Casual New York City Wedding


My friend Alpha Smoot just got married in New York and had such a lovely, low-key wedding (including the Natural History Museum and a tiny restaurant). “We wanted to take our family to our favorite places and have them experience New York the way we do,” she told me. Here are a few photos…




Says Alpha:

We planned a small wedding so it would feel intimate. There were 13 of us total: my family and Zack’s, plus my best friend. I love a big party, but I usually feel bad that I only get to chat with people for a few minutes at a time. We were hoping to be able to spend one-on-one time with all our relatives.

Zack loves my nieces, so we organized something fun with them in the morning, before the ceremony. We went to the Natural History Museum. It’s kid friendly; they could run around and get their energy out. We did a ring exchange for the kids.

My dress was from Steven Alan [similar here]. It was $100 on sale! We were shopping last winter, and I just tried it on and liked it. It was an easy decision, not labored; that’s how we hoped our whole wedding would be. My sandals and oxfords came from Madewell. Zack’s suit is from J.Crew. I went to the flower market the day before with my mom and sister, and we picked out a garden variety rose, which turned out so loose and perfect. We also both got wedding haircuts from my friend Rubi, which was a special treat that week.


One of my favorite moments was walking to the wedding ceremony with our nieces; we were all starving and thirsty so we stopped for some street dogs and a pretzel. Totally hit the spot!





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We met our families at our church on the Upper West Side, and, after the ceremony, all took taxis downtown to Navy. The day we had gotten engaged, Zack and I had spontaneously gone to Navy for dinner. We had both loved it and thought it felt so amazing and low-key.

We ended up buying out the restaurant. It felt really special to have it all to ourselves for a couple hours. We let the chef, Camille Becerra, set the menu, which highlighted the best of her brunch menu. She also surprised us with an amazing wedding cake. I figured it would be whatever seasonal dessert they had. It was such a sweet moment.

Zack and I kept saying, our wedding feels exactly how we wanted it to feel! It was a pleasant surprise; we had thought it might feel stressful or weird.


Dinner was over at 5 p.m., but we were all still in the mood to hang out. So we took our families to the Freedom Tower observation deck. The sun was starting to set. It was beautiful.

After we parted ways with our guests, we wanted to keep walking, so we stopped at Shake Shack. We fell in love with the city all over again as everyone on the street recognized that we were a bride and groom and offered their congratulations. The next afternoon, we went to see a movie with our families. All in all, our wedding weekend just felt like us, and it was exactly what we were hoping for!


Thank you so much (and congratulations), Alpha and Zack!

P.S. Another relaxed NYC wedding, and our wedding in downtown Manhattan. Also, what would you do differently if you got married again?

(Photos by Seth Smoot, plus a few by Kendra Smoot)

  1. Nikki says...

    Amazing, this is exactly what I want. Just have a big family that I will sadly have to include.

  2. Congratulations. You both are looking fabulous together. I like your decision to spend one-on-one time with all relatives :)

  3. What a fun way to do a wedding. So personal and intimate, focusing on what is really important! This is a really great to see in the face of growing wedding expenses. My sister got married at a beautiful historic park but it still cost her a ton to reserve the space.

  4. Anne says...

    Oh, what a beautiful wedding. And I love the fact how they kept changing location depending on what they did. It almost sounds like a little weekend adventure in the urban metropolis. I would love to do something similar if I lived in NYC.

    My boyfriend and I like to talk about our future wedding and it is always so much fun. The last time we talked about it, we decided we want two weddings. We have been a bit worried how some people might be dissapointed if they were not invited for the wedding so in order to solve that problem we decided upon two weddings. We want an afternoon wedding reception where we invite all the people we know and eat finger food and drink cocktails. For the actual wedding we only invite our close family and close friends (around 20 people tops). However, I often also day dream of “running away” with my boyfriend to get married somewhere exciting overseas like New York og Australia (both places I have visited many times and love). It would be so romantic to get married without anyone knowing. Well, perhaps that will happen one day! :) Time will tell.

