6 of the Best Boudoir Photographers on Long Island

Whether you are looking to give a gift to your future spouse or just want to feel your best, run to one of these boudoir photographers.

(Photo courtesy of Maven Jade Photography)

You’ve heard all about them in the Brides of Long Island Facebook group, and you may have even considered doing one yourself: A boudoir photo shoot. We have six of the best boudoir photographers on Long Island just waiting to capture you in all of your beautiful, sexy glory. And before you say you can’t, change that attitude! Once you step foot in one of these boudoir photographers’ studios, you’ll become a changed woman.

(Photo courtesy of Maven Jade Photography)

Maven Jade Photography
Shari at Maven Jade is a hidden gem, and her boudoir business thrives by word of mouth from all of her brides. Her studio in Plainview is the perfect playground with different settings to make you feel your best. And don’t forget to bring your custom playlist, because Shari can’t wait to belt out some 80s and 90s jams with you while working her magic.

MORE: ‘Everybody Has Sexy in Them.’ And Shari at Maven Jade Is There to Bring it Out!

(Photo courtesy of Seaweed & Diamonds)

Seaweed & Diamonds
Kate, of Seaweed & Diamonds, can’t wait to work with her next supermodels – YOU! She is truly invested in all of her brides. In fact, after your boudoir shoot, you’ll have gained a new best friend. She is all about women empowerment and believes it’s important to build each other up and create a support system. And what better way to build you up than to photograph you in all your natural beauty!

MORE: Be a Supermodel with Seaweed & Diamonds

(Photo courtesy of Alli Murphy Photography)

Alli Murphy Photography
Alli believes that in her boudoir studio, it’s not about how you look, but rather how you feel. And she will make sure you feel your best. Her studio is the perfect place for a sexy photo shoot that will leave your significant other’s jaw on the floor.

(Photo courtesy of Anne-Marie Kristin Photography)

Anne-Marie Kristin Photography
Anne-Marie is here to make you fall in love with yourself all over again. She understands that boudoir shoots can be overwhelming, but Anne-Marie makes sure you’re comfortable and that you leave feeling confident and beautiful. And she hopes you carry that confidence all the way down the aisle.

(Photo courtesy of Photography by Kymisha)

Photography by Kymisha
If you’re nervous going in, have no fear – Kymisha is your hype girl! She is there for you to make sure you look your best from every angle and pose. Arrive with your favorite playlist and sexy outfits, and Kymisha will do the rest.

(Photo courtesy of Leslie Simmons Photography)

Leslie Simmons Photography
Specializing in boudoir and couples boudoir photography, Leslie Simmons creates a comfortable and empowering environment for all her brides and couples. She knows just how to capture your vulnerability, beauty and strength with her lens. Her loft studio in Sayville is the perfect backdrop for any boudoir shoot.

MORE: How a Boudoir Shoot Changed My Life

So, what are you waiting for? Channel your inner goddess and call one of these amazingly talented boudoir photographers to create the perfect gift for your future spouse (but really, let’s face it – this gift is for you)!

Pine Hollow Club Executive Chef Rezart Gorencavic crafts flavorful, seasonal menus with a farm-to-table flare.

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club

If there’s one thing that Long Islanders have come to expect from their weddings, it’s a delicious menu. Abundant cocktail hours, decadent main course dishes, and attention to detail have become the culinary standard of our big days.

These high expectations are often difficult to surpass, but BOLI Preferred Vendor Pine Hollow Club has absolutely no trouble rising to the occasion. Their seasonal and locally-inspired cuisine is one of the many aspects that brings brides of Long Island to this beautiful venue. 

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club

A reputation for excellence

Executive Chef Rezart Gorencavic draws his culinary inspiration from his upbringing. “I come from a small country in the Mediterranean (Albania), and grew up using all seasonal fruits and vegetables,” he said. “In the US, I’ve worked at the legendary 21 Club, The National at Benjamin Hotel, The Intercontinental Hotel, and others. I joined Pine Hollow in 2021, and after the first month, I learned about the club and have added my twist. It has been an amazing experience.” 

