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Holiday Party Tips from Tinsel & Twine

We're ready for holiday party season. Are you? Our design pals at Tinsel & Twine got us in the spirit by taking over the styling of 501 Union and the Green Building to celebrate the beautiful mess of a stellar holiday party's aftermath. They left us with some tips on creating an atmosphere for guests to dance all night! Read through for their expert advice on hosting an unforgettable experience! 

1) Create a stylish lounge area that provides the perfect place for guests to perch, drop glasses, and kick of shoes between dance sets. 

2) Since guests will likely be spending quite a bit of time at the bar, we like to use this space as a blank canvas for striking flowers, lights, or other decor details.

3) The venues feel polished without being stuffy, and intimate with enough floorspace for spins and  high-kicks. Our clients have always had an amazing time there. And any given party tends to look like this by the end of the night: a beautiful mess!

4) We love the Gatsby-esque spectacle of serpentine streamers. Pick a big moment-- a toast or kiss at midnight-- and cue a bass drop for a big, explosive moment to let these fly."

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Opera is intimidating. But it doesn't have to be. Not if you're at a LoftOpera show. These shows don't come with black tie dress codes, and it's okay if you drink a beer. LoftOpera has set out to redefine the traditional opera model and bring the classic medium to those of us who may never have the chance or desire to step inside the Met Opera House. We caught up with Melanie Milton and Daniel Ellis-Ferris during rehearsals to figure out what we can expect for their upcoming shows at 501 Union. 

 Photo by  Quyn Duong

Photo by Quyn Duong

Tell us about the piece that you’ll be performing.
Daniel: It’s the classic Roman tale of the Rape of Lucretia. She commits suicide and requests that her body be put on display. So it’s a story about violence against women and their bodies and about class, status, and gender.
Melanie: In the past we have not done a lot of English opera, so we wanted to diversify our repertoire for this season. Typically we’re doing operas in Italian. Also it features a male and female chorus who sing the internal monologues of the main characters as well as narrating quite a bit of the plot. It's the idea of a Greek Chorus in an opera setting, which is a new platform for the company to explore.
D: And the chamber orchestra as well. Typically we're working with an orchestra of 30-50 musicians so to scale it down and use a chamber group has been a more intimate experience.

The idea behind LoftOpera is to make opera more accessible for people who wouldn’t typically attend such a grand show. What can people who have never experienced opera at all expect? 
D: It’s not going to be a red velvet seat event. However it will give you access to the operatic voice that you probably wouldn’t get many other places. The idea is to make it an event that my friends or I would go to anyway, and opera just happens to be there.
M: Our audiences tend to pull from a much younger demographic than what you’d find at a traditional opera house like the Met. A lot of our audience base has never been to an opera before, or they have some interest in classical music but it’s not necessarily their forte. It very much feels like a party. We open the doors an hour before the show, we serve beer, we play house music. We have a long intermission, then we stay around and party afterward.

Are there any early memories of attending opera?
M: Not necessarily attending, but I started performing when I was really young, just in an opera company of the town I’m from. I started when I was 13. We’re both vocalists so we both continued studying and performing, and then Loft Opera came to be in 2013.

You were previously over in the Green Building last year for Il Barbiere di Siviglia. How do you normally choose your spaces or what type of spaces work well?
D: We aren’t an opera company with its own house. That gives us an opportunity to pair venues with the repertoire, which is really interesting. 501 Union works really well for this opera in particular not only because of the voyeuristic themes of it with the glass division in the space, but also because the style of the space feels correct for this show. Whereas for the Green Building, it really made sense to have a big wedding at the end of the opera in that space.
M: And all the performance venues we find are very nontraditional for the opera medium. If it’s not like this beautifully designed building we’re currently in, then it’s a warehouse that doesn’t normally perform arts pieces.
D: It may not even have the proper build out, and we have to get permits to even do what we want in it.
M: 501 Union is one of the more finished spaces we’ve performed in. The Green Building tends to be more of the effect we’ve performed in the past.
D: Like the post-industrial rustic look.

How do you incorporate the unique spaces with your performances? Which comes first, venue or repertoire?
D: So far it’s been we choose the repertoire first and then find a venue that feels right for it.



Flynn & King at Brooklyn Makers Holiday Bazaar

Meet the makers behind Flynn & King, a natural skincare line born from the tiny Brooklyn living rooms of Corina McDonnell and Summer Dinh Manske. It's no surprise that goods labeled 'all natural' might not quite be the case.  Upon discovering that the FDA doesn't regulate what ingredients get listed on skincare products, Corina and Summer set out to educate themselves and learn how to make truly natural products from simple ingredients. They became their own test subjects, and after finally perfecting the formulas, they bring us Flynn & King. Read through our interview with Corina as she walks us through their process for taking better care of our skin. Catch Flynn & King at the Brooklyn Makers Holiday Bazaar at 501 Union.

