Lauren Joy Ray, the director of social media at Tory Burch, met James Bonner Youngblood during freshman orientation (a.k.a. “Fish Camp”) at Texas A&M. “We were in the same small group, and I first noticed him because his name-tag was crossed out and re-written and looked like a complete mess. It’s tough always going by your middle name, especially when your name is ‘Bonner Youngblood,’” Lauren laughs. When they moved into their dorm, they were coincidentally across the hall from each other and quickly became inseparable. After nine-and-a-half years of dating and a move to New York together, Bonner proposed on one of their favorite streets in the city—Cherry Lane.
Right from the start, the two knew they wanted to host their wedding in New York, so they could share their city with loved ones. They searched for somewhere downtown that could hold their growing guest list, didn’t feel like a banquet hall, and had a skyline view. Tribeca Rooftop checked all their boxes. They decided to split the wedding into two days, to properly share this special moment with their immediate families. On the first day, they held a civil ceremony, followed by a small family brunch, and then the next day was their bigger, traditional ceremony.
The aesthetic was classic and minimal, and the color scheme was kept to black and white. Lauren’s talented friend, Melissa Notaro (associate creative director at BMF Media) helped with visuals and design. For invites, they landed on a modern typography with vintage custom stamps from Magnolia Postage. “The invitations were a labor of love–Bonner’s mom is a calligrapher, and she addressed each one!” says the bride. Lauren found her florist, The Wild Bunch, via a friend’s wedding, and she knew she wanted structural arrangements on her day. To bring planning to the finish line, the couple hired Tara Keleher of Mixed Company.
Although the mother-of-the-bride had saved her wedding dress from 1988, the two decided Lauren’s gown for the large ceremony should be her “something new.” With her mom, grandma, and future mother-in-law, she found her dress at Carolina Herrera in the city. “As cliché as it sounds, the first dress I tried on was the one—right when I came out of the dressing room, everyone in the room knew. I loved the v-neck, the classic shape, the buttons all the way down the train,” Lauren explains. To complete the look, she worked with Tabitha Simmons’s team on a custom pair of blue shoes (her “something blue”), with her name and wedding date on the sole. For her “something borrowed,” she wore two diamond bracelets—one from Bonner’s mother and one from his grandmother, who couldn’t travel for the big day. Her beauty team consisted of Andrea Hans, owner of Broome Street Society, and Christine Russo, who did a sleek bun and loose waves with a dramatic eye.
Her outfit for the smaller civil ceremony was purchased only a few weeks before. A friend found the perfect Brock Collection dress, and Lauren ran downtown to meet her and the brand’s co-founder Kristopher Brock to try it on. “I knew it was the right contrast to my wedding dress—totally different with long-sleeves and lace, yet still timeless,” she says. Christy Rilling fit her in, during the Met Ball craziness, for the final tweaks, and they were thrilled with the way it turned out. She paired the dress with her favorite vintage, black Manolo Blahniks and the Tory Burch Lee Radziwill Petite bag. The black ribbon in her hair was truly a morning-of decision.
The groom wore a blue suit from Suit Supply to the courthouse and a custom INDOCHINO suit, with their wedding date embroidered on the jacket, to the ceremony the next day. He was also sweetly gifted cufflinks from his grandmother.
Groomsmen wore tuxedos from The Black Tux, while bridesmaids chose their own black or navy dress. “I’ve been a bridesmaid NINE times, so I knew right off the bat, I didn’t want to ask my bridesmaids to wear something they didn’t pick out on their own,” Lauren says.
On the morning of the civil ceremony, the couple met at the courthouse, and Bonner bought his bride a bouquet of calla lilies, right before they walked in. After a short wait for their number to be called, they signed the paperwork and headed into the private room for the service. “Everyone became very emotional. It was just us, with just our parents and siblings, and we were finally making official what had been in the making for almost a decade,” says the bride. Once they exchanged rings and shared a first kiss, Lauren threw her hands up in the air with excitement. They exited with a shower of bio-degradable confetti and walked through Wedding Park to Augustine for brunch.
The next day, with the downtown Manhattan skyline serving as their backdrop, guests filled the entire Tribeca rooftop space, but it still felt very intimate. Lauren walked down the aisle to Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best,” played by her cousin, Dylan (from the band Polyplastic), and friend, Jane Ellen Bryant. One of the bride’s favorite moments was hearing her little sisters do a reading. “My parents adopted Rose and Patricia nine years ago from Uganda. Seeing them in their bridesmaids dresses, I couldn’t help from tearing up. It meant the world to me,” she says.
After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a sunset cocktail hour on the roof, before heading inside to a candlelit dinner. Everyone found their places with custom champagne glass place cards, and for dinner, the couple worked with the chef to make sure their friends and family from all over the country were happy—steak and potatoes were for the Texans attending, tasty Italian fare for the New York-based friends, and a hand-rolled sushi and a seafood spread for those visiting from Los Angeles.
Since most speeches were given the night before at the rehearsal dinner at Sons of Essex, only Lauren’s parents gave a toast. And then, DJ Mulry, who spins at the Wythe Hotel, was enlisted to start the party got things going. The newlyweds took to the dance floor for their first dance to Leon Bridges’s “Beyond.” “In addition to a father-daughter dance, I also did a grandfather-granddaughter dance with my Grandpa Jerry to ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’—he’s always called me his ‘dancin’ queen,’ since I was little,” says Lauren.
Once the night came to a close, the bridesmaids surprised the newlyweds with a vintage cab that took them to the after-party at The Roxy Hotel bar. The next day, festivities continued with a picnic in Rockefeller Park and karaoke in K-Town with 90 of their guests. “Clearly, no one was ready for the party to be over!” the bride says.