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2011 NYC Wedding Guide

The Ultimate Resource for Planning Your NYC Wedding, Featuring LGBT-Friendly Vendors That Want Our Business!
At long last, New York has come to its senses and officially acknowledged the love of samesex sweethearts by allowing gay men and lesbians to marry. With the denial of civil rights now off the table, it’s time to start thinking like our heterosexual sisters who have committed to the long haul. It's time to start stressing about your wedding.

Assuming that you've already popped the question (and she said yes), then congratulations on your impending nuptials! The two of you were made for each other. But wait—don’t uncork the champagne just yet. There's no time for celebrating when there's a wedding to plan.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Before the rings, the vows and the reception comes the initial hurdle that precedes wedded bliss: bureaucracy. Remember that little piece of paper we have been fighting so hard for? Let’s talk about how to get a marriage license, which only months ago was reserved for New York’s straight population.

Lesbian couples in NYC who are ready to tie the knot must first visit the City Clerk’s office and fill out a marriage license application. (The fee for a marriage license is $35.) You can start the application process online, but you and your prospective partner will need to finalize the paperwork in person. Once you both sign the document, your marriage license will be processed immediately. If you apply for the judicial waiver, then you can marry right there at the City Clerk’s office; otherwise, you’ll be required to wait 24 hours before marrying. After receiving your license, you’ll have 60 days to tie the knot before your application expires. So, make sure that all of your wedding plans can be carried out during that time and that any cold feet are duly warmed.

The Office of the City Clerk (cityclerk.nyc.gov/html/marriage/same_sex_couples_faq.shtml) has set up a convenient Q & A section on their Web site for all of your marital inquiries.

PLANNING

The good news about planning a wedding is that, with the help of the Internet, you are never alone while orchestrating your special day. GayWeddings.com (gayweddings.com) is one of a number of sites for your nuptial needs.

They provide helpful information on LGBTfriendly providers from DJs to photographers, all accessible through their database of more than 35,000 reviewed wedding vendors. The Knot (theknot.com) can also serve as a tremendously valuable resource for you and your bride-to-be, with a wealth of information on wedding trends, apparel styling and much more. You can sign up for a free wedding Web site to upload your photos, post links to your gift registries and share your stories.

If you prefer to chat up potential wedding vendors in person, rather than online, you might get a better feel for whom you want to hire for your ceremony. Rainbow Wedding Network (rainbowweddingnetwork.com) produces gay and lesbian wedding expos that bring LGBTowned and LGBT-friendly vendors directly to you. These expos give you access to all the resources you’ll need for your big day, all under one roof. This lesbian-owned company has produced more than 50 “Same Love, Same Rights” expos nationwide. Check the Web site for a schedule of upcoming events.

The best end-of-summer book to throw into your fiancée’s beach bag is The New Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings by Tess Ayers and Paul Brown, available at Amazon. com. This tome is full of great tips on how to budget your money, discover the latest trends in gay wedding rings and even find out how to get the women in your wedding party properly fitted for tuxedos.

VENUES

Now that you can dream of a legal Empire State wedding, consider having your ceremony at the sparkling glass Palm House (palmhouse.com) at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (bbg.org). This landmark, surrounded by acres of trees, flowers and serene pools, retains the services of Charles, Sally & Charles Inc., one of the premier caterers in the tri-state area, with excellent ratings from Zagat, The Knot and Wedding Wire.

They have an on-site event coordinator who will make sure your day is perfect. As a bonus—and a wedding present for your wallet—the Palm House is offering all same-sex couples a 10–15 percent discount (depending on the time of the year and day of the week), if your wedding is booked by the end of 2011.

Since the hard-fought battle for marriage equality has been won, why not celebrate your nuptials at the historic Stonewall Inn (thestonewall innnyc.com) where the gay rights movement began? The Stonewall Inn has partnered with celebrity chef and critically acclaimed restaurateur Yoanne Magris (of The Food Network’s Chopped) to provide you and your guests with creative French cuisine for your wedding day festivities. The Stonewall Inn can transform its upper-level dance area into an elegant reception room and both floors are available for larger wedding parties.

A study in high-contrast design, the luxurious penthouse of the Cooper Square Hotel (thecoopersquarehotel. com)—the angular new glass palace by Carlos Zapata—overlooks the vibrantly bohemian East Village from 21 floors up. The 1,600-square-foot terrace affords 360-degree views of downtown Manhattan. Our sources couldn’t praise the Cooper Square Hotel’s customer service staff enough—your every need is perfectly fulfilled with a graciousness that allows you to focus on your special day, and at a surprisingly affordable price.

