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This New York City Wedding Had a Jungle Chic Theme

by Staff

When Danielle Lawrence and Matt Gibbons met on Hinge in 2017, the app still required matches to have mutual friends on Facebook. This worked to their advantage. “We had quite a few mutual friends who I knew from law school who worked at Matt’s firm,” Danielle remembers. “This gave us both the ability to talk to some people before we met up in person.” Their friends gave the go-ahead—and on their first in-real-life date, Danielle and Matt clicked immediately. 

They got engaged in Miami in May 2021, while they were visiting some friends and Danielle’s family. “A week or two before, Matt ‘made plans’ with our two friends to go to dinner in Miami,’” Danielle shares. “I actually tried to bow out the day of, because I was tired after shopping with my grandmother all day.” Luckily, she went along. When they arrived at El Tucán, the hostess led them up a dark stairway to where 50 of their closest friends and family were waiting. “By the time I turned around, Matt was down on one knee. It was the best start to the next chapter of our lives as we drank and danced for the rest of the night.”

It was back to New York City for their wedding, and the couple prioritized finding a venue that could host the whole event—ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception—in one space rather than shuffling their guests around Manhattan. “Matt has always loved Gothic architecture and when we walked into Guastavino’s, that’s what stood out to us,” Danielle remembers. “The venue has so much beauty on its own, and we knew a place like this wouldn’t need much décor and would fit with the theme we were going for.” 

The theme? “Jungle chic,” Danielle says. “We didn’t want to go with traditional flowers or what people would expect. Green is my favorite color, so we knew we wanted mostly, if not all, greenery. At the same time, we wanted our guests to feel like they were having a nice night out—so with those two things combined, we decided on jungle chic!”

They were intentional in their selection of diverse vendors. “It was very important to us that most of our vendors looked like us, could relate to us, or had experience catering to clients like us,” Danielle says. “With the stress of wedding planning, the last thing we wanted was to have to worry about our vendors understanding our perspectives.” It all came together on August 13, 2022. Read on to see all the fun details, as planned by Lauren Dickens at Elle Audrey and photographed by Amy Anaiz.

Pops of white, black, and silver accented the mostly green color scheme, and the invitation suite followed suit; the notes were modern and chic in black and white. 

“For both of us, we really cherished our time getting ready with our family and bridal party,” Danielle says. “Given that our loved ones live all over the U.S. and the world, it was so special for us to have them all in one room as we got ready for the biggest day of our lives.” She opted for “sophisticated, but sexy” glam, and wore her hair down, but slicked away from her face.

Sophisticated but sexy was the goal for the gown, as well, and Danielle found that combination in a Liz Martinez strapless style with three-dimensional floral appliqués. “My mom came to New York for many of my dress appointments. We have very different tastes when it comes to style, but we both loved this gown,” Danielle remembers. Her veil, by the same designer, became an opportunity to incorporate family. “The veil came plain, but my maternal grandma and aunts and uncles took extra fabric from my dress and each sewed a piece onto my veil.” 

Matt leaned into green with a fashion-forward black-tie look: forest green satin tuxedo jacket, black tuxedo pants, and velvet smoking loafers worn sockless.

It was an indescribable feeling, seeing each other for the first time.

“It was really an indescribable feeling, seeing each other for the first time,” Danielle recalls. “We had barely spoken that day up until that time, and the moment when we finally started the day together and saw each other was something we will never forget.”

“We wanted our bridal party in white because we felt that it would be a clean and crisp look,” says the bride, who allowed each maid to pick her own floor-length gown. “Before our wedding, some people were shocked that we would ‘allow’ anyone else to wear white, but we think it turned out so nice and looked exactly how we thought it would.”

Beyond giving their planner the “jungle chic” prompt, they put décor in the hands of the pros. “Our only request was to get married on a round stage with flowers and candles surrounding us,” Danielle says. “Instead of a traditional white aisle runner, Lauren suggested a black high-gloss black runner and it turned out gorgeous.” 

They exchanged personal and emotional vows in front of their 185 guests. “Unbeknownst to me, Matt had saved the basketball tickets from our first date and had them placed in a clear box to give to me during our vows,” Danielle shares. “I always save little keepsakes like this, but it’s not something Matt does, so I was extremely surprised when they were brought out. The box with the tickets now sits on display in our living room—probably the best décor we have.” After they said “I do,” Danielle and Matt recessed out to CKay’s “Love Nwantiti” performed by Sterling Strings, a quartet the couple discovered years prior performing on a subway platform.

During cocktail hour, guests sipped strawberry basil palomas dubbed “The Kingston” and blackberry Moscow mules called “Black Love.”

The couple’s planner and floral designer took charge and surprised them with thoughtful décor details. “We had no idea what we were walking into, but the reception was exactly what we wanted and more,” Danielle says. “Lauren surprised us with concrete-style chargers, which was a play on the concrete jungle (New York), and had the venue create a haze to make guests feel as if they were in the jungle. The dance floor was also a surprise as Matt and I wanted two different dance floors, and somehow Lauren combined both, which made us both very happy.”

After a round of dances, the newlyweds sliced into a stunning cake with floating tiers, silver foil appliqués, and a green geode design. 

Danielle changed into a sequin fringe dress from Retrofête and the party was on—and it didn’t end when the reception venue shut down. “Our after-party ended at about 3 or 4 a.m.,” Danielle says. “At that point, we were so exhausted. But when we got back to our hotel we were so overjoyed with happiness that we coudn’t fall asleep and just stayed up reminiscing on all the small and large beautiful moments of the day. It turned out better than we could have ever hoped.”

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