Pine Hollow Club’s Director of Operations Joe Scalice was quick to praise the talented chef. “Everything he does is at a very, very high level,” he described. “I’ve owned restaurants, I’ve worked with some of the best chefs, and I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I couldn’t be extremely proud of the food. So, everything here is top-notch.” 

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club

Menus that match the season

Whether you choose a bright and sunny spring affair, or a cozy and romantic winter vibe, Pine Hollow Club will treat you to a flavorful (and locally-sourced) menu. “I love working with farmers, and before I decide on a dish, I always talk to the farmers about what is going to be available during each season,” Rezart explained. “Then I will write a menu. I work with Rottkamp Brothers Farm, they are fantastic farmers.”

“On the summer menu, his caprese is absolutely delicious,” Joe effused. “There’s heirloom tomato from the farm, mozzarella, arugula and aged vinaigrette.”

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club

Joe further described the spring and summer offerings. “We have a striped bass with artichoke and fennel” he listed. “Everyone wants Filet Mignon on the menu, and ours is very, very good with au gratin potatoes, spinach, and au poivre sauce.”

“But I always recommend the short rib,” Joe continued. “It’s killer. It melts in your mouth.”

As for winter menu standouts, Joe highlighted a popular dish. “One of the big things we see for fall and winter is the herb-crusted rack of lamb, served with sunchoke, onion cherry mostarda, and lamb jus.”

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club

The surprises and the standouts

Among the mouthwatering choices on Pine Hollow Club’s vast menu, there are a few specific dishes that see a heavy rotation. “The most popular cocktail hour dishes are the Peking Duck Station and the Pine Hollow Taqueria,” Rezart said. “What makes these stations unique is that they are authentic, and the ingredients are locally sourced. The Tuna Tartare in a cucumber cup with wasabi and our Grilled Peach Crostini with honey and whipped ricotta are also popular hors d’oeuvres.”

Heidi Stanya, Pine Hollow Club’s Director of Member Experience, elaborated on their unique Taqueria. “We do a taco station with liquid nitrogen, and in a sense it’s a frozen margarita but with a smoke effect. Everyone always loves to choose that for their menu.”

Of course, the favorites aren’t limited to just cocktail hour options. “One of our most popular dishes would be the Long Island butternut squash soup, served with lavender honey crema and chestnuts,” Joe detailed. “And the spring green market salad with shaved carrot, radish, sorrel, citrus, and a champagne vinaigrette. People taste this and get blown away.”   

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club

The time-tested favorites

Both Rezart and Joe have their personal favorites when it comes to Pine Hollow Club’s delectable cuisine. “My favorite dish is the Long Island Striped Bass,” Rezart said. “The fish is line-caught and sustainable here on Long Island.”

Joe’s pick was more land-based. “The duck is outstanding,” he described. “The skin is crisp, all the fat is rendered, the meat is done rare to medium rare. It’s one of my favorites.”

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club

Brides that become family

It should come as no surprise that Rezart and Pine Hollow Club’s staff are dedicated to making each wedding special. “We treat every wedding like it’s our own wedding, which makes it fun,” Rezart explained. “From the moment you book until the end of the wedding day, you are our family.”

That means he often goes out of his way to ensure that every couple gets the day of their dreams. “I created a couples-only tasting menu, they wanted to have duck – they both loved duck,” he remembered. “I added a fourth course to their tasting menu, and we started with the first course before the ceremony, the second course after they were married, and we finished with their last two courses being served during the reception dinner service.”

Image courtesy of Pine Hollow Club


Can’t think of the right words for such a big day? Here are a few tips for writing a great wedding day letter to your new spouse.

It can happen to the best of us: the stressors of planning a wedding can become pretty overwhelming, and we can quickly forget what the day is all about. But after all the DJ meetings, venue tours, and florist mock-ups, your big day will be here. And it will be so much more than just a party. 

It’s important to take a moment and express what the day — and your partner — really mean to you. Writing a letter to your soon-to-be-spouse can honor your past, your present, and your future. While in most cases your vows will be relatively public, a letter to your spouse is an intimate way to mark an incredibly special moment in both of your lives.