Step back in time, to New York’s antebellum past, at the beautifully restored townhouse 632 on Hudson (632onhudson.com). Multiple antique styles are represented in the 1847 building’s rooms and passageways: an Italian Renaissance ceiling fresco, a British manor library, a landscaped roof patio with Asian gates and an Edwardian country kitchen, complete with wooden trestle table. A state-of-the-art audio-visual setup and refined, modern bedroom and bath link you to the present day.

So you’re not marrying royalty—not to worry. You’ll feel like a queen (or king) with a regal reception at the Frick Collection’s opulent Garden Court (frick.org), the centerpiece of American steel and railroad baron Henry Clay Frick’s Fifth Avenue mansion. A vaulted glass ceiling allows natural sunlight to filter down to the central pool and symmetrical beds of ferns and palms. Paired Ionic columns along the 88-foot room form an impressive architectural accent. The Garden Court can accommodate up to 350 guests for entertaining and socializing in the Edwardian manner.

Looking for a wedding venue outside the city, where you can escape all the hustle and bustle? Consider Smokey Belles, a queer-friendly artist retreat/homestead founded by Anie Stanley (albinomoose.com). Located in the scenic Catskill Mountains, just two hours from Manhattan, Smokey Belles hosts customized, year-round or summer outdoor country weddings. Packages may include a house rental, catered local and organic barbecue, bluegrass band, campfires, horse-drawn carriage ride and wedding ceremony at an 1800's church or a charming stone arch bridge near the Delaware River.

Historic homes and museum galleries too formal for your taste? Treat your guests to an overthe- top reception at the event space 230 Fifth (230-fifth.com), created by the former owner of the Roxy and Palladium nightclubs. Its three massive penthouse lounges, decorated with “1940s modernist” banquettes and glass cocktail tables, can easily accommodate 1,000 guests.

Drapery and chandeliers can be lit in different colors according to your wedding scheme. If the indoor scene gets too hot, get a breath of fresh air on the award-winning, rooftop garden, heated in winter. From every angle, 230 Fifth affords awe-inspiring views of Manhattan’s skyline.

Summer’s nearly over, but Fire Island’s autumnal beauty and crisp, marine-scented breezes are reaching their peak. If you’ve dreamed of a tranquil beach wedding, now is your chance.

ODX Consulting (odxconsulting.com) offers concierge services at the luxurious Bauhaus on the Bay (odxconsulting.com/bauhausonthebay.htm), Cherry Grove’s premiere rental estate. The open-air deck, at 2,000 square feet, welcomes guests with panoramic views of the Great South Bay, while the five-bedroom, fivebath home offers a confortable space for friends and family. The ferry dock and the ocean are just steps away. In the city, ODX also manages Portnoi’s Place, a sleekly modern, multipurpose loft with 13-foot floor-to-ceiling picture windows overlooking lower Broadway. Portnoi's Place (odxconsulting.com/portnoisplace.htm) will delight those whose tastes gravitate toward the finer things in life.

With sweeping views from the Brooklyn side of the East River, the Harbour View Loft (harbourviewloft.com) puts you in the heart of DUMBO’s burgeoning art scene. From your eagle-eye vantage point on the enormous openair deck, the glittering skyline, waterfront and Manhattan landmarks become the backdrop to your special event. Full-service planning company Kool Events, which manages the sundrenched space, has filled the two-storey loft with paintings, sculpture and sleek furnishings.

Within the last decade, Governor’s Island (govisland.com) has been transformed from a Coast Guard station to the leafy, park-like jewel of New York harbor. Rolling meadows, pre-Civil War maritime buildings and 360-degree views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey make this 172-acre oasis a scenic spot for an indoor or outdoor wedding during the May-September season. Our pick for mid-size indoor fetes: Pershing Hall, a historic venue housing the park’s headquarters with space for 75 guests.

At the American Natural History Museum (amnh.org), your ceremony may include uninvited guests—say, a 94-foot replica of a blue whale (in the Milstein Family Hall of Ocean Life) or a lifelike herd of African elephants (in the Akeley Hall of African Mammals). The 134-yearold building hosts all types of special events in its diorama-filled halls. You might choose the dazzling, jewel-box like Hall of Meteorites, Minerals and Gems; the relatively snug Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth; the soaring Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, complete with an authentic Barosaurus skeleton reaching to the ceiling; or other evocative halls with capacity for 100 to more than 2,000 guests.

