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Big weddings are back on trend now that Long Island couples can plan their trips down the aisle without a long list of unknowns leading the way.
“It’s out of control,” Babylon-based celebrity wedding planner Michael Russo says of the wedding business now. Russo adds he’s seeing a new excitement at receptions too because people can feel free to socialize and party. “They’re far more eager to celebrate.”
Steve Kirschbaum, catering director for Lessing’s Hospitality Group which owns several of Long Island’s most sought-after venues for tying the knot, notices couples are even expanding into Thursday nights for their nuptial celebrations because places are so booked. “They’ve come back hard because there are no restrictions anymore or masks,” he says. “They’re back times two as far as I’m concerned. In 30 years, I’ve never seen the volume of weddings we’re seeing.”
So, chances are you have an event or two coming up on your calendar. We checked in with local shops and businesses to find out what they’re offering these days to help make a couple’s nuptials stand out from the rest. Here are some of our top finds, including gifts from guests and special touches the couple may want to incorporate:
You can go well beyond photographs or videos to visually capture the day by having a live-event artist do an on-site acrylic painting of the celebration. Artist Amanda Hawthorne, of Massapequa, will take her work to her studio afterward to put on the finishing touches, then she’ll personally deliver the completed product to the couple if they live on Long Island. Prints of the original can also be done as well as watercolors created from photographs. Packages for acrylic paintings start at around $4,000; livewellpaintoften.com and via Instagram at @LiveWellPaintOften.
This handsome and roomy canvas weekender bag with leather handles can be a perfect catch-all for lots of things a bride or groom might need to carry during a honeymoon — from must-haves purchased during a sightseeing trip to a change of clothing for dinner following a day spent on the beach. The tote looks pricey but costs just $32 at Things Remembered, which has stores in Huntington Station, Garden City, Valley Stream and Lake Grove.
Bow ties for groom and groomsmen
The groom and his groomsmen may steal a little bit of the bride’s spotlight with these eye-catching and stylish bow ties made of feathers. The Brackish styles shown here are $198 each and are available from the Drew Patrick home store; 128 West Main St., Bay Shore, 631-206-3739.
Gift boxes for the bride and flower girl
You can give both the flower girl and bride a surprise present as they get ready for their walks down the aisle. West Islip-based company islandandivory.com features custom gift boxes. “For the Bride,” $30, includes a bride makeup pouch and ring cookie; and “The Petal Princess,” $50, includes a flower girl T-shirt, two custom cookies and a pearl charm bracelet.
Mr. & Mr. wedding card
It can be difficult to find wedding cards for same-sex couples or those depicting various groups, but that’s not the case at Codfish Cowboy where there’s a good variety along with some unconventional pop-culture and humorous selections to choose from. Look there also for fun marriage-related games and books. The shop is located at 162 E. Park Ave., Long Beach, 516-442-5500. The cards range from $5 to $6.
Custom Long Island wedding maps
Artist Marketa Forstova-Horton, who’s been fascinated with maps since she was a child, lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee now, but the graduate of Stony Brook University who used to live in Mattituck, Central Islip and Manhasset never got Long Island off her mind. She creates custom whimsical and colorful watercolor maps to highlight the important stops on a couple’s route to the altar, and she’s been a go-to for many Long Island brides. The maps vary in price and size (starting at $195) and can be used as wall hangings or as printed inserts for wedding invitations or welcome bags. Large versions can be put on display for guests to sign as a keepsake for the newlyweds. The artist can be booked through bohemianmint.com.
Michael Russo of Babylon knows a thing or two about giving a wedding that “wow” factor. In addition to being a wedding planner, he is the owner of a Long Island home goods store that bears his name. Among the shop’s many gift options for a newly-married couple are elegant glassware pieces that start at $65.99 for a set of two glasses. They can be purchased at MADE by Michael Russo; 143 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor, 631-498-6729.