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Gay Wedding Planning: Venues, florists, cakes, caterers, photogs and more

W Hotel in Union Square

W Hotel in Union Square Photo Credit: W Hotel in Union Square

With wedding season in full swing and the upcoming second anniversary of gay marriage becoming legal in New York, we felt it only appropriate to roll out a wedding guide for same-sex couples. We’ve compiled a list of top wedding planners, favorite venues to host the ceremony and reception, and other top-notch wedding vendors ranging from cake makers to florists and photographers — some of whom are even offering special deals and discounts in celebration of these monumental events.

Traditional locales such as the Plaza, Pierre and Four Seasons; more modern hotels like the Mandarin Oriental and The NoMad; downtown loft spaces, barns upstate and vineyards on Long Island: All have hosted same-sex marriages and celebrations. Here are some spots that are particularly geared toward gay weddings:

W Hotels 201 Park Ave. S., 212-253-9119, (and other locations)
The W Hotels of New York were the first to offer a gay wedding package, called the “Right to Unite Package,” in June 2011. All five W Hotels of New York are offering a 24-Hour Pride Package until the end of the month.

The Out NYC, 510 W. 42nd St., 212-947-2999,
With a spa, nightclub, communal outdoor spots and many other amenities, The Out is New York’s first gay urban resort. Opened just last winter, the hotel has become a destination for the local gay community and gay tourists.

Studio 450, 450 W. 31st St., 212-290-1400,
Located in the Hudson Yards, Studio450 is a penthouse duplex loft encompassing an entire floor, an enclosed rooftop room and a rooftop terrace. It features an all-white room surrounded by large wraparound windows. The rooftop features a glass room and outdoor terrace that can accommodate anywhere from 50 people to a party of 250.

632 on Hudson, 632 Hudson St., 212-620-7631,
This townhouse in the West Village offers a private, intimate experience, specializing in smaller events and weddings. It’s filled with antiques and artifacts from all over the world, and can be used to create a unique atmosphere and venue for a very special wedding.

While some are skipping the wedding cake ritual altogether and having a 48-inch apple pie, for example, or waiters parading miniature dessert trays, plenty still stick with tradition. Here are some wonderful options:

Sylvia Weinstock Cakes, 273 Church St., 212-925-6698,
Ms. Weinstock, known as the cake lady around town, has been a longtime supporter of — and cake maker for — gay marriages. Her cakes are made with imported chocolate, heavy cream, fresh fruit and the finest butter. She is a master of lavish floral displays decorating tiered cakes and can also inject a sense of fun in cakes decked with animals or more whimsical fancies. 

Cake Alchemy, 43 Park Pl., 212-255-0584,
For those seeking a less traditional tier-stacked cake, Lauri Ditunno, the owner of Cake Alchemy, creates “edible works of art”: modern cakes that reflect a person or couple’s personality. One of her cakes was featured on Chef Roble & Co.’s show on Bravo. Ditunno is known for her sugar wedding cakes that simulate glass.

Gay-Owned Cakeries:
Empire Cake, 112 Eighth Ave., 212-242-5858,
Made with the freshest local ingredients, the bakery’s consultants will help you design any kind of cake for any sort of celebration. The ingredients, including pure whole vanilla beans and Belgian chocolate, come from local producers, and the fresh produce comes from the Union Square Greenmarket.
City Cakes, 251 W. 18th St., 646-688-2286,
From classical to contemporary, this cake maker was a winner of the Bride’s Choice Award in 2010. City Cakes creates all shapes and sizes of cakes inspired by the diverse city — from fun and funky to creative and flamboyant.

Gourmet Advisory Services, 315 E. 68th St., 212-535-0005,
The founder of Gourmet Advisory, Harriette Rose Katz, prides herself on being one of the country’s top-tier event planners. The first gay wedding she planned in New York was for Bill White, the former president of the Intrepid Museum. It was held at the Four Seasons, where Aretha Franklin performed in the Grill Room.

14 Stories, 646-580-1270,
Bernadette Coveney Smith is the premier gay and lesbian wedding planner, with offices in Boston and New York. Her company, 14 Stories, was the first to specialize in same-sex weddings. Giving back to the LGBT community is important to her, so she regularly donates her wedding planning services and has even given away elopement packages to equal rights organizations such as HRC and Marriage Equality USA.

305 E. 40th St., sixth floor, 212-682-8405,
Debra Morris has been doing specials for gay weddings ever since they became legal two years ago. This year, in celebration of her 20th anniversary with her partner and the second anniversary of gay marriage being legal in New York, Eventsful is offering 20% off its planning fees.

David Beahm, 529 W. 20th St., Suite 11 West, 212-279-1344,
When you hire David Beahm, everything you see, smell and touch is done in-house, from the décor to the flowers.

Gruber Photographers
, 15 W. 26th St., second floor, 212-262-9777
After photographing over 1,500 heterosexual weddings, including that of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Terry Gruber, described as “the best in the biz,” has been expanding his company’s horizons to gay weddings as well.
To celebrate this month, he is offering 10% of the total cost of wedding photos.

Cava Weddings by Carlos Varela,
Mr. Varela’s approach to photography is very cinematic. Think Fellini. The lighting is soft and beautiful, and his black-and-whites are particularly romantic and nostalgic.