What’s the story behind Flynn & King? Was there an ah-ha moment that made you realize the skincare industry needed change?
Summer and I worked at a Williamsburg salon and apothecary that focused on natural products. We quickly learned that not all of the products that claimed to be "natural" were actually so. How this was possible?! We did some research and found that the FDA doesn't control cosmetics and skincare, and that it is actually a free-for-all when it comes to labeling. We decided that we wanted to create a brand with 100% natural products with ingredients that came from good ol' Mother Earth. I like to think of it as making products like our great-grannies did, with a modern-day twist. We also wanted to show that all-natural doesn't have to be brown and crunchy. It can be fun, modern and badass!

F&K started as a “skincare club” amongst friends. We’d love to hear fun details on what these were like. A bunch of friends in your living room making all natural beauty products?
We started off meeting once a week to discuss what we learned via what we were reading, and also the research we were doing on products we liked and ones we didn't. We would make snacks and listen to music and talk about everything green beauty. We'd then shop online for organic and natural carrier oils, essential oils, butters, clays, flowers and gadgets. We love our gadgets! It was basically home-schooling for natural ingredients, taught by us!

What was the very first product you created? What’s your favorite to use now?
The first and our favorite product is the REVIVE Oil-based Cleanser. Summer & I have very different skin types, so we are a great test group in order to create products that are suitable for all skin types. I have dry, sensitive skin with bouts of eczema and have always struggled to find a product that was cleansing, but not over-drying. Summer has naturally oily and acneic skin and struggles with issues of seborrheic dermatitis. We wanted to create a product that was natural, non-drying, but effective at cleansing. We started with rosehip seed oil, which is one of our favorite oils because of the amazing anti-aging and hydrating properties. We then made homemade castile soap to mix into the luxurious oils, which gave it the consistency of a cream cleanser. You get all of the benefits from oil-cleansing, but without the greasy aftermath.

What goes into your decision making process when sourcing all natural ingredients?
We generally start with identifying the properties that we want to achieve, and then we search for cold-pressed, organic, and sustainable ingredients. We're very choosy with our purchases, and if we can't afford the best quality, we will wait until we can. We absolutely consider the economic and ecological impact of our purchases as well. Many soap makers use palm oil in their recipes because it is good for soaping, but not so for the environment. Palm oil creates many ecological issues with deforestation in the rainforest and subsequently destroys the natural habitat and food source for the people and animals of that area. We try to leave as small of a footprint on the earth when sourcing our ingredients as possible.

Your beauty mission is do good, look great and you’ve developed the Do Good Collaborations to give back to marginalized communities. In what ways have you found skincare and beauty products to be empowering?
We work with the Center Against Domestic Violence and we donate our rebatched soaps and extra products. There are pieces left over from our hand-cut soaps, and they can be melted down and remade into new bars. I once read an article that said that one of the largest costs for city shelters and rehab centers is soap, and I knew right away that we would try to help as many as we can with our extra soaps. The women at the CADV are inspired by a small women-run company, and they are so appreciative that we take the time and effort to give them a little something special. I think it really brightens their day, and they inspire us by remaining so positive after the awful experiences that themselves and their family have endured.

Do you have any not-so-secret tips on just simply loving and owning your skin?
Drink plenty of water and change your pillowcase more frequently! Time-saving tip: when I change my sheets, I put two pillowcases on my main sleeping pillow and 3 days in, pull the top one off. Now you have a clean one to make it until the next change! Any oils in your hair or on your face are easily absorbed by the cotton and redistributed back onto you face as you sleep, when your skin is hardest at work repairing itself. Also, don't be afraid of natural oils. Many people think that they should shy away from oil-based products because they don't want to breakout, but that is a huge misconception! When you strip your skin with detergents and harsh chemicals, your skin will overproduce sebum (oil) to hydrate your dehydrated skin and will cause breakouts. However, if you give your skin the moisture it needs and don't strip away the natural oils, then there is no need for it to produce excess sebum, and you will see very few breakouts. I'd say the #1 most important tip we have, though, is read your ingredients! We are very transparent and list all ingredients on our labels and website, and don't hide behind "proprietary recipe” loopholes. You need to know what you’re applying, so that you know what works for you and what doesn't.

Lastly, what does being a Brooklyn maker mean to you?
Being a Brooklyn Maker is extremely inspiring! We are very lucky to have access to so many creative people in our lives. We would not have been able to create our dream brand if it weren't for our amazingly generous and talented friends helping us and supporting us along the way. 


xNasozi at Brooklyn Makers Holiday Bazaar


xNasozi at Brooklyn Makers Holiday Bazaar

Meet Nasozi Kakembo, the social activist turned textile craftsman. With humanitarian work and global issues at the core of her ethos, she has cultivated a thriving design and lifestyle brand that connects with her roots in Uganda. Lucky for Brooklyn, Nasozi is bringing us global textiles from West Africa and beyond just in time for the holidays. Catch xNasozi at the Brooklyn Makers Holiday Bazaar at 501 Union!

