the wedding files

A Very Cobble Hill Wedding

“What if we could keep everything super-local and only go to places we can walk to?”

Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff

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!” Gathering with old friends and eating mini grilled cheeses in formalwear to celebrate love feels more special these days than ever, even downright miraculous. And the betrothed have never been less attached to the old wedding handbook — or the need to please their great-aunt. So in a flurry of pampas grass and perfectly mismatched-to-match bridesmaid dresses, how do you pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answers, 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 writer-editor Julie Vadnal and Paul Solis, an illustrator and artist. They set out to avoid the traditional ballroom weddings Solis had seen in movies and Vadnal had written about in bridal magazines, instead landing on a different type of cinematic vision: a musical procession through their old-fashioned neighborhood in south Brooklyn. He was outfitted in a suit worthy of Goodfellas, she in a (non-bridal) Simone Rocha design, and friends and family joined them for burgers and frozen Cosmos at a beloved local haunt that opened in 1951.

Julie: I worked at Martha Stewart Weddings for a couple of years, so I had been deep in the industrial complex and knew that was not what I wanted. There was a llama moment, where everyone had llamas at their wedding. I had always gravitated toward the more intimate weddings.

Paul: I had the image of a traditional wedding stuck in my head. It was like I had no other representation of a wedding, even though we’d been to a lot of them.

Julie: We also knew we could not afford anything like that. We live in Carroll Gardens, and we love our neighborhood. We were like, “What if we could keep everything super-local and only go to places we can walk to?”

Paul: I was picturing a big ballroom. Somehow I had made myself Italian?

Julie: We met the old-fashioned way, on Hinge, in the summer of 2019. Our first date was at the Whitney, and I had no idea he was an artist. I didn’t know that was such an A+ suggestion. But we really only spent 20 minutes there, then walked over to Corner Bistro for burgers, then to Art Bar.

Paul: She was just really easy to hang out with, and we had such a good time together.

Julie: It was the easiest to date him. Early on, I remember one moment at a party where I was like, This guy’s so fun. He proposed on Thanksgiving Day 2022, in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, in front of this beautiful big red Alexander Calder statue.

Paul: The wedding plan came together piece by piece. A few places we were fishing around were out of our price range. But Long Island Bar was the first place we went when COVID restrictions were lifted with your vaccine card. It was freedom. We always have a good time there.

Julie: We love Long Island Bar for all the vibes. It has a lot of mid-century details, this amazing neon sign outside, and I’m pretty sure those are vinyl booths. The bartender there invented the Cosmopolitan. It’s not particularly fancy, but that’s the charm. Our flowers were so minimal — by design and for budget reasons — but we knew we wouldn’t have to do a lot to the space.

Paul: We had a meeting with them, and they were super-great, accommodating. They gave us a really nice deal. Nothing bad to say about that place, man. We didn’t set a menu; people could order whatever they wanted. And they had the full bar.

Julie: We were so excited that we could be at one of our favorite places with our friends and family drinking frozen Cosmos and eating burgers and cheese curds — at our wedding! For the ceremony, we flirted with the idea of renting out parts of Brooklyn Bridge Park, but we were too late for that. We knew it’d be nonreligious. We really just needed an area that would fit 60 people, and we found out that this bakery near us, Poppy’s, has an event space. They had a backyard and an indoor area in case it rained.

Paul: For my suit, I was really excited about getting something cool and weird and different. We went to look at a certain brand and it was just too tight. Not being skinny is stressful when you’re getting married. Finally, it worked out at Suitsupply; it ended up being this gray suit that was very Ray Liotta–esque in Goodfellas. I’m a huge Goodfellas fan, so I was like, All right, this is me. 

Julie: I did not want the bridal-salon experience. I didn’t like the idea of standing in front of a three-paneled mirror with 20 people behind me. There were three designers I always knew I wanted to wear, and they weren’t bridal: Simone Rocha, Molly Goddard, and Christopher John Rogers. My mom came to the city for a weekend and we went to the Simone Rocha boutique. I was really scared my sweet midwestern mom would be like, “This is what you want to wear?” But she loved everything. I chose a past-season dress, so they gave me 20 percent off. My veil turned out to be Molly Goddard — I knew I wanted a veil moment — and my shoes were Miu Miu. I wanted to feel a little vintage without being costumey because Long Island Bar is a sort of 1950s moment in time, and Carroll Gardens feels very 1950s Italian American. For my bachelorette party, the nicest thing: My friends got me the matching Simone Rocha egg purse, so I carried that down the aisle with my bouquet.