  5. I’m so very inspired. I am a native New Yorker and I just want to be married there. It’s just the urban princess inside that wants to share it with the people I love and adore. This was simple but so full of joy, simplicity and bliss.

  6. Daniela says...

    That is exactly how I want my wedding to be! Super low key, just our families at the wedding and maybe some closest friends and then out for dinner at a restaurant. Love it!

  7. This is so lovely!! Every part of this felt like a sweet little dream. I love my city and reading this made me love it eve more. I’m definitely going to plan a little weekend like this for my boyfriend and I xx

  8. So cute and fun. I have been wanting to go to Navy but haven’t had the chance yet!

  9. Travis says...

    So awesome and intimate. You guys rock.

  10. Shantel says...

    I love that name Alpha! Great wedding!

  11. Cynthia says...

    What a sweet wedding! I love her dress! I think small weddings are the way to go.

  12. Olivia says...

    ow-ow! i like the showin-a-little leg shot that didn’t make the facebook cut. so sexy alpha. and so romantic and perfect! makes me want to try the city living because we missed the mark last time with long island. ;)
    so so happy for you!

  13. Weddings like this are why I became a wedding planner in the first place! Small, intimate weddings will always win out in my book.

    Danielle | D is for Dreamer

  14. Amy says...

    Yes, definitely yes to this wedding. The smartest thing you can do with weddings or any event is to find a place you know you love (like Navy) and let the professionals do what they do. When a vendor is trusted to put something together for you they go so far above and beyond – you can just tell that cake was baked with a lot of heart.

    My own wedding was also pretty low-key, although bigger: we had about 60 people and did both the wedding and the reception at a restaurant near the beach. People had to travel so it still took some pretty serious planning, but at each step of the way we told our vendors what we liked and then trusted them to come through for us. That even extended to taking my off-the-rack dress from Bloomingdale’s to my dry cleaner to ask if she could add some lace to bring up the neckline – when my husband drops off his shirts with her now, three years later, she still regularly tells him how happy it made her that I asked her to do it.

  15. We just got married 2 months ago. We were over in LA from London for a month. It started off as a little idea and we went and got our license and then they only had 2 dates in the next 6 weeks so we booked on the spot for the following week.
    That week it was such a special secret for us both and we bought rings together and generally just felt loved up. The morning of the big day I went to Soul Cycle then had my hair blow dried, and bought flowers at Wholefoods (which the lady there made into a beautiful wild bouquet). We got married at the county court then headed for a long delicious lunch. When we got back to the hotel they had a huge chocolate cake for us to share with alcohol free bubbly (i was 5months pregnant). We sunbathed and just hung out then walked and had acai bowls for our dinner. When the waiter came with the bowls my husband said ‘thats for my wife’ and we just got super happy and excited, it felt so real suddenly. We were selfish in that it was our day, our way but it felt so perfect.
    The time difference meant that we waited till the next morning to call our family and friends – who were all super happy for us.
    For me its always been about a marriage rather than a wedding and our low key personal day was perfect in every way.

    ps – the brides dress in this post is stunning!

  16. Gina says...

    This wedding had me thinking back to my own.
    My husband planned everything. We picked the date and he followed with all the details. In fact, the wedding was quite intimate with just the two of us. It was a total surprise and could not of been more perfect.
    Due to family all over the world, we opted for a celebration a month later., a perfect way to relax and enjoy with all our guests.
    I still get goose bumps thinking of how special it was and how romantic my husband was and still is to this day!

  17. I love how un-traditional weddings are getting these days. And us non-New Yorker’s rarely get to see the city as what it’s like to live there. This is a beautiful way to celebrate love by experiencing the city you live in with your family. Stripped of the wedding whoopla and down to basics, not sure I’d have the courage to do it this way or if it’s what I’d want when the day comes, but I admire it!


  18. i second having her share her beauty routine! she’s so lovely and i love her wedding haircut/hairdo!

