A client came in. She wanted to make a custom decoupage [the traditional French technique of cutting and gluing images to glass] for her husband as a wedding gift. She brought in about 10 pages’ worth of very specific instructions. She wanted photos from their wedding, and lyrics to their wedding song included. It was just so specific. And to add to that, she wanted a rush order done [in less than two weeks]. Typically it takes about six weeks to make a custom order. I looked at it and was like, “This is crazy. Are they all like this?”
—Lindsey Smith, Ben’s Garden, Oyster Bay
I did a wedding a few years ago in a hurricane. When we arrived to start pictures, they had tented the back part of the catering hall, and the room was filled with three inches of water. And I don’t know how, but they got it out; there was no water by the time the wedding started. I don’t know how they pulled it off.
No matter what we’re doing, it’s an eight-hour minimum. Some weddings I’ve done 14 hours of shooting. I don’t think people realize how tough that is. You’re carrying equipment, running around. It’s very intense. You really don’t sit down. You definitely have to be in shape and have the mental capacity to be able to deal with people for 14 hours. You can’t have an off day and shoot a wedding—it just doesn’t work.
We do a lot of Orthodox Jewish events where men and women dance separately and I’ll be on the ladder and the people dancing will knock me off—they don’t care. It’s definitely a crazy day.
—Wedding photographer, Rockville Centre
We’ve had several Indian weddings and they’ve had a horse. The costumes are fabulous. The jewelry is fabulous. The colors are fabulous. The ceremony is long. And the food is different. We’ve had people be carried down to the courtyard. The largest wedding I had was like 400 [people]. They had to add a tent. I just rent the site, so the lavishness is what the bride wants to spend on the extras. But some of them are beautiful. I mean they’re all nice, but some of them are exceptionally nice because they think of every detail.
—Carol Sperandeo, site use coordinator, Vanderbilt Museum, Centerport
This was an Indian wedding. They managed to come in on an elephant. It was a 12-hour event. All the vendors start at 3 a.m. setting up. It took 12 hours to finish the whole place. Then they started their day. Everything was so lavish and over-the-top. They had three bands. They had two teams of photographers. They had eight event planners. Of course, we only had a few hours to break it down for the next one the next day. I’d say something like that was close to half [a] million [dollars].”
—Rick Bellando, Sales Director, Oheka Castle, Huntington
[These days], we do something, and brides read about it, and everyone wants to do [that thing]. Martini bars, seafood bars, bringing in trees, custom lighting that is choreographed to the meals, entertainers and dancers… Some couples have their names spelled out on the floor. We do a lot of beach-themed weddings; we bring the beach to the hall. In the winter, [we] do an ice-castle look with ice sculptures and ice pieces.
We had two brides that were contacted by Bridezillas to do shows, and we had all the paperwork filled out, and at the last minute they decided not to do it. They didn’t want to embarrass their families. I think that was smart.
—George Mountanos, co-owner, Larkfield Manor, East Northport
We have themes like Great Gatsby, the Roaring ’20s—those are common. We’ve had horse-and-buggies, and one couple came in on an elephant. It was the wedding planner’s idea to get the elephant. We got it from a supplier who has a petting zoo. We’ve had requests for helicopter landings, fireworks, and plane flyovers for one groom who was in the Air Force.
—Fred Leuthold, director of sales and marketing, Glen Cove Mansion, Glen Cove
We had a wedding where they brought in $100,000 worth of furniture from Italy—white sofas, etc.—beautiful furniture that they had brought in just for their wedding.
—Kelly Melius, Director of Sales, Oheka Castle, Huntington
I think everyone has a different idea about what they picture their wedding to be. I believe that Long Island weddings can be over-the-top, and sometimes people forget that the wedding, while it is beautiful and important, is just the beginning of the life you will have with your [spouse]. Brides start to compete with what they have seen instead of finding what works for them. I can definitely see how easy it is to get caught up in everything and start to go way over-the-top. You can’t keep up with the Joneses. Do what you can afford. There are ways to have a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank.
—Christina Pero, self-planning bride-to-be, East Meadow