Culture » In Defense of an Understated City Hall Wedding
  • In Defense of an Understated City Hall Wedding - Karin Nelson Wedding
  • In Defense of an Understated City Hall Wedding - Karin Nelson Wedding
  • In Defense of an Understated City Hall Wedding - Karin Nelson Wedding
  • In Defense of an Understated City Hall Wedding - Karin Nelson Wedding
  • In Defense of an Understated City Hall Wedding - Karin Nelson Wedding
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In Defense of an Understated City Hall Wedding

In the fashion world, over-the-top destination weddings are the norm. One editor reveals why she opted for something more low-key.

13 years ago, I went to Pianos, a club on New York’s Lower East Side, to see a band called A.R.E Weapons. I thought the lead singer Brian—or “Brain,” as he’s better known—was so cute. A few days later, my friend brought him to my birthday party—he was her present to me—and it turned out it was his birthday, too. We’ve been inseparable ever since, living together for much of that time. We never really discussed marriage because we always felt fully committed to one another, and a big wedding was never something I needed or wanted. I’m pretty low-key, and more of a behind-the-scenes kind of girl. Even writing this piece makes me feel a little awkward. The idea of a showy, three-day extravaganza with all eyes trained on me is enough to induce a panic attack. So when, much to my surprise, Brian proposed over an early Christmas dinner at Le Bernardin, I figured we would elope. My mother thought it was a fabulous idea, so long as she could come with—thus we nixed that option, and decided on City Hall.

Brian had been to a wedding there before, but I hadn’t, and didn’t know what to expect. I soon found out when we went a few weeks before the ceremony to get our marriage license: It is a full-on circus filled with punks, gays, preppies, the rich, the poor, the pregnant, a music mogul and his art-world fixture fiancé (not naming names) all nervously pacing and mugging for pictures as they wait to pay the $25 fee and say their I Do’s in the private chapel. Brian and I looked at each other, both of us amused and unnerved, not sure whether we were making the right decision. But we concluded that it is—like so many of our favorite places—a classic New York institution, and in the end that assuaged any apprehension. It was, in fact, very us.

Like a homing pigeon, I went straight to Céline for my dress, buying a chic, white number that I had wanted ever since I saw it come down the spring runway. I wore it with a pair of silver Manolo Blahnik high-heel sandals, and opted to do my hair and makeup myself, keeping both super natural. It was important to me to feel like myself, not like a caricature. My beautiful Irene Neuwirth diamond pave wedding band and engagement ring were all the jewelry I needed.

I wanted the entire experience to be as easy-going as possible—and it was. We had just our immediate family at the service, which literally took a New York minute. Before everyone had even said hello to one another, our number was called and we were in the private room with the officiant, being pronounced husband and wife. In, out, done; my brother said it was the best wedding he’d ever been to. Afterwards, we compensated for the swift ceremony with a long (4 hours!) champagne-and-cake filled lunch at Gramercy Tavern. My hairdresser had recommended that we stay in a hotel on the night of our wedding, and I dismissed it as unnecessary. But Brian is a partner in the nightclub Paul’s Baby Grand, so the hotel group that owns the Soho Grand generously gave us the penthouse suite for our wedding night, and I’m so happy they did. It truly made the day all the more special. We invited over a couple dozen close friends to celebrate, popping all the gifted bottles of Dom Perignon that had accumulated over the years in our fridge, awaiting “a special occasion.” From the terrace, there was a beautiful view of the city skyline. It seemed a fitting nod to our New York love story.

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