Jen + Bay
We met through our friend, Serena, maybe 3 years before we started dating, and we were sort of loose acquaintances. We would hug when we saw each other around, but we really didn’t know anything about each other. Then, we ended up in the same share house in Montauk one weekend in 2013. There was something a little magical about that whole weekend. It was just a really solid group, perfect weather. I was coming off almost a year of being single and doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to, and the house in Montauk was like the icing on the cake. I remember feeling so relaxed and happy there.
That weekend in Montauk, Bay was tan, walking around the house in his bathing suit, bringing cold ice tea down to the beach for everyone in a huge mason jar. One afternoon, while I was making lunch, he started playing guitar. I was basically in heaven in that moment. At the beach, he offered to rub sunblock on my back, and he touched my foot while we were swimming. I started to look at him a little more closely. It makes me laugh to think about it because everything I am describing makes him sound like he was playing me so hard, but I think it was just one of those things where someone you haven’t really noticed comes into focus.
We met in a park near my house. He was really easy to talk to and there was no awkwardness, which stood out because I had been on so many bad OKCupid dates during that year. We had dinner at a small Balinese restaurant, I know now that the food was way too spicy for him, but he played it cool. We sat at the bar. I honestly can’t remember anything we talked about, but I remember our legs kept touching. Afterward, we got caught in the park in a downpour. As we huddled under an umbrella, I blurted out, “I have lust for you.” I don’t know where it came from, but it felt like the truest thing I could say at the moment because I still didn’t know if I would develop feelings for him. As we kissed under the umbrella, two people running by in the rain yelled out, “You’re so cute!” It was all very funny & light-hearted.
My previous boyfriend was the complete opposite of Bay. He was a homebody, quiet, blonde, almost completely hairless. Before that, I went through a 5-year period of being single. I liked the thrill and novelty of it, but I think the real reason I didn’t have a relationship for so long is that I wasn’t comfortable to really open up to someone during that time. By the time I met Bay, I had a better idea of what I was looking for and I was confident being myself. He had just started actively dating again when we met, so he was probably at the same point of readiness. The more we got to know each other, the more I saw he had all the attributes of my ideal guy. He’s fun, outgoing, affectionate, and beyond that, he responds to everything with genuine compassion, open-mindedness, and sense of adventure and romance that makes life feel expansive and exciting.
We were in bed one night, after we had been dating 6 months or so, maybe a little more, and we started talking around I love you. It felt a little scary, I think. But it was like we were at a point where we had no words for how we are feeling. So, I said something like, “Let’s just try being in love for a little while and see if we like it.” And it turned out we loved being in love. I guess it wasn’t such an existential dilemma after all. About a year after we started dating, we went on a trip to California for one of his best friends’ wedding. Something about the alchemy of that trip – making travel arrangements together, meeting so many of his oldest friends, being in nature, long stretches driving, navigating a forgotten luggage situation – gave me a really deep, sure feeling about going through the unknown future with him. About a week after we got back, I bared my soul to him in Tompkins Square Park and told him I thought we should get married. He wasn’t ready to seal the deal then and there, but I could tell what I said really resonated with him.
After that initial convo, the topic of marriage would come up every once in awhile, but we weren’t really on the same page about it until about a year later. We were driving to the beach after picking up our beloved little car, and he said to me, “I want to talk to you about marriage.” We had a beautiful conversation about it. I think that was the day we really decided together to get married. But he still did a formal proposal one night while we were walking in Central Park. He even met my dad for coffee about a week before to get his blessing. Bay designed the ring himself. I gave him a small diamond I had on a pendant; it originally came from a pair of my mom’s earrings. The ring didn’t feel really important, and I definitely didn’t want something too big or showy.
