Feb 092016
 

Hoping to showcase your nerdy (and creative!) side during your big day? These New Jersey museums can serve as a distinctive backdrop for your reception — often with rental fees going towards supporting non-profit endeavors — ensuring that your wedding is one for the history books!

The Newark Museum
The venue, which is also the largest museum in the state, offers a cozy outdoor space for a ceremony in its Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden. The museum's Engelhard Court also boasts enough room for a sit down dinner and dance floor, and provides access to galleries displaying its artwork, which spans from portraits to antiques to video installations. Read real brides' reviews here!

The Liberty Hall Museum
Built in the 18th century by New Jersey's first elected governor, the Liberty Hall Estate is on a massive 23-acre plot of land that will ensure that all your guests have Instagram-worthy photos while they explore before your reception. If you decide to get hitched there, you'll be in some very classy company — John Jay, first chief justice of the U.S., and Sarah Livingston got married at the locale in 1774. Read real brides' reviews here!

Montclair Art Museum
More than 12,000 pieces of American art can serve as backdrop to your reception at the museum, where couples can rent after-hours access for guests to receive private tours of the galleries. The non-profit museum, which was built in 1914, has a commitment to showcasing Native American art. Read real brides' reviews here!

Liberty Science Center
You may remember this place from a 4th grade field trip when you travelled through the touch tunnel, but it turns out grownups can have fun there, too! The venue offers amazing views of NYC and Liberty State Park, and numerous options for a reception depending on the size of your guest list (need a space for 500-plus guests -- they've got you covered!).

See More: Start the Search for the Perfect Dress at These New Jersey Bridal Boutiques!

Noyes Museum of Art of Stockton College
Originally based around the art collection of local business owners Fred W. and Ethel Noyes, the museum offers a focus of fine and folk art that can serve as scenery for your or your guests' photographs before and during your reception. Read real brides' reviews here!

Grounds for Sculpture
The 42-acre sculpture park has a courtyard, gazebo and amphitheater that can be used for outdoor ceremonies. Guests can also participate in "sculpture hunts" or guided tours through the numerous contemporary sculptures on the grounds. Read real brides' reviews here!

Adventure Aquarium
Though not technically a museum, the aquarium, which is home to penguins, fish and sharks, among other creatures, allows for unique (and live!) extras to pop into your photos while in their habitat. The venue's ballroom provides a view of the Philly skyline during ceremonies, and wedding party photos can coincide with an up close and personal view of the many creatures that live at the center. Read real brides' reviews here!

Battleship New Jersey
Known as BB62, the USS New Jersey was first launched in 1942 and has been restored and operated as an educational museum since 2001. The vessel, parked in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, has awning covered reception spaces that offer views of the Philly skyline, Delaware River and Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Read real brides' reviews here!

For more fantastic New Jersey locales for the big day, head to our NJ Venues page!

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Feb 082016
 
new york city february wedding treats magnolia bakeries

Photo: Courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Manhattan is best known for its endless inspiration in all things delectable and sweet. We've gathered a list of some of the Big Apple's most inspiring and delicious treats that serve up an extra hint of Valentine's Day sweetness. From the famous
"cronut" to decadently festive cookies, this list will help aid in any NYC bride's sweet tooth search to find the perfect dessert loved by everyone.

Magnolia Bakery
After opening its first, now legendary, bakery in Manhattan's West Village, this cherished New York shop serves up daily forms of baked good inspiration that inspires everyone from New York locals, to global tourists. Festive and colorful heart topped cupcakes are the perfect addition to any adoring NYC couple looking to highlight their Valentine's Day wedding. Read real brides' reviews here!

Voilà Chocolat
Set on creating a place where everyone, including master chocolatiers, "could experience the fun and magic of crafting beautiful, delicious chocolates," founder Peter Moustakerski assembled a dream team of creativity to create one of Manhattan's finest chocolate suppliers. The ability to craft your own artisanal works in the form of chocolate is the passion behind this revolutionary design concept.

Dominique Ansel Bakery
Legendary head chef and owner, Dominque Ansel, otherwise known as the delectable inventor of the world-famous "cronut," opened this celebrated Manhattan marvel back in 2011. The sweets shop quickly rose to the top of one of the country's highest ranked bakeries. With a wide range of culinary inventions including the "Frozen S'more," the "Cookie Shot," and the "Waffle Affogato," the possibilities are endless when it comes to satisfying your February 14th sweet tooth.