Literary lesbians should make a note of the Lotos Club (lotosclub.org), founded in 1870 and one of the country’s oldest arts and letters associations. The French Renaissance-style townhome on East 65th Street has an appropriate pedigree: a daughter of William H. Vanderbilt built it for her daughter as a wedding present in 1900. The ballroom, Tennyson Room, Wedgwood Suite, Director’s Room and paneled Library feature Gilded Age flourishes and can accommodate intimate receptions of up to 92 people.

A replica of a pre-Civil War cargo schooner, the tall ship Clipper City (manhattanbysail.com) can accommodate your wedding “cargo” of up to 150 guests under its billowing rigged sails. A full bar, catering menu, options for live music and ample room for lounging and taking in the sights add to the unique marital/maritime experience. At 158 feet from bow to stern, the Clipper City is the largest-capacity passenger sailboat in the U.S., and capable of transporting your circle of friends and family past the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, Ellis Island and more.

Park Slope couples, listen up: now you can get hitched in your own backyard. Brooklyn’s landmark Prospect Park (prospectpark.org), a 585-acre oasis of rolling meadows, romantic waterfalls and quiet woodlands, is a gorgeous spot for your nuptials in any season. The Prospect Park Alliance is honoring marriage equality with a special promotion for weddings and other events: receive 10 percent off celebrations of any kind now through December 31, 2011 (call 646-393-9031 for info). The charming Picnic House, built in 1927 on a knoll overlooking the park’s Long Meadow, offers a sunlight-filled space for your special day.

Chelsea Piers’ Lighthouse at Pier Sixty (piersixty. com) is more than a room with a view. The 20,000 square foot, open plan loft space is Manhattan’s largest waterfront venue. It’s ideal for a spectacular wedding or reception with sightlines over the Hudson River (imagine a sunset ceremony!) and a delectable menu orchestrated by exclusive caterer Abigail Kirsch.

CAKES AND CATERERS

If you seek a sui generis catering experience, then The Raging Skillet (theragingskillet.com) is right up your alley. Chef Rossi, the owner and executive chef, is one of the catering world’s most vivacious personalities and has earned a reputation as the culinary expert to call when it’s time for something different. Her menus are fully customized and reflect pan-global fusions, as well as vegetarian and vegan cuisine.

Essentially, Chef Rossi can whip up anything. The Raging Skillet is renowned for being one of NYC’s most adventurous—not to mention “out loud and proud”—wedding caterers for more than 23 years. Chef Rossi has been named one of GO Magazine's “100 Women We Love”, while The Raging Skillet was voted one of New York’s Best of Wedding Caterers by The Knot in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

An innovative and interactive culinary experience, The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English (the plazafoodhall.com) is a European-inspired specialty dining hall offering fresh, prepared and gourmet foods served in the city’s legendary landmark. With eight distinctive culinary stations in the 80-seat, 5,400-square-foot space, The Plaza Food Hall is the first restaurant of its kind in a New York City hotel. There are plans to create a private dining room and event space adjacent to the main dining room, providing a perfect venue for stylish, modern LGBT weddings.

Fully customizable menus for your guests can feature everything from fresh seafood and artisanal wines to made-to-order

cupcakes from Isabelle's Curly Cakes. You’ve been watching your diet in advance of the big day—so after the ceremony, go ahead and indulge. Chef Griegge Perrin of Sophisticated South Events (sophisticated southevents.com) reimagines scrumptious Southern standards like mac-and-cheese and fried chicken, taking cues from Low Country, Asian, Cuban and Creole influences. Chef Perrin caters weddings and much more. For an intimate yet casual affair, opt for an upscale dessert and wine party: ask your friends to each bring a bottle, and Chef Perrin will create two to three desserts to pair with the vino. Ten percent of all proceeds from any event benefit GROW NYC, an organization that supports farmer’s markets and community gardens in New York City.

