I cannot stop thinking about Nadia and Ali’s wedding in New York City. The glamour, togetherness and complete joy that lit up their faces in those little moments of connection — the beauty of their wedding at The Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center was unforgettable. Above all of the beauty and ceremony, what made this NYC wedding extra special to me was getting to join in the full weekend’s celebrations at the rehearsal dinner and next day brunch. I absolutely love to document rehearsal dinners where I gain greater insight into the relationships amongst the couple and their closest guests. Meeting everyone before the wedding allows them to relax in front of the camera so that I can capture them in their unscripted natural moments, this familiarity allows for more emotional access the day of the wedding. Those invited to rehearsal dinner are also the ones we will give more focus to on the wedding day itself. For the couple, I see this as the time when the stress of the year of wedding planning goes away, and it’s time to enjoy seeing all the people you love the most in one place!!
For Nadia and Ali’s New York City rehearsal dinner and brunch, they booked Sadelle’s and Avra, two of New York City’s hottest restaurants. Nadia and Ali welcomed their guests to an extended cocktail hour on Friday, while Sunday they presented a large, sit down brunch. Dining with the people you love is a timeless way to feel connected and nourished both physically and spiritually, and these two meals were the perfect bookends for this story of new beginnings.
New York City Rehearsal Dinner and Brunch: Dinner at Sadelle’s
We began the weekend at Sadelle’s: the perfect choice for an intimate welcome party venue with their wedding party and family.
The quick walk to this classic Soho restuarant was full of anticipation for kicking off the celebrations. I loved seeing this couple at home as we captured pictures on the city streets. After all, is it even a New York photo shoot without wet streets and scaffolding as your backdrop?
We had a few minutes between the rains to stroll Soho before guests started arriving at Sadelle’s: the perfect intimate rehearsal dinner venue in New York City. I love the cobblestone streets and strong verticals of Soho’s loft buildings.
We may have taken a detour so the newlyweds could sneak off for a quick kiss and a quiet moment together. Those few moments were all about finding their solid ground in each other’s presence before stepping into the whirlwind of their wedding weekend. I hope these images always serve as a reminder to anchor each other in the chaos.
The warm blue and white exterior welcomed us off the damp streets.
Once inside, the party really got started. Nadia and Ali graciously welcomed every guest and Sadelle’s quickly filled with warmth and laughter.
As Nadia and Ali floated between visits with closest family and friends, I so enjoyed photographing little vignettes about their relationships. And of course, a big topic of the night was Nadia’s dress. How beautiful!
The small moments of connection between guests and the couple filled the restaurant with laughter and energy, and the wedding story begins!
Time for toasts!
The toasts at rehearsal dinners are always so much more personal than at the wedding and I love getting a glimpse into the personalities of your closest family and friends. This really helps my coverage for the rest of the weekend as then I know to focus my lens a bit more on those special guests. In turn, they feel more comfortable with me and are able to relax a bit more knowing that I’m there to capture all the candid moments.
Finally, it was time for cocktail hour: food, drinks, and a little bit of partying to warm up for the weekend!
Sadelle’s has six locations, Soho was their first location which opened in 2016, and they have been written up as an essential destination by Harper’s BAZAAR and Cosmopolitan. Next time I’m in Paris, there’s a good chance I’ll be enjoying my favorite sticky buns and salmon at Sadelle’s French outpost there. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?
New York City Brunch: Avra at Rockefeller Center
The second location of Nadia and Ali’s New York City rehearsal dinner and brunch venues came in the open-aired elegance of Avra, just across the street from Radio City Music Hall, and where they married the day before (read all about their beautiful wedding day here!). What a breath of fresh air: clean and bright while teeming with life. Set within a luminous atmosphere, it was a great chance to eat fresh seafood and stretch sore muscles after last night’s dancing.
Ali’s nieces served guests traditional Indian treats with smiles and bright welcomes. Their excitement for Nadia and Ali was infectious.
As guests began to filter in and get settled before the bride and groom’s arrival, we got a complete look at just how stunningly elegant Avra’s new Rockefeller Center location is.
A big, bright, lively gathering, this brunch was one last opportunity for friends and family from all sides to visit with each other and celebrate people they love.
With Nadia and Ali’s arrival, guests relaxed and began to enjoy toasts, conversation, and one of the best seafood lunches in NYC.
Nadia and Ali were surprised when their nieces tied them up upon arrival and then, according to an Eastern tradition, insisted on “bribes” of money and sweets to untie them.
Ali had 79 embroidered on his shirt, which is their wedding date, July 9! Ali’s mother delivered a moving toast, reminding Nadia that she would love her as her own daughter; a particularly moving toast as Nadia’s mother had recently passed.
This grand finale of toasts and well-wishes ended the weekend of celebration on the highest of notes.
As far as New York City rehearsal dinner and brunch venues go, I couldn’t imagine two better locations. The moody warmth of Sadelle’s chic industrial style was the perfect backdrop for gathering the people who had supported Nadia and Ali throughout their lives. The light and joy that filled Avra as the entire wedding party gathered for one last meal was exactly what everyone needed to feel energized and propelled into the future.
Rehearsal Dinner Location | Sadelle’s
Brunch Location | Avra Rockefeller Center