See More: Don't Miss a Moment of Your Big Day With These New York City Photographers

Mast Brothers Chocolate
This New York based chocolate connoisseur, with flagship locations in both Brooklyn and London, has pioneered the chocolate industry by incorporating meticulous attention to detail and inspirational craftsmanship. Unique flavor combos including maple- and olive oil-infused decadence add a whimsical twist to the traditional box of chocolates.

Eleni's Cookies
A California native who recently planted her roots in Manhattan, Eleni Gianopulos utilized her passion for baking in creating what is now one of New York City's most delicious landmarks. A wide variety of personalized, pink-and-red cookies are the perfect way to add some Valentine's Day flair to your big day.

Want to see more New York City spots for desserts? Check out our New york City Cakes page to find your sweet treats!

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Feb 062016
 

When she's not throwing celeb-studded Oscar after-parties, NYC-based Annie Lee, founder of Daughter of Design, is working on her first love: weddings. She sat down with us to discuss wedding planning, planners and bending those wedding rules. Here, she preps you for your day by sharing her tips!

Are you hiring a wedding planner?
Book her first. You want her on board as early as possible to help you with big decisions — like the venue. A lot of brides come to us later in the process, and I think, "Oh, gosh, why did they pick that place and hire that person?"

When interviewing planners, make sure to ask...
"Have you worked at my venue before? How many staff will be working on the day of? How do you prefer to communicate, and how often will we talk?" And finally, "What duties are included in your fee?"

Limit the social-media reveals.
If you're going to your florist, post a teaser photo of the storefront, not the mock-up of your wedding table. And make your Pinterest page private or you may get feedback you're not looking for.

Feel free to break some rules.
I love bridesmaids in white dresses, like Pippa Middleton in her Alexander McQueen. And it's really OK to do the first look before the actual wedding. It will help calm your nerves, and you'll have more time for photos.

One of my biggest pet peeves?
People who take photos with iPads at weddings. It's intrusive, and it blocks other guests and the photographer. It's even worse if they use it at dinner. I don't care what game is on!

Also, guests who switch tables.
It can cause crowding at some tables and leave others looking empty. Plus, the caterer will have to change her service plans. Sit at the one you're assigned to, please.

Avoid the reception-as-banquet thing.
Try creating a restaurant vibe with tables in different shapes and sizes and a handful of banquettes. At a recent wedding, I added a raised space along the back, so even though those tables were farthest from the dance floor, they almost felt more VIP.

Don't hang out with your friends all night.
Make a point of greeting your parents' friends too, as well as all the other guests who've taken time out of their lives to come to your party.

Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES February/March 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!

Want to see more New York City wedding planners? Check out our New York City planners page to find your perfect planning partner!

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Feb 022016
 

Every new year comes with new trends and for brides that love to know about all the hottest spots before everyone else — look no further! We teamed up with The Venue Report, which curates the world's coolest event Spaces, to pick the country's 10 Buzziest New Wedding Spots for 2016. These gorgeous venues will definitely have all your guests asking "how did you find this place?!" Trust us — they'll be completely wowed by every single spot on this list.

The Cedar Room, Charleston, South Carolina (Above)
Ideal for a chic vintage-inspired fete, this renovated 1800s cigar factory features an outdoor courtyard, authentic Low Country fare, and views of the Cooper River and iconic Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

The Inn at Newport Ranch, Fort Bragg, California
If you're into dramatic cliffs, awe-inspiring redwoods, and farm-to-table cuisine, check out this 2,000-acre cattle ranch on the Mendocino coast. Our favorite ceremony site? Celebration Point, a rock promontory with crashing Pacific waves on two sides.

Millwick, Los Angeles
Brides are flocking to this indoor-outdoor space in the downtown Arts District. The draw? A 2 a.m. curfew, the palm-lined garden patio, and 4,500 square feet of loft-like interiors.

The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, Chicago
Built in the 19th century, this former men's club was closed to the public until last year, when it opened as a meticulously restored hotel. The White City Ballroom still has its original marble floors, ornate fireplaces, and stained-glass windowpanes.

Il Mercato, New Orleans
Get hitched next to citrus trees at this food market turned events space, then move the party inside to the mod great room. The library bar is perfect for a wild after-party.

See More: Caribbean Honeymoon Destinations for Every Couple

Granite Ridge Estate & Barn, Norway, Maine
Take over this 128-acre private mountain for the weekend and get married al fresco in the forest or in a wooden barn overlooking the countryside below.