  19. Karen says...

    Congratulations, Alpha and Zack! What a wonderful wedding. My wedding was really small – just 12 guests. And you know what? We planned like crazy and tried to make everyone happy and ended up with a really stressful day. Absolutely everything went wrong. We had to wait for over an hour in an overheated room at the registry office due to their overbooking. My father lost his temper in front of all our guests. Only our friends congratulated us, our families were too annoyed they had to wait for so long. The flower shop had used the wrong colour of roses for my bouquet and the flowers clashed horribly with my complexion. At dinner the restaurant managed to only serve the guests who had ordered fish a second time, the vegetarians and meat eaters had to sit and watch them eat. (In Switzerland on this kind of occasion it’s tradition to get your main course served in two smaller portions.) But the best thing? we weren’t even present at the dinner, because I got a violent allergic reaction after the salad and spent the night being horribly sick in one of the hotel suites. (So that’s a no on Joannas old question “Did you have sex on your wedding night?”) We hadn’t planned on staying there so I hadn’t even packed a overnight bag… So the first night of our wedding we didn’t celebrate or even eat, but my new husband took care of me, organized soft pyjamas for me and read to me from a book he had lent from the hotel receptionist. We started our marriage with the bad times and it didn’t matter a bit. I felt safe and loved! We just celebrated our 12 year wedding anniversary and are still so much in love!

    • Anna says...

      Wow, what a story! Only shows that if it’s right it’s right. All the best x

  20. annie g says...

    What a happy day! I have just enjoyed browsing her website and the images were the perfect way to start what is promised to be the hottest day of the year here in the UK. Sipping coffee and bracing myself for a busy few hours, these pictures felt like great art.

  21. This is perfect! Our wedding was similar in ways…very simple, low-key, and only 15 people total! It was hard for my mom, at first, because I am her only daughter. But when it was all over, she realized it just the way it should be. I loved it so much because I had tried to plan a bigger wedding, but was always overwhelmed and stressed. When I finally chose simplicity, I felt at peace and was so happy. To me, it was all about marrying the man of my dreams. Nothing else mattered. :)

  22. She is SO gorgeous!! Can you please ask her to do a Beauty Routine??

    Their wedding looks like so much fun! So laid-back but still special. I can’t imagine how chill both of them are though, to not even worry about what the dessert was! Ahh. So few people could not micromanage their wedding days like that. Props to her.

    I am a little confused what she means we did a ring ceremony “for the kids”?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      beauty routine = YES!!! good idea!

      for the ring ceremony, they just did it for fun to show the kids an intimate, fun moment. they had the official wedding ceremony afterward at their church on the UWS. they’re mormon and the ceremony was short and simple.

  23. I would Love to have a band, and more people. I had 85 guests, but I feel that I missed some more from my husbend side. And I would have peack a warmer date and I wish I was skinnier at that time (I was so nervous that I gain several pounds the months before my wedding.
    But those are details, I loved my wedding.

  24. Ceridwen says...

    Perfect! I want to go to NY immediately! Our wedding was also fun and low key. We had a weekend away by the beach with family and friends. The wedding was in a garden of a cute restaurant/b&b where we had our lunch reception. It was so much fun. I was massively pregnant so after we left our friends who had kicked on to a pub afterwards, they cheered and clapped for a loooooooong time as we headed back to the b&b. It was hilarious and sweet. I’d do it the same way…maybe a little less massively pregnant though! I wanted champagne!

  25. So sweet and sincere! Such a breath of fresh air to see weddings like this.

  26. If I remarry, this is what I want it to look like. Simple. No gifts required. Just those I love, where I love to be.

  27. Becca says...

    Ah! If only I could go back and do it again! This would be me!

  28. I love it! Such a small, laid-back wedding….it’s something you don’t really get to see as much, especially in NYC. Gorgeous couple, they look so happy! <3


    My Transformation into a Social Butterfly

  29. Their wedding story just touched me. Thank you and congrats!

  30. Nicole says...

    I love these kinds of posts! What a wonderful, sweet, simple way to begin their lives together.