Even if you’ve never been one for words, you should still consider writing something for your fiancé to read once the big day arrives! Here’s how to write a meaningful wedding day letter.

Image courtesy of Gelfman Photography

Share your “why.”

Ever heard the phrase “how do I love thee, let me count the ways”? The opening of your wedding day letter is a perfect place to share all of the reasons why you love your soon-to-be spouse. Maybe it’s their thoughtfulness, their humor, or their charitable nature (or, let’s be real, that killer tush). Whatever it is, tell your partner all of the things that drew you to them in the first place, and the qualities that made you fall in love with them. 

Recount a memory

This can be something as momentous as your proposal, or small moment that continues to hold meaning.  Think about all the beautiful memories you’ve made as a couple, and write about the one that stands out the most.

Image courtesy of Fine Art Photography

Your dreams for the future

Your wedding day letter is a great place to talk about your hopes and dreams for the years ahead. Think about your ideal future together, whether it includes starting a family, buying a home, or partnering on a business venture. Your letter can also serve as a beautiful time capsule — read it again in 10 years, and see how far you’ve come!

Close it out with a bang

Whether it’s a running joke between you, a heartfelt emotion you’d like to express, or a promise you’d like to make, end your letter with a bit of flare. 

Tips for writing a great wedding day letter

It’s not every day that we sit down to write a letter, so here are some helpful tips to consider:

  • Make notes. Before you write, think of a few things you’d like to include in your letter and jot them down somewhere — in a journal, a spare piece of paper, or even the notes app on your phone. That way, you’ll have something to reference (and you won’t forget any important details!)
  • Set aside time to write. Things that are rushed rarely turn out well. So instead of waiting until the last minute to scribble something down, set aside a few hours before your wedding to craft your letter. You can really think about what you’d like to say, and how you’d like to say it.

Image courtesy of Yellow House Images

  • Keep a draft that you can edit. When you make a typo in a text message, or think of a better word to say in an email, you can just hit “delete.” That’s not the case with a handwritten letter! So before you pick up a pen, try typing your letter out first. Then you can make changes (and utilize spellcheck) as you continue to work on it.
  • Include details. Get specific with your letter. If you’re recalling a memory, use your five senses: what do you remember seeing? Hearing? Tasting? The details you include in each section of your letter will be what makes it special. 
  • Stay positive. Your wedding day letter isn’t the time to bring up arguments you’ve had, or dwell on difficult times in your relationship. If you’re both able to look back at these tough moments and laugh, it’s okay to make a quick joke about it. But for the most part, your wedding day letter should focus on all the wonderful days you’ve shared. 


From insurance reasons to wanting a more intimate ceremony, getting married before the wedding can sometimes make a lot of sense.

It’s the day some of us have been planning since we were little. But then life happens, and even as we start to plan our big day, we realize that it may make more sense to get married before the wedding. And that’s OK! In fact, getting legally married prior to the big day can make sense for many reasons.

Whether you choose an intimate city hall ceremony or something small with your close friends and family, here’s why getting married before the wedding can make sense.

Insurance Reasons

Let’s face it – the price of everything is going up, and health insurance is no exception. A big reason that many couples get married before the wedding is for insurance purposes. It just makes sense to be on one insurance, and most of the time, it’s easier if you’re married.

Many couples will also choose to tie the knot when one partner loses insurance coverage, through lay-offs or other situations.

MORE: Combining Your Finances – Everything You Need to Know

Immigration Reasons

If you or your future spouse are not American citizens, and your visa is set to expire before the big day, it makes sense to get legally married so that you’ll both actually be in the U.S. for your wedding day.

An Ill Family Member

As we mentioned, life happens and sometimes a family member or close friend can fall ill. If their prognosis is not good, they might not be able to make it to the wedding. It makes sense to have a small ceremony so he or she can witness you getting married.

More Intimate

Does the thought of saying your vows in front of a crowd make you anxious? Getting married before the wedding day in a small, intimate ceremony with your future spouse could be the perfect way to celebrate your wedding day without the anxiety of getting up in front of a crowd.

