Amber Bembnister, the New York director of Lalaland Artists, and Joel Janik met during their college years at Michigan State University through a mutual friend who actually ended up officiating their wedding. “The short version is Joel had sideburns and looked like he was in That ’70s Show; I was wearing no pants and holding a fake snake pretending to be Britney Spears,” Amber says. After eight years of dating, he asked her to marry him on a hike in Alaska.
It was the first day of their trip where there was no rain, so they decided to hike off-trail in Denali National Park. “He surprised me when I thought he was pulling some gear out of his bag,” Amber remembers. Our only witnesses were a family of caribou!”
When looking for wedding venues, they wanted something open and with room for them to make it their own. Joel found the Dumbo Loft online—it has wooden beams, exposed brick, and big windows. It was rustic, felt very New York, and was perfect for their Studio 54-themed day.
They drew inspiration from the disco ball hanging in the loft, Soul Train, and disco. Two set designers who Amber represents, Andy Harman and Abby Walton, helped brainstorm ideas leading up to the weekend. “They made the space everything it was; we were so grateful for their help!” Amber adds. Additionally, the bride’s good friend Kevin, who works at Art Partner, helped them coordinate everything on the day-of.
For their ceremony outfits, the bride and groom looked to Bianca and Mick Jagger’s wedding ensembles. And for the reception, Amber wanted something like Kate Moss as the Versace Bride when she closed the Spring/Summer 1995 show. She works with the brand KHAITE quite a bit and was able to find an off-white suit with a wide collar and slit pants. She paired the look with Rene Caovilla satin heels with pearl and crystal detailing. “They reminded me of a pair my mom always wore, and she did actually wear them to our wedding—I loved that we were subtly matching,” Amber says.
To help find her second outfit, she worked with stylist Elizabeth Sulcer, who she represents and is very close with, to find something that embodied the perfect mix of the Versace Bride with a bit of a modern 70s flare. The winning look was a white sequined mini dress with bell sleeves by Caroline Constas, which she wore with silver platform heels and her mother’s veil from the late-1980s. “I call it the ‘mullet veil,’ since the tulle frayed at the top and around my head, and the rest of the veil hung straight in the back. It was inlaid with pearls and was one of my favorite pieces of the day.”
The groom landed on a burgundy suit from TOPMAN worn with a mandarin collar white dress shirt. Meanwhile guests were asked to come in 70s attire. “It seemed like everyone had a lot of fun getting into the theme. We even had a guest change looks. Shoutout to you, Nico!”
Before the ceremony started, the couple greeted guests at the venue to give everyone a minute to connect with people they hadn’t seen in a while. “It took off a lot of the pressure and set the tone for the rest of the day,” the bride says. The two then made their way down the aisle together and stood in front of a cloud backdrop with eight-foot-tall gold palm trees on either side and a blue swan floral centerpiece in the middle, supplied and designed by Andy and Abby. Their best friend from college, Adam, officiated the intimate ceremony, and instead of vows, he put together stories and quotes from their family and friends. “I was pretty relaxed and happy aside from the fact I had no idea what to do with my hands,” Joel says. “It went by surprisingly fast and was almost surreal while it was happening.”
After their first kiss as husband and wife, the reception kicked off. There were at least six disco balls, some layered on top of each other, behind a bar featuring life-sized cut-outs of Michelangelo’s David, metallic elements on the wooden beams and tables, and exotic floral centerpieces. Instead of a guestbook, guests could sign Jenga blocks, and Instax Polaroid cameras were supplied for behind-the-scenes photo ops.
The menu for dinner was very NYC. There was Shake Shack, Halal Guys, and Williamsburg Pizza. In addition to the open bar standards, Joel made 16 bottles of Polish lemon vodka, called Cytrynowka, “as we are both very Polish and wanted to incorporate some Polish traditions into the reception,” Amber explains. And instead of a traditional wedding cake, the couple had stacked donuts from Dough—Amber’s mom even made donut toppers of the bride and groom as donuts.
The couples’ goal was to never have the dance floor empty, and they nailed it. With three Spotify playlists that they had curated themselves, a mix of 70s classics, disco-funk, and their favorite tracks from Drake, Migos, and Beyoncé, everyone kept moving all night. The newlyweds had their first dance to “I Wanna Be Your Lover” by Prince. “We actually choreographed part of it from a line dance in Saturday Night Fever—no one knew we were doing it, so it was a really fun surprise—and Joel’s idea!.”
As the night closed, the harsh realization that they were going to have to tear everything down and clean up quickly set in. “We were lucky to have some great friends and family that stayed behind in various states of inebriation . . . to help us, and we powered through in an hour to get it all done,” Amber remembers. They ended their night back at The Beekman, together and enjoying two Negronis.