It had been years since I did anything elaborate for my birthday, so even though this wasn’t a milestone birthday in the traditional sense, I felt like with our first baby arriving just around the corner, it was a really good time to make a larger-than-usual fuss, combining two celebrations into one big party: a baby shower and birthday party.
Jolie Studio is an event space in Brooklyn, and has been featured on Catalyst before (which is how I found it – it was also suggested by Nicole, the chef.) I reached out to talk to them, and we began planning which of their in-house rentals I’d use, as well as the timing of the event. It’s a warm, chic event space with an exposed brick wall that’s original to the building, and the entire front is floor to ceiling windows, meaning it has a ton of natural light.
Elizabeth Mealey took all of the wonderful photos. Thank you, Elizabeth! You managed to make very-pregnant me feel beautiful.
I reached out to one of my dearest friends, NYC wedding and event planner Allison Davis of Davis Row, who gave me the party of my dreams, pulled everything together, and made sure everything was perfect (and that I wasn’t stressed at all. Thank you, Allison!)
Nicole Martin of Epicurious Safari worked with me (and my cravings) to create a southern/Caribbean inspired menu that we joked was “unapologetically black.” Highlights were fried fish, collard greens, corn bread, sweet plantains, rice with pigeon peas and – especially for my husband who is a vegetarian – barbecue pulled “pork” made from jackfruit, which delighted just about everyone, including meat-eaters.
Our menus doubled as place cards. They were designed by Ephemora; we chose their “Marbled” collection since it went with our bright theme so well. Allison hand-lettered the menu cards with each guest’s name and placed them at their seat.
I was honestly going to skip the florals, but Allison convinced me they were just the right touch for a luncheon, and of course she was right. (Allison is always right.) We called Angel Salazar in Brooklyn, who created incredible, happy florals based on our mood board. He also provided blooms for our photo booth wall, inspired by the Kehinde Wiley portrait of President Obama. The wall was created by Dreamwork Diva.
One thing I really wanted was giant, confetti-filled balloons. They are a pain to transport, but ended up being so worth it. If I ever use them again, I’ll rent a helium tank and fill them on site. They gave a pretty “lift” to the party. The other special touch was that Melanie from mmm…bands curated a fun playlist for the party, which we played as background music. You can listen to it on Spotify here.
We had two cakes – one for me, and one for the baby. Baby Marlow’s was funfetti, a nod to his “rainbow baby” status (it’s been a long road, to say the least). My cake was a peanut butter chocolate cake, and everyone sang Happy Birthday while I cried at them and blew out the candles.
I’m not supposed to tell you what I wished for, but I bet you can guess.
Photography | Elizabeth Mealey | @weddingsbyelizabethmealey
Design and Production | Davis Row | @davisrow
Venue | Jolie Studio | @joliestudiobk
Catering | Epicurious Safari | @epicurioussafari
Cake | Buttermilk Bake Shop | @buttermilkbakeshopny
Floral Design | Angel Salazar Design | @angelsalazardesign
Greenery Wall | Dreamwork Diva | @dreamwork_diva
Playlist | mmm...bands | @mmm.bands
Amber Marlow is a co-owner and Editor of Catalyst Wedding Co. In addition to being a proud original “wedding disrupter” by promoting feminist, egalitarian, and woke weddings on Catalyst, she is a wedding photographer based in New York City.
Amber lives with her husband in Brooklyn, and is very good at picking restaurants, making travel plans, and backgammon.