Now I am dying over these beautiful pictures and I'm sure you will too. But as we know even the prettiest of weddings aren't safe from their I Guess I Do moments. Read on to see how allergy-gate turned out and enjoy Lauren's story in her own words below!
Andrew and I first met back in middle school in our hometown of Staten Island, and strange to think now that he sat just a seat in front of me in one of our shared classes. We attended different high schools and colleges, and then 10 years later saw in each other in the gym of all places. We were both living in Hoboken, NJ at the time and short conversations turned to a night of drinks, and then a night of dinner. In a short time I think we both knew we had something special. After about a year of dating Andrew was given the opportunity to work in Hong Kong. There was never any hesitation that we would still stay together and we started planning our trips for the year so we could see each other at least every few months. It was during that year it became very clear I had found my future husband. After dating for a few more years both living in NYC, Andrew proposed where I attended college at Columbia University. I had said since my college days I had wanted my wedding ceremony to be in the chapel on campus, and with that we were ready to let the planning begin!
We both knew we wanted our engagement to be no longer than a year. Andrew had proposed in the beginning of October so that lined us up for an early fall wedding which we loved. The other thing we were set on from day one was having our reception in our favorite city and our home - New York. While I would have loved to just sit back and enjoy being engaged for some time, I received a lot of advice that I should probably start planning ASAP if I didn’t want to run into any concerns with my vendors or reception choices. Within just a couple of weeks we had booked our ceremony at St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University, and our reception at The Plaza Hotel. We immediately fell in love with the Grand Ballroom at The Plaza. Not only was it classic New York, but given we had already decided on a band instead of a DJ we absolutely loved the elevated stage for them to play on. It was the perfect setting and we found it near impossible to compare anything else, so fortunately one of the biggest decisions of our big day was pretty simple. Luckily choosing the band was easy as well, since we were already blown away by a band at a friend’s wedding a couple months prior. The date was open and we were good to go.
As for the details, my wedding style was definitely more classic. I knew I wanted the bridesmaids to wear black, and for flowers I wanted to stick with a palette of mostly white and ivory (and just a hint of blush). When it came to my dress, I wanted some form of lace but was unsure with the silhouette. I went in open minded and tried on a bunch of different styles. There are so many gorgeous dresses it can seem daunting, but it became clear pretty quickly that I favored the ball gown, and once I tried on my dress I immediately knew that was it. It had the lace I envisioned, and I loved the soft sweetheart neckline and tulle bottom with a bit of sparkle. Combine that with the long train and small buttons down the upper part of the back, and I was done looking!
Everything seemed to be progressing so smoothly. Both of our families were so excited and by our side to help. My sister was married a few years prior and was a great guide and sounding board as we were making our decisions. I thought maybe I wasn’t going to have any I Guess I Do moments along the way after all! And then my first one hit just a few months into planning. We had Saturday plans to go see our after party space, and then I was meeting with my bridesmaids to go dress shopping. As it turned out, the day was not so easy. I woke up in the middle night with my lip feeling numb. I went into the bathroom only to find that my lip had swollen up like a balloon. In my half asleep daze I took some Benadryl and went back to sleep. Fast forward a few hours, and I woke up again to find that it had only got worse. I then realized the Benadryl I had expired, and then full fledged panic set in. Andrew was asleep and even if he was awake I was pretty convinced neither of us would know what to do. My sister is a doctor so I figured it was best to call her. She probably wasn’t expecting to hear me crying first thing in the morning, but like any great big sister would do she was at my apartment twenty minutes later to pick me up and take me to an urgent care center. She had been there before and knew they were great. After ruling out anything viral, I started going over everything I ate with the doctor. Nothing obvious that really solved the question, but the symptoms showed all signs of an allergic reaction. Luckily just ten minutes after a steroid shot my face and lip were starting to swell back down. I missed the appointment for the after party, but by the time I met up with my bridesmaids it was barely obvious. Maybe it was just a weird fluke? So I hoped…
This same allergic reaction happened at least another 6 or 7 times leading up to the wedding. There seemed to be no constant in anything I ate when it happened, but if you’re eating out who really knows. It happened at different times of the day, different apartments, and even different states! The only fortunate thing was that it was only my lip and purely cosmetic. There was no major cause for concern, other than the fact that I was absolutely petrified it was going to happen on the morning of the wedding. While Benadryl helped it still took about 10-12 hours to subside. Multiple visits to the allergist, several scratch tests, and a number of blood tests later the mystery was still unknown. All I kept being told was that this stuff is often just process of elimination, which is not what any bride would want to hear. Others also suggested the idea that it could very well be stress related. My response was that I didn’t feel stressed at all, but I guess subconsciously maybe my body knew more than I did. What I did know was that I was going to avoid any shellfish at our rehearsal dinner, and that I would definitely be taking Benadryl the night before the big day. Very happily I can say that I woke up that morning allergy free. (And the last occurrence was three weeks before the wedding…knock on wood!)