When it comes to the all-important wedding cake, choosing the perfect flavor and style are paramount. Elegantly Iced (elegantlyiced.com) is a Brooklyn-based, woman-owned, custom cake design studio that bakes artistic masterpieces to create a lasting impression—often crowned with fondant flowers so realistic you’d mistake them for natural blooms. Choose fom a range of classic tiers or sample the cake styled like a stack of boxes from Tiffany’s. Whether you want understated elegance, extravagant opulence, or the fantastically fun and whimsical, your wedding cake design will come to life with an Elegantly Iced creation.

Nine Cakes (ninecakes.com), also based in Brooklyn, is a cake design studio specializing in custom cakes, cupcakes and pastries. Nine Cakes will delight you with their handcrafted, tiered wedding cakes which are available in a variety of flavors. Rather take the cannoli? Nine Cakes can provide a full dessert table based on any of your confectionery desires.

Owned by a lesbian couple, Pink Diva Catering (pinkdivacatering.com) prepares “sexy, sophisticated soul food.” These ladies will make sure you don’t think about anything on your wedding day except your beautiful bride. They will supply the delicious food, style the decor and host your event by providing guest management and staff supervision.

Inspired by her grandmother, Danielle Praino of Just Like Nana’s (justlikenana.com) learned her sought-after decorating skills in a pastry shop during college, prior to forming her own business. She handcrafts each special occasion cake with careful attention and three-dimensional decorations—think actual wedding bells, flowers or butterflies. Danielle specializes in wedding cakes as well as confections for birthdays, anniversaries and more, and your initial consultation is always complimentary. If a three-tier cake seems too extravagant, opt for Nana’s custom cupcakes in the same fanciful spirit.

APPAREL

Looking for a mod tuxedo or hipster-inspired suit and tie to wear to your wedding? Lesbianowned, Brooklyn-based Marimacho (marimachobk. com) is a fashion house that offers a full seasonal line of masculine clothes tailored for female and transmasculine bodies. They manufacture their in-house designs locally and distribute via the Web. Marimacho clothing is designed with female measurements in mind, so you can get the same standard fit that is available in mainstream menswear. Their aesthetic is a combination of “dandy fashion and urban motifs, drawing from early to mid-20th century menswear, characterized by bow ties, vests, tailored suits and button-downs”. The modern queer aesthetic of Marimacho is tailored, sophisticated and timeless.

Giorgio Armani started his famed career designing menswear, and his women’s suiting reflects his expertise in masculine tailoring and fine textiles. The haute couture line, Armani Collezioni (armani.com), incorporates lustrous silk, wool, and stretch jersey for a look that’s professional and formal enough for a trip down the aisle.

During the 15 years before his first collection launched in 2005, Italian designer Giambattista Valli (giambattistavalli.com) had his hand in the success of chichi design houses from Fendi to Krizia to Emanuel Ungaro. A to-die-for, sleek, finely tailored tux is featured in Valli's pre-fall collection this year—those who wear it should be prepared for a dramatic increase in headturnings accompanied by admiring stares.

Attention dashing extroverts with mid-range budgets and designer label fancies: Look no further, for Yves Saint Laurent (ysl.com) has you covered. YSL's stunning, streamlined ivory tuxedo in subtly textured wool and satin combines timeless elegance with the iconic style of one of the most renowned design houses of the century.

Over the last four decades, internationally acclaimed Bill Blass (billblass.com) has become synonymous with innovation and American chic. Brides with a nose for clean sophisticated design will want to strut their stuff in Blass's high-style, attitude-exuding women's tuxedo blazer. Pair it with ankle-length cigarette pants for a retro-chic air.

Renowned for his expert way with women’s suits, Elie Tahari (elietahari.com) designs architectural but very wearable jackets that streamline the female figure. Tahari’s Mariah pant and Kimberly jacket, in crisp winter white textured wool, create an elegant tuxedo-inspired combination. Pair them with a single-button Sally sleeveless vest in the same fabric for a tailored three-piece look.

Brides with a high fashion budget and an eye for the edgy and eclectic should think about taking a mini-gown from the Marchesa Bridal Collection (marchesa.com) for a spin. New Yorkbased Marchesa is a bastion of modern vintage style known for incorporating Asian influences into an eccentric European aesthetic. Hemlines range from mid-thigh to knee to floor length.

Stepping into South African-born Angelo Lambrou's (angelolambrou.com) theatrical East Village atelier feels like crossing over into an exclusive Parisian boutique. Labrou's career was catapulted when he designed the dress that adorned Miss Africa when she won the Miss Universe pageant in 1999. His line of couture bridal gowns are a synthesis of the cosmopolitan elegance and female physique-flattering lines that have been his trademark ever since.