What’s the story behind xNasozi? 
xNasozi started rather spontaneously in 2011, although all the writings were on the wall. I was two years into my first job out of graduate school, and my first job since becoming a mom. I went to work when my son was four months old, and had landed a job with a great organization at that. So I basically planned on being there for a very long time. Over the years, juggling motherhood and career became an uphill battle, and I also started to miss being connected to the arts and creativity in a first hand and direct way. So I set out to somehow get art back into my life in a meaningful way. I tried a few other pursuits as hobbies, but none of them felt right. But as soon I started working with wax prints to create home decor items, that sparked and excitement and a sense of accomplishment in me that I hadn’t experienced since childhood.

You were fighting for international human rights and social justice by day and creating textiles by night. Can you talk about how this led to your mission of fortifying connections among African artisans?
I studied architecture and art history (and Spanish) in undergraduate, and part of why it wasn’t completely fulfilling for me was because it didn’t holistically address or question the social issues that I realized were important me. I knew that whatever I ended up doing, I needed to be able to root it in some kind of worthy cause. Between internships and my pursuant career, I spent close to six years working in different humanitarian contexts. I’d figured out which models aligned with my own morals and principles and which ones did not, and from there, I wanted to establish a new model that worked for me. I’ve seen millions of dollars have very little impact either because the projects are out of touch, or there is so much bureaucracy along the way. So I surmised that the opposite would hold true if I just had a direct or even personal connection to the communities where I wanted to have an impact. This is why I started working with the Suubi school and artisans in my village in Uganda.

Are there distinct characteristics that you’re drawn to in each of the global textiles?
I love the folklore that goes into so many of the African prints. Not only does each one tell a story, but each one has a different story based on the country where it is worn. These stories are an intimate reflection of the people of that society or culture, and I find this fascinating. With mudcloth in particular, I am constantly surprised by the range of designs that are made essentially by selecting and rearranging the same shapes and patterns. The variation is never ending and there is always something new to discover.

What about mudcloth or indigo brings you joy?
I enjoy connecting with the work of another artisan, and their hands. Makers put their energy and creativity into everything we create. And I can feel that of a person on the other side of the world when I am working with mudcloth.

You celebrated one decade in Brooklyn this year. Congrats! What does being a Brooklyn maker mean to you?
Being a Brooklyn maker has completely opened up my world. I have met people, had opportunities, and been places that would not have been possible had I stayed on me former 9-5 path. Down to my everyday routine, which is actually never really the same, I meet at least one new person doing something insanely wonderful everyday. Brooklyn makers are intrepid. We are taking a leap of faith everyday, and doing it in the most unforgiving and trying, and therefore rewarding, city in the world. So when I meet another maker, there is a mutual respect and fraternity, actually. We look out for each other.

Any words of wisdom for other small businesses on staying sane through the holiday season?
Don’t overextend yourself. Ok, maybe one time, but be sure to literally jot down and remember the business lessons you’ve learned throughout the year! Also, be true to your brand and don’t compromise on integrity. Assuming you’ve arrived at your prices fairly, stick to them!

Ok lightning round: Answer in 4 words or less.
What are holidays like around your home? International meets corny decorations.
How do you pick the perfect gift? Instagram lol.
What excites you? (re)discovering old music.
What calms you? Nature, candles, incense, nature.


Creative Mornings


Creative Mornings

We wake to Friday in a half daze ready for the weekend. Our minds weary from the week. This is where CreativeMornings swoops to salvage our tired minds into inspired vessels for creative creation. CreativeMornings is a global movement for connecting individuals looking to surround themselves with like-minded go-getters.

We've had the pleasure of welcoming this creative conference to 501 Union a few times. The mornings start with breakfast, live music, small collaborative activities, 30 second pitches, and an inspirational speaker - all before 10am. Take that, Fridays! 


Corrine + Chad's Art Deco Wedding


Corrine + Chad's Art Deco Wedding

Corrine and Chad paired bold florals with timeless black bowtie suits and light sequined dresses for their art deco inspired wedding at 501 Union . We especially love the way Carolina Rivera documented their day in dramatic lighting giving it an even more authentic 1920s feel. 

Venue: 501 Union
Photography: Carolina Rivera
Catering: Tip of the Tongue
Florist: GRDN
DJ: Sugartown Industries
Cake: Brown Paper Bag Baking
Dress: Reem Acra
See this wedding featured on Carats & Cake


The New Rules for Groomsmen Style


The New Rules for Groomsmen Style

Guys, who says your wedding day attire has to be anything short of memorable? Ladies shouldn't be the only ones to have all the fun and personality in their wedding day attire. Luckily there's Ray Li of Suitable to bring us custom tailored suits to mix things up while staying fresh in your wardrobe. His tips for fresh groomsmen style were featured on Martha Stewart Weddings, we're so excited to share here. Check out the full stories here and here. We've pulled our favorite tips below! 

