The bride walked down a 10-foot runner. Oscar, a 7-year-old French bulldog dressed in a bow tie, was the best man and tagged alongside the groom. Twenty guests cheered the couple as they took their vows in the picturesque venue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
The wedding wasn’t at a hidden hipster hall or a chic, exclusive restaurant. It took place in the couple’s townhouse, which they share with five neighbors.
“This was a deeper part of us,” said Aaron Bertinetti, 40, a head of investor relations at JPMorgan Chase & Co., who married Nicola Goldrick, 37, a freelance event planner about two years ago on a pleasant August day. “We wanted to invite people into our home. Especially since we’re so close with our neighbors.”
A neighbor offered his outdoor space to the couple. Credit…Sylvie Rosokoff
Indeed, one neighbor officiated. Another shot the video. A third offered up his outdoor space so a hired jazz duo could serenade guests.
“You could never have gotten this at a venue,” Mr. Bertinetti said. “The venue isn’t a piece of you. It’s only relevant for that day. It doesn’t fully reflect you like a home does.”
From stoops and staircases to backyards and balconies, couples are choosing the comforts of home and the emotional bonds they have with their spaces over event halls, parks and even luxurious destinations, as wedding locations.
“The runner we purchased so we could walk down the aisle is now the runner in our hallway. Every time I walk on it, I remember our wedding,” Mr. Bertinetti said.
Marrying at home can also be a much cheaper option that puts you in control. Smaller celebrations mean less staff or none. Many couples forgo catering and bartenders for a homegrown experience, turning to specialty shops, local bodegas or liquor stores for refreshments.
Over the past two years, Sylvie Rosokoff, a photographer who specializes in intimate and tiny weddings, usually 20 people or less, has noticed an uptick in home nuptials. “Getting married at home is growing in popularity,” said Ms. Rosokoff, 37. “Over the past two years, I’ve done 10 apartment weddings, which is a big increase. Especially now, post-pandemic, when couples can get married anywhere. Married at home is no longer a necessity, but a choice.”
Gina Schmidt Gaudet and her husband, Joby Gaudet, were living in their brownstone apartment in Park Slope for only three months when they decided to exchange vows there. They had hit New York City real estate gold: The apartment has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private roof deck.
“We were obsessed with our apartment,” said Ms. Schmidt Gaudet, 34, the vice president of strategy at Rent the Runway, an apparel rental service for women. “We researched many places and looked at 15 to 20 venues, some upstate, others in different parts of Brooklyn, but decided nothing felt as special as home.”
On the day of the wedding, more than 30 guests walked into a fully festive, flower-filled home. They placed folding chairs on the roof deck, which they landscaped. After vows were exchanged, guests came downstairs, “and served themselves drinks, which felt homier and inviting,” Ms. Schmidt Gaudet said.
Nearly 12 hours later at 4 a.m., the party was still going with a handful of celebrants dancing on the roof.“A neighbor told us to be quiet,” said Ms. Schmidt Gaudet, who added that despite the scolding, “There was nothing as special or replaceable as what we created. This was unique to New Yorkers.”
In October 2021, Shira Blatt 38, and Brad Cohn, 32, welcomed about 80 guests into their three-bedroom duplex apartment in Crown Heights. About 20 people attended their wedding ceremony, which was held in the living room on the second floor. Another 60 people joined them for dinner.
An Israeli dinner from Miriam, a local restaurant in Park Slope, was served from a buffet created on an extra long dining table that belonged to Ms. Blatt’s mother, who had died in the previous year. “I was rekindling the connection to my childhood because we were surrounded by so many of her belongings,” said Ms. Blatt, an analytic specialist in people operations at Google. (They served wine bought at their neighborhood liquor store. Gin and whiskey were from Costco.)
And now, Ms. Blatt and Mr. Cohn, 32, a freelance finance consultant, have more memories: thanks to the roses, dahlias and hydrangeas that ran along the gate of their brownstone and the seven-layer white cake that a friend from California brought with her on a plane, and mixed the frosting on their stove top.
For entertainment, guests jammed on preschool musical instruments that Ms. Blatt ordered from Amazon, and sang three songs, including “In My Life” by the Beatles. “It was my mom’s favorite,” Ms. Blatt said. “A friend made song books so everyone could sing along. That was very special to us. You could not have had this experience in a restaurant. By singing in our house and having vows read here, those experiences and memories are stored in the walls and in our house.”
The unexpected bonus of exchanging vows at home was control. “We felt released from rules dictated by a venue. We didn’t have to ask for permission from anyone. It was very freeing,” Ms. Blatt added.
And there was no long, dreaded trip home after a night of celebrating. The bedroom was merely several feet and a flight of stairs away.
For Taranae Hashemi, 37, an attorney at Cozen O’Connor, and Chris Volpe, 35, an assistant U.S. attorney, the perfect backdrop was only an elevator ride and a stairwell away.
At the time, the couple were renting a one-bedroom on the Lower East Side. The community roof deck has an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline and for $500, they could take it over for a night. Like many couples, they researched venues, none came close to offering what they already had for the price.
They also capitalized on free entertainment: They got married on July 4, 2021, and celebrated under the glow of fireworks.
The couple had a four-person jazz band play music for walking down the aisle and first dances, including “At Last” by Etta James and “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young. A bongo player and saxophonist played a mix of Persian music and contemporary dance. They placed a freezer full of ice pops and ice cream sandwiches on the roof deck. A wall that guests (and neighbors) passed on the way to the roof deck was filled with more than 50 photos that documented the couple’s relationship story.
“Residents on the upper roof level looked down on us and clapped and cheered. It was a special exchange,” Mr. Volpe said. “Our doorman came up and had drinks and took photos with us. People came up to us the next day and said, ‘You’re the ones who got married.’ That’s how we became known, like we were part of the building.”