MORE: I’m a Shy Bride – How Do I Handle Being the Center of Attention?

Destination Wedding

If you’re having a destination wedding, it makes sense to get married before the trip. It can ease your mind, and you won’t have to travel with your marriage license and any other paperwork you may need.

Furthermore, some destinations will require engaged couples to reside in the country for a certain number of days (or even weeks) before they’re allowed to legally wed there. So if you don’t want an extended vacation, you’ll want to say “I do” before you board the plane.

MORE: 7 reasons to have a destination wedding

You’re Pregnant

Sure, people have children before they get married. But it may make sense to marry if you get pregnant before the wedding day – It could help with legal and insurance issues for your future child.

Whatever reason you have for getting married before the wedding, know that each day – the legal ceremony and your wedding day – are going to be beautiful and everything you dreamed them to be. And certainly don’t worry about what other people have to say. The only opinions that matter are your and your future spouse’s. In fact, if you get married before the wedding in an intimate ceremony, no one has to know!

Lastly, if you do get married before your big day, don’t worry about which day is your anniversary. You can literally celebrate whatever day (or days) you want!

Coastal Creative Studios can be yours for wedding day prep, as an inspiring backdrop for your wedding photos with your spouse and wedding party or even for other events such as your bridal shower.

(Photo courtesy of Coastal Creative Studios)

Imagine getting ready on the morning of your wedding while overlooking the beautiful Huntington Harbor. You’re with your bride tribe, munching on a delicious breakfast spread as your bridal attendant makes sure everything is running smoothly. And let’s not forget that this space is ideal for all of your getting ready photos. Coastal Creative Studios, a BOLI preferred vendor, is a brand new space in Halesite that features stunning views of Huntington Harbor and is conveniently located across from the Harbor Club at Prime.

New Level of Luxury

The mastermind behind Coastal Creative Studios is none other than Janelle Brooke, of Janelle Brooke Photography, a BOLI preferred vendor. “This space is a dream of mine because I’ve always wanted to have a photography studio of my own,” she says. “Once I saw it, I knew this space was meant to serve others besides myself.”

The space itself is filled with natural light, 12 foot exposed ceilings and all the amenities you need. “I realized brides need to get ready in comfort. So often, we’re crammed into a hotel room, where there’s not adequate space or good lighting,” Janelle says. “Coastal Creative Studios is here to provide that space, that light, and that stress-free, relaxing morning to get ready and look your best before your wedding. I want you to be able to skip the hotel hassle, and upgrade your bridal experience in the studio that is a chic oasis for getting ready in style.”

Brides have their own private suite to put on their dress, and there are plenty of salon chairs for your bridal party to get their hair and makeup done with any vendor of your choosing. There is an outdoor space, perfect for relaxing or taking photos, as well as a kitchen with a full-size refrigerator. You can bring in your own food and drinks – yes, even the boozy kind – or you can book services with Coastal Creative Studios’ partner vendors. When you book, you’ll get two bottles of champagne, an assortment of hot and cold brunch items, and your own bridal attendant. And the best part? The space is a blank canvas, and it’s yours for six to up to 12 hours. You can decorate it however you’d like. The possibilities are endless as you get ready in luxury.

(Photo courtesy of Coastal Creative Studios)

MORE: From Traditional to Non-Traditional: 10 Something Borrowed Ideas 

Multi-Purpose Space

Coastal Creative Studios can be used for more than just your getting ready space. In fact, you can rent the space for the entire day of your wedding and use it as a home base. Get ready in the morning, and have your guests use it in between your ceremony and your cocktail hour. Use it to take photos with your future spouse either before or after the ceremony – do I hear first look in the outdoor garden space?

Even before your wedding day, you can rent the space for engagement photos. Or perhaps you want to take some boudoir photos? Coastal Creative Studios can be that comfortable, warm space for you.

(Photo courtesy of Coastal Creative Studios)

MORE: 6 Reasons Why Rain on Your Wedding Day Can Be Awesome

Expanding in Style

Coastal Creative Studios will be expanding! “I’ll be taking over the space next to us, and in a few months we’ll be able to host larger events,”Janelle says. This could include a rehearsal dinner, bridal shower and so much more. “There’s a lot of opportunity to bring in catering and host the event of your dreams at Coastal.”

