to conquer it together.”
Brian looked dapper in a bespoke shawl collar tuxedo from his favorite West Village atelier, J.Mueser. “They also made him and all his groomsmen matching smoking slippers with their initials on them,” Katie says. Like his bride, he donned a family heirloom. “He wore his great-grandfather’s Patek Philippe watch on the wedding day. It was passed down from his great-grandfather to grandfather to his dad and then to him. As a watch guy and co-founder of watch company Dial + Bezel, he was so excited to wear it.”
His grooming prep was less intense than Katie’s, however. “Men have it easy,” Brian jokes. “All I had to do was get a nice base tan the previous day and show up looking handsome as hell.”
Choosing their photographer, Olivia Rae James, was another no-brainer for Katie. “I have always wanted to work with this talented beauty and I was so excited that she was available to shoot the wedding weekend. The photos were something I knew would be so important to me. Her effortlessly cool demeanor and the unobtrusive way about her made Brian and the rest of the family fall in love with her again and again each night.”
“I was really able to curate the collection of bridesmaids dresses of my dreams,” Katie says. “I was very specific with the color scheme and mood board. I thought all the dresses looked perfectly imperfect together without clashing. The theme was floral and flowy—and boy did they bring that Miami heat to the wedding.” The ladies, including maid of honor Grace Sands and matron of honor Lauren Bochner, chose styles from Badgley Mischka, De La Vali, Marchesa, and Saloni.
You’re marrying the love of your life, and that is really all it is about.
Katie added her gown’s lace topper for the ketubah signing and ceremony, both extremely special moments. But then again every moment–from planning all the way through the reception—was special. “The ups and downs and everything in between make for fun memories,” she says, advising other couples to enjoy every moment. “You’re marrying the love of your life, and that is really all it is about.”
“We had a traditional Jewish ceremony and our chuppah was overflowing with greenery and colorful flowers; I felt like I was standing under an ethereal garden,” Katie says. “Our aisle was lined with lush pastel flowers and a white runner.” Bags of bright pink petals adorned each bamboo chair to be tossed at the newlyweds after “I do.”
Brian entered the ceremony with his parents, followed by a ring bearer and flower girl, “who wore a mini Badgley Mischka dress that looked like a cupcake version of my gown,” Katie says. “We had live musicians who were phenomenal. Brian walked down to ‘Better Together’ by Jack Johnson. Our bridal party walked down to ‘Say’ by John Mayer.”
I was crying laughing the entire way down.
“It was important to me that both my parents walked me down the aisle,” Katie says. “We are thick as thieves and I knew this moment would be very emotional all around. I was crying laughing the entire way down.” They entered to a classic: “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis.
“My mom, being the stylista that she is, looked like a goddess in her Temperley London gown. She rocked the sheer floral number from one of my favorite brands with confidence and ease. It wasn't your typical MOB dress. It didn't feel matronly, which I loved—my mom is a bohemian goddess at heart.”
“I've always dreamed of getting married on the beach; I swear I'm a mermaid at heart and being by or in the ocean always keeps me feeling grounded,” Katie says. “However, we had to make the executive decision at 10 a.m. the morning of the wedding to move the ceremony inside due to a tropical storm that was about to hit hard. Let me tell you, it was a moment of ‘all is meant to be.’ The sunlight that hit the Faena Forum during the ceremony was the most gorgeous light I have ever seen in my life. I felt like I was getting married on top of a cloud.”
“We feel so lucky that Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz was available to marry us,” Katie says. “He knew Brian's grandparents and parents from Montreal, and mine from when he was relocated to NYC 15 years ago.” They mixed tradition with innovation for the rite. “We went with a more traditional ceremony because we wanted our love to be rooted in Judaism,” Katie says. “But we asked the rabbi if we could incorporate our own vows, which is very nontraditional for a religious ceremony. He said he would be delighted to have us say our own vows.”
“My favorite part of attending any wedding is hearing personal vows,” Katie says. “I feel it is such an incredible way to get to know the couple on a deeper level. We were so excited to write ours and I couldn't wait to share them with our nearest and dearest. I have to admit Brian definitely did ‘out vow’ me. He is quite the romantic; it’s why I married him. One of my favorite line’s from Brian vow’s was, ‘In our modern romance of Instagram versus reality, you are the rare instance where real life beats the facade.’”
“Our recessional song was ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),’” Katie remembers. “We were led by a team of conga and sax players into the cocktail hour following the ceremony, which instantly brought the already high energy even higher.”