Practical brides swear by J.Crew’s line of wedding dresses (jcrew.com). Elegant yet sporty, the affordable gowns have clean lines, simple silhouettes and just enough pizzazz to satisfy discerning femmes. We love the Rosabelle gown’s vintage styling in lightweight silk satin and its subtle beading at the shoulders. The Iza dress’ no-nonsense slip style belies its richly textured, silk/wool blend construction.

Mimic celeb style with a couture-inspired gown by Vera Wang (verawang.com), marital haberdasher to the stars. Everyone from Kim Kardashian to Chelsea Clinton has immortalized her ineffable, feminine silhouettes and clean lines. Wang’s current collection emphasizes frothy layering, asymmetrical designs and hues of cream, ecru and pale rose.

If you’re thinking about venturing beyond the classic satin white dress or pastel taffeta bridesmaids’ gowns, then check out BHLDN (bhldn.com), pronounced “beholden”. They offer bridal design motifs with a youthful, hipster aesthetic that is sure to suit your funky wedding party. Are you bold enough to try the black knee-length wedding dress with a whisper-soft skirt of feathers?

This is the day you’ve been dreaming of since you were a little girl, so maybe you’re imagining extravagance and high-end luxury when envisioning your wedding dress. Despite its name, Priscilla of Boston (priscillaofboston.com) is actually located in NYC. They carry designer gowns from Vera Wang to Melissa Sweet, as well their own house line, in a range of youthful and mature styles.

Seeking a couture gown but aren’t sure which designer to choose? At Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier (bridalatelier.com), brides can test-drive dresses from the titular owner’s impeccable selection. We love British designer Jenny Packham’s bejeweled, feather-light frocks and Monique Lhuillier’s lacy, sophisticated gowns. The atelier also hosts trunk shows spotlighting the latest collections; make an appointment to get the white glove treatment.

Need a dress for yourself and all of your bridesmaids? David’s Bridal (davidsbridal.com), the nationwide bridal clothing retailer, carries an abundance of brands and styles in every brideto-be’s price range. Trends for this year include versatile and budget-friendly two-in-one gowns: a single bodice paired with a gown-style skirt for your ceremony and a shorter skirt for receptions. Genius! Other ideas: tea-length frocks to reveal your sexy calves and sweeping gowns with a hint of color.

FLOWERS

Tossing the bouquet is a timeless wedding tradition, but if your bouquet is as gorgeous as the one they can make for you at Hibiscus Flower Shop (hibiscusflowershop.com), then you may want to keep the blooms for yourself. Hibiscus Flower Shop is located in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights, where they design lavish floral arrangements that will perfectly complement the romantic atmosphere of your wedding.

If you'd like the flowers at your wedding to be extra green (and we don’t mean just the leaves), New York’s first sustainable florist Gardenia Organic (gardeniaorganic.com) can create arrangements that are both eco-conscious and aesthetically beautiful for your nuptials.

Gardenia Organic presents an extensive range of intoxicating, high-quality flowers that are organically grown, fairly traded and free from artificial chemicals.

Located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Rose Red and Lavender (roseredandlavender.com) is a full-service floral design studio known for their laid-back bouquets incoporating unexpected blooms, herbs, fronds and other botanicals. They can decorate your wedding with cool-looking lights, trees, and other distinctive elements that express your simple and unfussy style. In celebration of marriage equality, they are offering their first ten LGBT wedding clients 10 percent off their services.

Elizabeth Ryan Floral Design (erflowers.com), located on the Lower East Side, specializes in high-end bouquets, centepieces, table arrangements and more for weddings and top-notcceleb events. With more than 30 years of experience designing lavish wedding day galas—as well as intimate, minimalist ceremonies—Ryan has worked with a vast range of clients and has done events for everyone from The Dalai Lama to Paris Hilton. (Talk about diversity!) She can assist you with finding a venue to assembling a fabulous team of vendors, including lighting, props, furniture rentals and linens. Her strong suit? Understanding the client's idea and translating it into a dream wedding arrangement.

RINGS

You liked it and you’re finally putting a ring on it. If you and your lady love are traditionalists, then you may want that ring from Tiffany & Co. (tiffany.com). Tiffany offers a world-renowned selection of engagement rings and wedding bands, expertly crafted in gold, white gold, silver and platinum. Their trademark little blue box—and what comes in it—is always a hopedfor surprise.

