When we ask newlyweds to think back on what they wanted most for their big day — and we’ve interviewed hundreds of them over the years — the most common response is: “For it not to feel like a wedding!” But in a monsoon of flower crowns and macaroon towers, how do you see beyond the usual tropes and actually pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answer, we’ve decided to interrogate the cool couples whose weddings we would actually want to steal — right down to the tiger-shaped cake toppers.
Here, we talked to a bride entrenched in the wedding industry: Bryony Mattes-Harris, the creative director at Saipua, who met speech therapist Lindsey Winder on OKCupid in 2015 and married him this past fall. The couple and a small group of friends and family spent the November day strolling downtown Manhattan, from City Hall to a boat on the Hudson to dinner at Manhatta, where the tables were full of Koko Loko roses and sea oats.
Bryony: I almost didn’t want a wedding, if I’m completely frank. I was coming off of years of working and traveling every weekend doing big, big weddings. I’m quite lucky that Lindsey wanted to marry me at all. In the end, we threw the wedding together in three months and settled on City Hall — it’s the most romantic thing you can possibly do in New York.
Lindsey: It’s like the DMV, but everybody’s in love.
Bryony: Lindsey gets embarrassed because he doesn’t think his proposal was classically romantic enough, but I love it.
Lindsey: I had it all in my mind. I’m going to take Bryony to Orchard Beach, in the Bronx, and propose with my grandmother’s wedding ring. And then we got bed bugs. We spent a hot summer day throwing half our stuff away and just feeling filthy, like wow, this is terrible. It was this hard day where we were both beaten down, and I just didn’t want to wait anymore.
Bryony: We were at Habana Outpost in Fort Greene and he went white-faced and he goes, “Marry me.” That was it! Meanwhile, people are grinding nearby.
Lindsey: Soon after, I brought her to Orchard Beach and gave her the ring. And we quickly realized it just made sense to have the wedding here in New York — I’m from Louisiana, she’s from Australia; this is our home base.
Bryony: I decided to wear a suit I bought on a whim with my mum one Christmas at home in Australia; it’s made by the Australian designer Carla Zampatti. High-waisted, wide-legged pants. People said to me, “You’ll regret not wearing a dress,” and I was second guessing myself.
Lindsey: We put our family up at the Beekman, and when I saw her that morning in the lobby, I couldn’t talk. She was the most gorgeous thing in the world. I had Bryony’s name stitched on the inside of the custom suit I got — blue, with black tuxedo lapel — from a place called My Suit in midtown.
Bryony: Sarah from Saipua made my flowers. She asked me some questions about what I like and what I don’t like, and then it was a bit of a surprise. I said to Sarah, I don’t like orange, and she was like, great. That was it! I trusted her implicitly. I love roses, but particularly Koko Loko roses from California, which makes me sound like a bit of a brat and I recognize that. I also love this weird grass called sea oats, and Sarah grew them specially for our bouquets and boutonniere. Some other people at City Hall had flowers, but not with that level of formality.
Lindsey: Then we all walked back to the Beekman with the family and friends who came to the ceremony, and we met up with more people, and we walked from the Beekman to the North Cove marina near the World Trade Center. We went on a two-hour cocktail cruise with Classic Harbor Line around the river. We opted out of their food-service option but brought Champagne and they managed the bar and service. The crew were lovely.
Bryony: We were there for sunset, and then went from the boat to Manhatta.
Lindsey: It had just opened, and it was a gorgeous restaurant, and Bryony really likes Danny Meyer’s whole ethos of treating people well.
Bryony: Since 75 percent of my job at Saipua is managing weddings, from initial client talk through production, I’ve worked at most venues and there are so many businesses that don’t support the people who build the events. That’s a real problem, and that’s why we booked Manhatta. And there’s a beautiful view of lower Manhattan. I changed into this Zimmerman dress, a ridiculous, frivolous purchase, but why not? I loved the small polka dots.
Lindsey: I did my own outfit change. My stepfather passed away last year, and I put on his bolo tie that he wore to marry my mom. The space was awesome. It was an explosion with the flowers everywhere.
Bryony: There were vases full of my favorite roses when we arrived at Manhatta. Sarah works a lot in mid tones — it’s never a true purple or a true pink, there’s often a muddiness to it. Which sounds ugly! Language doesn’t describe flowers very well, I don’t think. It’s kinda like love. Each place setting had more sea oats. The tables had white vases and florals and pomegranates and browny-pink tapered candles. Candles are without question one of the best investments people can make in their life, in general but also for a wedding. My mum kept all of the vases. Mums!
Lindsey: I hardly remember the food. I know I had lobster. We had chocolate cake and panna cotta, no special wedding cake. There were some edible flowers on them.
Bryony: It was such an emotionally charged day — all the people you love in one room, with alcohol involved. When you work in the industry, you think you get how that feels — but you don’t really understand it until you’ve done it. And I did it at the end of our event season, which I would never do again. But it’s all learning!