26 Bridge, Brooklyn
Once a steel factory, this colossal space in arty Dumbo plays up its industrial past with steel-vaulted ceilings, original brick walls, and a skylight that runs the length of the room.

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, New York
Long Island's famous museum opened its Water Mill location in 2012 and is now (finally!) booking weddings. Take advantage with vows in a gallery, flanked by Jackson Pollock paintings, or in an open pavilion that seems to go on forever.

Prospect House, Dripping Springs, Texas
Say your vows in a field of Hill Country wildflowers, then move inside to a sleek 220-foot-long aluminum space that will appeal to your inner minimalist.

The White Sparrow, Quinlan, Texas
Thanks to its whitewashed interior, high ceiling, and six vintage brass chandeliers, this massive barn 43 miles outside Dallas is more elegant than rustic. FYI, the owner
is a wedding photographer, so the place was made for gorgeous wedding photos.

Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES February/March 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!

Want to see more up and coming venues? Check out our Venues page to find your perfect wedding location!

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Feb 022016
 

Sometimes in the great search for the perfect wedding venue, you don't even know where to begin. The answer? Browsing the top-notch spots to get married. Ever. In our new February/March 2016 issue (on newsstands now!), we call out the best venues — indoor and outdoor, big and small, luxury and budget-friendly — across America. How did we go about creating such a list? We asked more than 1,500 real brides and grooms nationwide to weigh in on the best spots to say "I do" — by rating their own wedding location on everything, including service, food, view, and much more. From great plantations and rustic farms in the South to elegant libraries and grand hotels in the Northeast to romantic, swoon-worthy wineries on the West Coast, we found them all. So take note, brides-to-be! These are our readers' favorite venues in the Northeast.

Boston Public Library, Boston (Above)
Get hitched in the columned courtyard, then party in the book-lined main hall. Bonus: You can use the old-school reading tables for your candlelit dinner.

Boston Harbor Hotel, Boston
Wherever you wed— the 80-foot-dome rotunda, the dockside pavilion, the rooftop terrace— guests will be wowed by the awesome harbor views.

Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham, Massachusetts
At this classic Cape Cod retreat, weddings are all about the sea, whether you make it official on the ocean-view lawn or dance in the beachside boathouse.

White Elephant, Nantucket, Massachusetts
Dress your guy in his preppy best for cocktails, cornhole, and nautical-inspired vows on the hotel's lawn, followed by fresh oysters on the terrace overlooking the harbor.

LaBelle Winery, Amherst, New Hampshire
A wine-country wedding in New England? Believe it. Say "I do" among the grapes, then toast your nuptials with bubbly or blueberry wine in the wood-beamed great room.

The Ashford Estate, Allentown, New Jersey
Take over this 30-acre property and you and your squad will have full run of the mansion, 12 guest suites, manicured gardens, and a rustic barn chapel. theashfordestate.com.

Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Montauk, New York
With a private beach and a tented deck overlooking the Atlantic, this newly renovated hot spot at the tip of Long Island wins raves for its on-site planner and pastry chef.

Gramercy Park Hotel, New York
A favorite of the fashion crowd, this hotel draws brides with its chic rooftop garden (complete with a retractable roof), skyline views, and on-point Danny Meyer menu.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Set on a working farm just north of New York City, this restaurant is known for its uberlocal cuisine and insane photo ops. Think wild gardens and rolling pastures, plus sheep, cows, and chickens!

See More: Keep Your Dance Floor Packed All Night With These Northeastern DJs!

Fairmount Park Horticulture Center, Philadelphia
Want to slash your flower budget? You won't need much decor for a ceremony in the park's gardens or in its gorge greenhouse, lush with ferns and palms.

Providence Public Library, Providence
With columns, a wrought-iron balcony, and turn-of-the-last-century gilded details, the Grand Hall reads more "palace" than "library." Instead of walking the aisle, make your entrance down an elegant marble staircase.

Mountain Top Inn, Chittenden, Vermont
Kick off the day with a morning hike, then exchange vows on a hilltop or barn with major Green Mountain views.

Want more genius planning tips? For the best wedding dresses, advice, and big-day inspiration, pick up the BRIDES February/March 2016 issue, on newsstands now and available for download here!

Want to see more Northeastern Venues? Check out our Northeastern Venues page to find your perfect location!