Paul: She looked so classic, like out of a movie. I loved her dress. The veil was amazing. We got ready separately, me in my friend Ryan’s room at the Ace Hotel.

Julie: I got ready at our apartment. I just didn’t want to be at a hotel, out of my element. I did my own hair and makeup. We had two friends co-officiate, Matt and Dazie. Matt and I have been friends from magazine world forever, and he supported our relationship from the very beginning.

Paul: Dazie is a friend I used to work with, and she’s a great speaker. She gave a little speech at our engagement, and we were like, “Oh, should we have Dazie do it?”

Julie: We had them over for dinner and talked about what we wanted out of the ceremony — that we wanted it to seem personal and lighthearted, and we weren’t interested in tradition.

Paul: They sat and took notes and that was it. We weren’t worried.

Julie: At the beginning of the ceremony, they asked everyone to “turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself because we’re all in this together.” I liked that. We had one reading, of “Having a Coke With You,” by Frank O’Hara. I referenced Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec in my vows, where she’s like, “I love you, and I like you.” We kept it short and sweet, 20 minutes tops, then went inside for a Champagne toast.

Paul: My dad spoke, which was insane. I couldn’t believe my dad said something! My mom tried to, and she kind of broke down, which was sweet. Then we went outside and had a procession with a mariachi band, Real De Mexico.

Julie: It was an 11-minute walk from Poppy’s to Long Island Bar, and they paraded us to the venue through Cobble Hill. Paul’s family is Mexican American, and my godmother is Mexican. It was honestly the most fun part of the day. People were coming out of their doorways, looking out windows, cheering at restaurants.

Paul: It was very Godfather, when Al Pacino gets married.

Julie: The music came from an iPod, and we were still editing the playlist the morning of our wedding. Our first dance was to “Fly Me to the Moon,” by Frank Sinatra, and the first song for everyone on the dance floor was Hanson’s “MMMBop.”

Paul: Watching people from different random factions of our lives talking to one another was amazing. My cousins running around with Julie’s friends, my family hanging out with her family was hilarious. We got our strawberries-and-cream cake from Mia’s on Smith Street, the same cake I got Julie for her birthday one year. I did float the idea of putting her family dog on it, but that didn’t go over well so we stuck with white lettering on white of “Just Married.”

Julie: People stayed pretty late and then we went to another bar down the street. Then we went home to our own bed, which was awesome. When we got there, my best friend had decorated it and put balloons everywhere. It was really sweet.

Paul, an illustrator and artist, drew the invitations and other stationery for the wedding. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
The couple’s outfits had a retro flair befitting their wedding venue. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff/Sylvie Rosokoff
Julie accessorized her Simone Rocha dress with a bag by the same designer, Miu Miu mary janes, and flowers by Naomi DeMañana. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Paul also inked the ceremony program, noting the songs they used to walk down the aisle: “She’s a Rainbow” for Julie, and “Int’l Players Anthem” for Paul. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
They exchanged vows in the event space at Poppy’s, a neighborhood bakery, with two friends sharing officiant duties. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Their friend Eleni read Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke With You.” “It’s about seeing things in museums and how it’s not as special to experience art if you’re not with someone you love,” Julie says. “Paul and I go to a lot of museums.” Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
At one point in the ceremony, Paul looked up and glimpsed a family watching from their apartment windows. “They were all stoked,” he says. “It was too cute.” Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
While at Poppy’s, both sets of parents made toasts to the couple. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
A mariachi band, Real De Mexico, led the guests to the next venue. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
It was a very hot day, the couple recalls, but the band made the walk a highlight of their wedding day. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
They had grown particularly attached to Long Island Bar during the pandemic, and its great vibes and mid-century details meant they didn’t have to do much decorating. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Passed canapés greeted guests, who were free to order whatever mains they wanted from the bar’s menu. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Of the bar, Paul had “nothing bad to say about that place, man.” Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Says Julie, “It’s not particularly fancy, but that’s the charm.” Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
The bride was nervous about asking a lot of the guests to fly in from California just to have a burger at a wedding. “But honestly, everyone loved it,” she says. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Their first dance, to Frank Sinatra, kept the 1950s feel going. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
Their white-on-white cake was made by another local bakery, Mia’s. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff
“Now, every time my parents come to the city, they’re like, ‘Can we go to Long Island Bar?’” Julie says, laughing. Photo: Sylvie Rosokoff/S

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