I was excited to get married, but not excited for the wedding, which surprised me. I’ve always loved other people’s weddings, but right after the engagement, I had a blah feeling every time we started getting into specific conversations about wedding planning. On the other hand, I felt a lot of energy and enthusiasm when we were talking about our future plans for being married. For some reason, the wedding seemed a little beside the point. But, we both love parties so much, especially weddings and dancing so we decided to go ahead with a big wedding despite our doubts. We visited venues in LA, where Bay is from, and chose a really sweet spot, but the night before the deposit was due, he asked me, “Are we sure we want to do this?” And my immediate answer was no. We were a little freaked out to make that decision in a vacuum, so we called our parents and they were 100% supportive of us eloping or doing something really small and low key.
We got married at City Hall in New York, had an ice cream social at Morgenstern’s on Rivington Street with about 30 people, then went to Paris for a few days. It all fell into place in about two weeks. I used to work at Morgenstern’s, and we both had spent a lot of time there. It seemed like a perfect place where people could just drop in and celebrate with us instead of us trying to plan a formal lunch or something. Nick Morgenstern and the whole staff made it really easy and special. We had homemade sandwiches, bone broth from Brodo and all-you-can-eat Morgenstern’s ice cream. This might sound the opposite of crazy, but I think the craziest thing for us was that no one was drunk at the end! My brother had three milkshakes so there might have been some ice cream headaches along the way, but otherwise, it was good, clean fun. It was really nice to have lucid goodbyes with everyone we loved, walk out into the sunshine and head home.
At City Hall, they won’t let you add anything to the simple civil ceremony, so we wrote our own vows and read them to each other privately before we headed over to meet everyone. I loved having that time alone together to say what was in our hearts and what the marriage meant to each of us. The process of writing and reading the vows was probably my favorite part of the whole experience.
We woke up early. My friend came over to do my hair, and Bay went to his best friend Matt’s house to get dressed. I luckily remembered to grab a smoothie before getting my hair done. Bay had eggs at Matt’s. Eating before the wedding is really important, I think, because there’s so much excited energy that day, you could easily forget. Neither one of us had seen each other’s outfits beforehand, so when Bay came home, I hid in the kitchen and then we both walked into the living room from opposite sides. I loved his green suit and wild shoes. We read our vows; one of us cried. I won’t say who! Then we did a short meditation and then met everyone at City Hall. No aisle, no music, no dancing. At the very end of the party, my sister was like, “You didn’t do a first dance!” So we did a slow dance to whatever song was playing – I don’t even remember what is was. It was just us and my immediate family.
We didn’t have a formal wedding party, so everyone got to wear what they want. This was a little triumph for me because, even though I like being a bridesmaid, I hate bridesmaids dresses – both the concept of wearing the same outfit as other people and the style of most bridesmaids dresses. My sisters have jokingly called me “bridesmaidzilla.” So I was glad that we didn’t have to worry about that aspect of the wedding. We still had lots of friends pitch in and help us along the way. My friend, Lee, killed it with the flowers. I barely gave her any direction and she went way beyond my expectations.
We ended up going to Paris. We were going to go for a weekend somewhere closer, like New Orleans or Charleston, NC, but our friend, Lisa, suggested Paris about 10 days beforehand, and it felt way more special to do that. I was a little in awe the whole time that this was how my wedding turned out – City Hall, Paris. Everything was really classic, romantic but easy. I never imagined it like that, but it really felt perfect to both of us.
I wouldn’t change a thing. The whole thing unfolded in a way that felt right. Maybe I would have let myself go with the small wedding idea sooner and not spent so much time in the beginning of the engagement researching venues and making budgets etc, but I like how it all turned out. Maybe that was a necessary part of the process of figuring out what we really wanted the wedding to be. For anyone who has doubts about doing a big wedding or trying to live up to overblown expectations (either their own or someone else’s), I would say, scrap everything and do whatever you and your fiancée want to do. Being married has been beautiful so far, and I’m really glad I’m settling into life with my husband right now instead of somewhere in the middle of planning a big wedding.
Photos by Ben Heller.