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Jan 312016
 
incorporate nyc into out of state wedding

Photo: Ira Lippke for Ira Lippke Studios

Do you find that no matter where you travel (or live), your heart belongs to NYC? Yeah, us too. Don't worry! Even though you're not getting married in the city that never sleeps, you can "give your regards to Broadway" by incorporating bits of the Big Apple into your big day.

Menu
When it comes to food, New York City is home to some of the most delicious dishes in the world. While creating your wedding menu, it can be easier than you think to pay homage to your favorite city and its delicacies. For cocktail hour, serve a signature cocktail such as the "Big Apple-tini," Manhattans, or offer Brooklyn Brewery beers for your guests to enjoy. "Street meat" inspired kabobs as passed appetizers or even a New-York-themed captain's table can really wow your guests while transporting their taste buds to NYC. As for dessert, classic New York Cheesecake can do the trick, and the famed Magnolia Bakery also offers delivery of their delicious deserts throughout the country — straight from their world renowned Manhattan bakery to your venue.

Music
Get your guests into a "New York State of Mind" by having the band or DJ play some city-inspired songs. Tons of artists draw their inspiration from the Big Apple, and you can too. New-York-City-themed songs span all generations and genres, so you can be sure to find the perfect fit for your celebration. For softer tunes during cocktail hour and dinner, consider songs recorded by famed NY musician Leonard Bernstein and the Columbia Symphony, Billy Joel's "Miami 2017" (ironic title, we know!), Sinatra's "New York, New York," or Duke Ellington's "Take the A Train." Ready to party? Jay-Z and Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind" is a given, but native New Yorkers including Lady Gaga, 50 Cent, Carly Simon, Cyndi Lauper, Nicki Minaj, Lana Del Rey, and Christina Aguilera are all artists you can put on your playlist as part of your day.

See More: Say Yes to the Dress at One of These New York City Bridal Salons

Favors
Send your guests home from your wedding with a token of your gratitude AND a piece of the city. Candy apples, mini-city snow globes, or custom favors handcrafted by your favorite NYC vendors are just a few options. Candy from the world's largest confectionary emporium, Dylan's Candy Bar, that originally opened in NYC, is sure to please not only your guests, but anyone with a sweet tooth, too! By choosing NYC-themed favors, you will not only pay tribute to your favorite city, but you'll also share your love for it with the people closest to you.

Décor
There are tons of ways to pay tribute to the NY Metro while deciding upon your big day décor. Whether you prefer subtle touches or a full-blown NYC theme, the possibilities are endless. Some of our favorites include taxicab placeholders, naming (instead of numbering) the tables after different streets or your favorite city spots, MetroCard-inspired place cards, Manhattan-themed photobooth props, or Broadway-Playbill-inspired programs. Mix these touches within a classic black and white color scheme or even pops of Tiffany blue to complete your aesthetic.

Photos
Do you "bleed blue," or is your fiancé a total NYC-sports fanatic? Whether it's Yankees or Mets, Rangers or Islanders, Knicks or Nets, or Giants or Jets, you'll want to grab your favorite sports jersey, hoodie, or hat and keep it on hand while taking wedding (or engagement) photos. Throw it on for a few shots to show your support of your favorite NY team on the most important day of your life.

Want to see more ideas on how to plan your NYC themed wedding? Check out our New York City Vendors page to help plan your dream NYC wedding!

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Jan 292016
 
NYC Vintage Engagement Rings

Photo: Courtesy of Erstwhile Jewelry

From their romantic history to their intricate, one-of-a-kind designs, it's no wonder beautifully-detailed vintage engagement rings are all the rage these days! But, if you're not about to inherit your great Aunt Bess' heirlooms any time soon, how do you go about searching out a special vintage engagement ring that suits your taste and style?

We've rounded up the top places to shop vintage (rings, that is!) in NYC. Check out the below jewelers to learn all about their baubles, as well as some tips on how to find "the one" vintage ring you'll love forever.

Erstwhile Jewelry (Above)
Founded on five generations of jewelers with a unique family story spanning from Russia to Manhattan, owner Jared Klusner prides himself on finding uniquely crafted vintage rings, with an eye for 19th-century Victorian, turn-of-the-century Edwardian, French Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and 40s styles with high quality stones. They seek pieces that work for a modern lifestyle, but also have strong roots in the design motifs of the past. In fact, Erstwhile Jewelry inspires clients to mix and match vintage rings with their contemporary pieces. In addition to curating vintage rings, the jewelers design and make their own collection using vintage stones and recycled metals, such as their "The One For You" ring, which is inspired by 18th- and 19th-century designs, and features a vintage cushion-cut diamond in the center.

