Hi everyone! I’m Corey Golden: NYC-based blogger (@seegoldenstyle on Instagram), Merchandising Editor at ELLE and Harper’s BAZAAR, marketer, and most recently, interior designer (Corey Golden Design). I’ve always worn many hats…and I’m about to add *wife* into the mix! Like many modern couples, I met my fiancé Brian on a dating app…twice (once the summer before, but we only texted). Fast forward to three years later and we’re engaged, living on the Upper East Side, and planning an intimate, summer wedding in my grandparent’s backyard in Westhampton Beach, NY. I’m so excited to take you along on our wedding planning journey, from finding the dress to choosing flower arrangements, from unexpected challenges to lessons learned, all documented here in my SMP wedding planning diary!
Wedding Date: June 11, 2022
Wedding Style: Beach romance with a dose of Hamptons elegance
All about the proposal…
In May, Brian popped the question on the beach in Westhampton. Little did I know, our families had secretly flown in and were waiting to celebrate with us afterwards at my favorite restaurant, including both sets of my grandparents (who hadn’t traveled since the beginning of COVID), our parents, and our siblings. The entire weekend was a dream come true and so thoughtfully planned out by Brian. I still can’t believe he pulled off such a massive surprise without anyone spilling the beans! Ever since, we’ve been floating around on engagement cloud nine while planning our wedding for next summer.
September 2021: 9 Months before the wedding!
We’re getting married!!! And it is finally starting to feel real.
September has been a huge month in wedding planning…we had our engagement shoot, sent out our save the dates, went on a trip to Bermuda to celebrate our engagement, and I “proposed” to my bridesmaids.
The engagement shoot was a true highlight. I had a vision for the photos and it was so much fun bringing that vision to life! I knew I wanted to use the photos for our save the date and loved the idea of “teasing” our venue, so we shot in front of my grandparent’s house. I wore my dream dress by Mestiza New York and had a total princess moment. We also got in some practice with our wedding photographer (@stephaniesunderland) before the big day.
I designed our save the dates on Minted and could not recommend them enough! Every little detail was perfect…from the blue foil-press, to the wax seals. I was so excited to drop them off at USPS!
Our engagement trip to Bermuda was so special and felt like the perfect end to summer. We stayed at the Rosewood Bermuda and loved every minute. I was so shocked at how easy the trip was…from NYC, we were there in under 2 hours! A huge highlight of the trip was our boat day…we toured the island, snorkeled, and hiked up a cliff on a private beach.
I had so much fun coming up with a creative way to propose to my bridal party! Since we’re getting married out east, I landed on custom boxes filled with “Hamptons Wedding Essentials.” The boxes included Tate’s Cookies, mini bottles of Wölffer rosé, travel-sized Coola sunscreen, a seashell hair clip, gold friendship rings with each person’s name from Retail Therapy Jewelry, and a hand-written card.
October 2021: 8 Months before the wedding!
First comes love. Then comes the dress…
I had it all planned out. Due to COVID restrictions in NYC bridal shops, only two or three people were allowed to come dress shopping with me. And between my two sisters/co-maids of honor, my mom, and my future mother-in-law, I didn’t want anyone to miss out. So I planned to visit 6 different boutiques spanning two days and bring a different group each day. Given my background in fashion, I definitely thought it would take me at LEAST two days (and then some) to make my final decision. But little did I know, the dress of my dreams would be the first one I tried on.
If I’m being honest, I was not the girl who grew up dreaming of her wedding dress (which may come as a shock to my friends and family). So when it came time to start making my dress appointments, I spent hours on Pinterest and Instagram finding inspiration, designers, and boutiques. I walked into my first appointment feeling pretty clear about what I wanted, as far as the overall look, and I even had one specific dress in mind that I thought would be the one (which I wasn’t supposed to see until day 2).
My dress ended up being the first one I pointed to on the rack and the first one I tried on, so it definitely felt meant to be. When I walked out of the dressing room to an audience exclaiming “we’re done!”, I honestly didn’t believe it! I knew the dress was special, but I didn’t have that “bridal moment” you see in movies and no tears were shed. I was expecting two full days of dress shopping…I couldn’t wrap my head around finding THE dress on my first try! I spent a lot of time in the dress, taking videos and photos, but it wasn’t until after the day was over that I knew without a doubt ( I ended up switching my appointments around so I could try on the dress that I originally thought would be the one, just to be sure).
For all the brides out there looking for some dress shopping tips, here are my top 3:
- Do your hair and makeup!! I cannot stress this enough. It really helped me get a clearer picture of what I would look like in the dress on the actual day. And it just feels more special that way :)
- Do your research, but come with an open mind. It is SO hard to know what a wedding dress will look like on your body before you actually try it on. I do think it’s helpful to have a general idea of what you want before your appointments, but at the end of the day, you want the dress to be perfect for YOU. And if that means it’s not the dress you envisioned, that’s totally okay!
- Take photos AND videos! The photos are amazing to have, but I love looking back at the videos specifically. It’s just so special to be able to rewatch how happy I was!
Here are the boutiques I went to in NYC:
- Mark Ingram Atelier – This is where I found the one! If you’re interested in seeing a certain designer, I suggest calling ahead to see if they have a trunk show coming up. This way, you can preview the latest collections that aren’t in stores yet!
- Spina Bride – This showroom is SO beautiful! It would be hard to try on a dress in this boutique and not feel beautiful.
- Bridal Reflections – This is where I thought I’d find my dress! It was definitely helpful knowing ahead of time which boutiques carry certain designers. They have a great selection of Galia Lahav.
Other boutiques that were on my list: Wedding Atelier, Monique Llhuillier, Grace Loves Lace, L’Fay Bridal, Bergdorf Goodman
P.S. Don’t worry, none of these photos are of my dress! :)
November 2021: 7 Months before the wedding!