  31. love this. we had six people at our wedding on wildcat canyon and then walked to dinner at a friends tree house in the woods. it was perfect, so intimate and joyful. wouldn’t change it for the world.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds amazing!

  32. This is the most adorable wedding I have ever seen! So chill and relaxed! I love it! Thanks for sharing!!

  33. Bets says...

    This looks like the absolute best wedding I could ever imagine, thank you for sharing!

  34. Robin says...

    What a refreshing & lovely wedding celebration. I wish this couple good health & much happiness.

  35. Nina says...

    Congrats! What a beautiful start to your life together!

  36. Maire says...

    This looks fantastic. I got talked into having a big wedding, and even though we are keeping the ceremony super casual and just immediate family…I am still in the throes of organizing the big reception and I regret that I was talked into the big party element enormously.

  37. Mary says...

    What a great post! I have a lot of respect for small weddings. I have a lot of respect for a low key approach to life in general. Then again, I am a bit of a nonconformist. Sometimes a large wedding feels like a circus, emotions running high, so many people to impress. It also takes a lot of courage to do what you really, really want to do. Bravo and congratulations, Alpha and Zack! Well done.

    • Yvonne says...

      You are so right about taking courage to do it your way. Lots of pressure to have the traditional, big wedding. We decided on Tuesday to get married the following Sunday and my mother was the only guest. She was so mad that I did not have a big wedding she walked out immediately after the very short ceremony. By the way, everyone thought I was pregnant.

  38. Kristen says...

    So sweet! This reminds me of our wedding. We got married on the street corner where we had our first kiss, near Rittenhouse Square in Philly. We just had our immediate family members surrounding us during the ceremony then went back to our apartment for the reception.

    • Love the idea of getting married at a significant location! We met on a street corner (41st and Fifth Ave in NYC, right by the public library) for a blind date – how cool that would be to marry there!

  39. Ah, I love this! It feels like a normal (albeit very fun) day in NYC…and oh by the way, with a wedding! How organic and lovely. They look so content.

  40. This is perfect, beautiful, and exactly how all weddings should be! I love it! We had a small wedding too with just immediate family and then we all went out to a big dinner… it was wonderful and not stressful whatsoever. Congrats to the happy couple!

  41. Julianna says...

    I so regret having a big wedding for my family’s sake, I literally didn’t enjoy it at all. I wish I could go back and have the small intimate encounter that I really wanted.

  42. Brooke Kunz says...

    I am friends with Alpha from Provo, UT and I’ve been dying to see some photos. Little did I know she would get a feature on here. :-) Thanks for sharing and congrats, Alpha!! So happy for you.

  43. Carole says...

    Wow, this honestly makes my heart smile. This sounds like the most perfect wedding day EVER… simple and everything that matters was present in that day – thank you for sharing, this made my day reading this :)

  44. Liana says...

    I love this! Congrats Alpha and Zack! Weddings of all shapes and sizes can be so magical, but I love the low key ones. It’s great when a couple can stay focused on exactly what they want for their wedding, rather than get caught up in stress and lots of extra details!

  45. This is so perfect. I applaud them for following their hearts and doing what felt right to them. Too often I hear brides doing what their friends expect or their parents want.

    I met a girl in class a few months ago that told me that when she and her husband got married, they did it alone, just the two at a park in the city. They didn’t tell a soul. For an entire year they kept it to themselves until they had the big church wedding with their families and friends. She said that she and her husband wanted that time together. At first I thought that was a little nutty but the more I think about it, the more I love the idea.

  46. This is so great. More and more I’m leaning towards a small, intimate wedding like this. Just family at a restaurant or in a private room, some beautiful blooms and a simple (but still cool!) dress. I have a very large extended family, and at first I thought I wanted a big party with everyone there, but then I realized I don’t reaaallllly like that much attention on me (a reason why I’ve barely had a birthday party in all my 26 years) and decided to do a complete 180! I also photograph weddings, and have seen such an interesting variety in terms of scale, details, length… I talk about this like I’m already engaged! I’m not. But one day… If anything, I just want to surprise all my extended family and friends afterward. :)

    • elle_dee_em says...

