An under $25,000 wedding in Brooklyn (with the help of some friends)

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Alex Dragan, left, and Jonah Lichtash, right, under the Archway in DUMBO. Photo: Dream Life Photography

It was February 4, 2012 when entrepreneur Alex Dragan went to a friend’s dinner party for self-proclaimed “gay nerds” at a tapas bar in Park Slope. The host, in an effort to play matchmaker, was planning on introducing Dragan to a gentleman that would also be there by the name of Jonah Lichtash. Lichtash, a preschool teacher, wasn’t aware of this important fact. And yet, Lichtash says beaming, “I was ready to be a couple five minutes after meeting Alex.”

The two hit it off and exchanged phone numbers.

Five days later they had their first date, dinner followed by a stroll in Prospect Park. Here, Dragan turned to Lichtash and said, “I suppose this is as good a time as any to kiss you,” then seized the moment.

On August 4, 2015, just before sunset, the two took a walk in Prospect Park. “It was the golden hour, the fireflies were out and a lady and her dog were milling about,” according to Lichtash. When they arrived at the spot of their first kiss, Lichtash began playing “Samson” by Regina Spector on his phone inviting Dragan to slow dance.

Shortly after, Lichtash took a page from Dragan’s book and proclaimed, “I suppose this is as good a time as any…,” but instead of asking for a kiss, he asked Dragan to marry him. Dragan, who had sensed a proposal might be coming, had written the words “I do” on a piece of paper and folded it neatly in his pocket that morning. Upon being proposed to, Dragan paused, fetched the paper from his pocket and unfolded it to reveal the words “I do” to Lichtash.

Aware that Dragan didn’t want an engagement ring, Lichtash purchased a sterling silver ring with an inset of black diamonds for himself and playfully invited Dragan to put it on him.

Their thoughtful engagement was just the prelude to an equally memorable wedding. Here’s how their wedding planning played out:

Jonah and Alex’s wedding ceremony in the Marc Jupiter showroom in DUMBO. Photo: Dream Life Photography

The space

“We knew from the very beginning we wanted to find an interesting and unconventional space and make it our own,” Lichtash says.

Fortunately, Lichtash’s fellow teaching colleague heard the couple was tying the knot and offered the use of her husband’s furniture showroom in DUMBO, Mark Jupiter Showroom, as a wedding gift. Although the showroom had been home to events, theirs was the only wedding to ever take place in the space.

The food

“We are total foodies, so it was important to serve fantastic food so I began reaching out to restaurants we loved instead of going the traditional catering route,” says Lichtash.

“We didn’t want a formal sit-down dinner. We wanted people to be up mingling and having fun the whole time,” Dragan adds.

The couple wound up working with the owner of Manhattan’s Tocqueville and together they created a sophisticated menu of heavy passed hors-d’oeuvres with offerings such as tuna tartare, beef Carpaccio, yellowtail ceviche and BBQ Quail.

As for the wedding cake, Dragan says, “We’ve been all around the world and there’s no better chocolate cake than the one at Gotham Bar & Grill so that was an easy decision to make.”

Food is such big part of the couple’s lives, so their six-week European honeymoon was entirely planned around restaurant reservations and in lieu of wedding gifts they suggested that guests contribute to their honeymoon fund.

Photo: Dream Life Photography

The photos

With Lichtash’s degree in film and Dragan’s degree in media studies, it was no surprise they both said “Photography” in unison.

The couple decided on Dreamlife Wedding Photography for both an engagement and wedding shoot.

“We also splurged on custom-designed suits for both of us,” Dragan shares. “The company, Alton Lane, does a body scan and this 360-degree overview, and in less than a month, we had our wedding suits.”

The invitations

“This area became ‘Alex’s baby’, says Lichtash, referring to the original art Alex created depicting the couple’s nicknames for one another, Penguin and Chicken based on the video game Little Big Planet.

“We wanted to create something people would want to keep and not toss in the trash so it was a combination of an invite and a memento from the occasion,” shares Dragan.

They hired Lion in the Sun to make the two-sided invitation, which was laser engraved on pale grey card stock with an image of the Brooklyn Bridge on one side and a wood panel featuring a penguin and a chicken holding hands on the other.

The budget

“Having the venue gifted to us was a huge cost savings,” Lichtash says, also sharing that his cousin, a sci-fi writer got ordained for the wedding, made the ceremony much more personal while also eliminating the need to hire an officiant.

“We also provided our own bar instead of going through a caterer and served our favorite beer Chimay, Yellowtail wine, Perrier and Not Your Father’s Hard Root Beer,” adds Dragan, proudly sharing that the bar only cost them $600 for one hundred guests.

“Our budget was pretty sparse for floral arrangements and due to the wood-accented surroundings, we didn’t need much besides a hanging centerpiece and succulents for the tables,” says Lichtash. “We created a wedding playlist and a friend loaned us a microphone and a mini sound system so we didn’t have to play for entertainment. It pays to ask your friends,” he adds.

“Also, when it came to our wedding bands, our only requirements were that they shouldn’t scratch or break so we opted for $20 carbon fiber Tungsten rings from Amazon,” Dragan says showing off his budget band.

The couple also elected not to print RSVP cards and instead Dragan created a wedding website where guests could reply and learn more about the wedding.

Photo: Dream Life Photography

Looking back

Was there anything they couple wished they spent more or less on or did differently?

“No”, says Lichtash with Dragan nodding in agreement about their November 4, 2016 Brooklyn wedding. “Everything was perfect, nothing went wrong,” said Lichtash dreamily as the two smiled at one another.

Vendors

Venue: Mark Jupiter Showroom, DUMBO, arranged through friend, no cost

Officiant: Friend, no cost

Food: Tocqueville ($15,000 for 100 guests)

Invitations: Lion in the Sun, $1300 for 125 invites

Wedding website: $11.99 domain name, $71.88 one year web hosting

Wedding Cake: Gotham Bar and Grill, NYC ($75 per cake. They ordered 5 cakes for a total of $375)

Bar: Provided by couple ($600 for beer, wine and soft drinks for 100 guests)

Photography: Dream Life Photography ($2380 one photographer for six hours wedding day coverage and unlimited images, hi-res images provided on USB Drive, wedding album with agreed upon number of images and two enlargement prints.)

Florals and Décor: JC Floral Design Studio( $1700 for draped fabric canopies, hanging flowers and floral centerpiece, 10 succulent table settings.)

Music: no cost

Wedding attire: Alton Lane Custom Suits ($1400 each)

Wedding rings: Amazon, $20 each

Total Spent: $24,278.87

 

 

 

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