Sparks were flying when Jeanine Juliano, a marketing agent and publicist for the NFL, and Chris Ogbonnaya, a former running back for the Giants, met at a college football game in 2018. One magical year later, Chris popped the question in front of the dazzling Christmas tree at the Lotte New York Palace while visiting family in Manhattan. “It was something out of a Hallmark movie, my favorite Christmas pastime,” Jeanine reminisces. From Chris’s stint with the Giants to the dreamy city proposal, it only made sense that the couple would tie the knot in New York City.
Since Jeanine has worked in event production for the majority of her career, she knew she wanted to take the reins when it came to designing her own wedding. “I have been planning my wedding for as long as I can remember, so it was important to me to do it on my own,” she shares. “Much of it was actually a surprise to Chris and my family, and their reactions made it all worth it.”
Despite having a clear vision in mind, the global pandemic kept Jeanine on her toes. Since the couple already had to postpone their wedding once due to Covid, they weren’t exactly sure their August 2021 wedding was going to happen. “Even though I knew everything and every vendor I wanted, I waited to officially book anything until July 1, one month prior to our wedding,” Jeanine admits.
Thanks to her previous job experience, an extensive amount of research, and a team of very patient vendors, Jeanine pulled out all the stops. The result? A beautiful New York City wedding full of old Hollywood glamour combined with modern design and painted in a chic black-and-white color scheme. Keep reading to see how their special day played out, as planned by the bride and photographed by Rachel Rodgers.
When it came to selecting the setting for their wedding, New York City was a no brainer. “New York City means so much to us as a couple,” Jeanine gushes. “It’s where we went on our first date, got engaged, and have spent so many incredible nights together. We couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect city to host our guests.”
The duo loved the idea of a skyline backdrop, so they held their wedding at Tribeca Rooftop, where they made the scenery the main focus of the ceremony. “With the beautiful New York City skyline, it was important not to obstruct the view,” she adds.
“My vision was to throw the most extravagant, classy, and fun wedding that our grandparents, parents, work colleagues, former NFL teammates, and friends would all enjoy equally,” Jeanine explains. She introduced the contemporary chic aesthetic right off the bat with elegant invitations, which included white card stock and ornate black calligraphy.
It was important to me that I felt the most glamorous I have ever felt in my life.
For her wedding day hair and makeup, Jeanine also chose a glitzy yet graceful look. “It was important to me that I felt the most glamorous I have ever felt in my life,” the bride reveals. She went with a bold smokey eye and thick lashes, and she pulled soft waves into a sweeping half-up, half-down hairstyle with a sparkly headpiece by Christie Lauren.
To match her luxe look, Jeanine sported white mesh heels with a dotted pattern from Dior. The star of the show was, of course, her oval diamond engagement ring from Jason of Beverly Hills.
I knew this was the wedding dress before I even got engaged.
Keeping with the theme, the bride rocked a strapless mermaid gown with a sheer corset bodice coated in gleaming diamonds from Ryan and Walter. “I knew this was the wedding dress before I even got engaged,” Jeanine discloses. “Growing up doing pageants, I’ve had my fair share of gowns, so it was incredibly important that this gown was the most special gown I ever put on.” Once she finally tried it on in person, she knew nothing would ever top it. An all-white cascading bouquet of orchids completed her look.
Chris sported a rose gold Rolex watch and silver cufflinks for his accessories. The watch perfectly coordinated with his rose gold Cartier Love Ring, which he personalized with an engraving of their wedding date.
The groom channeled a sharp and sophisticated wedding look. He donned a classic white dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants, a black bow tie, and Christian Louboutin velvet loafers.
Once guests arrived at the ceremony, they were greeted with modern black-and-white program fans customized with the couple’s joint monogram. “I created the logo myself and made sure it was on everything,” Jeanine says.
For the ceremony, white floral installations perched on black acrylic risers sat on either side of the aisle. A white runner lined with white votive candles led to a black acrylic arch overlooking the city. “I knew Tribeca Rooftop had a very industrial feel, and it was almost a blank canvas,” Jeanine remarks. “I wanted to glamorize it without taking away from the exquisite views of the Hudson and the skyline.” Black Chiavari chairs also helped build upon the ceremony’s modern feel.