      Same here! When we added up both sides of the family, plus friends, it was over 150 guests, which was too much for the intimate at-home wedding we wanted, plus, it wouldn’t have given us much time to visit with distant relatives. So instead, we had a small wedding with immediate family and wedding party only (approx. 40), then two more receptions (1 for his extended family, and 1 with mine). It was more work, but great because each event was special, unique, and gave us time to actually speak and enjoy the presence of each guest.

      Good luck when you plan your future wedding! :)

  47. Leticia Centeno says...

    So cute!

  48. A says...

    All weddings are lovely but I’m a sucker for this kind of sweet, low-key celebration. So intimate! Our wedding cost less than ¬£500; we had nine guests and a few more at dinner but I have to say, it didn’t photograph as beautifully as Alpha’s!

  49. Liv says...

    Loved this- I remember feeling so relaxed on my wedding day. I went out to breakfast with a girlfriend and my husband went skiing with his buddies. He picked me up and we met our family and friends at the church and had a gorgeous dinner afterward. It just felt happy- like a party celebrating our marriage and all of the people that mattered to us. A friend told me that after our wedding she headed home with her hubby and made their little boy ;). Happy day for sure.

  50. I love this! I’m not a wedding person at all! (Seems like a tremendous waste of money IMHO)
    This is a wonderful way to celebrate with family thank you for sharing their story!

  51. Jennifer says...

    I love this! Such a beautiful, simple wedding. Wonderfully inspiring!

  52. Alpha seems so cool. I want to be friends with her!

  53. I love it! I hat big parties so this wedding is perfect to me.

    I also love that all the Smoots are photographers :)

  54. omg Alpha, you look gorgeous and this is my dream wedding. I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and do this instead of the way we did it.

  55. Susy says...

    We were married in Manhattan in 2008. It was us, one of my best childhood friends, her husband (a pastor), and our photographer. We had the ceremony in the Ladies’ Pavillon in Central Park. We walked through the park with the photographer and made our way to Central Park South, walked across the street to the Ritz Carlton, changed, and then went to dinner at One if by Land Two if by Sea. My dress was purchased online, my husband wore a suit, and I did all of the flowers the morning of with bagels and coffee from Zabar’s (we lived in the UWS at the time). We were showered with congratulations as we walked through the park, were serenaded by an accordion while walking down The Mall in the park, and had our first dance to an awesome little rag time band by Bethesda Fountain. It was magical, perfect, and completely no stress. We called our families from the hotel to tell them what we had just done, and they all just laughed and congratulated us. I wouldn’t change a thing!!!

    • Love!

    • This sounds so wonderful! It gave me goosebumps, Susy!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how incredible! love all these personal, offbeat ideas. how incredible that you had such a NYC wedding. xoxo

  56. Libbynan says...

    What a lovely, meaningful occasion…. just what a wedding should be.

  57. I absolutely love this whole thing. So casual and relaxed, but special at the same time.

  58. Gorgeous and perfect (and so sweet :)

  59. “It was an easy decision, not labored…”. Loved that bit. Looks like such a sweet day.

  60. Carrie Snow says...

    What a beautiful couple and wedding! Congratulations!!

  61. kayla says...

    so lovely!

  62. Myra says...

    This is so lovely!
    It really put a smile on my face. What a gorgeous couple.

    It reminds me of my own wedding two years ago. We biked to city hall where our guests were waiting for us and then had a pot luck lunch at my son’s Favourite playground. 50 guests, planned and executed in six weeks. I’d do it all over again tomorrow!

    Congratulations to the happy couple

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i’m so inspired by all of these!

  63. SFDC says...

    So lovely. And it’s kind of amazing that she’s Alpha and he’s Zack. :)

    • Peggy says...

      That was what I was thinking! I love it. :)