A Fashionable Jazz-Age Wedding in Brooklyn, New York

At a historic Italianate townhouse in Bed-Stuy, one duo mixed retro and modern, casual and formal, for an insanely hip party.

Updated 09/07/19

Jillian Mitchell

Solange and Brian first met through friends in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2008, so it was only fitting that, on July 4, 2015, Brian surprised his longtime love with a road trip to the city that started it all. In the bookshop where they first met, Brian handed Solange a small key and asked her to keep it on her at all times. “I held on to that key for two days, at which point I lost it,” Solange remembers. “He got me another one and, six months later, on a Sunday shortly before Christmas, Brian gave me an early present.” Inside a wrapped package, Solange found a silver locked box—a box that she needed her key for. But the box didn’t hold a key—inside was a silver-plated prototype of a ring Brian designed with the couple’s good friend, just in case the bride-to-be wanted to request any changes. “Amazingly, I didn’t want a single thing changed about it, and we went and had the real ring made and in gold and set with a diamond.”

Inspired by the Harlem renaissance, Solange and Brian wanted their wedding day to reflect their love of 1930's style. So the couple booked Akwaaba Mansion in Bed-Stuy, New York, a historic Italianate townhouse with a residential vibe and plenty of history. From there, Solange chose a vintage-inspired wedding dress, and the couple tapped a five-piece band to keep jazz playing all night long. “We wanted down-home chic,” the bride says of their vision. “That meant family-style service and formal attire, giant bowls of mac and cheese served with Dom Perignon.” On October 10, 2015, the twosome invited 140 guests to join them for a celebration in Brooklyn, photographed by Jillian Mitchell.

wedding dress and shoes
Jillian Mitchell
bride wearing her wedding dress
Jillian Mitchell
bride posing in wedding dress
Jillian Mitchell

As a fashion stylist, it’s only fitting that Solange rocked an incredible dress on her wedding day. “I was pretty convinced I would wear vintage, so I started scouring a store called 1st Dibs in the hope that I could find a New York vintage dealer to go see their stock in person,” she says. “I wanted a white dress that would happen to be my wedding frock.” Ultimately, though, she wasn’t able to find the perfect dress, so she turned to designer Alessandra Rich to see if she could recreate a gown she had previously seen in Paris.

Unfortunately, Alessandra was out of the fabric, but said she would be happy to see if her factory could produce the fabric again so she could make just one more dress. “While we waited to hear, Alessandra saw that the exact dress was listed on Net-a-Porter, on sale,” Solange says. “There was one dress left, and lo and behold it was in my size. Ultimately, it would be much less expensive to purchase it that way so I gave it a shot. When it came, I zipped it up, sashayed over to the mirror expecting nothing and immediately started crying.”

With a statement-making high neckline, the fringe-sleeved dress was exactly the type of gown Solange had envisioned. She accessorized with a classic pair of white pumps and an embroidered veil from New York Vintage.

bride and groom walking
Jillian Mitchell
boutonnières
Jillian Mitchell
bride and maid of honor
Jillian Mitchell

Not to be outdone by his beautiful bride, Brian wore a custom, made-to-measure tuxedo from Billy Reid. He accessorized with a fall-appropriate oxblood dahlia, which was set on a skeleton key.

The bride’s sister, Samira, served as maid-of-honor. She stunned in her knee-length pink champagne silk dress from Jonathan Simkhai.

floral installation with greenery
Jillian Mitchell
wedding guests
Jillian Mitchell
wedding guests
Jillian Mitchell

The ceremony took place in the courtyard of Akwaaba Mansion, where the bride and groom exchanged vows beneath a beautiful old tree with their favorite neighborhood in the background. “We created a kind of impressionistic chuppah, made of green leafy vines, dahlias, and other flowers plucky from New York’s flower district,” the bride says. “My amazing friend Kevin Ericson painstakingly braided these and beautiful draped them in the giant tree.”

Guests arrived in their black-tie best, with women rocking gorgeous gowns and men turning out in top hats and even a kilt.

bride walking down the aisle with mom and dad
Jillian Mitchell
bride and groom at the altar
Jillian Mitchell

The bride specifically selected an unfussy bouquet of baby’s breath so that she could carry her arrangement in one hand, leaving her free to walk down the aisle with both of her parents.

bride and groom saying vows
Jillian Mitchell
bride laughing
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bride and groom kissing
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The couple exchanged vows they wrote themselves—on the morning of the wedding! “We both work in media and publishing, which means we can’t get anything done unless we’re crashing on a deadline,” says the bride. Although the ceremony wasn’t religious, Solange and Brian did include a few religious elements, like a reading by the bride’s mother from the United Church of Christ, reciting the Song of Solomon 6:3 as a nod to Brian’s father’s Jewish background, and a mix of jumping the broom and breaking the glass. “We were really into the idea of actually merging them, so we literally jumped over the groom and onto the glass, stepping on it together. This took a bit of practice with a broom in our kitchen!”

bride and groom recessional
Jillian Mitchell

The twosome left the ceremony as guests tossed flower petals.

escort cards with skeleton keys
Jillian Mitchell
reception space with lights
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tall centerpiece on table
Jillian Mitchell
flowers in centerpiece
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place card
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As a nod to their engagement, Solange and Brian transformed skeleton keys into their escort cards. “We think my siblings and Brian’s dad still have nightmares about these!” the bride jokes. “Brian’s dad stained pieces of reclaimed wood and my brother screwed teacup hooks into the wood by hand because our drill stopped working. Then my sister tied each name to a key with natural string, all of which took way longer than anyone anticipated.” We say the final results looks well worth the effort.

The reception was broken down in two parts: First, the couple and their guests enjoyed dinner and live jazz in the courtyard where the ceremony was held. Later, a DJ started the dance party inside the ballroom.

For dinner, tables were decorated with ivory linens and gold candelabras that were filled with flowers. Dahlias, ranunculus, berries, and greenery added color to tables, which tall candles provided extra light and a cozy ambiance.

menu
Jillian Mitchell
three-tier wedding cake
Jillian Mitchell

The family-style meal from Soul Food Kitchen, one of the couple’s favorite local restaurants, was a hit among guests. Fried whiting, steamed catfish, mac and cheese, yams, collard greens, cabbage, and rice were served in silver bowls, and guests were encouraged to make themselves at home over dinner. “We wanted it to feel like an elegant house party thrown in the Harlem Renaissance, but where no one was a stranger,” Solange says. Brownstone Jazz kept the music going all night long.

For dessert, the couple served slices of coconut cake with cream cheese filling and vanilla cake with lavender filling, all frosted with vanilla buttercream.

bride dancing
Jillian Mitchell
bride and groom dancing
Jillian Mitchell

After everyone had their fill of food, everyone moved inside for a dance party, fueled by DJs Joel Davis and Rob Kelley. “The night morphed into a turnt up house party, a sort of boozy dance fest inside the ballroom that spilled out into the yard,” the bride says.

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Akwaaba Mansion || Wedding Planner: Fallon Carter Weddings || Bride's Wedding Dress: Alessandra Rich || Veil: New York Vintage || Shoes: Gianvito Rossi || Groom's Attire: Billy Reid || Wedding Stationery: Terrapin Stationers || Floral Design: Kevin Michael Ericson || Rentals: Party Rental Ltd. || Catering: Soul Food Kitchen || Staffing: Superlative Staff Events || Cake: Nine Cakes || Music: Brownstone Jazz; Rob Kelley & Joel Davis || Videographer: Johnny Perez Photo & Video || Photographer: Jillian Mitchell

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