During an emotional moment, Chris and family members exchanged hugs before the ceremony began.
Even the father of the bride got the memo and matched the glam theme with a sparkly black tuxedo jacket. As he escorted Jeanine down the aisle, a live string quartet played the classic processional song, “Canon in D.”
Instead of writing their own vows, the couple decided to exchange love letters during a private moment prior to the ceremony. “We wanted all of the raw emotion at the ceremony, so we thought we would be too choked to speak heartfelt vows,” the bride explains.
I have always dreamed of a glamorous New York City black-tie wedding, and that’s exactly what we had.
After making their marriage official, the newlyweds basked in the excitement. Jeanine was especially grateful that the ceremony went according to plan. “I have always dreamed of a glamorous New York City black-tie wedding, and that’s exactly what we had,” Jeanine reflects.
The newly married couple snuck away to take photos on the streets of New York City. Although they decided to forgo the traditional wedding party, they savored this special moment together.
Jeanine wanted to make sure she found the right vendors to perfectly execute her wedding vision. She spoke to about 30 different florists until she found one who would nail her cascading bouquet and other floral décor elements. “Prior to speaking with Phil from Pedestals Floral Decorators, I had talked to every florist in New York City,” she recalls. “The way our conversation flowed, I could just tell we were on the same wavelength and he was going to capture my vision perfectly. I cannot speak highly of him enough.”
After the ceremony, family and friends gathered on the other side of the rooftop for an elaborate cocktail hour as the sun was setting.
The couple served up a feast, including a full sushi bar, a raw bar, meats and cheeses, caviar, lobster rolls, lamb chops, and chicken and waffles, lamb chops. “Food is very important to both of our families, which is why we had so much of it,” the bride shares.
The couple went with a black-and-white color palette for the reception. “We recently built a home while wedding planning, and our vision for the house was everything black and white,” the bride explains. “So, we used that same color scheme for the wedding.”
The sweetheart table was decked out in single-stem white roses assorted in glass cylinders, and anchored with modern lucite candelabras. “There was never a moment when I contemplated a decision on color, decorations, or flowers,” the bride explicates.
Tall arrangements of white flowers in black acrylic vases with hanging globe candles served as the reception centerpieces. Sticking with the black-and-white aesthetic, each seat was set with white China and black circular menus.
Drinks were also a huge priority for the duo. Guests were welcomed to the reception with a choice of a whopping 10 signature cocktails, ranging from refreshing cucumber coolers to spicy pineapple margaritas.
For their first dance, the lovebirds swung around the dance floor to “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray LaMontagne.
Jeanine enjoyed a special moment with her father on the dance floor to the tune of “Just the Way You Look Tonight.” The couple had Charlie Romano, a singer and Frank Sinatra impersonator, perform all of the classics. “Our wedding guests got up and started throwing their napkins in the air,” the bride remembers. “It was a huge hit.”
Everyone gathered together to celebrate the couple by sharing sentimental speeches and toasts. “The blending of our guests, from NFL teammates to family members, was another amazing moment,” Jeanine recalls. “Everybody got along and had the most amazing time.”
A four-tier red velvet cake coated in white icing and garnished with white roses was the dessert of choice for the evening. Of course, Jeanine and Chris had to have firework candles for a grand display!
During the last hour of the night, the couple kept the desserts flowing. Guests enjoyed chocolate chip cookies with shots of milk, boozy ice pops, sugary churros, homemade donut holes, and caramelized banana spring rolls with cinnamon ice cream.
For the after-party, Jeanine changed into a figure-hugging sparkly mesh gown with a thigh-high slit. Fun fact: it served as the bride’s “something old.” She notes, “I actually wore [it] 10 years ago in a pageant.”
This day is about you as a couple, and it should be exactly what you both dreamed of.
Ultimately, the wedding was everything that the couple hoped for. Creating their own traditions rather than following expectations made it all possible. “Don’t let anybody tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing,” Jeanine advises. “This day is about you as a couple, and it should be exactly what you both dreamed of. If you stay true to that, your guests will have the most amazing time.”