Love and Pride (loveandpride.com) is like an online mall just for the gays! Beginning with its eponymous fine jewelry collections for samesex engagements, weddings and anniversaries, Love and Pride has branched out as an online retailer for clothing, accessories and more. It’s also the exclusive carrier of Romi Klinger’s brand-new, boho-chic jewelry line HIJA Por Vida—just in case you want to add her hip boot harnesses and sweater clips to your registry.

Sashay into David Yurman’s Madison Avenue shop (davidyurman.com) for timeless bridal baubles. In platinum or 18-karat gold crossover cable bands, Yurman’s collection features the cushion-cut diamond for a spectacular centerpiece. Understated wedding bands are circled in diamond pave with gold, platinum or rose gold settings. While you’re there, check out Yurman’s statement cocktail rings and eye-catching pendants on slender chains.

Even if you don’t remember jeweler Catherine Angiel (catherineangiel.com) from the cover of Newsweek in 1993 (under the headline “Lesbians: Coming Out Strong”), you’ll recognize her stunning rings from the pages of leading fashion mags. Her bridal collection tends toward feminine sophistication with jaw-dropping diamonds in cushion, rose and baguette cuts; while her Glam, Raw and Androgynous lines ride the line between rock n’ roll grit and handmade refinement.

OFFICIANTS

Before you cut into that scrumptious wedding cake, you’ll need to find someone to pronounce you wife and wife. Reverend Alison Caiola of Rainbow Wedding Clergy (rainbowweddingclergy. com) is a second-generation interfaith minister who has been performing nondenominational, spiritual and civil same-sex wedding ceremonies for more than 12 years. Rainbow Wedding Clergy creates custom wedding ceremony options with a process that is both creative and collaborative. Reverend Alison’s commitment to marriage equality is obvious: to celebrate the passage of the Marriage Equality Act and to honor her deceased mother, who performed a lifetime of service to the LGBT community, she hosted the NYC Marry-thon—a day of personalized wedding ceremonies at Central Park’s Belvedere Castle—on July 31.

A Catholic priest who warmly welcomes LGBT weddings, Reverend Paul Mayer (revpaulmayer .com) can help you celebrate the “sacredness and uniqueness” of your extraordinary day. Father Paul was ordained a priest while a Benedictine monk and is involved with the movements for peace, justice and the environment. As a wedding celebrant and officiant, Father Paul practices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and elsewhere. He also performs ceremonies in Spanish. Father Paul puts great care, thought and compassion into every ceremony.

Having joined Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (cbst.org), New York’s LGBT synagogue, as an assistant rabbi in August 2010, Rabbi Rachel Weiss actively performs Kiddushin (Jewish wedding ceremonies) for CBST members. Rabbi Rachel, who “believes in sacred communities enacted through ritual, prayer, justice, and the arts,” meets with the brides for several pastoral consultations prior to the ceremony to discuss each partner’s faith, hopes and responsibilities in the union.

If you don’t belong to a particular faith but still seek a spiritual service to crown your ceremony, consider Elizabeth Phaire (elizabeth phaire.com). The certified life-cycle celebrant and interfaith minister officiates at weddings and other milestone events at the location of your choosing. She’s been providing memorable, personalized services for LGBT couples for years. In a fun, enlightening collaboration, Phaire will sit down with you and your partner to discuss your vision for your ceremony. Then, she’ll weave together the chosen elements of your love story into a distinctive, creative ritual.

As a former staff attorney for Lambda Legal, Kim Kirkley (elegantgaynywedding.com) played a role in some of the early strategy sessions for legalizing same-sex marriage. As a certified celebrant, modern minister and wedding officiant, Kirkley now dedicates her professional life to creating award-winning ceremonies. Crowned "The Officiant" by New York Magazine—and the winner of the Bride's Choice award, among other honors—she’s well suited to design elegant, personalized wedding ceremonies for lesbian couples in New York.

Inspired by all the recent filings in New York for gay and lesbian marriages, Amy Hausman (917- 903-1207) refers to herself as an “All People’s Wedding Officiant.” Amy is a nondenominational, ordained wedding officiant who customizes her ceremonies with original poetry, prose, prayers and sacred vows. She adds, "It is a joy to now legally perform gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies in New York. Bring it on!”