1. Break the mold

The groom chose them for a reason, so why not allow them to flaunt what makes them one of a kind? “It’s important that personal style shows through on a bride and groom’s wedding day and suit selection is a great place to start,” Li says. He sees more and more gents reading through GQ or scrolling Pinterest for ideas, which he encourages. But he says it’s also easy to get overwhelmed. Instead, home in on one plan for getting the guys outfitted that will allow them to flex their sartorial muscle within it.

2. Shake up the styles

Bridesmaids have been donning one hue in a variety of silhouettes, so why not follow their lead? After the groom chooses his tux style and the palette, he can share it with the guys. “His groomsmen can then each wear differentiating suit styles that fall within the color story,” Li says. 

3. Keep it clean

Proper grooming goes a long way in making any ensemble go from special to spectacular. A few days before the wedding, get the guys together for a bachelor party trip to the barber to get haircuts and a straight-razor shave—or a beard trim, if they’ve spent years growing one out to perfection. Or you could even hire a barber the morning of to come and give everyone a straight-razor shave (or a beard trim!) so you’ll all be wedding-photo ready.

4. Kick tradition to the curb

Who says you can’t walk down the aisle in sneakers? For a bash with a rock ’n’ roll edge, take a cue from Mick Jagger and let the guys strut their stuff in neutral sneakers. Think classic white Nikes or all-black Converse. “Don’t forget to ask for pictures of each groomsman’s sneakers before the big day,” Li says. “That way there won’t be any surprises.”

Venue: 501 Union
Custom Suits: Suitable
Photography: Judy Pak
Rentals: Two of a Kind
Liquor: Long Island Spirits
Barber: John Riviera
Hair and Makeup: La Voila Beauty Concierge
Table Manufacturer: David Flatt for Two of a Kind
Flowers: We Create and Co
Models: Billy Sarna, Conrad Clevlin, Fazon Gray, George Trinovitch



Bitten Food Conference: Disrupting the Food Industry for Good

When I originally heard about the Bitten Food Conference, I forwarded it on to everyone I knew in the food industry but didn’t originally think about attending myself. This page on who should attend changed my mind: 

We created Bitten to host a conversation not only for those working within the food world, but also those passionate about technology, creativity, pop culture, entertainment, design and innovation as it pertains to the future of food. Whether you're an agency, brand, entrepreneur, startup, policy-maker or cook, we hope to see you… there is no more important or exciting topic today than the state and future of food

I was sold. I am lover of food and always looking to meet inspiring individuals that are working to improve their communities. And the future of food really does affect everyone – no matter what industry you're in. The conference turned out to be one of the more inspiring days I've experienced in a while. Everything from the website and beautiful photographyvenueorganizerssponsorscatering, and of course the speakers – perfection! 

Here are my top 10 takeaways from the guest speakers:

The rebirth of authentic neighborhoods.
Eric Demby of Smorgasburg and Brooklyn Flea spoke about the power of the Brooklyn Brand: Authentic, Artisanal, Community & Cutting Edge. Demby believes that if you are rooting for Brooklyn, you are rooting for the rebirth of America.   How amazing it is to visit other cities and hear people refer to specific neighborhoods as “ that’s the Brooklyn of ______".  

No UV rays, no insects, no pesticides. 
The majority of our leafy greens are currently grown in Northern California where drought is a serious concern. AeroFarms has created a vertical farm in Newark, NJ where they have figured out how to grow 200 varieties of leafy greens that are soil free, pesticide free, and use 95% less water. AeroFarms knows exactly what these plants need for optimal growth conditions so nothing is wasted. The plants grow at twice the speed and with increased vitamins and antioxidants in each leaf. They don’t need to use pesticides because they figured out which UV light insects need to see and have removed it in their growing facilities. And just when you think this company can’t get any more impressive – they placed a growing pod at a Newark Elementary School where the 8th graders care for the greens and grow enough produce to feed the entire school for the year. 

The future of growing meat and leather is here. 
Andras Forgacs was the co-founder of Organovo which creates human tissue for pharmaceutical research and medical applications. Now he has moved on to animal meat and leather. By collecting cells and not harming the animal in any way – Modern Meadow is able to GROW meat! They recently served steak chips to a VIP group at Google that they grew from cow cells (picture a healthy beef jerky style chip). Additionally, they have a created a process for growing and tanning leather. No longer will animals need to be slaughtered for fashion! Truly amazing. 

It takes a village to sustain fresh and affordable food. 
Farmigo is an online farmer’s market that inspires neighborhoods to set up volunteer pickup locations as a way to provide fresh and affordable foods to their community. Farms receive 60 cents on every dollar spent! Individuals that provide space for a pickup location receive either 70% off of their own orders or 10% commission on sales in their neighborhood. Even better – you begin to create a community around food where you really get to know your neighbors! 