If you're having trouble finding the right vintage ring, Erstwhile's Jared Klusner tells BRIDES: "Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Beautiful engagement rings don't have to be centered with a diamond. Throughout the centuries important and significant rings have been exchanged with a variety of gemstones and there is no reason a modern bride can't embrace the same sentiment!"

Doyle and Doyle
Sisters Elizabeth and Irene Pamela Doyle founded their warm and friendly shop on West 13th Street "to create a beautiful, inclusive, and bejeweled world where we could share our passion for jewelry and its history with our guests." Doyle and Doyle has since become a downtown mainstay in the Meatpacking District, welcoming brides of all budgets in search of the one-of-a-kind engagement ring design. The Doyles opened their doors in 2000, bringing intensive backgrounds in market as both gemologists and diamond buyers. Given their experience, the sisters carefully select their vintage rings so they are priced fairly. They maintain a thorough four-part inspection for quality and strength before they are even passed to the customer for consideration. "In short, we take away the legwork. All you have to do is fall in love," says Elizabeth.

The store carries a wide range of vintage rings, and the owners pride themselves on truly having something for everyone. "We work together with our customers to identify the perfect ring for them," Elizabeth tells BRIDES. "It needs to be a combination of beautiful, special, and practical. It's fun to try on rings together to figure out which ring fits all of the criteria. And there is absolutely nothing better than when we find the right one and the customer's face lights up. It is truly magical." Read real brides' reviews here!

See More: Snap Flawless Engagement Photos with the Help of These New York City Photographers

Alice Kwartler
For over 40 years, Alice Kwartler has been largely devoted to providing gifts for major life events such as engagements, weddings, and anniversaries. She curates a large selection of antique and estate engagement and wedding rings, with many signed Tiffany and Cartier pieces. Rings vary in style, size, and price, ranging from under $1000 to over $50,000. While classic center stone rings are still the most sought-after at Alice Kwartler, many people opt for different configurations, such as three-stone rings or diamond-shaped stones. One such Alice Kwartler ring is set in an intricate platinum setting. The center stone is 1.49 carats, a round old European cut, with a GIA certificate. The mounting is sprinkled with smaller diamonds — perfect for the romantic bride!

Alice tells BRIDES she looks for "distinctive rings," because modern rings are all "variations on a theme — they look more or less the same." She searches for vintage pieces with "lovely unique mountings," adding that "the old stones were cut differently and have a 'glow' one doesn't see in many modern stones." The store also encourages shopping with your groom-to-be. "We see many couples who come in looking for rings together," says Klusner. "It can be a fun way to learn about each others tastes and also celebrate what will be a very romantic occasion!"

Leigh Jay Nacht
Leigh Jay Nacht's showroom is located in the Diamond District, but its online presence is just as strong. Both the showroom and site offer a unique collection of original vintage antique engagement rings from the 1910's through the 1940's as well as exclusive replicas of the originals, which they make in house. Buyers rave about the customer service experience at Leigh Jay Nacht, saying their product know-how and patience is second to none. The jeweler stocks rings ranging from $500-$40,000, and each is marked as a "genuine antique," "vintage," "estate," or "reproduction."

When shopping for a vintage engagement ring, it's important to know the different classifications. In order to be legally considered an antique in the United States, a piece of jewelry must be 100 years old or older, while "estate" is any item that was previously owned. "Vintage" is actually term for types of estate jewelry from a particular era, such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Retro Moderne, Victorian, and Edwardian. Leigh Jay Nacht's reproduction pieces are made in their New York showroom and are not for sale anywhere other than at Leigh Jay Nacht, Inc. Read real brides' reviews here!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell's storefront on Madison Avenue caters to the selective vintage-jewelry buyer, who craves a carefully chosen collection of vintage rings that are, above all, designed with great style. They specialize in period rings from the Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco eras, as well as their own Stephen Russell Collection. He also suggests vintage buyers stay away from trends, saying, "This is a ring that you want to have forever. Having said that, I think it is important to be unique!" One such unique ring, shown above, is a platinum asscher cut 5.82ct diamond ring, signed Lacloche Freres, from Paris, circa 1935.

Like their discerning clients, Stephen Feuerman and Russell Zelenetz are collectors at heart, and travel the world to acquire their pieces. Their jewelry collections have been featured in fine art books, as well as accessories for runway collections at New York Fashion Week. With stand-out pieces being the name of the game at Stephen Russell, co-owner Russell Zelenetz advises that "brides (and their fiancés) buy the best of whatever it is that you like!"

