The Bride and Groom Had Different Visions for the Wedding – The Cut

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Photo: Amanda Young

When we ask newlyweds to think back on what they wanted most for their big day — and we’ve interviewed hundreds of them over the years — the most common response is “For it not to feel like a wedding!” Gathering with old friends and eating mini grilled cheeses in formalwear to celebrate love feels more special these days than ever, even downright miraculous. And the betrothed have never been less attached to the old wedding handbook — or the need to please their great-aunt. So in a flurry of pampas grass and perfectly mismatched-to-match bridesmaid dresses, how do you pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answers, we decided to interrogate the cool couples whose weddings we would actually want to steal, right down to the tiger-shaped cake toppers.

Here, we spoke with Brooklyn-based couple David Nathans and Kari Costas. Given their work in the hospitality industry — Nathans is the chef de cuisine at Charlie Bird, and Costas a director of guest experiences for Auberge Resorts Collection — they were well equipped to make sure their family and friends had a great time at their January 2024 wedding. The only snag? Their slightly different ideas of what constitutes a great time. They compromised with a civilized Saturday ceremony and (cheese-filled) lunch at Italian restaurant Al Di Là in Park Slope, followed by a Sunday blowout dance party at the raucous Brighton Beach nightclub Tatiana.

Kari: I created a spreadsheet with every venue in New York imaginable to price them all out. We went to an awful open house at one of those venues and we walked in, looked at each other, and were like, Hell, no.

David: And honestly, they’re so expensive. Why would we pay so much money if it’s just, like, a room of chairs? It’s just wild.

Kari: David really wanted a meal, to have friends and family breaking bread and sitting down over really good food together.

David: The only thing I cared about, and was very vocal about, was the food.

Kari: I wanted a dance party. I wanted it to be ratchet and fun and ridiculous. We decided it made more practical sense to split it up. We did have a lot of fights about this, but I think once that plan landed in our minds, it was like, Okay, we can make this happen. Especially once the venues came to mind.

David: It would’ve been weird not to have a personal connection to the space. I grew up in Brooklyn, and both of the venues really mean a lot to me.

Kari: I started my job at Auberge Resorts in August of 2020, where I create experiences for hotels Auberge manages. The Mayflower Inn and Spa is one of them, and David had just joined as the executive sous-chef.

David: She was in and out of the kitchen a lot, and she caught my eye. One night, we got four feet of snow and we were both stuck at the hotel.

Kari: I wound up staying the whole weekend and we spent it chatting, taking walks in the snow — as cheesy as it gets.

David: It was a winter wonderland. Everything she said was along the lines of what I wanted in my life and in a partner.

Kari: That was it, we were together.

David: We’ve talked every day since. People found out we were together when I sliced into my finger, resulting in seven stitches. I yelled out, “Get Kari!” and gave it away.

Kari: One night a month after we got together, it started snowing — snow plays a factor, I guess, in our story — and it was magical and I had probably had a couple too many martinis. I wandered out into the snow and looked back and could see him through the door, cooking a steak at the stove with music on in the background, and it was this moment of clarity. This is exactly what I want for the rest of my life, and this is the person it’s going to be with. Like an idiot, I ran in and told him I loved him.

David: She knew the proposal was coming. We had gotten a ring from my parents. I asked friends of ours to ask us to dinner at Al Di Là, where I had my first real job out of culinary school. I’m really good friends with Anna [Klinger, chef and co-owner].

Kari: It was February or March last year. I didn’t think much of it until he shaved his head and put on a nice shirt.

David: I got down on one knee and I’m pretty sure the only words I got out were, “Will you?” and I started crying hysterically. I’m not very good at this stuff.

Kari: We talked back and forth about it. What’s a restaurant that we think will open its doors to us for a decent amount of people that won’t cost a million dollars, and that has some sort of connection to David? We landed on doing a ceremony and lunch at Al Di Là. Then we looked at offbeat bars that could accommodate a larger group.

David: Tatiana is a kind of restaurant–night club. There are rumors it’s owned by the Russian mafia. You go there and have smoked fish or pelmeni, and every Saturday night they do a show. The space is pretty outdated, I’m not going to lie, but that’s the charm.

Kari: It’s an institution. Stuck in the year 1987 in the best way. That was an easy choice once we realized it could work. My father has Parkinson’s disease and cancer, which fed into the timeliness. In September 2023, his oncologist [said] what everyone hates: “You have six months.”

David: So we first had a ceremony around Thanksgiving 2023, because we didn’t know if her dad was going to be in the best health by January.

Kari: My whole family went into scramble mode. I really credit my sisters, who sat down and said, “Okay, how do we want to handle this?” My middle sister offered up her house in New Jersey, and we scraped it together in a month. It worked out; my father is still around and made it to the January wedding, but I’m really glad we had three days to celebrate. They had such different tones!