NYC's first food museum is coming. 
Peter Kim raised a very interesting question – why isn’t there a Museum of Food & Drink? Food is such an integral part of our history, our communities, our identities. Which is why I can’t wait to one day visit MOFAD! Peter’s vision of a rooftop garden that is used for education, a café that serves food from ancient civilizations, and exhibits that you can eat and drink – so exciting! 

You can grow a mustache to provide clean water. 
It’s a scary realization that 800 million people (one in nine!) do not have access to clean water. Charity Water has set out to change these statistics and have already done so by bringing clean water to 4.6 million people. Every dollar donated to the organization goes toward this goal because private donors cover all of their operating costs. Makena informed the audience how we could get involved by starting our own campaign. Her video shared a number of creative ways people are raising money across the globe: making a music video, starting a book club, and even growing a mustache... all for clean water!

Get your mother's recipes!
Lisa told a beautiful story of how she grew up living with her Korean grandmother who was always cooking amazing food for her family. Whenever Lisa tried to watch her grandmother cook, she would be kicked out of the kitchen and told to study. Sadly her grandmother passed away without sharing her family recipes, and Lisa found that cooking from generic recipes just wasn’t the same. So she went in search of another Korean grandmother for cooking lessons. This experience was the basis for creating her company, The League of Kitchens. Now mothers and grandmothers join this organization to invite small groups into their kitchens to teach and experience food from around the world. Each instructor provides unique cooking techniques, recipes, history, and traditions. Everyone leaves with much more than a full belly! 

Crickets are the new protein. 
They have more protein than chicken or beef, are 20 times more efficient as a source of protein than cattle, produce 80 times less methane than cattle, and need significantly less feed to produce the same amount of protein. We all got to taste Exo's line of cricket powder protein bars, and they were delicious!  

Smart eating starts young. 
This former White House chef has now created courses that combine cooking & science. While hosting tours in the gardens created by Mrs. Obama, Bill Yosses realized that kids are really interested in the science behind their food – why are these leaves purple but those are green?  He left the White House to focus on teaching young children and adults about eating better. He is one of the chefs behind Harvard’s Science and Cooking Lecture Series – a collaboration between researchers and world-class chefs. 

Whatever your passion or medium – leverage every resource you can get your hands on to help our fellow human beings. 
This was just one of the many lines spoken by Alexis Miesen during her powerful presentation on the work she is doing through her Brooklyn ice cream company, Blue Marble (nickname for planet earth). Their ice cream is amazing and organic, but what is even more impressive is the work they are doing outside of Brooklyn. Blue Marble Dreams has spread to Rwanda and recently Haiti. They build ice cream shops with women in areas recovering from conflict or natural disaster. Additionally they support local farmers for their ingredients. These sweet, small enterprises can help lift both the spirit and the economy of a community! She credits their business model to “happiness economics”: happy people make productive workers, and productive workers make a prosperous society, and a prosperous society makes happy people. 


By Tracy Murrin. Photos courtesy of Pop Productions.


Kristin + Erik's Winter Wedding


Kristin + Erik's Winter Wedding

Winter weddings don't get enough credit. The icy winds only give us all the more reason to find ways to create warmth, and is there really anything more romantic than snuggling up with your honey over a spiked hot chocolate and candlelit dinner? Kristin and Erik sure kept warm surrounded by the love of friends and family as they said 'I do' in our covered courtyard on a chilly January evening. We love that they didn't have to venture far to take portraits at Grand Army Plaza by Prospect Park before the ceremony! 

Thank you to all these wedding vendors who helped bring this day together:

Photographer: Dutton + James
Wedding Planner: Ashley Chamblin
Caterer: Purslane
DJ: White Label DJs
Florals: Opalia



How to Make the Most Out of Open House

Attending an open house at the Green Building and 501 Union is one of the best ways to get a feel for it as your potential wedding venue. You can see the venue and our staff in action, and you can take your time exploring and asking questions as needed in a calm, no pressure environment. We always invite a few of our favorite vendors to join us, so open house is also a great opportunity for those who have already booked the venue but are still looking for vendors to help execute their dream wedding. Visit our calendar for upcoming open house dates, and check out some of our tips for making the most our of your visit:

 Photo by Dutton + James

Photo by Dutton + James


  • Bring a friend or family member to bounce ideas off of – preferably someone whose opinion you value, but who won’t stand in the way of your vision.

  • Keep in mind these venue checklist essentials to ask about during your visit.

  • Bring your phone, camera, and notebook to take notes, document the venue, and quickly find your favorite vendors online.



Take a peek at the venue's private suite – can you imagine yourself getting ready there, or having a quiet moment before the ceremony begins?  Is there enough light for hair and make-up, is the furniture comfortable, is there enough space for your wedding party?



Open house is a great time to meet potential vendors. You can ask about their familiarity with the venue and get to know their personalities in person rather than browsing endlessly online. Are they warm and friendly? Are they knowledgeable about the venue?



