Two is the magic number for Carolyn Birbiglia and Jessica Allen. They were matched on the dating app Bumble while in an overlapping two-mile radius. They had two proposals: one in the city and one in the country. And now, they’ve had two weddings. These two brides had a ‘mini-mony’ in 2020, and then hosted a big celebration in 2021 right here in Jersey City. Read on to learn how this couple navigated pandemic wedding planning, what local vendors they used to make the day incredible, and of course — the beautiful images of the day.
All photos courtesy of Michael Dempsey Photography/The Wedding Plan & Co.
Hoboken Girl: How did you and your partner meet?
JA: I met Carolyn on Bumble in the spring of 2018. I was living in the city and had set a 2-mile radius on the app, since I had no intention of leaving the neighborhood. At that time, Carolyn was in medical school out on Long Island but happened to be in the city and opened her app in that 2-mile radius. We matched, met for a date at Follia in Gramercy, and the rest is history.
HG: Was there an instant connection/chemistry between you two?
JA: Yes. I knew what I was looking for from the start and saw that in Carolyn early on. Carolyn was surprised to find her feelings developed as quickly as they did. She didn’t think anything would be able to take her full focus off of medical school until this relationship took off.
HG: Tell us about your wedding venue.
JA: We got married at Liberty House in Jersey City. I had seen pictures of the venue before and had fallen in love with the views, so I took Carolyn to see it one day in January 2020 (yes, this was before we were engaged—thanks to Carolyn’s job we had to pick our wedding date beforehand).
We both agreed that NYC meant a lot to us, and we wanted a venue that captured the beauty of the city and surrounding area. After seeing it, we were set and never saw another venue. We also loved that LH had everything in-house and the food and space were just as fantastic as the view.
HG: Did you use any local vendors?
JA: Yes. All local vendors and we feel so lucky to have had each and every one of them:
The Metropolitan Players Band, NYC: I had seen them play at my best friend’s wedding a few years earlier and loved them so when it was my turn, I reached out to see if they were available. Although Carolyn never saw them in person, she was quick to jump on board after seeing some videos and talking to one of the owners, Erin Coles. Erin was TERRIFIC. She was there every step of the way to help guide us, which was especially helpful given the wedding postponement due to COVID. Everyone raved about the band at the wedding, and the dance floor was packed all night.
The Wedding Plan & Co., Hoboken: one of the best decisions we made. As the date got closer, I realized that I wanted some help to make sure we could fully enjoy our special day. We found The Wedding Plan & Co and after a brief call with the owner, Jacquelyn, we were sold. We chose the ‘month-of coordinator’ option and like clockwork, 30 days before the wedding, we were introduced to Christie Napurano. Christie stepped in like she had been planning the wedding all along. She immediately handled vendor calls, timelines, and made sure everything was ready. On the day of the wedding, she was there bright and early to make sure it went off without a hitch—which it did, thanks to her. She was absolutely terrific and everyone at the wedding noticed how smoothly it all went. If family pictures can be done smoothly, you know someone did something right. She also was so thoughtful and thorough, like taking some photos for us so we could enjoy them immediately post-wedding while we waited for the official ones.
JR Floral Design, NYC: Jimmy and his team are so talented and lovely to work with. Our flowers were absolutely gorgeous and everyone was so impressed with the quality and variety of the arrangements. We learned about JR Floral from Liberty House because he is the only trusted vendor to add lighting and drapery to the room. After meeting him for the first time, we knew he was our guy. He was transparent and honest, sharing his genuine thoughts on what is/isn’t necessary when it comes to design, and this information ended up helping us with the budget. When we changed our date, he was quick to invite us back for a complimentary meeting to discuss arrangements that fit our new fall theme. On the day of the wedding, he personally showed up early to drop off the personals and make sure we were satisfied before he went to the venue to get the room ready. Everything looked spectacular.
Michael Dempsey Photography, Summit, NJ: Similar to JR Floral, we heard about Michael Dempsey through Liberty House. Luckily, the team was also able to help us navigate the postponement. We were paired with Ray as our lead photographer and he was a pleasure to work with. He helped us stay on schedule and had great ideas for capturing the best photos. The team all worked so well together, helping to get us both to our first look without either of us seeing each other until the reveal. They also all braved the freezing temperatures to get the outdoor shots we wanted and helped us laugh through the cold moments. Our sunset photos were timed perfectly and we can’t wait to see the final product.