Janelle is also partnering with some great vendors to create a boutique one-stop shop at Coastal for brides. “We have recommended vendors for everything – flowers, décor, DJs, flexible food options and even an in-house wedding coordinator,” Janelle says. “We truly want to make everything easy for our brides when it comes to their wedding day or special occasion.”

(Photo courtesy of Coastal Creative Studios)

MORE: 6 Reasons Why You Should Hire a Wedding Planner

“I’ve been doing this since my early 20s and started my business in my childhood home,” Janelle says. “To be able to not only have my own studio, but to be able to share it with others is a gift.” And as she celebrates this next chapter in her life (don’t worry she’s still doing photography!), she is hoping that brides beginning their next chapters will include her. “I love being a part of people’s lives for years to come after their wedding,” Janelle says. “I get to see them change into parents, as I take their newborn photos. It’s very rewarding.” And she knows that Coastal Creative Studios, her next chapter, will be able to provide a beautiful space for all of her brides – past, present and future.

(Photo courtesy of Coastal Creative Studios)

The votes are in! Introducing the 2024 BOLI Diamond Award winners

BOLI Preferred Vendors represent the “best of the best” in our local wedding industry. These are the vendors that go above and beyond to deliver the weddings you’ve always envisioned, working tirelessly to ensure that every bride’s dream becomes reality.

Even though each of our Preferred Vendors deserves unending accolades and praise, only a select few can be BOLI Diamond Award Winners. Our members voted for their favorite venues, hair and makeup artists, DJs, and more. And now, we are thrilled to announce the 25 winners of the 2024 Brides of Long Island Diamond Awards!

Image courtesy of Bellport Country Club


Bellport Country Club

Photography & Video

Silverfox Studios

Bridal Salon

Bridal Reflections

Hair & Makeup

Bridal Rush

Image courtesy of The Stationery Bar

Invitations & Stationery

The Stationery Bar


Long Island Mirror Booth


Mark of Elegance Limousine Service

DJ & Entertainment

Fourth Generation DJ & Entertainment 

Planners & Day-of Coordinators

Events by Shannon

Image courtesy of Skyline Orchestras

Bands & Musicians

Skyline Orchestras

Fun Extras

Don’t Toss the Bouquet

Hotel Block

Hilton Long Island

Decor, Rentals, & Accessories

The Finishing Touch

Alterations & Cleaning

Bridal Alterations Studio by Kirstyn

Dance Lessons

Xtreme Rhythm

Catering Trucks & Piaggio Ape

Dolce & Gelato Catering

Bridal Beauty Prep

Babe Aesthetics

Boudoir Photography

Alli Murphy Photography

Image courtesy of Campbell’s Bakery

Wedding Cakes & Baked Goods

Campbell’s Bakery

Showers, Rehearsals, & Bachelorettes



Rico’s Clothing


Elegant Jewelers by Mike

Honeymoon Specialists

Melissa Patane — Trip Guy Travel


With All My Heart Floral Design & Invitation Studio


NY Officiants 




The owners sent brides letters stating the venue was closed as of Feb. 1, 2024.

(Photo courtesy of Miller Place Inn)

Miller Place Inn shut its doors unexpectedly earlier this month, leaving dozens of brides scrambling to look for new venues.

This week, several Brides of Long Island members received letters from the owners stating that the venue was permanently closed as of Feb. 1, 2024. The popular wedding venue in Miller Place was run by the Regina family for more than 18 years. The closure comes “because of the current business environment, the changing dynamics of the catering industry, and the remnant effects of the pandemic lockdowns that still affect so many of our residents and businesses,” the letter states. As a result, the owners determined it wasn’t possible to continue operations.

Those brides who are left scrambling are devastated by the news – now having to find a new venue in just a few weeks or months. BOLI Kelley Tighe, who booked her May 10, 2024 wedding two years ago, told Newsday, “I’m very upset right now. Spending all this money on your wedding and getting it ripped out from underneath you is not easy.”