Be prepared to take many photos of the venue from all angles. If you notice a particular design element you like about the venue, document it! If you are visiting a few different venues, they could all start to blur together so you'll want to take note of standout features to jog your memory. 



Our venue coordinators will be onsite to answer any questions you have about hosting an event at 501 Union. When you book the space, you will be assigned a venue coordinator who will be your guide from the time you sign the contract until the last pickup after the wedding. Say hello to them at open house!  



In addition to getting a feel for the venue itself, keep an eye out for other spots that would be good photo ops for first look and family photos. Take a short walk around our block and you'll find plenty of interesting murals, quintessential Brooklyn stoops, colorful buildings, and industrial vignettes with tons character.



You’re going to be looking at tons of venues and meeting all kinds of people trying to sell you things throughout the planning phase, so try to make it fun. Taste all the food, drink all the booze. Turn it into a date night, and hit up one of these local spots after you leave open house.


Have more questions? Ask us in the comments!


Joohee + Pablo's Summer Wedding


Joohee + Pablo's Summer Wedding

This feature of Joohee & Pablo's wedding at 501 Union originally appeared on Style Me Pretty.

A week after Pablo and I got engaged, we went on an amazing trip around the world, or what we call our “engagementmoon,” visiting eight countries in three weeks. Once we arrived in Paris, it only felt natural for us to check the first thing off our wedding to-do list and buy matching wedding shoes with those iconic red Louboutin heels. Looking back on it now, I realize that matching one element to another in our wedding became a consistent theme of planning. Doing so made wedding planning that much more fun and effortless, much like finding connecting pieces to a puzzle.

Pablo and I both knew we wanted to keep our wedding close to our home, friends, and family in New York City. After some brief web surfing, I came across 501 Union in Brooklyn, and immediately upon viewing pictures, I knew in my heart that this was the perfect place for us. A week later, we signed for the venue at first sight. Having a background in art, in my eyes, the modern feel of the venue, the black and white walls, and the chic art deco wallpapers provided the ultimate canvas to host any type of wedding.

We set our date for late September, and while fall in New York is beautiful, our summers seemingly feel shorter every year. Trying to extend summer a little longer, we decided on a romantic theme with pink and metallic colors, dreamy tulle, and plenty of pink flowers to lighten up and contrast the venue. The weather on our wedding day ended up amazing, so it actually felt like a perfect summer day.

My family owns a bakery called the Runcible Spoon Bakery, and after receiving a degree in art, I decided to take my artistic talents and apply them to the family business. Over the years, while learning to manage the business and to bake, I also taught myself how to decorate cakes. It quickly became obvious that I would make my own wedding cake. Eventually, I also decided to cater all of the desserts for our wedding by creating an entire dessert bar. I must admit, baking hundreds of macarons, cake pops, and hand decorated cookies, on top of making a wedding cake and planning a wedding, was truly a labor of love.

Our entire day was magical – everything went exactly the way we had envisioned and hoped for the year leading up to it. The saddest part of the day was when it was all over. All of the planning, stressing, and, in my case, baking was so worth it in the end. After the day just flew by and our guests were leaving, I remember turning to Pablo and saying, “Aw – let’s do that again.” It was a good thing we planned an after party!

When it came to picking vendors, we were blessed to have found a team with a creative vision that we could place all our trust in to capture our day. Pablo and I still constantly find ourselves looking through our wedding photos or re-watching our video, because even though the day has gone, those pictures and video still live on and remind us of the best day of our lives – the end of our beginning.

 Venue: 501 Union | Photography: Koman Photography | Cinematography: Atomic Tangerine Film Co. | Floral Design:Edelweiss Floral Atelier | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Watters | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Alfred Angelo | Catering: Creative Foods Catering | Makeup: Renee Lee | Hair:VickyC5 | DJ: DJ Charles Young | Groom's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Officiant: One Heart Ceremonies | Bridesmaids' Earrings: Chanel | Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Cake + Desserts: Runcible Spoon Bakery | Flower Girl Dress: Alora Safari | Flower Girl Shoes: PurseSue Your Dream | Groom's Shoes: Christian Louboutin | Invitations + Stationery: Minted | Photo Booth: Lumi8



Anthony + Rusty's Broadway Inspired Wedding

March 21, 2016

This feature of Anthony and Rusty's wedding at 501 Union originally appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. 

Rusty and I had been a couple for 16 years when we decided to get hitched. We met in Dallas, where we both went to college, and moved to New York together. Nine apartments, seven jobs, and one major piece of legislation later, I turned to him in an eleator and said, "Now that gay marriage is legal, should we do it?" He said, "Yeah, that would be good." We already felt married, so there was no grand gesture. But we knew we had a lot to celebrate; while the proposal was low-key, we made sure that the wedding was not. 

