Ansley & Derrick’s love-packed dance party wedding

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 | Photography by Daria Wheaton Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Ansley, Quality Assurance Specialist

Her offbeat partner: Derrick, Mechanical Engineer

Date and location of wedding: Aurora Gallery, Queens, NY — October 25, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Pulling off a wedding in New York City for 80 people at under $15,000 is pretty tough, but by using Aurora Gallery, a raw space, and choosing all the details ourselves, we were able to keep costs down. Food was our first priority, and most of the budget. To save on staff and dishes, we had a buffet with fancy plastic ware and everyone loved the soul food: chicken parmesan, mac ‘n' cheese, pulled pork, and crab cakes.



Rather than having a traditional cake, we ordered a small cake and 80 cupcakes from my favorite bakery. They were all white and I jazzed them up with inexpensive toppers. I borrowed cake stands. The eclectic look was pretty, and I didn't have to buy something I would never use again.

We wrote the ceremony, including a handfasting, and Derrick's sister was our officiant. We kept all the wording gender neutral and ended it all with, “You are now married, you may kiss each other!”


We took our photos before the ceremony and reception (which were both held in the same space) so that we could enjoy the party with our guests. Because the ceremony and reception were in the same space, we had guests sit at their reception tables for the ceremony and it worked out really well. Also, we skipped regular flowers, which can cost thousands, and just used baby's breath and a paper bouquet. Total cost: less than $100!




I made my own centerpieces, which were bottles spray painted gold. I used wine and beer bottles to give various heights and combined those with some small votives. I also made the place card holders. I took small plastic animals, drilled a hole for a paperclip, glued them together, and spray painted them gold.


We were not concerned about getting diamond rings or precious stones, so we got tungsten rings from Amazon.



Our biggest challenge:
Getting people to RSVP was nearly impossible. We invited about 110 people and I probably talked individually to 50 of them in order to get answers. It was frustrating and not fun. Also, we were working with a really tight budget, and there were times when I doubted we would have money for beer, or tips, or something crucial. Derrick's mother helped us a bit and I got a bonus so it all worked out in the end.


My favorite moment:
When Derrick danced with his mother, everyone in the room cried. He is an only child and they are very close. They both cried during the dance, too.

Directly after the ceremony, Derrick and I took a moment to ourselves outside and just celebrated. We made sure to connect throughout the night and managed to really enjoy and remember everything.


My funniest moment:
Derrick and his friends love metal music. Metal is not great to dance to, but the DJ made sure to play three or four metal songs during dinner. As soon as the first one came on, his eyes lit up and he and his friends looked at one another and cheered. He got a lot of credit for playing metal at the reception.

On the way to the after-party, a group of about 30 of us were walking to a dive bar and ran into a mariachi band. Someone paid them and they followed us to the bar! It was a wonderful coincidence.


What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?
If you are determined to enjoy yourself, you will. On our wedding day, I was relaxed and happy and none of the snags that came up ruined that. I focused on the big picture, and visualizing the positive outcome really made it happen.


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Comments on Ansley & Derrick’s love-packed dance party wedding

  1. Ah how lovely nothing short of perfect, you did a wonderful job on a great budget. I am looking to have mine in harlem, bronx or queens if i can’t get the others, i think a space well open space is better to work with.

    • I actually bought the bouquets on Etsy from a great shop called The Paper Flowerbed. Link is above in the blog post ????

  2. Hi Ansley! Having my wedding at Aurora in July. You looked beautiful and did such a lovely job. Kudos to you because I can’t do it!! You mentioned 80 people, do you think you could have fit more? Can’t tell with the space! And I noticed people were standing during the ceremony, think they minded that? Seemed like everyone had a wonderful time. Did you have a DJ? Any recommendation? Would love to go with someone simple that knows the space. Any help or advice is so appreciated!! Thanks tons.

    • Hi Amy-

      Aurora says the space could fit up to 100 people with a dance floor, and that sounds about right to me. We were not crowded at all. People actually sat during our ceremony…. i set it up so that we got married on the dance floor, and the guests were at the dinner tables the entire time, no need for a second space.

      We did have a DJ, but I might recommend trying someone else…. have you looked at

      If you do decide to go with Aurora Gallery, they have a list of recommended vendors which is another good place to look.

      best of luck-

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