In the movies, creating your wedding registry is portrayed as this romantic, effortless process where you and your husband-to-be peruse the aisles of department stores, scanning as you go. But as many other brides will tell you, that is far from the reality of registry creation.
Of the two of us, I am definitely the one who is more passionate about interiors. With the exception of a few random items for which Brian will have a strong opinion (i.e. a basket that serves no purpose), he pretty much lets me take the lead on design and trusts my eye. That being said, he had no interest in romantically scanning the department store aisles for our registry as I had envisioned. So…I enlisted the help of my future MIL! Tip #1) Creating a registry can be overwhelming, so find someone who has similar taste for you to bounce ideas off of. Bonus if they can come with you to appointments!
Initially when I thought about our registry, I didn’t want to include much. We had recently moved in together prior to getting engaged, so we had already purchased a lot of the “typical” registry gifts. But the more that I looked around, the more I started to look at creating our registry a bit differently. Tip #2) If you’re like us, don’t be afraid to branch out with non-traditional choices, like a beautiful set of luggage, a honeymoon fund, or an experience gift. I’m obsessed with the vintage feel of this luggage from Bric’s-it’s the perfect gift to take you from the honeymoon to all your future travels as a married couple! I included the cream set for myself and the black set for Brian.
Tip #3) The registry is also an opportunity to upgrade pieces that get a lot of everyday use, especially in the kitchen. Think: an ultra luxe coffee machine, a matching set of coffee cups (because if you’re like us, you have a LOT of mismatched cups), or a fresh set of bakeware. We loved this nonstick gold set from Williams Sonoma, especially the pizza pan!
Tip #4) Lastly, the registry is a great time to start thinking about future entertaining needs. Maybe you only have enough dinnerware for 6 guests, but want to be able to host 12 in a future home. We were missing a great cheese board and some key serveware pieces. Overall, I wanted to incorporate touches of natural, woven elements to bring a little bit of that relaxed Hamptons feeling to NYC, but not too much where it feels out of place in our city apartment, like this chip and dip and these coasters.
Tip #5) My biggest piece of advice is to have fun with it! And don’t choose items just because you think you’re supposed to-focus on things you will actually use as a couple! Happy shopping!
December 2021: 6 Months before the wedding!
Picking a wedding photographer is one of the most important aspects of planning your wedding. After the cake is cut and the band goes home, photos let us relive the most special day of our lives over and over again.
We chose our photographer, Stephanie Sunderland, for a few reasons. First, her photos are beautiful. I found her on Instagram and was so impressed by her photography style. Second, our first conversation was easy and relaxed. I sensed she would be a calming presence on our wedding day. Finally, we had our engagement shoot with Stephanie and I’ve never seen Brian more comfortable in front of the camera. He actually enjoyed himself, which was unexpected for someone who notoriously hates photos.
I sat down with Stephanie for a little Q&A on ALL things wedding photography, including her tips for finding the best lighting, where she finds inspiration, and her advice for brides-to-be:
Corey: Why did you decide to become a wedding photographer?
Stephanie: It happened organically for me. I found a love for photography around the same time a lot of my friends were getting married. Many of them asked me to do their wedding photos and that is how it all started. However, I choose to keep doing weddings because I love being able to capture true emotions, tell a true story, and also get creative and shoot with a touch of an editorial style. It fills me as an artist and always keeps me inspired and ready to work my hardest.
Corey: What is your favorite moment to capture?
Stephanie: I love capturing the authentic and unposed parts of the day. The first look, ceremony, first dance, speeches, and all those beautiful in-between moments. My favorite photos happen when the couple is fully present and just being themselves.
Corey: How would you describe your photography style?
Stephanie: I always strive for timeless. I don’t like the terms light and airy or dark and moody when it comes to describing my style. I try to capture moments and couples as they are. I like to edit in a way that is not overly filtered or dramatically overexposed or underexposed. I want my couples to look back in 5, 10, 15, 30 years and still love their photos.
Corey: What are your tips for finding the best lighting?
Stephanie: For outdoor shooting, I really like back and side light or open shade. For indoors, I prefer window light or light coming in through the door. If I am ever unsure, I always take a quick circle around my subjects and look for the best light.
Corey: What type of camera do you use?
Stephanie: Canon 5d mark IV, Canon eos 3, and Pentax 645.
Corey: Film vs. digital – what’s your POV?
Stephanie: I use and love both for different reasons. Film is precious, the shots are more thought out and selective. Film has a richness and depth that can’t be replicated-its tonal range and colors are just beautiful. Digital is amazing with how many shots you can take, you don’t ever miss a moment, and its low light abilities are impressive. I also love that you can edit digital to give it different looks and “feelings.”
Corey: What are your tips for helping couples to feel comfortable in front of the camera?
Stephanie: Don’t overthink or try to be perfect. I often have almost beautiful moments interrupted because a bride or groom needs to fix this or straighten that…if something is a bit out of place, it’s not going to ruin a beautiful photograph. Try to be present, authentically yourself, and ultimately forget the camera is even there.
Corey: Is there anything different about photographing an at-home wedding like mine?
Stephanie: For me personally it is very similar to weddings at venues, but oftentimes a little sweeter because it is an extra special place for the couple. I love at home and backyard weddings.
Corey: Where do you find inspiration?
Stephanie: I find inspiration in all art forms, but especially other photography. I love looking at vintage photographs and magazine spreads.
Corey: What is your best advice for brides-to-be?
Stephanie: Enjoy being a bride, and especially soak in your wedding day! BE PRESENT. Although it can be stressful, it goes by so quickly and you don’t want to miss it because you are worried about things being “perfect.”
Be sure to check out Stephanie on Instagram: @StephanieSunderland