Kristy May Photography, 718-312-8260,
Kristy prides herself on telling your wedding story from beginning to end through relaxed portraits and photos of genuine moments.

Magnolia Photo Booth, 1251 Connecticut St., San Francisco, 415-608-6572,
This national photo booth company is running a promotional offer of $100 off their services for same-sex couples through the end of September. Their pictures are lots of fun, which is perfect for their company’s mission — to spread joy across the U.S.

Steven Rosen Photography, 718-625-7076,
This Brooklyn-based photographer recently won first place in the international Top Knots Wedding Photography Contest for a same-sex couple image. He has written a guide to finding the right photographer for a gay wedding.

Alex Donner Entertainment
, 330 E. 38th St., Suite 23-F, 212-752-2920,
Since April, Alex Donner has been giving a 25% reduction in his prices for gay weddings. The Alex Donner Orchestra can take any song request, and is always ready to get the party started. He’s a good reader of people’s musical desires and can cater to their fancies at the drop of a beat.

Starlight Orchestra, 55 Gansevoort St., fourth floor, 212-595- 0999,
From Motown to swing to rock, Starlight Orchestra wants to create the right mood and keep the music flowing all night long. They consider themselves to be experts on “the art of energy flow” and are all about “weaving a tapestry of music throughout each moment.”

Elegant Affairs
, 125 Fulton St., 212-991-0078,
Andrea Correale’s goal has always been to be New York’s finest caterer. Elegant Affairs creates chic, sophisticated and one-of-a-kind events. She can also create healthy menus for your wedding.

Great Performances Catering, 304 Hudson St., 212-727-2424,
“Life happens around food” is the motto. This catering company is all about matching great food with people and places. The food is artful and innovative, and promotes sustainability through the company’s upstate farm.

Topsey Turvey Tables
, 347-762-5151,
This company creates candy-themed table displays. It’s offering a vintage-themed table monogrammed with the couple’s initials and personalized rosettes that include pictures of same-sex couples. This is all done according to the couple’s color scheme. The company is also offering a 20% discount for all parties booked.

Lilac Chocolates, 40 Eighth Ave., 212-924-2280,
Lilac has made several same-sex chocolate couples that look like wedding cake toppers but are actually stand-alone pieces that stand 2 feet high and weigh 14 pounds. These “toppers” come in dark, milk or white chocolate and serve about 100 people.

Bedazzle My Bonbons, 321-327-5550,
These chocolate truffles are covered in edible glitter; they come in seven different flavors and 24 different colors. $1.50/bonbon.

Anthony Brownie Flowers & Events
, 120 W. 28th St., 646-221-8901, Any weddings booked with Anthony Brownie during the months of June and July will receive a 15% discount on floral and event design and a 10% discount on stationery design. Anthony Brownie Flowers & Events proudly supports the LGBT community, having donated design services to the GLAAD Awards, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and others.

Fleurs NYC, 120 W. 28th St., 646-436-6420,
Since 2006, Fleurs has been transforming cityscapes into enchanted gardens. The owner was trained in Japan and manages the entire décor from lighting to draping to create a magical event.

Mark Rose Flowers & Events, 140 Broadway, Suite 901, 917-217-3565,
Mark Rose fell in love with flowers at an early age and has been working with them ever since to create the perfect, personal atmosphere for everything from an intimate event to a grand affair.

Bentley Meeker Lighting & Staging

They did the first official same-sex marriage at Gracie Mansion, which was officiated by Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his chief of staff. Bentley Meeker is currently offering 25% off all services through Sept. 15 for same-sex couples only.

Regas NY
, St. George Church, 307 W. 54th St., 646-652-6922,
Regas is offering the gift of letterpress stationery when an order for letterpress wedding invitations is placed. The cards will be in the quantity of the invitation order. They’ll be printed in one color and delivered with blank envelopes.

Gay marriage 2 years later

Next month marks the second anniversary of gay New Yorkers becoming able to legally wed, and LGBT rights activists say their dreams of equality grow with every “I do.”

Brian Silva, executive director of nonprofit Marriage Equality USA, said the number of marriages that take place every day in the Big Apple goes a long way toward silencing those who don’t approve of gay rights. Silva credited the success to the businesses and city residents who have shown their support throughout the years.

“I think it’s the result of a lot of years and a lot of work from individuals who did work to bring NY to the point where 60%-plus people are OK with gay marriage,” he said.

The city clerk’s office issued at least 7,184 licenses to same-sex couples in the first year of legalized gay marriage. A spokes?man for the city clerk said the number is probably greater because reporting sexual orientation is optional. The spokesman couldn’t give a figure for the number of same-sex marriages in the second year so far, but said stats would be available closer to July 24, the anniversary of the law’s enactment, and added that he didn’t see any major decline in the numbers.

“It’s been pretty stable,” he said.

Gay weddings have also been an economic boon as same-sex couples spent an average of $9,039 on their weddings, according to statistics released by the city last year.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, whose marriage to Kim Ca?tullo was one of last year’s same-sex marriages, said the large number of weddings promotes progress.

“There is virtually nothing more amazing than having the state you love and call home finally declare that your family matters and is just as good as everybody else’s,” she said in a statement.

(Ivan Pereira)
Katherine Herrup


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