Find even more beautiful baubles at these other big city jewelers!

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Jan 292016
 
NYC Vintage Engagement Rings

Photo: Courtesy of Erstwhile Jewelry

From their romantic history to their intricate, one-of-a-kind designs, it's no wonder beautifully-detailed vintage engagement rings are all the rage these days! But, if you're not about to inherit your great Aunt Bess' heirlooms any time soon, how do you go about searching out a special vintage engagement ring that suits your taste and style?

We've rounded up the top places to shop vintage (rings, that is!) in NYC. Check out the below jewelers to learn all about their baubles, as well as some tips on how to find "the one" vintage ring you'll love forever.

Erstwhile Jewelry (Above)
Founded on five generations of jewelers with a unique family story spanning from Russia to Manhattan, owner Jared Klusner prides himself on finding uniquely crafted vintage rings, with an eye for 19th-century Victorian, turn-of-the-century Edwardian, French Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and 40s styles with high quality stones. They seek pieces that work for a modern lifestyle, but also have strong roots in the design motifs of the past. In fact, Erstwhile Jewelry inspires clients to mix and match vintage rings with their contemporary pieces. In addition to curating vintage rings, the jewelers design and make their own collection using vintage stones and recycled metals, such as their "The One For You" ring, which is inspired by 18th- and 19th-century designs, and features a vintage cushion-cut diamond in the center.

If you're having trouble finding the right vintage ring, Erstwhile's Jared Klusner tells BRIDES: "Don't be afraid to think outside the box. Beautiful engagement rings don't have to be centered with a diamond. Throughout the centuries important and significant rings have been exchanged with a variety of gemstones and there is no reason a modern bride can't embrace the same sentiment!"

Doyle and Doyle
Sisters Elizabeth and Irene Pamela Doyle founded their warm and friendly shop on West 13th Street "to create a beautiful, inclusive, and bejeweled world where we could share our passion for jewelry and its history with our guests." Doyle and Doyle has since become a downtown mainstay in the Meatpacking District, welcoming brides of all budgets in search of the one-of-a-kind engagement ring design. The Doyles opened their doors in 2000, bringing intensive backgrounds in market as both gemologists and diamond buyers. Given their experience, the sisters carefully select their vintage rings so they are priced fairly. They maintain a thorough four-part inspection for quality and strength before they are even passed to the customer for consideration. "In short, we take away the legwork. All you have to do is fall in love," says Elizabeth.

The store carries a wide range of vintage rings, and the owners pride themselves on truly having something for everyone. "We work together with our customers to identify the perfect ring for them," Elizabeth tells BRIDES. "It needs to be a combination of beautiful, special, and practical. It's fun to try on rings together to figure out which ring fits all of the criteria. And there is absolutely nothing better than when we find the right one and the customer's face lights up. It is truly magical." Read real brides' reviews here!

See More: Snap Flawless Engagement Photos with the Help of These New York City Photographers

Alice Kwartler
For over 40 years, Alice Kwartler has been largely devoted to providing gifts for major life events such as engagements, weddings, and anniversaries. She curates a large selection of antique and estate engagement and wedding rings, with many signed Tiffany and Cartier pieces. Rings vary in style, size, and price, ranging from under $1000 to over $50,000. While classic center stone rings are still the most sought-after at Alice Kwartler, many people opt for different configurations, such as three-stone rings or diamond-shaped stones. One such Alice Kwartler ring is set in an intricate platinum setting. The center stone is 1.49 carats, a round old European cut, with a GIA certificate. The mounting is sprinkled with smaller diamonds — perfect for the romantic bride!

Alice tells BRIDES she looks for "distinctive rings," because modern rings are all "variations on a theme — they look more or less the same." She searches for vintage pieces with "lovely unique mountings," adding that "the old stones were cut differently and have a 'glow' one doesn't see in many modern stones." The store also encourages shopping with your groom-to-be. "We see many couples who come in looking for rings together," says Klusner. "It can be a fun way to learn about each others tastes and also celebrate what will be a very romantic occasion!"

Leigh Jay Nacht
Leigh Jay Nacht's showroom is located in the Diamond District, but its online presence is just as strong. Both the showroom and site offer a unique collection of original vintage antique engagement rings from the 1910's through the 1940's as well as exclusive replicas of the originals, which they make in house. Buyers rave about the customer service experience at Leigh Jay Nacht, saying their product know-how and patience is second to none. The jeweler stocks rings ranging from $500-$40,000, and each is marked as a "genuine antique," "vintage," "estate," or "reproduction."

