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 a couple who had such profound experiences with the wedding industry — good and bad, before they got engaged and during the planning process — that they decided to join the industry themselves. Marteal Mayer is the co-founder of the Greenpoint-based Loulette Bride, and Zach Mayer is the founder of Oak and Honey Catering. The couple was married in September 2017 at Dobbin St in Williamsburg.
Zach: We would go to other weddings and be like, “I don’t see why it has to be the same old boiled carrots and brown sauce and filet mignon with mashed potatoes.” We’ve been to a lot of weddings together. We’ve been dating since 2012, right after college.
Marteal: We wanted a good meal.
Zach: But we had 200 people on our guest list, so we didn’t even look at restaurants, because we knew we needed good dance-floor space. And although I loved cooking and worked in restaurants and had dreams of opening up my own one day, I was a little bit over the mundane, repetitive nature of restaurants — the same menu every day, same location. We ended up finding a great caterer, Poppy’s, but also, once we started talking to caterers, something clicked for me. I decided I wanted to work in that field.
Marteal: And I was already working in the wedding industry — I started Loulette in 2016 — so I think our general knowledge of the food and bridal world made the planning process a lot more straightforward. Several of our vendors were friends of ours and people we’d worked with, and we had a good sense of what things should cost. For example, Kris, our photographer, had done all of my Loulette shoots. We knew about the venue, Dobbin St, because it’s close to where we live in Williamsburg. We love the cobalt color, the awesome rooftop, and the fact that you can move throughout different spaces within it for the party.
Zach: We liked the blank, DIY-ness of it. We were very excited about being able to control the design element.
Marteal: We ran with a tropical idea, because it was really fun and not so serious. We’re not very sentimental or romantic-y.
Zach: Well, the engagement was kind of an elaborate setup. It was June 2015. Our apartment building has a little unfinished rooftop space. I said, “I got this email; there’s new furniture on the roof!” She said, “Amazing, let’s go see.” I had a friend go up there and hide with a camera.
Marteal: We went up there and I was like, “Where’s the fucking furniture?” There was nothing. And then he proposed. And then everything made sense.
Zach: My mom passed away in 2009, so she never got to meet Marteal. I have a family friend in the diamond industry, and I brought him my mom’s engagement ring and he helped me design this really beautiful, antique-looking ring with the diamond from my mom’s and some sapphires on it, too. It’s not the biggest diamond, but it’s really meaningful and it’s very much Marteal’s style.
Marteal: I created my own dress, and now we sell it in the line. I had this vision of a collared, tied-up shirt, because that’s what I wear all the time. It’s kind of my thing. Then, I wanted a really big, layered, fluffy skirt to keep it bridal. It was business on the top, party on the bottom: a silk douppioni collared shirt with a skirt in eyelet.
Zach: She kept it secret from me, but I knew she was making something different.
Marteal: We did the flowers ourselves, too. We felt like we didn’t need to hire a florist. We know where the Flower District is, and we wanted to concentrate the budget on the band and food. We rented trees from New York City Plant Rental. We literally googled “New York plant rental” and that’s the name of their business. We got 15 to 20 palm trees for $700 and put those all over the place. Then we went to Caribbean Cuts in the Flower District and picked out what we wanted, and Zach and I made the bouquets ourselves, two days before our wedding.
Zach: We got ready at the Williamsburg Hotel. I wore a dark navy tuxedo. I was excited about going sockless and wearing suede loafers. Navy tuxedo, suede loafers, bow tie — I felt really sharp. We had our first look at the hotel, and I saw the big flowing skirt and tight collared shirt, and she looked amazing. It was really special.
Marteal: My sister was my maid of honor, and I hand-dyed a Loulette Bride gown in a light pink for her to wear. So much bridal feels like a costume, like a sweet 16 or quinceañera or prom dress, and I think most women don’t want that.
Zach: Then we had the small, private signing of the ketubah. There were two ceremonies.
Marteal: First, we had a little private ceremony with just our closest friends and family, about 20 people in the Dobbin St courtyard before the actual wedding started. I get stage fright, and I hate being the center of attention, so I wanted something really quick. The officiant was — oh God, what was his name? He was awesome. Oh my God, I don’t remember his name. He was just an officiant dude that we hired. We hired a month-of planner, Brita Olsen, and she recommended him. Honestly, the ceremonies were not a big part of our wedding.
Zach: Then, we started a cocktail hour on the rooftop. It was raining, but we got a tent up there. Mid-cocktail hour, we gathered together, standing, and Marteal walked in with her dad. Everyone started cheering and clapping. It was very informal.
