A Socially Distant Vow Renewal Overlooking New York City
Four years after saying âI doâ in a courthouse ceremony, Michaela Almqvist, a real estate agent, and Love Almqvist, an actor and DJ, decided the time was right to renew their vowsâwith something that felt a little bit more like a wedding.
Michaela says it may not have happened, except that they discovered a micro wedding offering from wedding planner Fallon Carter called The We Do! Collective. âCOVID presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we couldnât deny,â Michaela says of inviting eight guests to witness their vows. âThe 620 Loft & Garden had always been a dream venue, so we jumped, and everything else fell into place with Fallonâs guidance.â
The Brooklyn-based couple wanted the afternoon celebration to feel âpolished but laid-back,â a reflection of who they are. They loved that the rooftop venue came with views of midtown Manhattan, including Rockefeller Center, but added bohemian touches to keep it from feeling too stuffy. Tinsel Experiential Design constructed a tented lounge, complete with a vinyl record player, and Creative Edge Parties created packaged snack boxes with pre-made Paloma cocktails for guests. Honey + Vinyl performed a mix of jazz, reggae, and soul, and the couple cut into a candied yam and almond raspberry wedding cake from B Cake NY.
One special touch? The wedding photos by Amy Anaiz. âSince we didnât have a photographer for our first wedding, these will literally be the photos we share with our future children, which is priceless to us,â Michaela says. âWhen she delivered the photos to us, we were in tears and danced all around the living room in joy.â
âOur planner surprised us with a custom dual vow book by Cecile's Paper Co that had our printed vows inside,â Michaela says. âWe were blown away by this sweet and unexpected gift.â Cecileâs Paper Co also designed the coupleâs invitations.
I never thought I was a veil kind of person but when I saw the matching veil to my dress, it was an undeniable attraction. It really made me feel like a bride again.
Michaela admired the feminine and flattering details of her Liz Martinez gown that she found at Spina Bride. âIt is a truly unique gown with a showstopping appeal,â she says of its peplum top, 3-D appliquĂ©s, and tulle skirt.
Michaela worked with Selina Howard of Vainglorious Brides to put together her look. Given the pandemic, she knew shopping would be challenging as would designing a custom dress. âSelina told me not to worry and put me at ease,â Michaela says of the process.
âI never thought I was a veil kind of person but when I saw the matching veil to my dress it was an undeniable attraction,â Michaela says. âIt really made me feel like a bride again.â
Michaela and Love invited just eight guests for the occasion. While the guest list was small, it meant the couple was able to spend the day with their loved ones, getting ready together and even posing for some pre-ceremony photos.
Love also got a stylist of his own: Donnell Baldwin of Mr. Baldwin Style helped create Loveâs look: a slim-tailored Musika chino suit with a striped oxford shirt, forest Green Ralph Lauren tie, and forest green, tasseled loafers.
The ceremony was the most important aspect for us so we wanted a backdrop that felt just as epic as our love story.
âThe ceremony was the most important aspect for us so we wanted a backdrop that felt just as epic as our love story,â Michaela says of literally framing the backdrop of the ceremony space. The vow renewal took place on July 9thâjust one day off from their four-year anniversary on July 8th.
âWhen we showed up and saw the final design, we were completely blown away,â Michaela says of leaving the design to her planning team. âIt could not have looked more perfect.â A mix of vessels and vases accented the framed backdrop to add a bohemian touch to the altar, and guests watched from a mix of cushy armchairs and chaises.
Michaela and Love knew family members, including Michaelaâs parents, would not be there because of COVID travel restrictions, so they were sure to hire a videographer to capture the moment. As they entered, Honey + Vinyl performed Sadeâs âKiss of Life.â
The coupleâs planner, Fallon Carter, actually officiated the vow renewal.
Since we didnât write our own vows the first time around, it was something special we wanted to do for each other.
The easiest part of the day? âSaying 'I do' again,â Michaela says. The couple wrote their own vows, which included sweet nods to their meet-cute in a Brooklyn club and details of what has made their marriage work over the past few years.
âSince we didnât write our own vows the first time around, it was something special we wanted to do for each other,â Michaela adds.
âWe love music and so it was important for us to incorporate a live music element,â Michaela says. As they processed up the aisle, the band played a cover of âAsâ by Stevie Wonder that led straight into their first dance.
The couple couldnât have a formal reception, as food was not allowed to be served nor was dancing permitted, due to social distancing guidelines. Instead, the couple fused their first dance with their processional, as Honey + Vinyl performed âtheir song:â Lauryn Hill's âTurn the Lights Down Low.â
During a fitting for her wedding gown, Michaela spotted a simple slip dress at Spina Bride. âI knew it would be perfect for my second look,â she says. âIt had no frills and no fluff and just reminded me of my relationship and journey with Love.â Love also got a second outfit: He changed into a mustard-colored suit with a peak lapel.
Michaela admits that she worried regularly about government regulations and social distancing guidelines changing. In the end, it went as planned, including guests wearing matching masks. âEven though we had to keep our numbers small we were happy to have shared this day with our closest friends,â Michaela says. The custom masks and corresponding napkins came from Lola Valentina.
The couple collaborated with Creative Edge Parties on a pre-made custom cocktail that guests could pour into rose-hued stemware themselves. The result: âThe Almqvist,â a take on the Paloma with tequila, grapefruit juice, honey, lime, and sparkling water.
Sweets were also part of the menu with parfaits, as were some gorgeous flower-pressed acrylic props.
Even the record play coordinated with the invitation suite, vow books, and reception details.
âRemember the âwhyâ when getting caught up in what is it versus what you planned the day to be,â Michaela says of planning the celebration. Despite all the unknowns, she and Love tried to keep a level head about it, and it turned out remembering the âwhyâ was the easiest part of the process.
The couple did have a cake, even though they couldnât serve it to their guests.
Michaela and Love cut into the two-tier wedding confection that featured cascading sugar petals. While they couldn't serve it, it sure made for a cute photo opp.
âJust like our original wedding, it felt rightâand the views over the city where we fell in love was the icing on the cake,â Michaela says of the day.
Just like our original wedding, it felt rightâand the views over the city where we fell in love was the icing on the cake.
After the party, the pair retired to their house in Brooklyn. Despite jetting to Jamaica for their honeymoon after their wedding, this honeymoon was more COVID-friendly: âOur second honeymoon was in the comfort of our home,â Michaela says.