Both Rabbi Roger Ross and his wife, Reverend Deborah Steen Ross (lovinghearts ceremonies. com), are ordained clergy performing interfaith and religious ceremonies with cultural or personal touches according to your taste. The Rosses are happy to adapt services to the legalities of your state—and if you don't live in a state permitting same-sex marriage (like New Jersey, ahem), they'll advise you and your bride about your options.

INVITATIONS

Getting the word out to all of your friends and family about your impending nuptials is an essential step to planning your wedding. Of course, guests bring wedding gifts, so don’t skimp on the invite list! To wow your guests and remind them of just how much style you and your lady really have, consider ordering your invitations from OutVite (outvite.com), the first Web site providing invitations, announcements and stationery items that cater to the LGBT community. They are featuring a new line of “Hers & Hers” invitations and cards that would be just the thing to send to loved ones reminding them of your important date.

Choose one of Invitation Consultants’ same-sex wedding theme invitations to announce the big day (invitationconsultants.com). The not-so-shy rainbow in the corner or the hers-n-hers towels motif won’t leave anything to the imagination.

For a more subtle approach, Invitation Consultants offers thousands of designs grouped by theme, destination, season and more. Each motif can be easily customized and ordered using the online tool.

The aptly-named Wedding Paper Divas (weddingpaperdivas.com) features an enormous catalog of chic, modern designs for wedding announcements, save-the-date cards, bachelorette party invites, thank-you cards and much more. And if you have etiquette questions (who doesn’t?), the website offers tips, trend alerts and resources to take care of all your paperrelated requirements.

HAIR AND MAKEUP

The experts at Gloss and Glam (glossandglam.com) are seasoned veterans when it comes to wedding beauty and style. The team of cosmetic counselors creates flawless makeup, hair and nail looks that will last through the wedding photos and beyond using traditional and airbrush makeup for ultra-wearable, comfortable beauty. Don’t just take our word for it: Gloss and Glam’s award winning handiwork has appeared on Chanel runways, TheKnot.com and Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? And the best part: they’ll come to your home or the wedding site with powder puffs in tow.

Whether it’s a glamorous up-do, lustrous blowout or short n’ spiky look, your locks will love Charles H. Connelly’s handiwork (charrison 420@gmail.com). A freelance hairstylist who has tamed the tresses of many a bride, Connelly specializes in cutting and color and is available for weddings throughout the New York area. He’ll happily come to your venue or hotel for a pre-ceremony session.

When money is no object, book a stylist from the ultra-fabulous Oh La Luxxe agency (ohlaluxxe.com): the award-winning editorial hairstylists, nail techs and makeup artists will come right to you. You’ve seen their work in fashion spreads, runways and luxury market ads—now you can point to a photo of Kim Kardashian’s recent nups and say “do me like that!” And what femme wouldn’t want a highend mani-pedi party with all of her bridesmaids prior to the ceremony?

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY

Angela Jimenez (angelajimenezphotography. com) brings her photojournalist's vision and years of experience documenting queer culture to her wedding photography. She provides a full range of services, including high-resolution files, black-and-white film, multimedia slide shows and a wide selection of prints and albums. Jimenez is offering LGBT couples a percentage discount equal to the number of years together, which is good for all photography services booked in 2011. Been together 20 years? Get 20 percent off. You deserve it.

Onyxrai Productions (onyxrai.com/onyxraiphotography. com) is an NYC company that produces video and photography for LGBT events, film and television, as well as engagements and weddings. Created by Millie Acosta and Jenn Gellman, a couple for 12 years, Onyxrai Productions offers a stylistic approach that is fun, fresh, modern and versatile, with the ability to translate your wedding day into media that you can savor and replay on anniversaries.

Polish-born photographer Monik Schiller (blinkofi.com) infuses her wedding images with her experience as a fashion editor, photojournalist and freelance photoshoot producer.

People are her favorite subject, and her professional focus is tuned toward portraits and special event photography; over the last five years, Schiller has photographed several lesbian weddings. She brings a sharp eye and a flair for drama that celebrates the joys of romance, family, happiness and love.

A queer-owned and -operated wedding photography studio, Clean Plate Pictures (cleanplatepictures. com) produces gorgeous photojournalistic images, described as “romantic reportage.” Its founder, Erica Beckman, also created the "I Heart Brooklyn Girls" pinup calendar.

As a seasoned editorial photographer, Beckman has been photographing gay weddings for more than a decade. She aims to truly reflect people's personalities and the unique spirit of their wedding day.

