"Once upon a time, there was a girl and a boy."
So begins the "story of us" that Adam King told his wife, Nicole Galante, countless times during their relationship.
Their story goes back to their childhoods. They grew up on the same street in Coram, and their sisters worked together at the same dance school. While the two were not childhood playmates, they knew each other from the neighborhood and remembered one another even after Galante moved to Wading River when she was 10, and later, to Sound Beach, where she's spent the past 10 years. The couple reconnected three years ago -- after Galante's divorce -- when King reached out on Facebook.
King, 35, who owns Huntington Bay Music in Huntington Village, would add to the story as the couple added on to their lives together, Galante, 35, says. When he proposed in December 2012, he ended his tale with, " ... and then the boy asked the girl to marry him." She said yes, and they wed on April 12 at Three Village Inn in Stony Brook with a celebration that paid tribute to Galante's love of literature.
While tales of fair maidens, dashing heroes and star-crossed lovers have made for memorable happily-ever-afters in fiction old and new, some of today's brides and grooms are embarking on a new chapter of their lives by incorporating their love of stories into their weddings. Personal flourishes might include story-themed proposals, such as King's, book-oriented save-the-dates and invitations or novel-inspired decor.
"It seemed fitting to choose a book theme for our wedding to mark the beginning of our new story as husband and wife," says Galante, the owner of an educational consulting company and a Stony Brook University professor who instructs future English teachers. "I have always loved literature and writing, and wanted to be around my favorite thing -- books," which she arranged.
The couple's save-the-date cards resembled old-fashioned library loan cards. They showed a photo of the two posing at Cold Spring Harbor Library and were stamped with a fitting message: "May we borrow you?" The wedding invitations, designed by Chicago-based Amy Heitman, featured a book cover with a drawing of the couple in front of Stony Brook Harbor and a Mad-Libs-style response card.
At the reception, the couple sat at a table that featured books cut into the letters N and A, representing the bride and groom's first names, and Galante's old Underwood typewriter was displayed with the place cards. Table centerpieces, which also served as favors, were assembled from used books that Galante got from her local library, and were handed out post-party with a handmade bookmark featuring a drawing of the couple.
Books were everywhere -- even the most unlikely places, such as the restrooms, where "we had book-shaped boxes of supplies for emergencies," Galante said.
"I think there's nothing more beautiful than a book," she said. The theme allowed her to have her "favorite things" with her on her "favorite day."
Their 'secret garden'
Jessica and Chris Ronan of Williston Park went with a "Secret Garden" theme for their Sept. 21 wedding at The Woodlands at Woodbury.
Jessica, 28, a sales assistant for an apparel company, says she was a big fan of both the book and the film when she was growing up, and after the couple chose their wedding venue, it came to mind.
"Being there reminded me of the story that I had loved so much as a child," she said. "We thought it was the perfect theme for the perfect venue."
Jessica Santopetro and Chris Ronan met as teenagers working at the Village of Williston Park swimming pool. For their wedding, they introduced guests to their theme with letterpress invitations that featured a vintage flower pattern and envelopes lined with a vintage floral print.
On the big day Chris, 30, an IT administrator, wore a boutonniere with three small roses and a skeleton key tied with twine. Their escort cards were attached to vintage skeleton keys and set on a baby grand piano covered in moss, vines, and flowers, and cocktail napkins were adorned with skeleton keys, too.
Even the wedding cake, which was decorated with succulents, flowers, and vines, was on-theme.
"We tried to make everything have a whimsical, vintage, garden feel," Jessica said.
The adventures of Christine and Robert
Christine and Robert Kuletsky of Smithtown also included book-themed details in their July 3, 2012, wedding reception at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach.
Both Robert and Christine (formerly Christine Gardella), are English teachers in the Smithtown Central School District, which is where they reconnected in 2008 after losing touch after high school. The couple, both 29, wanted their place cards and favors to "reflect our love of American lit and books," Christine says.
Christine typed famous quotes from "Great Expectations" and "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and framed them, then displayed them on each table. They also used library checkout cards as place cards.
Before heading home after the reception, each guest received a copy of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" as a favor.
"We both felt that every family needs to have an American classic on the bookshelf," says Christine, "so we sent them all home with a copy."
A proposal to remember
On Feb. 21, Kimberley Coughlin woke up in the Rockville Centre apartment she shares with her boyfriend, Vincent Healy, and he handed her an envelope.
Inside was the news that Coughlin, 32, a copywriter and project/office manager from North Bellmore, had the day off from work. A second envelope that she found on the stereo had instructions inside telling her to press the "play" button, which set off the original Broadway cast recording of "The Book of Mormon" -- the Broadway musical the couple would see that night. In a third envelope, found on a table near the entry of their home, was a train ticket to Manhattan and travel instructions. Coughlin found the fourth envelope on top of a box that contained blue Manolo Blahnik Hangisi pumps, "otherwise known as the 'Carrie Bradshaw engagement shoes,'" said Healy, 31, a special educator from Port Jefferson Station. A note inside the shoe box suggested that Coughlin wear the shoes into the city that evening.
That night after the show, a car brought the couple to Manhattan's Library Hotel. In the Love Room, a guest room featuring a collection of books hand-selected by Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Healy gave Coughlin, who received her master's degree in English/creative writing from Hofstra University in 2008, a bound copy of her thesis, "Getting Rid of the Smile."
"I told her that the publisher -- me -- loved the stories, but was really interested in the sequel," Healy said. He handed Coughlin a second bound book, "Bringing Back the Smile," which contained a proposal on the first page followed by 297 blank pages -- one for every day they'd been a couple, "so we can write our story together," Healy said.
The couple booked Bridgeview Yacht Club in Island Park and set a wedding date: June 13, 2015.