In Brides of Long Island’s Monthly “Mrs.” series, we profile some of our members’ unforgettable weddings. This month, we spoke with BOLI Dani Zillmann about little details and why she loved planning so much.
Some brides love wedding planning. Others can’t wait for the day to be over. But for Brides of Long Island member Dani Zillmann, she thrived on wedding planning! As someone who got engaged and married during a pandemic, Dani wasn’t letting anything stand in the way of marrying the love of her life, Ryan. Focusing on all of the little details of her vision to create the perfect wedding day is what Dani loved the most.
A Canceled Date Leads to Love
Dani has been a planner her whole life. Even when it came to dating Ryan! Dani and Ryan met on Match.com four years ago. He had set up their first date, but a work meeting forced her to cancel. Convinced she wasn’t interested, Ryan insisted that Dani plan their rescheduled first date! And the rest, as they say, is history. Ryan proposed to Dani on a trip to Montauk on Aug. 25, 2020.
Right into Planning
Shortly after getting back from their Montauk trip, Dani and Ryan started looking at venues. “I already had a little bit of an idea,” says Dani. “So when I saw my first venue, which was the Vineyards at Aquebogue, [a BOLI preferred venue], I was sold. I didn’t have to go anywhere else.” Dani turned to BOLI a lot to seek advice and look for vendors. She says she found Bridal Rush, a BOLI preferred vendor, on BOLI for not just her own hair, but also her bridesmaids’ hair and makeup.
Most vendors, Dani says, fell into place pretty easily. But it was the photography and videography that were most important to her. She took the time to do her research with photographers and videographers. She looked at tons of photos and videos and at lots of different styles before settling on Samantha Leto Photography for her photographer and Bilski Productions for her videographer. She says both take a lot of pride in their work – as they were constantly moving around during the wedding, getting the perfect shots and videos. “When I was younger, I remember watching my parents’ wedding video,” says Dani. “So, I would love to have that for my future children.”
While the pandemic guidelines didn’t directly affect Dani and Ryan’s wedding – which was Nov. 28, 2021, just weeks shy of new restrictions – Dani says there were a few hiccups while planning. She was restricted in the amount of people who could go to appointments, including dress shopping. And she says she didn’t get to do a tasting at her venue. However, she says she knows a lot of people had a lot harder experiences, so “I take what we went through as a blessing.” She adds that her and Ryan would have been married on that day no matter what.
“At the end of the day, that was what the day was about. It was about marrying my significant other. At that point for us, the party could wait. It ended up being a blessing.”
The biggest hiccup, unrelated to COVID-19, was Dani’s florist. About six months before the wedding, Dani says her florist went out of business. Luckily, Flowers by Burton was understanding, and she was able to book them for her big day.
The biggest thing for Dani, though, was all of the little details. She says she tried to incorporate a lot of little things that were important to her and Ryan throughout the wedding. Since she is a huge Harry Potter fan, she had a sign made up with a quote from one of the books, which, she says fit in perfectly with the pandemic.
There were white pumpkins with Mr. & Mrs. on them, there was a big letter Z, and candles all throughout the venue. Her bouquet had a memory charm with her grandparents’ photo of their wedding day, and her grandmother’s rosary beads. For their memory table, she worked with Flowers by Burton to recreate a branch with flowers on it to sit beside photos and a poem. The bathroom baskets had customized chapstick.
When it came time for the reception, Dani had little laser cut names in wood of all of the guests, which were placed at the tables. Her father made the card box, as well as the palettes for the seating chart and for her to hand photos of her and Ryan throughout their dating. She also had a box for guests to leave them a note for their one-year anniversary.
For fun, Dani worked to create a fun ‘photo booth’ for her guests. “I put together a whole neon sign look,” she says. She worked with Vintage Roots on the arch and sign, the Vineyards added the greenery, and Flowers by Burton added floral arrangements. Dani then got a bench to put under the arch and set up a Polaroid camera for guests to leave photos in their guest book, but also for them to take home.
With all of her expert planning, Dani still managed to be surprised during her big day. First, when her father, who never cries, cried during a special father-daughter first look. She says she loved seeing his face as he saw her dress for the first time. And the tables were turned on the tears for the second surprise! Dani says her godfather, Uncle Mike, spoke with the DJ and asked to play a special song and called her to the dance floor to dance with him. “It was very touching for me because it was something I wasn’t expecting, considering I had planned everything!”
Some other surprises came in the form of excellent service from her vendors – and some who weren’t vendors!! She says John, an employee at the Hyatt, where she got ready with her bridesmaids, went above and beyond the morning of her wedding. “We had not hired him for anything and he was running all over the place getting stuff for us,” says Dani. Those extras John got? Breakfast from the hotel’s buffet and chocolate covered strawberries!
Dani says her shuttle bus driver, Jeff, of Elegant Limo, also went above and beyond. She says he noticed that she and Ryan weren’t on the last shuttle, so he came into the venue to see what they needed and if they were ready. When he realized they weren’t, he said he’d come back, even though he’d already made his two runs to and from the hotel! “I thought that was the sweetest thing,” says Dani.
Make Those Memories
As most Brides of Long Island will tell you, don’t worry about the little things, says Dani. She adds that it’s important for you to spend as much time with your new husband on that day as possible. “Make those memories. Try to take little snapshots in your head so you remember certain things from your wedding!” says Dani.
Dani also suggests when it comes to planning, do as much as you can while you’re in the beginning process. If you think of something, and can get it done right away, just do it, she says. She adds that the more you get done early on, the less stress there will be later.
“It was a whirlwind experience, [and] I loved bringing this vision to life. I can’t thank my vendors enough for their talent and passion, they truly cared and made me feel special.”
Venue: Vineyards at Aquebogue – a BOLI preferred venue
Dress: Village Bridal
Bride hair & bridesmaids hair/makeup: Bridal Rush – a BOLI preferred vendor
Bride makeup: Monica
Wedding bands/engagement ring: Dennis Jeweler in Bethpage
Photographer: Samantha Leto Photography LLC
Videography: Bilski Productions
Florist: Flowers by Burton
DJ: Absolute Entertainment – a BOLI preferred vendor
Wedding cake: Audrey’s
Hotel block: Hyatt Place in Riverhead
Bridesmaid dresses: Bridal Reflections
Spray tan: Cor de Bronze
Vintage car: Camelot Speciality Limos
Party bus/Limo/Shuttle: Elegant Limo
Tuxes: Men’s Warehouse