A Romantic, Modern Wedding at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York, New York

Planning a wedding is a big task, even when you have time on your side, but for Joanna Karatzios (27 and a fund-raiser) and Ruben Leavitt (28 and a se

Planning a wedding is a big task, even when you have time on your side, but for Joanna Karatzios (27 and a fund-raiser) and Ruben Leavitt (28 and a senior director of account management), the heat was really on—the couple had only 90 days to plan their entire wedding. The couple met by chance at a wine tasting they were both attending during their master's program at Oxford University’s St Anne’s College and dated long distance for a year after Ruben had to return to the US. When Joanna went to New York City for an extended visit, Ruben popped the question at the Brooklyn Museum. That’s when things got tricky. After waiting for 18 months for her fiance's visa to approve, the couple had 90 days to tie the knot.The couple pulled off a fun-filled, intimate affair with undeniable New York City charm. Joanna and Ruben kicked off the day with a ceremony on the rooftop of their Queens apartment building in Long Island City, New York, surrounded by their closest family members and friends. “It has spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and was perfect for us—a backyard wedding for people who live in the city,” Joanna says. For the reception, they headed across the East River to Housing Works Bookstore in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood for a night of great food and lots of dancing. “We loved that it was such a quintessentially New York space and that it was right in the heart of downtown,” Joanna says. “We also appreciated that the profits are put back into the charity and that they serve farm-to-table food.” After their florist pulled out at the last minute, Joanna did all the flowers herself and enlisted the help of her aunt to put together the place settings and candy-jar favors for guests. Before hitting the dance floor, the newlyweds and their guests enjoyed a buffet dinner of poussin, steak and chickpea cakes, followed by booze-infused cupcakes from local icon Prohibition Bakery. A tip from Joanna: “Do what you want. Don't let anyone railroad you into doing anything you aren't 100 percent happy with, and stick to your guns over the guest list and venue.”

With less than three months to plan their entire wedding, Joanna knew she needed to decide fast when it came to choosing a wedding dress. “I assigned myself one day of shopping to find a dress,” Joanna says. “I wound up buying one from J.Crew and took it to a tailor to be fitted.” The sophisticated fit-and-flare gown had a classic, feminine feel with an embroidered lace overlay and fabric-covered buttons running down the back.
To infuse her bridal look with a touch of glamour, Elizabeth paired her ladylike lace gown with textured, statement-making accessories. Instead of a veil, she opted for a gold headpiece, which matched the rest of her gilded jewelry, including a bold rose bracelet and statement drop earrings. For photos, she layered on a marabou bolero, a gift from her mother, instantly taking her bridal look into ultra-glam territory.
Pink Whistles Bridesmaid Dress
Gray J.Crew Groom's Suit
With only a couple of months to plan their wedding, Joanna and Ruben skipped the classic paper wedding invitations. The couple used Paperless Post to invite their families and friends, to ensure that the invitations made it to each guest as quickly as possible. For the ceremony programs and thank-you cards, they took a more traditional route, designing and ordering paper cards, also from Paperless Post.
Wanting a wedding with New York flair, Joanna and Ruben hosted their ceremony on the rooftop of their apartment building. “It had spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and was perfect for us,” Joanna says. “A backyard wedding for people who live in the city.”
“Our wedding was very personal. We made all the decisions together and had exactly what we wanted,” Joanna says. “We wanted the whole day to reflect us and our tastes, not what our parents, friends or families wanted us to do. We ruffled some feathers, but couldn't be happier with how things turned out.”
Modern Navy and White Reception Tables
Whimsical DIY Place Cards
Modern Pink and Ivory Rose Centerpieces
Candy Jar Wedding Favors
After filling up on delectable dishes like poussin, steak, chickpea cakes and a variety of sides, Joanna and Ruben treated their guests to a mouthwatering assortment of flavorful cupcakes from Prohibition Bakery. The infamous bakery, known for its booze-infused confections, created beer and pretzels and Gin Rickey cupcakes that were a big hit with the couple’s guests.
Housing Works Bookstore Cafe Reception