MUSIC & DANCE

When contemplating music for your reception—especially the first dance you share with your wife—bet on Starlight Orchestras (starlight orchestrasblog.com). Known throughout the nation as a boutique live music provider, Starlight specializes in impeccable presentation. From harps and classical string trios to eight-to-15-piece party bands to headline entertainment, Starlight is the go-to company for the luxe wedding market. Their impressive credits include the wedding of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, a Presidential Inaugural Ball and Superbowl XLV.

Wendy Kidd Entertainment (wendykiddenter tainment.com) is a new agency focused on matching top talent with gay and lesbian weddings and celebrations. Kidd comes from a family of wedding entertainers and musicians; as a teenager, she even used to sit in on the drums in her parents’ wedding band. WKE works with experienced wedding ensembles that excel in all genres of music, from dance/pop to jazz to R&B, as well as with name-brand acts like the World-Famous Pontani Sisters. WKE can tailor talent to the dreams and desires of each client.

Plus, Kidd promises to donate a portion of the proceeds to organizations that help LGBT youth and advocate the passage of marriage equality at the federal level.

Don’t forget your ceremony music—you’d be surprised how many brides neglect that small but crucial detail of their wedding. Angelic Ensemble (angelicensemble.com), a lesbianowned company, provides evocative instrumental and vocal music for wedding ceremonies and cocktail hours in genres ranging from classical and traditional to Broadway and contemporary.

With flute, violin, cello, guitar or piano, the ensemble can play as a duo, trio or quartet or simply solo. Choose your favorite love song and have one of the ensemble’s stellar vocalists serenade you for an unforgettable moment. The company is celebrating marriage equality by offering $100 off its Musical Quartet Package.

Janet King (newyorkharpist.com), New York's widely acclaimed wedding harpist, offers specialty music for ceremonies, cocktail hours, holiday parties and other events. A professional musician for more than 20 years, King performs solo or plays harp accompaniment in ensembles along with flute, cello, trumpet or vocals, and her repertoire runs the gamut from traditional wedding music to Broadway/pop, Irish, holiday tunes, the Beatles and special requests. Mention GO Magazine to receive 10 percent off King’s services. Your guests will come away from the ceremony with the shimmering sounds of her classical harp forever in their memories.

The first dance with your new wife will be an indelible memory, so you need to be prepared. NY Wedding Dance (nyweddingdance.com), an upscale yet friendly and comfortable private-lesson dance studio, specializes in unique first dances. The professional instructors are well versed in Broadway, tango, disco, freestyle, hip hop and video, plus all ballroom and Latin styles. Unlike other studios, NY Wedding Dance’s studios are truly private, which means you actually have your own room—and no one will see you trip over your partner’s feet. Go in for a complimentary consultation and your Dancing With The Stars fantasies will come true in no time.

LEGAL

Yetta Kurland (kurlandassociates.com), is one of  New York's premier civil rights attorneys. A leading LGBT advocate, Kurland has represented community members fighting the closure of St. Vincent's Hospital, protesters arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" hero Lt. Daniel Choi. She offers legal counsel on a variety of issues pertaining to couples, from benefits and taxation to immigration and hospital care. Kurland provides guidance and support through often murky legal waters to ensure that you and your bride are legally covered as you begin your lives together.

Cara Buonincontri, Esq. (caralawfirm.com) notes that couples who marry should also be ready for the possibility of changed feelings down the road. “An attorney should be consulted before entering into a marriage contract with the same due diligence given before entering into any other contract,” she says. Her offices provide personalized service to clients on matters such as prenuptial agreements, adoption, end of life issues, inheritance, hospital access and elder care, among many others.

Attorney Rachel Einbund, of The Law Office of Rachel Einbund, P.C. (racheleinbundlaw.com), specializes in both immigration and matrimonial law—a win-win for any bi-national same-sex couples on their way to tying the knot. When marrying, Einbund urges you and your partner to draft wills and assign each other power of attorney so you can make important legal decisions for you and your family. It also doesn’t hurt to know where your marriage will be legally recognized, especially when traveling on your honeymoon. Bottom line: get your documents lined up before you go.

REGISTRIES/GIFTS

Stumped for gift registry ideas? Check out our recommendations in this issue’s wedding gift guide. We have honeymoon essentials, gadgets and goodies for your starter home and much more already chosen for you.
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