When shopping for a vintage engagement ring, it's important to know the different classifications. In order to be legally considered an antique in the United States, a piece of jewelry must be 100 years old or older, while "estate" is any item that was previously owned. "Vintage" is actually term for types of estate jewelry from a particular era, such as Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Retro Moderne, Victorian, and Edwardian. Leigh Jay Nacht's reproduction pieces are made in their New York showroom and are not for sale anywhere other than at Leigh Jay Nacht, Inc. Read real brides' reviews here!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell's storefront on Madison Avenue caters to the selective vintage-jewelry buyer, who craves a carefully chosen collection of vintage rings that are, above all, designed with great style. They specialize in period rings from the Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco eras, as well as their own Stephen Russell Collection. He also suggests vintage buyers stay away from trends, saying, "This is a ring that you want to have forever. Having said that, I think it is important to be unique!" One such unique ring, shown above, is a platinum asscher cut 5.82ct diamond ring, signed Lacloche Freres, from Paris, circa 1935.

Like their discerning clients, Stephen Feuerman and Russell Zelenetz are collectors at heart, and travel the world to acquire their pieces. Their jewelry collections have been featured in fine art books, as well as accessories for runway collections at New York Fashion Week. With stand-out pieces being the name of the game at Stephen Russell, co-owner Russell Zelenetz advises that "brides (and their fiancés) buy the best of whatever it is that you like!"

Find even more beautiful baubles at these other big city jewelers!

UPDATED Find Local Vendors Button

Jan 252016
 
NJ Rustic Wedding Venues Ashford Estate

Photo: Courtesy of The Ashford Estate

If you envision rustic, country, or vintage vibes for your big day, you're not alone. Rustic weddings with a country feel are gaining in popularity at rapid speed, and right outside of New York (in New Jersey), there are a ton of beautiful venues to suit your style. There IS a reason that NJ is called the "Garden State" after all. So, channel thoughts of burlap, candles, wooden structures, and country vibes as you peruse our list of Jersey venues for rustic brides.

The Ashford Estate (Above)
The gorgeously-landscaped property and views of this country estate will have your guests mesmerized before they even enter the iron gates. Located on over 30 acres of meticulously-designed property, the one-of-a-kind Ashford Estate offers a grand ballroom as well as a barn chapel, carriage house, conservatory, and a solid oak library — featuring charming details from dark wood to vintage art. Elegant guest suites on the property enable you and your guests to enjoy all the estate has to offer, as the entire estate can be exclusively yours on your wedding day. Read real brides' reviews here!

NJ Rustic Wedding Venue Inn at Fernbrook Farms

Photo: Kiamarie Stone via Instagram

Inn at Fernbrook Farms
With an incredible setting amongst lush gardens and vegetable fields of a working farm, the Inn at Fernbrook Farms serves as a versatile, rustic space for your most memorable day. With beautiful gardens, indoor and outdoor options, and beautiful rustic-farm features, this venue is a gorgeous and authentic location for a wedding, easily transforming into precisely what you envision for a one-of-a-kind wedding with a country feel. Read real brides' reviews here!

Rustic NJ Venues Crossed Keys Estate

Photo: Courtesy of Crossed Keys Estate

Crossed Keys Estate & Inn
As you drive in through the tree-lined entrance, the beauty of the Crossed Keys Estate is immediate. Boasting beautiful gardens throughout the grounds, a tented reception area, outdoor spaces, guest rooms, and a roaring fire pit, this venue has a plethora of options. The inn also offers on-site lodging for guests to spend the night after celebrating your big day. With charming touches including a luxurious bridal suite and an adorable Juliette-style balcony (perfect for the bouquet-toss!), this estate is ideal for the couple hoping for an outdoor wedding venue with unique, vintage charm. Read real brides' reviews here!

See More: Start the Search for the Perfect Dress at These New Jersey Bridal Boutiques!

Rustic NJ Wedding Venues Jacks Barn

Photo: Jaclyn Bellizzi Robert via Instagram

Jacks Barn
If you've always dreamed of a DIY-style barn wedding, Jacks Barn — in Oxford, NJ — is a perfect fit. With a rusty-red exterior and gorgeous high beams dripping with sparkling chandeliers, this once-working barn also features lush green landscapes and an adorable antique shop to complement its picturesque setting. This locale is a wonderful option for the couple seeking to make their day uniquely theirs — in an authentic barn amongst chic lighting and furnishings. Read real brides' reviews here!