BOLI Kimberly Lombardi booked her April 28, 2024 wedding in May of 2023. She now has less than three months to find a venue for her ceremony and reception. “To say we were shocked and frustrated is an understatement. Miller Place Inn had been ignoring my calls since January, and now I know why,” says Lombardi. “My photographer is helping me call venues to see if my date is available. We have been overwhelmed with how amazing venues have been in helping us try to get our wedding back on track.”

According to the letter, Miller Place Inn is in the process of refunding any deposits on future events that were scheduled at the venue. Any brides who had their wedding canceled can reach out to the attorney for the Miller Place Inn, Anthony P. Gallo, Esq., no later than March 15, 2024. He can be reached at (631) 499-2555 or by email at apgallo@gallolegis.com.

If any brides need assistance relocating their wedding, please contact the BOLI office at contact@bridesofli.com.

The ring is on your finger, and it’s time to start planning your wedding! Here’s why you should start booking your vendors. 

You’ve just joined the best club there is — you’re a Bride of Long Island! Congrats, beautiful BOLI. We know your wedding is going to be perfect.

You may be reveling in that post-engagement bliss, but we’re here to tell you that time moves quickly. Like, very quickly. Even if you’ve decided on a summer wedding two years from now, blink and suddenly you’ll be weeks away from the big day.

So don’t wait to start planning! Here are the major reasons why you should start booking your vendors, no matter how many days you’ve got until “I do.” 

Image courtesy of Fade to Black New York

Vendors book quickly

Don’t lie — you were researching venues, photographers, and DJs well before you got the ring. And hey, it’s great to have a few “dream team” vendors in mind! But if you’ve seen their work and know they’re popular, chances are they’re already fully booked for this year, booking up very quickly for next year, and may even be booking dates two or three years from now.

This is especially true for certain vendors that can only take on so many clients per day. Hair and makeup artists are usually the first to fill up, since many are working solo or with a small team. You can’t be in two places at once!

You won’t get a “do over” for your wedding day, so make sure you’ve got your top choice vendors locked down now. You don’t want to “settle” for a venue, photographer, or DJ you don’t really love because your favorites weren’t available.

Image courtesy of EXO Photography and Cinema

Some gowns can take 1 – 2 years to arrive

You’ve said “yes” to the dress, and now it’s time to celebrate! That is, until you realize your dress is going to months or even a year (or more, depending on the designer!) to get here. 

While the waiting is hard, it won’t be such a big deal if your date is well into the future. But what happens if your dress isn’t scheduled to arrive until after your wedding day? Unfortunately, it means you’ll have to choose another gown.

Remember, you don’t get a “do over” for your wedding day. Making decisions now will ensure you get exactly what you want when it’s time to walk the aisle.

Image courtesy of RF Films

Booking now will save you money

Price increases: just like death and taxes, you can ALWAYS count on them. So while your ideal venue may be totally within budget now, if you wait until next year to book, that may not be the case anymore.

Think about it: if your guest list is at 150 and your venue’s current price per person is $200, your total would be $30,000 (before any taxes or fees are applied). If that venue’s pricing goes up by just 5% the following year, your new total would be $31,500. And that’s just for ONE vendor. Florists, DJs, Photographers, and other important vendors will also usually raise their prices each year. 

Locking in all of your vendors at their current price points can save you beaucoup bucks in the long run — we’re talking in the thousands.

Image courtesy of Solaris Photo and Film

There are only so many Saturdays

Saturdays are popular wedding days for a reason, right? It’s the first day of the weekend, and most of your guests probably won’t have to work the next day.

Here’s a little wake-up call for you: there are a grand total of 52 Saturdays in 2024. Same for 2025 and 2026. If your venue books two weddings per day, that means they have room for 104 Saturday weddings. That’s it. And we’re talking all year, here — not just the seasonal months. And for a further wake-call, there are over 23,000 brides-to-be in the BOLI Facebook group. 

So if your heart is set on a Saturday wedding in the summer, we suggest booking your venue tour…pronto. 