During my 10-plus years as the special projects editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, I'd developed a few ideas of how I envisioned our big day. I pictured a dark, masculine color palette that would feel like a black-and-white movie. And Rusty, who's a global director at an auditing firm, is a huge Broadway fan, so I knew that would play a major role. Together (and with more than a little help from our wedding-expert friends), we planned a dance- and music-filled day that would live up to our goal: We wanted our guests to be wowed. 

On September 21, 2013, a New York City double-decker bus picked up out-of-towners and gave them a quick tour of the city before bringing them to our venue, an old body shop turned event space in Brooklyn. Guests stepped off onto a red carpet and were handed playbills by an usher who invited them to "please enjoy the show." During our nondenominational ceremony (or "opening act"), a pal sang a personalized rendition of "Over the Rainbow" and we exchanged our self-penned vows, with Rusty promising not to leave his gym clothes on the floor, and me swearing that no matter how late I'd been out the night before, I will get up, put a smile on my face, and with Jesus in my heart, go to brunch with his buddies. Afterward, a choir sang Madonna's "Like a Prayer" as we exited.

Everyone enjoyed an intermission with cocktail hour and passed hors d'oeuvres - until the waiters dropped their trays and kicked off a flash mob to "Let's Have a Kiki" that led us all grooving into the reception room. We wanted people to keep dancing and mingling all night, so we served small plates instead of a sit-down dinner. After everyone had had a chance to eat, drink, and be merry on the dance floor, all 220 guests headed outside to watch us attack a giant silver diamond-shaped piñata full of glow jewelry, sunglasses, and party hats. The boogying continued until the grand finale: a screening of a music video version of the party. We'd hired a videographer to film the party and live-edit it through the night. It captured the feeling of the entire affair, which was amazing and completely over the top - everything we wanted our big gay Martha Stewart wedding to be. 

Venue: 501 Union 
Event Coordination: Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event
Catering: Betty Brooklyn
Photography: Thayer Allyson Gowdy
Videography: Switzerfilm
Stationery: Cheree Berry Paper
Calligraphy: Barbara Callow (invitations);Deborah Nadel Design (illustrated cards)
Desserts: Jacques Torres Chocolates (chocolates), One Girl Cookies (cookies), Sylvia Weinstock Cakes(cakes)  
Music: DJ Neza for Troy Curtis Group
Rentals: Patina Vintage RentalsBBJ Linen;Broadway Party Rentals
Menswear: J. Hilburn
Photo Booth: Love Life Images



Where to Host an After Party in Gowanus

Last call is being served, the DJ has taken your final requests, and the tables have been cleared. It's the inevitable end to the blissful day, but you aren't quite ready to say good night. Luckily you don't have to stumble too far off to keep the night going. New spots are constantly popping up around Gowanus, so after you're done partying at the Green Building or 501 Union, invite your guests to join you at one of these local favorites.

 Photo by Chellise Michael

Photo by Chellise Michael

Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club 

We've spent many evenings here shuffling our nights away. It's an ideal boozy activity - doesn't require too much movement but still gets everyone out of their seats. Courts are $40/hr with court-side bar service, and rotating food trucks are onsite to satisfy late night munchies.  Or if you're feeling generous, reserve a cabana with a 2-hr open bar for your late night revelers. 


Lavender Lake

For those looking for a classic after party bar with an expansive outdoor garden. Our favorite happy hour spot always treats our guests well at the end of the night. In fact, they've been known to craft a special cocktail for your guests only.  


Ample Hills Creamery

Small weekday elopement? Continue the charm with an ice cream social themed after party.  For parties of up to 110 guests, you can rent out their adorable party room and roof deck. Challenge your guests to take on the Trough, a family-style sundae made with 8 scoops of ice cream on top of  a whole pie. Top that with BYOB. Whiskey floats, anyone? 



You've been dancing all night, so if you're looking to keep up that energy, Insa's private karaoke is the spot. They've got 5 different themed karaoke rooms. The largest holds 22 people and goes for $160/hr. We're curious about the deep sea room. Do you think it's modeled after the canal? 



5 Dinner Party Styles for Any Event

The essence of any party lies in the food. From the menu selection to the way it's served, the type of dinner party you choose to throw affects the flow of the whole evening. It determines your floor plan, the timeline, and sets the mood. There are many creative options that lend themselves to totally different vibes. Don't let that overwhelm you. Food brings people together and should be enjoyed throughout the whole process - including planning it out. 

So how do you go about choosing the right style of dinner party for you? First, you want to assess what type of caterers your venue can accommodate. Then you'll want to envision the overall mood you want to create within that space. And then don't forget about your guests. You'll want them to have the most comfortable and pleasurable guest experience, too. Here at the Green Building and 501 Union, we pride ourselves in the flexibility and freedom to choose your own caterer that's best suited for your wedding or special event. Below are a few of the most popular options at our venues. 