Rustic NJ Wedding Venues Perona Farms

Photo: Courtesy of Perona Farms

The Barn at Perona Farms
Nestled in the northern New Jersey countryside, The Barn at Perona Farms is a newly-renovated barn perfect for picturesque nuptials. Boasting fourth-generation ownership and 97 years of experience, the venue boasts an open-air feel (with two levels to celebrate for both cocktail hour and reception), breathtaking wooden archways, and gorgeously landscaped grounds — wonderful for rustic, swoon-worthy photo ops. Read real brides' reviews here!

For more fantastic New Jersey locales for the big day, head to our NJ Venues page!

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Jan 242016
 
NYC Engagement Date Ideas

Photo: Getty Images

Congratulations! You're engaged and excited — but now what? Planning and parties and budgets, oh my! But, before you let the fun (and stress) of wedding planning begin, take some time to celebrate with your new fiancé for a special date night in NYC at some our favorite date night locations.

The Highline
If the weather outside isn't frightful, head out for some fresh air and explore The High Line. You'll have to look up to find your way, as this linear park is located on an old Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. Spanning nearly one and a half miles, this repurposed park now boasts multiple passages and overlooks, a lawn for picnics and lounging, gardens, artwork, and tours. Hungry? While many food vendors are available seasonally, the Highline's Santina restaurant offers Italian entrees with a menu highlighted by vegetables and fish. Located under the Gansevoort entrance to the High Line, Santina offers brunch, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cocktails — so you are sure to enjoy all this restaurant has to offer regardless of the time of day.

Hornblower Manhattan Dinner Cruise
All aboard this three-hour cruise for a romantic dinner sailing around the city via the Hudson River. Offering a cocktail hour, three-course a-la-carte menu, and a dessert station (as well as premium bar upgrades), you can take in the sights of NYC's one-of-a-kind landmarks and cityscape from a climate-controlled sun deck, or dance with your new fiancé to the award-winning live entertainment. Departing from Pier 40 in the West Village, this is sure to be a date night to remember. Read real brides' reviews here!

Sweet Revenge
Cupcakes and alcohol? It's pretty much a no brainer. Located in the Village, Sweet Revenge boasts the title of the "nation's only restaurant with a cupcake, wine, and beer bar." The cozy atmosphere and delectable desert offerings are a force to be reckoned with — starring their artisan, internationally-inspired cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies, and pies — in addition to wine/beer pairings. Such a perfect for an after-dinner or mid-day date spot. Sweet Revenge also offers breakfast, lunch, and small plates in the evenings as well as a weekend brunch AND happy hour. Dessert + drinks + a giddy fiancé = the perfect celebration.

See More: Start Getting the Big Day Details Together with Some Help from These New York Wedding Planners

River Café
Located directly below the Brooklyn Bridge, the River Café is an iconic venue that is perfect for celebrating the most important occasions, such as your new engagement! Claiming to be one of New York and America's most unique locations (we'd have to agree!) the River Café serves a classic New American menu, an award winning wine list, (one of the most respected in the country), and live piano music nightly. While it may be difficult to choose between the mouthwatering lobster, Branzino, or duck, it's not a hard decision to celebrate your milestone at this iconic NYC spot. Just make sure your fiancé wears a jacket after 5:00! Read real brides' reviews here!

A Hidden Speakeasy
Even the most city-savvy New Yorker may have missed some of these hidden gems. While today drinking is legal (wooo!), many of these spots popped up during Prohibition as a way for New Yorkers to illegally enjoy libations, tucked away from the public eye. With over 35 hidden haunts to choose from within the city, these bars provide the perfect ambiance (think vintage, classic, intimate, and mysterious) for a romantic night with your fiancé to enjoy some cocktails and toast to a new life together. Our favorite? It would have to be PDT (Please Don't Tell) on St. Mark's Place. Mixing adventure, secrecy, and delicious cocktails, to gain admittance you must first walk down a set of stairs into Crif Dogs restaurant. Once inside, enter the vintage phone booth, pick up the phone and press the buzzer. If "approved," the booth will open and you will enter this little hideaway to begin your date night in a unique and mysterious way.

For more fantastic New York locales for date nights (or even your wedding!), head to our NYC Venues page!

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