Image courtesy of Bernard Alexis Photography

There’s a huge influx of couples that are currently planning their weddings (thanks, COVID) 

Let’s face it, competition is always pretty stiff when it comes to Long Island weddings. But because of the pandemic, that competition will be even stiffer in the months ahead.

Most couples that got engaged in 2020 or 2021 decided to hold off on any serious wedding planning until COVID was a thing of the past. Now, many vendors are seeing their calendars booked even further in advance than normal. So if you were planning to hold off on hiring certain vendors, you may find that someone else has gotten to them first. 



In Brides of Long Island’s Monthly “Mrs.” series, we profile some of our members’ unforgettable weddings. This month, we spoke with Kariel DeBlasio about how time helped to keep her wedding planning stress-free – even when the forecast called for downpours.

(Photo courtesy of Studio 27 Photography)

When Kariel and Thomas DeBlasio envisioned their wedding day they knew there was a chance it would rain, but they never thought the forecast would call for downpours that caused trains to shut down and highways to close. However, despite the weather, this couple had an amazing wedding day of their dreams.

Plenty of Planning

Kariel and Thomas met in 2016 on a dating app. Five years later, on a quiet night in July, the couple took a walk in their DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn when Thomas stopped under the Brooklyn Bridge and proposed. According to Kariel, she started doing research shortly after they got engaged, specifically on venues. Though she sort of knew all along they’d end up at the Bourne Mansion, a BOLI preferred vendor. “We had gone to a wedding there a few years before we got engaged, and I loved it!” explains Kariel. However, Thomas needed some convincing since he wanted to do something different from his friend, who had gotten married there. “Once we took a tour, Thomas changed his mind pretty quickly,” she says. “We both just had a moment that we knew it was meant to be.”

Once they booked the Bourne Mansion for their Sept. 29, 2023 wedding, they focused on finding a photographer, as the venue and photographer were the most important vendors to the couple. They met with Studio 27, a BOLI preferred vendor, for photography and videography, and booked them quickly based on their great reviews from the Brides of Long Island! The rest of the vendors fell into place pretty quickly, and with two years to plan, they had plenty of time to relax and enjoy a longer engagement.

(Photo courtesy of Studio 27 Photography)

MORE: 5 Reasons to Have a Long Engagement

A Gatsby Affair To Remember

Kariel says what she loved about the Bourne Mansion was the atmosphere and vibe. “We wanted that mansion, Great Gatsby-sort of vibe, and Bourne Mansion hit the nail on the head.” In fact, when it came time for décor, Kariel says she didn’t really have to do much because the grounds and the mansion are beautiful. “I wanted to keep my decorations minimal, so we had greens and white flowers,” she says. “We did use gold mirrors for some of our signs.” And they couldn’t forget their fur baby – as their dog’s face on personalized cocktail napkins.

The morning of the wedding, Kariel says she knew it was going to rain, so she took it all in stride. “I did start to freak out earlier in the week, when they were calling for flooding, but I knew it was out of my control,” she says. It wasn’t until she started getting weather alerts on her phone did she realize the severity of the situation. “Roads were closed, and we had people coming in from Westchester and New Jersey,” she recalls. “Once I really accepted that this was the situation, I had my mother and mother-in-law reach out to the guests to alert them of the weather, and to give themselves extra travel time.” In the end, she says 16 guests weren’t able to make it due to the weather. “At that point, it really was a matter of safety, so I’m just glad everyone stayed safe.”

Despite the weather, Kariel says everyone had a blast. Nocturne, a Hank Lane band, kept the guests dancing all night long. And the oyster shuckers from Red Oyster were the highlight of the evening. In fact, Kariel says they updated her every hour to let her know their ETA and that they were going to get there early due to the rain. “They really went above and beyond for us, which was amazing.”

(Photo courtesy of Studio 27 Photography)

MORE: 6 Reasons Why Rain on Your Wedding Day Can Be Awesome

Love Is All Around

The moment that really stood out to Kariel and Thomas, though, was as they sat down for dinner. “I remember looking around the room and thinking how unbelievable it was to have all of our friends and family together in one spot for one night,” she says. “I thought that was the most amazing thing for us.”
Fresh off her honeymoon to South Africa, Kariel has some advice for brides. “Plan early! Having those two years to plan really helped keep my stress-level low,” she says. “And don’t have a specific vision for your wedding day. Go with the flow, even if things don’t go as planned.”

