Proposals & I Dos

Mrs. July: An Interactive Cocktail Hour and a Little DIY Made This BOLI’s Fairytale Wedding Perfect

In Brides of Long Island’s Monthly “Mrs.” series, we profile some of our members’ unforgettable weddings. This month, we spoke with Emily Milne about making sure her vision of a whimsical wedding came true.

(Photo courtesy of Gelfman Photography)

After Emily and Doug Milne got engaged in 2021, her friends urged her to pick a venue sooner rather than later so they could get the date they wanted. But that didn’t pressure Emily from making sure she chose the perfect venue that checked all the boxes to make sure her rustic and whimsical wedding would be the best day ever.

Reconnecting To Find Love

Emily says she and Doug went to middle school together, but lost touch throughout high school and college. Years later, one fateful Sunday during football playoffs, she was out with her roommate in the city when she ran into Doug and his friends. They started dating shortly after for about three years before he proposed. “He proposed in August 2021 at The Edge in the city, an observatory where you can see the whole city skyline,” she says. “I was so surprised. It was perfect.”

Off and Planning

A few of Emily’s friends were planning their own weddings when she got engaged. “They got in my head, saying all of the venues were booking up because of COVID overflow,” she says. “So, we hit the ground running on venues right away.” Within several weeks of their engagement, they were booked at The Barn at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a BOLI preferred vendor, for May 25, 2023. “We only looked at three venues. I had a very specific vision of what I wanted – rustic and open,” she says. “I wanted everything to be light and airy with twinkle lights.” She adds that she didn’t have any trouble getting a date, as she and Doug wanted either a Fall 2022 or Spring 2023 wedding.

Within a few months, most of their big vendors were booked, including Gelfman Photography, a BOLI preferred vendor. “Photography was the most important to me,” says Emily. She wanted to make sure the photographer’s style would match her vision of light and airy – like a whimsical fairytale. She also wanted a photographer who would be a good personality fit for both of them. “I knew this person was going to be with us the entire day, so I wanted to make sure we, as a couple, clicked with our photographer.” And that is why they chose Gelfman Photography.

Emily says they had no trouble booking vendors. They chose a few that were recommended by Lessing’s which made it easy. In addition, they got married on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend. “It turned out to work to our benefit with some of the availability.”

(Photo courtesy of Gelfman Photography)

MORE: 39 Questions to Ask When Touring a Venue

Turning to DIY

With such a specific vision, Emily knew that she would need a lot of flowers and greenery. She did use a florist for her bouquets, but as a way to stay within their budget, she bought all of the greenery and flowers for the centerpieces and barn décor from Sam’s Club, Ikea and Amazon. In addition to making the centerpieces herself, she says she made the seating chart with wine bottles filled with flowers and twinkle lights, and all of the signage. Once they started putting everything together, they realized someone was going to have to set up the venue. “That’s when we spoke with a day-of coordinator,” Emily says. “Carleigh was amazing, as was Natalie, our bridal attendant at the Barn. Both of them set up all of the décor, and it looked so good.” Emily adds that Carleigh really went above and beyond for her big day. She says Carleigh picked up everything from her parents’ house, set it up at the venue, and then dropped everything off at the hotel at the end of the night. “It was like she was in my head, everything was just perfect.”

(Photo courtesy of Gelfman Photography)

MORE: How to stick to your wedding budget

A Fairytale Night to Remember

Aside from having an open and airy wedding day, Emily and Doug wanted their guests to mingle during the cocktail hour. They made a giant crossword puzzle for their guests to fill in, with clues about them. They also had a custom cornhole game set up, with their names and the wedding date on it, that Emily’s dad made. “We’re activities people,” Emily says. “We couldn’t picture a cocktail hour of just standing around. We wanted to make it fun and interactive for our guests.”

A table full of family photos was set up at the venue as well. “We are very fortunate to come from families with long lines of people who stayed married,” she says. “We wanted to honor that. We had a table set up with photos of all of the couples – our grandparents and our parents.”

Throughout the night, Emily says she had several special moments. She danced with both her mom and her dad, instead of just her father, which was special to her. She also really enjoyed the best man and maid of honor speeches. “I didn’t expect them to be so emotional and touching!”

A big moment was when the DJ played “Love Story,” by Taylor Swift. “I’m a big Swiftie,” explains Emily. The part in the song when Taylor says, ‘Marry me, Juliet,’ Doug got down on one knee again. “We were literally surrounded by everyone on the dance floor. It was so fun and unexpected,” she says. “That was the fairytale, rom-com moment for me!”

But her favorite moments? Sneaking away with Doug for sunset photos outside with just the two of them. She says they were able to take a breath and reset for the rest of the night. In addition, she says she loved the limo ride from the church to the reception. “We were already married, just hanging out with our closest people, having champagne before all the whirlwind of the day started. That was really special to me.”

(Photo courtesy of Gelfman Photography)

MORE: Summer Soiree? Fall Fête? A Breakdown of Weddings by Season.

BOLI Puts Her Mind at Ease

Emily says she utilized the BOLI Facebook page throughout planning to get vendor reviews. However, she used it the most in the weeks leading up to her wedding date. “The Barn had construction going on, so I was getting worried,” she explains. “I just kept searching for other brides in the group who got married there. Everyone was calming my anxiety, saying you couldn’t see the construction. And they were right!”

As for helping other brides, Emily urges BOLIs to find time during your wedding day for just you and your spouse. “Don’t be afraid to turn to your significant other and say you’re overwhelmed and need a break,” she says. “I think as a bride, you’re not really by yourself the whole day. So, it’s important to get some fresh air to reset.”

(Photo courtesy of Gelfman Photography)

Venue: The Barn at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a BOLI preferred vendor
Photographer: Gelfman Photography, a BOLI preferred vendor
Videography: Rick J. Studio
DJ: Absolute Entertainment, a BOLI preferred vendor
Day of Coordinator: The Day of Company
Florist: Dalsimer Spitz and Peck Floral and Events Decorators
Hair: The Sanctuary Story
Makeup: Angela Roberto MUA
Dress: North Fork Bridal Shoppe, a BOLI preferred vendor