UBooth: We hired the UBooth because everyone loves a photo booth. Margaret and Cesar were wonderful to work with. They helped come up with custom props just for us (therapist sayings, New Orleans theme, doctor tools, Mets gear) that everyone loved. They also had a guest book where they pasted each picture in and had the guest write a message. It was such a nice treat to look at the next day and see all of our family and friends having the best time.
Hair and Makeup: Two brides meant two bridal parties and lots of hair and makeup.
I had Nikkii Kasak for makeup and Lucia Viola for hair—I had used Nikkii for my brothers’ wedding and was so impressed with her that I hired her for us. Lucia is a hairstylist and family friend of mine so it was such a special experience to have her be there. Carolyn had Aleetha Clanton and Tawanda Gladman from The Glass Slipper Wedding for hair and makeup. Carolyn had met them at a previous wedding and loved how she looked. They brought fun into the getting-ready room and everyone looked beautiful.
HG: What was your favorite moment of the day?
JA: There were so many magical moments on the day of the wedding, it’s hard to pick one—so we picked two. The first was sharing our vows again after 15 months. We wanted everyone to share in that special moment and it paid off. With a little humor and a lot of love, the guests were brought into our shared love for one another.
The second moment was the first dance. We are definitely not born dancers so Carolyn suggested that we take dance lessons. Thanks to Gail Bourque at the NY Wedding Dance, we had an adorable first dance to Arms by Christina Perri. It was a sweet moment shared by all in the room.
HG: Any advice for couples planning a wedding locally or in general?
JA: Have a shared to-do list with deadlines and do a little every day. This was so helpful for us: we could see everything ahead of us and could cross things off as we got them done.
We seriously recommend a month of coordinator. We weren’t kidding about it being the best decision we made. Knowing we could enjoy the day we had planned, and everything would run smoothly made it worth it. We also found that eloping first took off so much pressure. We loved that the wedding was a way to celebrate with our loved ones and the elopement allowed us to have a private moment for ourselves.
HG: Tell us about your proposal.
JA: Two women, two proposals. We each wanted to make sure the other had a special moment. Carolyn proposed to me first on 2/8/2020. She knew that the Gramercy Park neighborhood was my favorite part of the city, but neither of us had ever been INSIDE the park itself. My friend pretended to have an event at the Gramercy Park Hotel and when we arrived, we were escorted out to the park. Inside the park was a bouquet of flowers waiting for me with a note. As I read the letter, Carolyn laid out a custom-made blanket that said, ‘will you marry me?’ After I said yes, we went back to Follia where we had our first date and were surrounded by all of our family to celebrate our engagement.
I knew that I needed to find a way to make my proposal equally as meaningful for Carolyn so I picked a date that was important to us. On March 15th, 2019 at 12pm EST, Carolyn was matched to her residency program at Mt. Sinai, solidifying her move to NYC and her relationship with me. So, on March 15th,2020 at 12pm EST, while on a ski trip in CO, I got down on one knee and asked if Carolyn would marry me back. It was also when the world started shutting down, which sort of worked in my favor because it looked like I had rented out a ski resort just for Carolyn. We flew back the next day and luckily made it back safely to NYC just in time to grab a few rolls of toilet paper before they were gone.
HG: How long was your engagement?
JA: This question is a little tricky: 2020 had so many ups and downs, but for Carolyn and me, it was a big year. Over the summer, with wedding planning up in the air, we decided that it made the most sense to elope and tie the knot. The plan was still to have a bigger wedding one day when it was safe to do so, but with all of the fear and uncertainty lingering, we knew more than ever how important our commitment was and wanted to make it official.
On August 2nd, 2020, we said “I do” on the beach in Long Branch, NJ. We were joined by our parents, our friend/officiant Joel, and our witness/photographer/makeup artist/cousin Jayne. The engagement technically was only six months but the official wedding wouldn’t take place for another 15 months, since the initial date 2/27/21 had to be postponed.
HG: What are you looking forward to most as a married couple?
JA: We are 15 months into marriage, and we are still in the honeymoon phase. We are looking forward to all of the next big milestones together: buying our first home, starting our family, and continuing/starting our careers, together.