Claire and Michael first met in December of 2011 at a friend’s Christmas party, where she spotted Mike thanks to his festive red bowtie. “The party has become an annual tradition with our friends,” says Claire. Five years later, to the day, Mike took Claire for a breakfast picnic on the Williamsburg waterfront, where he popped the question on one of the coldest days of the year. “We broke the news to our friends that night at the party!” Claire remembers.
With a fall wedding in mind, Mike and Claire quickly started shopping around for venues, looking for a Brooklyn bar that could host their 115-person guest list and coming up short. “The second we walked into 501 Union, though, I knew it was the spot,” says Claire. “I love that the bar area feels like an actual bar!” There were only a few Fridays left in October, so Claire and Mike locked in October 13, 2017 as their date. “I actually love that our wedding was on Friday the 13th," she says. "We aren’t superstitious, so I thought it was funny—and maybe even good luck!”
The Brooklynites love hosting dinner parties at home, and embraced that feeling for their wedding day. The bride admits that she isn’t big on color, so they settled on a black-and-white palette accented with bright, flowing greenery. The result? An evening of good food, loads of candlelight, and one epic dance party! If you’re looking for laid-back wedding inspiration with an old school vibe, this Brooklyn celebration, photographed by Amber Gress, is it.
Mike flexed his creative muscles to design the layouts for the invitations, programs, and menus for the evening. To match the atmosphere of their venue and the black-and-white color palette, he opted for a sleek serif font in all-caps.
The second Claire saw an off-the-shoulder Karen Willis Holmes gown, she knew it was her dress—even though she’d already bought another one. “I wanted something simple and modern, and loved the neckline and the way the heavy jersey material nips in at the knees,” she says. “It was so comfortable and hung beautifully.” The dress got bonus points because the designer is Australian, just like the groom!
We also can’t get enough of Claire’s dramatic bouquet of King Protea and roses. “It was so heavy that I kept tipping over but it was exactly what I wanted,” she says.
The bride paired her gown with blush pink velvet sandals by Miu Miu featuring pearl accents and a block heel (comfort, ladies!).
Claire’s bridesmaids all chose their own black dresses. The range of styles was spot-on, with a variety of lengths, necklines, and fabrics. "I wanted them to choose a dress they'd truly wear again," she says.
Mike and Claire’s friend, Anna, got ordained so she could perform the ceremony. The couple customized traditional vows, and had their officiant read “The Presence of Love” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Sprout Home, the couple’s florist, used palm leaves and planters to transform the ceremony space and create a lush, botanical feel.
It's really official!
The couple offered four signature cocktails, including a classic Negroni called the "CB Sharpener." Also, note these adorable napkins which featured Claire and Michael's initials in the corner.
“The Negroni and smoky mezcal drink were for me, and the Manhattan and vodka-and-cucumber were for Mike,” says Claire. “I loved the menus, which were illustrated by Mike’s sister, but never tried a single cocktail! I drank champagne all night.”
Guests’ table assignments were displayed in planters filled with layers of rocks and bright succulents.
For dinner, the couple looked to their all-black space to create a solid foundation for their green, white, and black color palette. (We love how these black bistro chairs blend in perfectly!
Claire loves plants, so they were included throughout the space, including as the basis for the centerpieces. Eucalyptus leaves and asparagus ferns were accented with white roses and delphinium. The couple paired modern white place settings with matte gold flatware for a modern touch.
“Dinner was a modern Mediterranean menu, served family-style,” says Claire. It included spice-rubbed lamb rack with yogurt and Brussels sprouts with tamarind and chili. For dessert, the couple cut into a naked cake that featured layers of carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate cake with crème fraîche.
After dinner, the couple’s friend, Sarah, took over as DJ. “We made sure to play a mix of everything, from classics like ‘Oh What a Night’ to a medley of ‘Land Down Under’ and ‘Born in the USA,’ ” Claire describes. “By the time the last song [“Liztomania” by Phoenix] was playing, we were spinning in circles and jumping up and down. I’d lost my voice, my hair was a mess, and there was wine all over my dress—so I’d say it was a success!”
Wedding Coordinator: Elise Ritzel of Starling on Bond
Venue: 501 Union
Bride's Dress: Karen Willis Holmes
Bride's Veil: Schone Bride
Bride's Shoes: Miu Miu
Bride's Jewelry: Chloe
Hair: Joey Gallagher
Engagement Ring: Millman Diamond Group
Floral Design: Kaiva Kaimins for Sprout Home
Catering: Purslane Catering
Cake: Luckybird Bakery
Food Truck: Dub Pies
Ceremony Music: Dave Mader
Reception Music: Sarah Fitzgerald
Rentals: Broadway Party Rentals
Photography: Amber Gress Photography