A Cactus-Filled Wedding in the Heart of Brooklyn

The couple added an unexpected touch to their warehouse venue

Updated 02/19/18

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Gabrielle Marden has her mother’s college friend to thank for meeting Alexander Stern. “My mom and her friend, Jerry, kept trying to set us up, and Alex tried to politely decline,” says Gaby. “After some nudging, Jerry (Alex’s coworker) told him that I was expecting his call and that Alex shouldn’t make him look bad to my mother. Fast-forward six years, and Jerry was cutting the challah at our wedding!” Turns out, mom really does know best!

But before they tied the knot on April 1, 2017, Alex and Gaby had to get engaged. After a day wandering through Brooklyn in January of 2016, Alex presented Gaby with what he referred to as a belated Hanukkah present. “It was a photo book all about our relationship, and the last page said ‘Let’s fill the rest of these pages... forever,’ ” Gaby recalls. “Alex gives the most thoughtful gifts, so I didn’t realize it was a proposal until he got down on one knee!”

The happy couple turned to planner and designer Jove Meyer to create their dream wedding, filling the Liberty Warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn with a fresh, modern palette and a California vibe. “We focused on green and white, and added pops of yellow for contrast,” says Gaby. The result was crisp, playful, and a little prickly (from the cacti and palm fronds, of course), and was a beautiful way for the couple to start their next adventure together—and these photos by Tim Ryan Smith are proof!

Wedding invitations

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

All of the escort cards were hand-painted and hand-lettered, adding a personal touch to the sleek hexagonal design.

Bride getting ready

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Bride solo shot

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Bride holding a bouquet of flowers

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Gaby originally purchased an intricate embroidered gown but had a change of heart at the last minute. She did a complete 180 from the original dress, and selected a a simple, minimalist Vera Wang design with a notched neckline and a swooping train. “It was more important to me that Alex and I were getting married than what I wore, and I didn’t want to get lost in the details,” says Gaby. She carried an organic green and white bouquet combined roses, sweet peas, and open white ranunculus.

Bride and groom first look

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Bride and groom kissing

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

The groom looked just as modern as his bride in a custom tux from My Suit, with satin lapels. He wore his dad’s watch, which he’d received from his mother as a law school graduation gift.

Cactuses

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Floral arrangement

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Inside Liberty Warehouse, the aisle was flanked by tall cacti in terra cotta pots. “We wanted the decor to be lush and modern, as well as unique, and the cacti and gravel were the perfect choice,” says Gaby.

Additional oversized arrangements combined white and yellow blooms, framed with giant palm leaves, and seemed to climb the venue’s brick walls.

Bride with parents

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Gaby walked down the aisle with her parents, who joined her and Alex under the chuppah.

Bride and groom under chuppah

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

“We wanted to make sure our families all fit, so we had a very large chuppah,” says the bride. “Palms were mixed in to make it a little more graphic and interesting, as well as to keep with the California modern theme.”

Bride and groom kissing under chuppah

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Alex and Gaby spent a lot of time in the weeks leading up to their wedding sharing what they loved most about their relationship and what they wanted in their lives, then used that to write both a set of vows to share together and surprise vows that the other didn’t hear until the ceremony.

As part of the Jewish ceremony, Alex presented Gaby with his great-grandmother’s wedding band. “She was the matriarch and wanted all of her descendants to use the band,” Gaby explains. “We definitely had to have it resized!”

Today, the couple both wear wedding bands made of gold melted from a pair of Alex’s grandmother’s earrings. “I had the pleasure of getting to know her before she passed away, and loved her zest for life!” says the bride.

Wedding decor

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

For the escort cards, Gaby and Alex challenged Jove Meyer to create something they’d never seen before. The result? A series of hexagonal cards in gray, yellow, and green that were arranged like tiles on the wall, next to another sprawling yellow floral arrangement.

Wedding menu

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Cactus and candle centerpiece

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Guests were seated at a mix of round and rectangular tables. Some of the centerpieces combined sprawling branches of blooms and lush greenery, while others were sleek collections of cacti in stone-filled pots. To save on paper, menus also served as guests’ place cards. Their names were hand-painted to match the vibrant green hue.

The dinner menu included handmade burrata with heirloom tomatoes and pan-seared branzino with a vegetable-basmati stir-fry.

Naked Wedding Cake

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Each guest was served a medley of chocolate mousse cake and crème brûlée. The newlyweds cut into a tiny chocolate cake from Baked. “We weren’t planning on having cake at all, but received a vintage cake cutter as a gift, so we decided to get one the day before the wedding!” Gaby laughs.

Bride and groom kissing during first dance

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Bride and groom dancing reception

Photo by Tim Ryan Smith

Another of Alex and Gaby’s favorite design elements was the lighting installation their planner created over the dance floor. “Jove hung individually strung lights with various sized bulbs. It created a really fun environment,” Gaby explains.

The couple is spending 2018 travelling around the world for an extended honeymoon. “Our planner worked so closely with us to make sure we made decisions we were excited about,” says Gaby. “Whenever he offered us options, Jove would say things like ‘You can have this chair upgrade, or you can go on a trip to South America.’ He really understood that our relationship far beyond our wedding was our biggest priority.”

Wedding Planning & Design: Jove Meyer Events || Venue: The Liberty Warehouse || Bride's Dress: Vera Wang || Bride's Shoes: Manolo Blahnik || Makeup: Jessa Blades || Groom's Attire: My Suit || Floral Design: Putnam & Putnam || Paper Products: Minted, Julia Bez || Catering: The Liberty Warehouse || Cake: Baked || Music: Nate Lucas and the All Stars || Rentals: Party Rental LTD || Videography: Love Brain Films || Photography: Tim Ryan Smith

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