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Nicole Jeannette and Vincent Novellino’s Surprise Wedding at the Newark Museum

Details of the Day: Our wedding was almost a surprise affair. But in the end we decided to give the guests a little warning. Vinnie and I had been together since 1997. I’ll save you the math, that’s 15 years. People had even stopped asking us when we would be married. But suddenly the time was right for us. After so many years and so much anticipation from so many, we had to break the news in a way that served justice to the anticipated announcement. Vinnie and I set upon planning our wedding in privacy. Even the vendors were told it was a holiday party in the beginning stages. This was our total joy to share alone and hold sacred. And we had a ton of fun figuring out how to eventually share the great news. Finally we decided to send a very thinly veiled save the date. It was white and ornate and invited guests to an evening of “Dinner, dancing, and an unforgettable surprise.” Imagine our delight fielding all the inquiries. Watching the wheels in everyone’s head spin. No one dared to ask if it was a wedding, but it was on the tip of their tongues. Now our friends and family were involved with the excitement! When the invitation was released around Thanksgiving time, we got plenty of “I knew it!” and equally as many “I’m totally surprised!” It was such a fun time for us watching all the reactions. When it came time to pick a dress, I knew a traditional white dress just wouldn’t capture the totally unique sentiment of our day. I needed a dress as exuberant and surprising as our wedding, capturing the joy I was radiating since the proposal. I wanted to be a chic and glamorous woman, bold enough to show my own style. I did not find my dress in the usual way, shopping with family and friends, or at the usual kind of place. I was on a business trip in Las Vegas and combed the designer shops on the strip. I was going to find a sizzling showstopper, Vegas seemed like the place. I was about to give up but decided to make one last stop at Saks Fifth Avenue. As soon as I stepped into the evening-wear section, I saw my dress. It was a shining golden dress by Theia; just imagine the saleswoman’s surprise when I transformed from a young lady – looking a bit rumpled from her flight in jeans and a ball cap – into a bride! This was my dress. I never tried on a traditional bridal gown and I don’t regret it. We chose to keep our wedding ceremony private and intimate, inviting only immediate family and a very small circle of friends. We were honored to have our friends Ilene and Jeffrey Greenbaum open their Livingston home to us. We were married in their foyer while guests sat in the living room and a grand piano played in the background. We were married by civil celebrant Gerald Fierst. Both Ilene and Gerald are friends and associates of Vinnie’s through their work in theater, and this was the ultimate theatrical production. Later that evening at the reception, Gerald addressed the larger crowd and told them of our marriage earlier that afternoon. He let the crowd know that they were the nearest and dearest to us and our wedding would not be complete without their resounding promise to always support us. As the crowd cheered “We do,” Vinnie and I entered the room. Your Favorite Part: Our unique approach to wedding planning is a very dear memory to me. Planning in privacy was an incredible bonding experience. After fifteen years, this was certainly a joy well earned and meant to be savored. It was so special to have those feelings be our and ours alone. We were working on something not only for ourselves, but also to delight our family and guests. Additionally, Vinnie’s willingness to adapt and problem solve even on our wedding day was also an unexpected highlight. The snow had made the roads extremely slippery. The car I was driven to the ceremony in was ill equipped for the conditions. There was no way the car could turn around to pick up my parents a half hour away and get them their safely and on time. So what did Vinnie do upon receiving my panicked phone call? He hopped into his Honda CRV and picked my parents up. And that’s one of the many reasons I married this man. He’s calm, cool, collected and gets things done. Vinnie also ended up driving us to the reception and back to the hotel after the party. Who needs a chauffeur and a Rolls Royce when you have a knight in shining armor in a CRV! Advice for other brides: Dare to be different. Your wedding should be as unique as you and your groom. Yes, I got a few raised eyebrows when I let people know the dress wouldn’t be white. I got questions about whether or not I was worried about the weather given December seemed to be an unusual choice (and all those same people loved the snow in the photos). And there were some doubtful comments about the reception being in Newark given all the misconceptions about the great city. We signed a ketubah (Hebrew prenuptial agreement) even though we aren’t Jewish. We just liked the sentiment and wanted to have a framed reminder of our vows. We didn’t save the top of the wedding cake – we’ll just enjoy a delicious fresh slice on our anniversary. It took courage to break with some traditions but we have no regrets because every choice was ours and suited us. Also, prepare for the bouquet, because it will be heavy. None of the bridal guides mentioned that holding an enormous display of flowers with one hand can get a little tiring! Sources: Bride’s Gown: Theia, Saks Fifth Avenue, Las Vegas, NV Bride’s Jewelry: Nina Bridal, Red Carpet Boutique, Millburn Hair: Williams, Lorraine’s House of Style, Hoboken Makeup: Brittany DeVenuta, Lorraine’s House of Style, Hoboken Groom’s Attire: Brooks Brothers, The Mall at Short Hills Flowers: Leffel, Petals Premier, Hackensack Cake: Palermo’s Bakery, Ridgefield Invites: Papyrus, The Mall at Short Hills Music: DJ Flo Favors: Doughnuts by Palermo’s Bakery, Ridgefield Rentals: Fur stole from Cowit Furs, NYC Honeymoon: Los Cabos, Mexico

wedding details

Hometowns

Belleville

Ceremony Location

Newark Museum

Photographer

Eric Joseph and Matthew Andrews

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