Jennifer Plotnick and Kent Rogowski’s guests believed they were at an engagement party until the officiant started the ceremony.
You’re already sleeping in the city’s best venue. Here’s our everything guide to the apartment wedding, including how one couple pulled it off, advice from a wedding planner who specializes in atypical venues, a word from the fire marshal, and more.
The wedding of: Jennifer Plotnick and Kent Rogowski, plus 90 guests
Where: Their Clinton Hill apartment
Why at home: “It cost less than $12,000.”
How they made room: “We moved all the furniture in the living room to one side to create a seating area for the older crowd, which later in the evening became a place to nap for tired guests. The backyard was lined with benches and chairs, and our caterer, Compartí, had the idea to put the bar in the very back of the yard to draw people outside. The food was laid out on a long picnic table outside. Outdoors had a more relaxed vibe, while there was a DJ in our living room for people who wanted to dance.”
Which space pulled double duty: “A whole bathtub was filled with cans of banana-cream pudding for dessert, and our bedroom was taken over by the catering crew and used as storage for anything that we wanted to remove from our living room.”
How they decorated: “Our florist, Putnam & Putnam, covered the archway in our dining room (where we performed the ceremony) with flowers and placed another incredible arrangement above our mantle. The truth is it didn’t matter what the rest of the apartment looked like, because the flowers looked so good. The only things we added outside were some string lights throughout the yard and a bunch of Mexican falsa blankets so that people could sit outside and keep warm if it got too cool.”
Who came in handy: “We had a security guard outside. That was good, because we weren’t worried about having doors open and people coming in and out.”
How people made themselves at home: “People were picking at the leftover catering trays. It was like, ‘Wait, there’s more mac and cheese? Let me get in there.’ ”
40 guests max; $1,000/hour
Why it works for a wedding: The chef’s kitchen will please your caterer, the three terraces (and many living rooms) will space out your guests, and the Star of David windows will placate your Jewish grandma.
Greenwich Village Brownstone
110 guests max; $150/hour
Why it works for a wedding: The parlor floor is laid out like a professional venue, with one intimate room for the ceremony, a second space for cocktails, and a large area with an adjacent kitchen for the reception.
East Village Townhouse
60 guests max; $173/hour
Why it works for a wedding: Soaring ceilings and an open floor plan make this multi-floor split-level feel spacious. A dramatic indoor balcony is great for photos.
50 guests max; $143/hour
Why it works for a wedding: The bedroom is located in back, away from the loft space, making it helpful for food prep (or coat storage).
Matthew David of 360 Design specializes in atypical venues.
How can you figure out the best use of your space?
Create anchor points: This is the window we want to be married in front of, this kitchen island will be where we serve food. It’s important to have a floor plan for what’s going to happen over time to best achieve a good flow.
What areas can be repurposed?
We often have to look for a “back of house” area, as it allows for more use of the main space. New Yorkers are used to seeing a coat check in hallways, but it’d also be great to use a neighbor’s kitchen. It’s about storing ice in the washing machine — using every nook and cranny.
What about décor?
Don’t put enormous floral arrangements in your home. Arrange little notes of flowers like sculptures, little works of art. I would consider bringing in a lighting company, like Levy Lighting, to highlight your focal points and draw guests over to them, like a spotlight on the ceremony area or the food. No matter what you use, make sure each bulb is dimmable. Balloons can be fantastic if they’re done right — maybe hundreds of one shape in one color, filling a ceiling.
Anything else couples might not think of?
You need to watch all the scents in a small space. You might want to make food choices that are welcoming; some cheeses are very stinky.
Give Lieutenant Anthony Mancuso of the FDNY and his comrades some peace of mind and don’t fill your apartment with hundreds of flickering tea lights. “They’re dangerous because people like to put them everywhere. But then they forget about them,” Mancuso says. And “just because they’re in a big jar doesn’t mean they’re safer. You leave one burning in there and the glass gets hot and brittle. It could shatter.” Flameless candles are colorful, scented, and even remote-operated these days.
*This article appears in the summer 2017 issue of New York Weddings.