 Photo by Chaz Cruz

Photo by Chaz Cruz


Food trucks are always a fun and unique option to bring a casual feel to any party, and you can pull up a couple different ones to create a yummy combination. Korean BBQ and gourmet grilled cheese, anyone? If you're going for a more formal dinner, but want to add a little flair, then you could call in a late night dessert truck. Guests are sure to be delighted to end the night with ice cream sandwiches. Ideal for weddings, holiday parties, engagement parties, and of course summer gatherings. 

Though you'll still want to provide some seating, this usually opens up your floor plan allowing for more guests or lounge seating and activities. 



This is becoming increasingly popular for corporate parties, fundraisers, release parties, and casual wedding receptions. It's similar to passed hors d'oeuvres where food is offered in bitesize servings, but the courses follow a traditional appetizer-entree-dessert pattern. Your guests are sure to feel full and satisfied while enjoying a cocktail-party atmosphere. This dinner style is best suited for standing-room events, which means lots of room for guests to mingle. 



Looking for the most flexibility in your menu? Buffets are a great way to feed the masses especially if you're expecting guests with dietary restrictions or want to offer plenty of options to choose exactly what they like. There's also flexibility and creativity in the way the food is presented. You could have interactive stations like a build-your-own mashed potato bar, or set up an elegant world tour of cuisines around the venue space. 



Classic and timeless, a plated dinner is considered the most traditional dinner style of them all and distinguish a formal affair, so they do take a bit more coordination. You'll need a seating chart and a way for guests to choose their entrée preferences, usually from two or three limited options. Each guest will receive their own appetizer, entrée, and dessert, and will be able to comfortably enjoy the food while listening to speeches and toasts. Plated dinners certainly elevate the elegance at weddings and corporate dinners.



When we say that food brings people together, we really mean it. And there's no better way to connect over food than passing a platter of sweet potato mash. At a family-style dinner, guests are formally seated and waiters bring large food platters to the tables for guests to serve amongst themselves. Communal dining instantly creates intimacy among guests whether you're hosting a brunch wedding for 60 or semi-formal affair for 160.


Still need help deciding? Ask us in the comments!



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How to Choose the Right Venue for Your Wedding

Editorial wedding inspiration blog the LANE asked us to guest write some inside advice for couples who are just beginning the wedding planning process. It all starts with the venue! Here's what we told them. You can also find this on their site. 

So you’ve said Yes! and the elation has settled (sort of), and it’s time to start planning for the big day. The first box to check off is the venue. Locking down your venue means you’ve officially got a wedding date and can start diving in deeper to securing vendors and bringing it all together. Maybe you’ve had your eye on a dream venue, or maybe you’re looking at a few different options. It’s a big decision, but don’t fret, we understand your wedding may be the first big event you’ve ever thrown. As one of Brooklyn’s most sought after venues, we’ve got all the inside tips on how to choose the right venue for you and what to ask during your tours. 


First you’ll need to have an estimated guest count. Ask the venue for their capacity sweet spot where guests aren't cramped or the space doesn’t feel overwhelming. Then check their website calendar for availability. And then of course, there’s pricing. Venues typically have a tiered price structure based on season and day, so if your dream wedding venue seems out of budget, you never know what could happen if you choose an off-peak date. Saturdays fill up first, sometimes 12-18 months in advance, so if you’re into a Friday bash or chic Sunday brunch wedding then you’ve opened yourself up to plenty more options. Or even consider a dreamy winter wedding! 



How hands-on do you want to be? Is it a full service venue that handles everything from the bouquets to the timeline, or is it a raw space that gives you ultimate creativity in design and flow? See what types of caterers work in the space. Food trucks are a popular option, but not every venue can accommodate them. Some venues have a dedicated in-house caterer while some offer the freedom to bring in one of your own choosing. That goes for all vendors, too. At 501 Union, we pride ourselves on the flexibility to choose your own vendors to bring your vision to life. One very important question to ask: How many other events will happen on the same day as yours? Do you have a fully private rental, or are you only allowed onsite after another wedding has finished? Or worse - will you have to rush out before the next one starts?



A wedding is possibly the first time you will host a large, important event, so you may be surprised to learn all the less-than-glamorous details that go into it. Did you realize you'll need event insurance? Or that it really takes a large team of reception staff to operate the day? Ask the venue what all is included in the rate: number of hours including setup and breakdown, staff, furniture, tableware, and other amenities, and who is responsible for clean up? 



We want every couple to feel excited about their venue, so choose one that feels right for your needs and taste. If you just lost the date on your dream venue, take some time off before you visit the next one so you don’t feel like you’re settling. Or if you arrive at your dream venue but start noticing red flags or making a ton of compromises, then it’s likely that things won’t get much easier. You're booking a venue for more than just its aesthetics, but also the people and staff who you need to connect well with in order to make your big day and the planning process run smoothly. Once you've found your perfect venue, congratulations! You're one step closer to marrying the love of your life!

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