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 macaron towers, how do you see beyond the usual tropes and actually pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answer, we decided to interrogate the cool couples whose weddings we would actually want to steal — right down to the tiger-shaped cake toppers.
Here, we spoke with Kristen Cochran, the vice-president of architecture and design at Ian Schrager Company, and Luke Dupay, a commodity trader. In June, they pulled together a wedding at their dream location — the Jefferson Market Garden, across the street from their apartment in Greenwich Village — in ten weeks.
Kristen: When we looked through my grandparents’ wedding album, the photos were so straightforward. Elegant, romantic, but just focused on the two of them — a small collection of friends and family at a church in New Jersey in 1956. We had considered venues all over the world, and we suddenly realized this garden across the street from our apartment in Greenwich Village was really one of our most special, favorite places.
Luke: Kristen is a romantic. The night I proposed, I cooked a dinner at home. I hand shuck oysters, which she loves; sometimes I destroy the oyster and sometimes it actually works. I didn’t even make it past the oysters, I was so nervous. I brought the ring out and just stood across the table and her reaction was, “You’re not going to get down on one knee?”
Kristen: He said, “Are you kidding?” and I said, “No, I’m not kidding!” I knew the proposal was coming, but when it actually happened it was a surprise. And then I didn’t even know where to start with the planning. I honestly was always scared to death of having a wedding. Not of the actual commitment, but just of the whole event and the amount of people.
Luke: Jefferson Market Garden has a long history. It used to be a prison. Mark Twain lived across the street, too. Whenever we have family and friends in town we take them there because it is kind of unique to be in the middle of this garden and then you look up and you still see tall buildings.
Kristen: It’s such a special, serene place, almost a secret. We reached out to them at the end of February 2019 to see if they would allow us to get married there. They were reluctant. We didn’t know if they were going to let us do it or not.
Luke: They don’t want any weddings — they want the gardens to be for the public. But we started to spend more and more time there, volunteering. We met with the board. And then a few members of the board surprised us and was present on our wedding day. They were very supportive.
Kristen: Finally, by early April, they told us we could do it. They gave us a date of June 14 — which meant just ten weeks to plan the wedding. But I design and project manage hotels so I know how to schedule work quickly, and I can pull together a great team. It was really intense. I bought my wedding dresses before we even had a venue or before we even picked a date, and so that helped a lot with time. I found this dress by Alex Perry, and it was just such a modern, clean version of the classic gown. I felt like, “This is the dress, this is me as a bride.”
Luke: We did not do a first look, because she wanted it to be a surprise. Our guests were asked to meet on the lawn and gather into two groups so there was an aisle between them. When Kristen arrived, she was hidden behind the greenery; guests didn’t know where she was coming from, but I knew. People started to turn to look when they saw the expression on my face.
Kristen: The garden was very strict and they said we had to get married early in the day, so it started at 11:45 a.m. and was over by 12. We had just under 100 guests — it felt right for the space to keep the wedding intimate — but were only allowed to set up 12 chairs. So it was a standing ceremony, with our immediate families seated, which made it feel even more intimate. Our friend Lex officiated — he worked with Luke and married my old roommate, Alicia. They introduced us back in 2012.
Luke: We were happy to have it in the morning because we were a little bit worried it would get too hot throughout the day. I wore a custom suit made from a place down the street from our home, J. Mueser, and the fabric was a steel blue. And we wanted to make sure people didn’t fade from starvation.
Kristen: Our mothers both did readings, which was really sweet: Luke’s mom did a Bible verse and my mom did a reading by Mark Twain.
Luke: We had a string duet playing, and we walked back down the aisle to the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” Jefferson Market Garden has these bells, and we had planned the ceremony so the bells would ring at 12 as our cue to kiss — but we think the bell ringer was watching the wedding and got distracted! They went off as the ceremony ended and we were walking back down the aisle.
Kristen: The garden was purely the garden, no decorations. I actually didn’t have any flowers at all for the ceremony except for my bouquet and the flower girls. I wanted to strip it back to what I had seen in my grandparents’ album. Then we had trolleys from New York Trolley Company waiting to take everyone to lunch at the Gramercy Park Hotel.
Luke: My mom used to have an apartment on the same block.
Kristen: I’ve always loved the venue — so much art and history and a great story. It was redone by Ian’s team, but that was before my time there. It had to come together so quickly and they were amazing to work with, so accommodating. They had a whole back-up plan ready for the ceremony in case it rained terribly.
Luke: The cocktail hour started immediately for guests, while we took pictures. It was Champagne, mimosas, Bloody Marys. There were caviar blinis, and these fried green tomatoes.
Kristen: I had ten minutes to change for the lunch, which was perfect because I wouldn’t have been able to sit for a lunch in the other one. I changed into this Toni Matičevski dress I’d been obsessed with. It’s constructed entirely from one piece of fabric — it was so modern and architectural, and I felt so empowered and strong and it was so fun walking out in it. A team from NOMI Beauty was at the hotel and changed my hair and makeup, too. The hairdresser took my hair down, which was already slightly curled, and she added more waves. I decided at the last moment to do a red lip and it suddenly became this glamorous look. It was a big surprise for a lot of my friends because I was trying to be really low-key about this whole wedding and then I changed into this dress and everyone said it was like, my glamour moment.
Luke: The first dress was for me, the second dress was for her. It was more fun, rather than classic; it fit in with the Gramercy Park Hotel. We didn’t do too much in terms of adding too many flowers — we didn’t want to take away from the space itself. Everything was low-level, because Kristen wanted to be able to have conversations with people. She didn’t want to have to talk through some 5-foot vase.
Kristen: Doan Ly of a.p. bio is an artist and I knew working with her, I could be confident with a really wonderful floral design and direction. Lunch was branzino with snap pea risotto, and roasted chicken with rainbow carrots, and we had a strawberry and goat cheese salad. Instead of having a bridal party, Luke’s best man was his older brother Matt, and my cousin Rachel was my maid of honor, and they each gave speeches.
Luke: Then there was dancing. Kristen and I danced to the Louis Armstrong version of “La Vie en Rose.” We were very thankful we took private dance lessons at a studio in the city. We had only practiced the full dance one time, correctly, all the way through before the wedding day, but I dipped her to incredible applause.
Kristen: We had a great DJ, John Dessereau, the resident DJ at the Rose Bar. We were hesitant about even getting a DJ — that whole idea of “a wedding DJ” — but at the end of the day, I don’t want to be the one doing the music! It became a full-day, champagne-fueled dance party. We had all kinds of music: Frank Sinatra; some Beyoncé, of course, because I’m from Houston.
Luke: We had a cake-cutting in a room that was offset from the main area, a cool room with these thousands of clear light bulbs on the ceiling. It was two flavors, by Taste Crème.
Kristen: We couldn’t decide so we had two: an Earl Grey-lemon-blueberry, and red velvet-raspberry-rose. That was really fun for people because they were like, “Did you try this one? Did you try this one?” It was so good. After a long lunch, and dancing, around 5 p.m., a group of us went down to the Rose Bar when it opened. Then we took some pictures around Gramercy Park.
Luke: There was no really formal after-party, but a lot of the guests from out of town were staying down a block and a half away at the Freehand Hotel, so we made it there.
Kristen: Maybe around 10, 11, we came home and ordered pizza. It was a long day. But it wasn’t long enough.