A Vintage Bookstore Wedding

My good friends, Tony and Tiffany, were recently married at the Housing Works Bookstore Café in Manhattan. They are both educators and avid readers, so a bookstore seemed like a natural choice for the venue.

They were very clever in the way they incorporated the book theme into every aspect of the event. Everything revolved around words and classic book style, and none of it was fussy or complicated. It was simple elegance.

Most big events are introduced to their guests through the invitations. The couple wanted the design to resemble a vintage book from a library complete with a library return card as the RSVP postcard. When they asked their graphic designer friend, Robyn Almquist (, to come up with a design she gave them three choices to start. To her surprise and delight, they liked all three and decided it would be fitting to have three different covers to mimic the variety of books one would find in a bookstore.

They had a lot of guests coming from out of town, so they wanted all the information a visitor to New York City would need in the invitation. Plus, they wanted to include general information about the wedding. They turned all the copy into “chapters,” and even had a cute “About the Authors” section with fun facts about the bride and groom.

Having a wedding at a bookstore provides a great backdrop. The books naturally create a warm and inviting space, so there wasn’t a lot to do for decorating, but they filled in the spaces with some charming touches like lights strung across the balcony illuminating the ceremony and dance floor.

Tiffany found a small card catalog online which they used at the entrance. They allowed their guests to use the old cards in the drawers to write kind notes or advice which the couple will file in the catalog alphabetically by name and use as a glorified guest book in the future.

The gifts table was decorated with paperback books and a lovely picnic basket, painted with chalkboard paint that was perfect for all their gift cards! There was a small box of chalk there too, perfect for leaving the bride and groom messages.

On the tables they simply placed a glass votive holder with a tea candle and Scrabble tiles scattered around it. Most of the tables had random tiles, but some spelled things out like “CAKES” for the cupcake table.

Instead of using a pillow for the rings, they created a book with a secret compartment by cutting a hole in the pages. Who hasn’t watched an old horror movie with secret passages and revolving bookcases and not wanted to make one of these?

As favors for their guests, they made bookmarks using an old paper doll pattern and superimposed their faces on the illustrations.

There are companies that will allow you to rent a photo booth for events. Tony and Tiffany decided to set up their own using a remote control for the camera on a tripod and a laptop. Mustaches, glasses and top hats on sticks made fun props for the guests to play with. They attached the camera remotes on to paint stirrers, so that guests could take their own self portraits.

I LOVED the burlap banner that they made for the photo booth backdrop!

Here I am with Stephen and our friend Reeb. I think they should put a whole album of these together because the photos were so hilarious!

September 24th, the day of their wedding, also happened to be a worldwide day to move beyond fossil fuels organized by In solidarity and in celebration of their wedding, the couple spent the summer making a film of themselves trying to get to the wedding by any means possible without using a single fossil fuel. It really is a beautiful little movie. Plus, Tony wrote and played the music. I was lucky enough to see it during the reception, but you can see it here:

Many thanks to Tony and Tiffany for a wonderful evening. Congratulations to you both!

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