Real Weddings

Lauren and Tommy at The Manor

Posted on March 18, 2020 by Ariana Baio

Tommy and I both swiped right on Tinder! Then we talked for over four hours on our first date.

Tommy pretended to leave for work, but instead hid on the roof of our apartment building. He called me and asked me to go to the roof, claiming, “the Statue of Liberty is on fire!” I was in the midst of cleaning up and getting ready to meet a friend, so I did not run to the roof. Ten minutes later, he called again, claiming, “I hear there’s helicopters everywhere. You should really get to the roof.” Still not inclined to run to the scene, I slowly made it to the roof and Tommy was there, card in hand, frozen and numb (this was in December). The Statute of Liberty was obviously not on fire and my plans with my friend were a ruse. As I read the card, Tommy got down on one knee and proposed.

We wanted to have an intimate, classy, and fun wedding day. I love art and crafting, so I had a few projects for the wedding, including our wedding topper. I could not find a mixed-race couple cake topper, so I made out own. I also knew I wanted a bouquet that I could transform into art after the wedding. So my bouquet looks like real flowers, but its made out of paper! I plan to reconstruct it in a shadowbox frame, along with the paper flower and leaf cutouts that our guests signed during the reception. As for our favors, I’m Jamaican-American and it’s Jamaican tradition for wedding guests to receive fruit cake (a.k.a. rum or black cake). My dad baked the fruit cake with a family friend, like they did for my siblings’ weddings. In addition, Tommy and I wanted to honor my aunt battling ALS and his family members who died from cancer, so we made donations to the ALS Association and the Cancer Research Institute on behalf of our guests.

We got married at The Manor in West Orange. We wanted to have an outdoor ceremony, with an indoor reception at the same venue, ideally with a hotel close by. The Manor hit those marks and was absolutely gorgeous.

The Manor produces an extravagant and extensive dining experience! Our cocktail hour included a lot of shrimp, a mashed potato bar, carving station, and numerous meat, cheese, and vegetable platters. For dinner, our guests chose from roasted chicken, red snapper, beef tenderloin, and mushroom risotto entrees. And for dessert, guests were served mini key lime pies and creme brûlées, berries, and our chocolate wedding cake, filled with chocolate mousse and raspberries.

I bought my wedding dress online. I did not want to spend a lot of money on a dress that I’ll only wear once. I went dress shopping with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law in Manhattan. Initially, I wanted a lace dress, but many of the ones I tried on had a sheer (or not so sheer) underlay that did not match my skin tone. (“Nude” does not apply to all.) The lace dresses looked weird and out of place on my body. However, we found a couple styles that we all agreed complimented my body and later, I found my dress on Lulus. I fell in love with this dress’ beading. It was exactly what I wanted: it looked beautiful and sleek; it fit me perfectly; the material felt breathable; it was easy to move in; and it was affordable. My dress came with bright white bra cups that would have looked awful in photos, so I had the bra cups changed to match my skin complexion.

Our favorite part of the day was our ceremony. We worked with our officiant to make it special and unique to us. We wrote our own vows. Some of our favorite people shared an eclectic mix of readings, including a Bible verse, philosophical text, poems, and Supreme Court decision excerpts. Tommy’s sister played the violin during the processional and my cousin sang, “Unforgettable.” We got to express our love and make a life-long promises to each other, with the blessing of our family and friends. It was perfect.

Our wedding would not have been the same without our family and friends there. Our loved ones traveled from Jamaica, London, Canada, and all over the U.S., to join in our celebration. My grandmother’s presence in particular was special, as she’s the last living grandparent on either side.

There were a few hiccups, but nothing major went wrong. Leading up to the wedding, a few guests cancelled last minute and I got a call that the orchids I ordered would not be in the color I wanted. And on our wedding day, the receiving line and the group photo of my large, extended family did not go as planned. But in the end, everything worked out.

“Coming Home” by Leon Bridges.

While wedding planning, it’s okay to ignore unsolicited advice, and on your wedding day, take a moment to breathe, look around you, and take it all in!

Shortly after our wedding, we went to Beacon, NY for a long-weekend getaway. In May, we are heading to Athens, Santorini, and Crete!

the details


Washington, NJ

Reception Location

The Manor


Memory Creations Photography


Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons, First U Brooklyn

Bride’s Gown


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