The guests followed them in. “Brian’s go-to drink is a Negroni and mine is a skinny spicy margarita, so we had those two drinks being passed around while the congas and sax were playing in the indoor amphitheater. It was definitely a party from the start.”
The newlyweds snuck away for a fun photo session in a decorated moke, a Miami staple. Katie waved her colorful bouquet of peonies. “It was simple and not overdone and was a complement to my dress,” she says. “It was the perfect accessory.”
The reception took place in Faena Forum, an architectural masterpiece. “I have always loved this refurbished art deco building,” Katie says. “I never imagined myself having a traditional ballroom reception, so this was the perfect mix of indoor space with a fun, funky feel.”
“Our reception was vibrant and colorful,” she continues. “I wanted something very Miami that had a personality and was not like every other wedding you go to. Our planner had an in-house designer who designed the details on the dance floor, bar, and menu cards."
"We used Ceci New York for Nüage Designs floral chargers and napkins to match the lush, colorful flowers on the tables. We went with all low centerpieces so that it had an intimate dinner party feel, even though we had more than 200 guests. The venue was very white and open, so with moody lighting and a floral gobo pattern, we were able to warm the room and make it feel romantic.”
Rather than specifying their meal choice via invitation menu cards, guests chose their dinner day-of. “After the first course of Campari tomato and burrata, our guests had a choice of braised sarsaparilla short ribs or grilled local mahi,” Katie says. “With the tableside choice, it felt like they were in a restaurant ordering, not just at a typical banquet-style dinner.”
The couple curated the music to each party of the weekend, and the reception was no different—they needed a band that could play all genres for the main event. They went with an 11-piece dance band—Remix from Tropics Entertainment—with a variety of singers. First up? Toots & The Maytals’ “It Must Be True Love” for Katie and Brian’s first dance.
“Remix actually played at our best friend's wedding in Montreal pre-pandemic and I always kept their name in mind,” Katie says. “Little did I know they were actually Miami-based; I was ready to fly them in from Canada! They really left a major impression on both Brian and I as the most fun wedding band of all time.” As anticipated, the band brought the party.
It was time for an outfit change. “I love the mix of elegance and sophistication Carolina Herrera brings to all of her pieces, even the mini ones,” Katie says. “This was the perfect second look as it still felt very bridal but was short and sexy in all the right areas.”
“My dad and I really went for it with our dance, choreographed by the fabulous Maya Sank of Maya Moves,” Katie says. The song was “Sooner or Later” by The Grass Roots. “We are both total goofballs and we wanted our dance to incorporate our personalities and get everyone on the dance floor. We kept the entire performance a secret until the day of.”
In the interest of getting guests out of their seats, desserts were passed around on the dance floor, rather than served as a plated course.
Cutting the cake and stuffing it in Brian’s face was a moment I was looking forward to from the moment we got engaged.
“Cutting the cake and stuffing it in Brian’s face was a moment I was looking forward to from the moment we got engaged,” Katie says. “I smashed it good and he got me back. Luckily, we were done taking the majority of the photos by then and were able to fully enjoy the moment for all it was worth.” The flavor? “Strawberry shortcake, both of our favorite.”
Late-night, guests moved into the hotel’s theater for an afterparty. “We played up the theater aspect and had costumes that all the guests could put on over their outfits,” Katie says. “Hat, wigs, wings, tutus—you name it, we had it. Everyone really gave in to the theme.” When dancing finally subsided, guests left with “Happily Ever After Meals,” filled to the brim with chicken fingers and French fries.
Their wedding kicked off a slew of others, so there will be no rest for the happy newlyweds. “A honeymoon is out of the question,” Katie laughs. “We have 22 weddings in 2022.”
Venue Faena Forum
Planner Posh Parties
Bridal Gown Designer Vera Wang
Bride’s Jewelry Marlo Laz; Verstolo
Bride’s Shoes Stuart Weitzman
Bride’s Hair Daniela Gozlan
Bride’s Makeup Lucas Dean Bowman
Other Bridal Attire Zimmermann; Elizabeth Fillmore; Carolina Herrera via Moda Operandi
Groom’s Attire J.Mueser
Floral Design Xquisite Events
Invitations Anna Schwartz for Posh Parties
Calligraphy Laura Hooper
Signage Anna Schwartz for Posh Parties
Music AA Musicians; Remix from Tropics Entertainment; DJ Adam Lipson
Catering Faena Forum
Lighting JM Event Group
Photo Booth Capture Pod
Videography Current Films
Photography Olivia Rae James