(Photo courtesy of Studio 27 Photography)

Venue: Bourne Mansion, a BOLI Preferred Vendor
Photographer: Studio 27 (Boy Wonder), a BOLI Preferred Vendor
Videography: Studio 27, a BOLI Preferred Vendor
Band: Hank Lane – Nocturne
Florist: New City Florist
Oyster Shuckers: Red Oyster USA
Transportation: Mark of Elegance, a BOLI Preferred Vendor; Camelot; Tran Star Limo
Hair: Ink & Ivy, a BOLI preferred vendor
Makeup: Makeup By Cole
Officiant: Rabbi Sara Shonfeld, a BOLI Preferred Vendor and Reverend Deb Viola
Invitations: Robedee Design
Dress: WONA
Bridesmaid Dresses: Azazie
Cake: Campbells, a BOLI Preferred Vendor
Tuxedos: Soto and Co.

(Photo courtesy of Studio 27 Photography)

Is “shedding for the wedding” necessary? Here’s what we think. 

You’re hearing it from everyone – friends, family, even the attendants at the bridal salon. The constant comments about your body and appearance, and whether you’re planning to start “shedding for the wedding” (aka, losing weight before the big day).

You may have never even considered that possibility until now. You hadn’t given much thought to your weight or dress size, but after so many people have offered their thoughts, you might be starting to wonder if you should shed a few pounds before heading down the aisle.

So, is “shedding for the wedding” really necessary? Should you start counting your calories and hitting the gym in preparation for zipping up that dress?

Here’s what we think: HELL NO.

 Why the idea of “shedding for the wedding” is toxic

We’ll just come out and say it: the implication that your body is somehow inappropriate for your wedding is incredibly insulting and – above all else – incorrect.

Guess what? There’s no weight limit to walk down the aisle, and gorgeous white gowns come in just about any size you can imagine. Your fiancé didn’t slip the ring on your finger with conditions like “I’ll only marry you if you drop 20 pounds” (and girl, if they did, RUN). The care from your family and friends isn’t dependent on what you weigh (and if it is, RUN FROM THEM TOO).  The important people in your life love you for who you are, in this moment. And they will continue to love you whether you’re a size bigger or a 2 sizes smaller. 

Weddings are not celebrations of changing your body to meet some warped societal standard — they are celebrations of love. And love happens at any number on the scale. 

Image courtesy of Foxlight Studios

When “shedding for the wedding” makes sense

Your body is your business. If you know you feel your best a few pounds lighter, and you really want to work towards that before your big day, then go for it. But that decision should come from YOU — not from anyone else. You shouldn’t be working out for hours because your future mother-in-law suggested it, you shouldn’t be counting calories because your best friend did it before her wedding, and you shouldn’t be “on a detox” because you learned about it at an expo. 

Remember that you deserve to feel your best walking down the aisle. YOU get to decide what your “best” is.

Image courtesy of Studio Nichole Photography

How to view diet and exercise in the months leading up to your wedding

Chances are, you’ve figured out by now how stressful wedding planning can be. You have enough on your plate, and trying to drastically change your body shouldn’t be one more thing that’s stressing you out. 

Instead, view diet and exercise for what they are – forms of self-care. In the months leading up to your wedding, strive to eat the foods that make you feel good — the ones that give you natural energy and nourishment that lasts all day. The same can be said for exercise — find the activities that you enjoy, and that leave you feeling refreshed. Don’t force yourself into an OrangeTheory class or a treadmill run if you hate those things! A walk around the neighborhood with your fiancé, or a chill yoga session can be just as beneficial to your physical AND mental health.

So Brides of Long Island, don’t let ANYONE tell you that “shedding for the wedding” is a requirement. You are a bride, and all brides are beautiful — not in spite of, but BECAUSE of the body you’re in right now.