As we were entering Manhattan we learned that the family limo (that left a half hour before the others) took a different route, and due to some serious traffic was going to be delayed. How long exactly was unclear. Several minutes later I learned Andrew’s car was also in traffic and running late. Still, no reason to stress as we all know there is nothing you can really do at that point. My car arrived first (and early) but since we were not seeing each other until my walk down the aisle my limo driver parked a few blocks away. Our plan was to just relax and sit tight until they arrived and then he would drive up to the chapel entrance. Andrew’s car was getting closer so we didn’t want to chance getting out and making our way to the bridal chamber in case they pulled up.
My dad and I stayed in the car continuing our conversation. The driver had stepped out to make calls and get the whereabouts of the other cars. So remember when I said it was a fairly warm day? After sitting for some time with the air conditioning running, we noticed smoke coming out of the hood of the car. That’s right…our beautiful vintage Rolls Royce for the day had overheated. I will say, a clear way to get attention on a Manhattan street is definitely sitting in a broken down car in your wedding dress, veil and all. My dad immediately looked at me and smiled, asking if I was okay. I smiled back and said I would walk if I had to since we were just a few blocks away. One thing for certain was that our car was not going to be in service for the rest of the day. But another was coming and would be outside for us after the ceremony. After Andrew’s car and the other family car arrived, the bridesmaid’s car came back to get me. Ironically my first thought was that everyone was going to think I was running late (which is often the case), when I was the first one there! Oh well, it was time to get started and I couldn’t have been more excited to walk down the aisle to my best friend. Having the chapel doors open and seeing Andrew standing there is a memory I will always cherish. Despite the snafu getting us off to a late start, the ceremony itself was perfect. When our ceremony ended, our second car had not made it there yet. We didn’t want to lose any more of the time we had set for photos between our ceremony and reception. Our first thought was if we should just hail a taxi, but our fantastic wedding party made room for us and we all piled in for great fun ride to midtown. The mishaps of the day were already stories to laugh at.
After photos we mingled throughout our cocktail hour, greeting all of our guests along the way. We had both decided once the reception began it was party time and we did just that! One of the things we loved about our band was that appetizer and dinner time did not mean boring music. Instead as per Andrew’s request it was more of a Pearl Jam sing-a-long in the middle of the dance floor. Not to mention those getting into it sitting at their tables as well! Shout and Mr. Jones were up there among our other favorites of the night. It was amazing to see all the details come together and we would not have changed a thing. From the advice of others, we made sure to take a step back every once and awhile to take it all in. It was such an overwhelmingly special feeling to have all of our family and friends in one room sharing this moment in our lives. We woke up the next day saying we wanted to do it all over again! Throughout our honeymoon we kept sharing stories of the day and looking back with absolute happiness. The photos and video are truly invaluable as we look back on the moments. And the best part? Knowing I get to share my life with my love and best friend.
Ceremony: St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University Reception: The Plaza Hotel Photographer: Hechler Photographers Band: The Michael Hart Band (of Hank Lane Music and Productions) Flowers: Marquis Florals by Kim Cake: Sylvia Weinstock Dress: Bergdorf Goodman Designer: Ines Di Santo