If there were a quintessential New York City elopement, it would be that of Devon Stewart and James Bacher. After the Manhattan-based pair postponed their wedding twice due to the pandemic, they stopped taking it all so seriously. Devon packed up her Galia Lahav wedding gown and crossed off all the scheduled plans of the original wedding—literally.
Instead, she and James grabbed their immediate families, their photographer, and their videographer for an early morning ceremony on the Brooklyn Bridge. They wanted to honor their wedding date, August 15, 2020, and do it in a way that showcased all they love about NYC. “We had zero frills: from 200 to six guests, hundreds of flowers to one bouquet, an 11-piece band to a portable speaker,” Devon says. “Just us, immediate family, and pure joy.”
We had zero frills: from 200 to six guests, hundreds of flowers to one bouquet, an 11-piece band to a portable speaker. Just us, immediate family, and pure joy.
The celebration kicked off the night before with dinner at Lure Fishbar, down the street from where the couple lives in Soho and not far from their first date at Morandi, a local Italian restaurant. (They met on the dating app The League in 2017.) The next morning was an early call-time for hair and makeup at 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, so that the couple could say “I do” before the bridge got too busy with rush hour traffic. As the sun bounced off the neo-gothic stone arches of the bridge, the couple made their way to their first look like a scene out of a Hollywood rom-com. As they embraced with their tears, passersby, in true New York fashion, couldn’t help but cheer.
“Our wedding day gave us more than we could have ever imagined—it gave us hope,” Devon says. “The most special memories from our day really came from the unexpected: New York moments of pure love and human kindness. Numerous bridge bikers and joggers smiled and yelled well wishes on their morning workouts. We were serenaded with countless taxis honking on the roadway beneath us. And during the ceremony, my eye caught a group of onlooking walkers who stopped to witness our vows, crying happy tears with each other.”
“The night before our elopement, we came across our invitation suite that listed all the perfectly scheduled plans of our original wedding,” Devon says. “I am not sure what came over me, but I ran for the Sharpie. I started crossing out every single detail, filling it in with our new sunrise plan. It was therapeutic, fun, and fulfilling.”
Though she felt a pang of guilt boxing up her Galia Lahav gown, she was super excited to rock a Jonathan Simkhai jumpsuit for the elopement. Knowing she wanted pearls and to support small businesses, she found her pearl-accented veil and pearl choker on Etsy.
Devon discovered her Brooklyn-based florist, Rosehip, after watching “The Great Flower Fight” on Netflix. They designed her cascading pink orchid and baby’s breath bouquet, one that felt both modern and feminine. She added a sweet touch to her bouquet. To honor her late father, she attached a locket with his photo and one of her grandfather.
“On the shoe’s bottom, James wrote me a sweet wedding day note in blue ink, acting as my ‘something blue,’” Devon says of her Gianvito Rossi platform heels.
“My mom and grandma have always been my rocks and my biggest support system,” Devon says. “They are the strongest, most inspiring women I know. I felt extremely blessed to be able to walk hand-in-hand with them on the bridge toward our ceremony spot.”
I’ll forever cherish the look he gave me. His eyes said it all: We had overcome every obstacle imaginable to get to that moment.
The couple erupted in tears when they saw each other during their first look. “I’ll forever cherish the look he gave me,” the bride says. “His eyes said it all: We had overcome every obstacle imaginable to get to that moment.”
The Brooklyn Bridge is obviously an iconic New York City landmark, but it also holds special meaning for Devon and James. Like many New Yorkers, they enjoy walking across it with the end goal of munching on a slice of Grimaldi’s Pizza on the other side. “But we also love the symbolism of the bridge,” Devon says. “We have crossed many bridges together in our relationship, overcoming obstacles and fighting for each other, and we were about to cross the most important one into the new chapter of our life together: becoming one family.”
It was important to Devon and James to share personalized vows during their ceremony, which was actually officiated by James’ father.
James also recited a short reading that he wrote for the occasion. “It was a tear-jerking piece that asked us to look at each other’s eyes, ears, and hearts and know that these human elements will always see, hear, and love the other person first, before all else,” Devon says. “It made the ceremony even more special.”
“To our surprise, as we opened our eyes post kiss, we were surrounded by a confetti downpour,” Devon says of their guests popping biodegradable confetti cannons. “James and I looked at each other and began hysterically laughing: an imperfectly perfect moment that was better than we could have imagined.
The pandemic gave us one of our first major opportunities as teammates to help each other get through an unprecedented time.
“The pandemic gave us one of our first major opportunities as teammates to help each other get through an unprecedented time,” Devon says. “To our fellow COVID couples, you are not alone!”
Right after their “I dos,” the newlyweds popped a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne to toast with their family and danced to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” playing on a portable speaker. The small group then made their way back to Soho for brunch at another favorite local spot, Ruby’s Cafe, where Devon says that the manager pulled out all the stops to make it a memorable outdoor meal.
We know the world is in pain, but we experienced firsthand that love can bring humans together, no matter what the circumstance.
“We know the world is in pain, but we experienced firsthand that love can bring humans together, no matter what the circumstance,” Devon says of the random New Yorkers sharing their support as they passed by. “From honking taxis to cheering bikers and crying strangers, we have never felt more loved—and from people we’ve never met. For that, we are grateful.”
Venue Brooklyn Bridge
Reception Venue Ruby’s Cafe
Shoes Gianvito Rossi
Hair Mia Puleo
Rehearsal Dinner Attire Stone Cold Fox
Bridesmaid Dress Free People
Mother of the Bride Dress Jay Godfrey
Groom’s Attire Custom
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands Zack & Elle Diamonds
Floral Design Rosehip
Cake Milk Bar
Accommodations 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Videography First Day Films