I love coffee, live music, and exploring neighborhoods on weekends in New York.

Planning a Non-Traditional New York Wedding

Planning a Non-Traditional New York Wedding


More than 2 million people get married in the US every year, with a national average cost of $29,858. It’s even more expensive in New York City, where the average triples in cost! The price tag is definitely a bit terrifying but luckily, I managed to get mine less than half the national average by keeping an open mind and approaching the concept a bit differently.

After getting engaged, I knew immediately that my husband and I’s wedding would be the non-traditional kind—far from the conventions of a formal ceremony. I originally thought this would be a challenge, but it turned out surprisingly easy and freeing to keep the event small and simple.

Looking to throw a modern wedding in New York City on a budget? Happy to share some tips on how I did mine!


Get married at city hall. What I loved about doing this is the casualness of it, and the beauty of sharing this memory exclusively with my husband (plus my brother). We took a day off, got our marriage license and waited in line along with other couples to get married. Taking care of this early on took the pressure off doing long ceremonial vows.

Be your own wedding planner. List everything you need  as a road map to your wedding day. I used apps like Evernote, Pinterest, Google Docs and Google Sheets in organizing a plan. Pinterest helped me visualize a theme, Evernote enabled me to clip web pages for ideas, research and inspiration while my Google documents detailed each item of need. Looking for help starting a wedding to-do list? Google Sheets offer a Wedding Planner template. An even quicker tool is The Knot.com, where you can also look up local vendors.


Look outside banquet halls when picking a venue. There are more and more flexible, unique spaces opening up in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens to cater to special events that can match any couple's personality/theme. Looking to save even more? Try finding a venue outside Manhattan. We found ours in Brooklyn called the Brooklyn Winery, which fit what we were looking for. Brooklyn Winery required minimal additional decor and offered an amazing backdrop to our reception. Their package also came with decorative votive candles, personalized menus, bar options and amazing food!

Limit the number of guests (and stick with it). Although we would’ve loved to celebrate with as many people as we could, we made a conscious decision to stick to a solid number of guests: 30, which we split in half.


Order your wedding invitations online. There are plenty of designs to choose from multiple freelance designers. Minted.com is my favorite, where we got our New York-themed save-the-date/invitation in one.


Wear a bridesmaid dress. Light and airy with pockets, I had a black and white bridesmaid dress customized to the color, cut and length that I wanted. Happy how it turned out: it was easy to put on, very light to walk around New York streets in, and possible to dance in!


DIY flowers. Florists can get really expensive, and so I thought I could cheat my way around this by assembling the flowers—bouquet and centerpieces myself (with mom's help!). And that’s what I did via Bloominous.com: I picked a custom design, assembled at my parents’ place and saved a ton! I suggest teaming up with friends to coordinate wedding day logistics.

DJ your own wedding. Why not create an endless playlist of your favorite songs?


Skip the favors. Favors either end up gathering dust somewhere or consumed within two hours after the wedding… so… we got away with not having any. 


Hire a professional photographer. I believe strongly in investing in a good photographer that could document the day beautifully, so I understood the value of picking the right one. Luckily found Danila Mednikov's impeccable style and attention to detail. Can't wait to design our photo book we get to keep for a long time!

It was great planning this wedding from beginning to end.

Just like any other party, some things may not go according to plan, but everything works out eventually. Make sure to have fun along the way!

Where to shop

Reception venue: Brooklyn Winery
Hotel: McCarren Hotel
Hair & MakeUp: MG Hair & Makeup
Dress: After Six Bridesmaid Dresses
Photographer: Danila Mednikov
Cake: Sugar Couture
Flowers: Bloominous.com
Invitation: Minted.com

All photos used in this post taken by Danila Mednikov.

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