Marteal: It was like a pop-up ceremony, literally three minutes. It felt almost, what’s the word, interactive? Everyone was cheering the whole time. The theme was “keeping it casual.”
Zach: Very collaborative and exciting, and three minutes later we stomped on glass and kept partying.
Marteal: We had our band, a four-piece horns band called Hudson Horns, up there. The moment we stomped the glass, they started playing “Tequila.” So it was a nonstop party. Our signature cocktail was a little tequila-grapefruit drink called the Sunshine Spritz, because his mother who passed away, her maiden name was Sunshine. Poppy’s did the passed canapés, and then they had stations up there on the roof.
Zach: We had Poppy’s beautiful farm-stand table with meats, cheeses, and veggies. We also had a couple of passed canapés, including fried-chicken sliders, a ricotta crostini, a vegetarian ceviche, and smoked salmon. I have a similar aesthetic for the way I handle our grazing boards and meals at Oak and Honey Catering. I like to keep everything approachable, colorful, super seasonal. Poppy’s handle and design the food the same way I like to. The cocktail hour and ceremony were on the roof, and, like I said, it ended up pouring, so we had a tent. Then, there’s a little stairwell that leads down to the main room, and that’s where the reception was.
Marteal: Dinner was family style — it’s Zach’s business’s style, too.
Zach: It makes for such a great shared experience among your guests, encourages conversations, and makes the food more of a highlight. We served an antipasto, focaccia, grilled hanger steak with chimichurri sauce, striped bass with potatoes and leeks, lentil salad with vegetables, and burrata. I think our favorite had to be the burrata — always a crowd-pleaser.
Marteal: Our first dance was to “Coming Home,” by Leon Bridges. I love that song.
Zach: Then, the speeches. Her dad spoke, but he was really sick with laryngitis. It was awful. He could barely speak and was really struggling, but he gave a short speech in this raspy, scratchy voice. Then, my best man and her maid of honor, her sister, gave a speech and … they each sang or rapped. If they had asked us if it was cool beforehand, I would have demonstrably said, ”No. Please don’t.”
Marteal: Absolutely not. But they were both so amazing. When Zach and I first started dating, we went to another friend’s wedding and they had late-night karaoke, and he did “No Diggity” and knew every word and it was incredible, so that stuck out to my sister. She coordinated with the band to rap “No Diggity.” Then, the best man, also named Zach, he did — I don’t know if you can write this, but there’s a Tenacious D song, “Fuck Her Gently.”
Zach: He brought a guitar up and wrote original lyrics to the song. Definitely-not-okay-to-say-in-front-of-grandparents lyrics.
Marteal: It was pretty inappropriate, but it was amazing. He sang beautifully. I changed into a second look at some point. The collared shirt felt very “daytime,” so I needed a night look. I had this idea of a pink disco-party dress. It’s covered in Champagne gold and pink laser-cut faux-leather flowers, and I designed a gold beaded waistband to match. I now have it hanging in my showroom. One time, I had a bride come in who’s a Broadway actress, Nikki James. She saw the dress hanging and asked if she could borrow it for the Tonys, and she did!
Zach: For the party, Marteal got me these all-white Adidas sneakers, so I put socks and sneakers on for the dancing. Best thing I did all night. Hudson Horns was the best band ever. We saw them at Radegast right after we got engaged, and they had the whole bar going. We went up to them and asked if they’d ever do a wedding. They play around the city, at Brooklyn Bowl or Daybreaker parties, and now we’re kind of groupies. We follow them around and see them on weekends.
Marteal: It’s not fair to call them a wedding band, because they’re just so funky and so fun. Then, we had a bunch of cakes from Ovenly, which is a block away from my studio, and I’m there pretty much every day. We didn’t have a big tiered cake, but rather cupcakes and cakes — red velvet, chocolate, vanilla buttercream, there was a caramel-something-something.
Zach: We had this whole plan to do a procession with the band to the bar for the after-party, but it was raining, so we just went outside with the band still playing and danced around with umbrellas.
Marteal: It was a New Orleans–style second line in the rain, down the block to the Counting Room. They reserved an area downstairs for us and had a late-night grilled-cheese menu.
Zach: We had one with Fontina, one with blue cheese and pear, one with tomato and goat cheese, and a spicy soppressata. We joke about this with Oak and Honey Catering, as one of our canapés is a roasted-squash, Fontina, and Gruyère grilled cheese, and it is always the first plate to come back empty. No matter what you offer, people just love a hot, cheesy sandwich, especially drunk at 2 a.m.