David: In January, on the Saturday, she got ready in our apartment and I got ready next door at our neighbor-friend, Rob’s. I wore a suit by a London brand, Ted Baker. I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes in general because basically I just wear work stuff and the same shirt, so this was a thing where Kari was like, “All right, this is what you’re wearing.” It was a navy-blue suit with a cool purple liner, a white shirt, and a gold tie. I think I looked pretty good.

Kari: To me, a daytime wedding in a restaurant did not befit a gown. I knew it needed to feel a little more casual, like what you might wear to City Hall. I really struggled! I thought I was going to get flagged by Net-a-Porter for returning too much because I tried everything under the sun. I wound up with Markarian, her signature corset dress in a simple ivory silk faille.

David: My good friend Jericho, who I’ve known for about a decade, officiated. He’s a really funny comedian dude with a giant tattoo of a tiger on his belly.

Kari: Because we had done the more serious, family-focused wedding in November, we wanted this to be a little more comfortable and light, and Jericho was the perfect person for that. He officiates a lot of weddings. There were no religious components.

David: I take a lot of pride in being Jewish, but I’m not really practicing — a pretty normal reform New York Jew. So yeah, it was pretty straightforward.

Kari: He talked about how we met, our shared passions, and what we want our life to look like down the road. It was short and sweet.

David: For lunch, we started with this Tuscan kale salad with lots of Parmesan and a really, really, really heavy anchovy dressing, and a farro salad. For pasta, we had malfatti made with Swiss chard and ricotta, which basically looks like big green thumbs, in brown butter and Parmesan.

Kari: She made an off-menu lasagna that was — pardon my French — fucking unreal.

David: The lasagna had a really heavy beef, veal, and pork ragout, just perfectly crispy on the edges. Then it was a choice between pork saltimbocca with crisp potatoes, or a braised rabbit with tomatoes and black olives that’s just out of this world. And lots of wine. Lots of wine.

Kari: The first time that David took me to Al Di Là, in 2021, we ordered her pear-and-chocolate tart. It was so delicious I said to him, “This is going to be our wedding cake.” So we served that and a hazelnut mousse.

David: We went out a little bit after, and probably drank a bit too much when we should have been resting. Dirty Precious is a really nice cocktail bar by our house.

Kari: Everyone who had come into town for the weekend and wanted to hang out was already there, so it was almost like a welcome party, though the wedding had already happened. We wound up going to Canal Bar after that, our second home.

David: “Never should go there, always do” kind of place.

Kari: The next day, Tatiana started at five and went to midnight. I knew I wanted that dress to be sequined, something formfitting. The dress was by Atu Body Couture, and it was Champagne-colored. Someone told me it gave Jessica Rabbit vibes. It also fit the dress code; we told everybody to wear sequins or velvet or fur and lean into the fun.

David: I wore a black-on-black tux from Bonobos. When people got there, there was food on tables, and it was rolling out the entire night. There were lots of meats and lots of smoked fish. I brought caviar from work. There were salads, a shawarma station. They brought some flaming-beef thing out at one point.

Kari: We hired a DJ, June Events. She got my sensibility right away. We’re 35, and my family is Puerto Rican and older, so we needed music that would bridge the gap. Design-wise, Tatiana is bonkers-looking. There was no point in flowers. We leaned on candles, and put 600 metallic balloons on the ceiling from an order with Party City in Brighton Beach.

David: The only time they stopped actively serving food was during the show. Some singers came out and did a couple of covers, then it’s this all-out dance performance. They wear big headdresses, and do the cancan, and at one point a dancer came out dressed like a rabbi and did the Horah. It’s probably not the most culturally appropriate show, and we weren’t sure how everyone would feel, but people were floored by it.

Kari: After that, it was just crazy bananas dancing until the end of the night. David got on his father’s shoulders at one point. He crowd-surfed three times. We hired go-go dancers, and people were going onstage to dance with them, including my 5-year-old niece.

David: Kari was nonstop. My shirt was soaked through. By the end, I took it off and literally wrung it out in the bathroom.

Kari: It was rowdy, to say the least. We had in our contract a bottle of vodka for every ten people in addition to the open bar. The owner, Lawrence, surprised us with a Venetian hour, a room in the back decked out with desserts, including a chocolate fountain. I regret not seeing that, but I didn’t leave the dance floor.

David: We ended up at Canal Bar, which … again, I don’t really know how that happened.

Kari: My childhood guy friends ordered Taco Bell, which was the world’s smartest decision. The resounding feedback we got — and I guess everybody says this, right? — was “That was the most fun I’ve ever had at a wedding.”

The wedding celebration started Saturday morning at Park Slope institution Al Di Là.
Photo: Amanda Young

The ceremony was officiated by the couple’s friend, comedian Jericho Davidson.
Photo: Amanda Young

Forty of their closest friends and family attended, an intimate group that allowed the couple to rotate tables and chat with everyone.
Photo: Amanda Young

Cheerful blooms that match the restaurant’s sunny palette were designed by stylist Benjamin Reynaert, a former colleague of Kari’s from her time working at design magazines.
Photo: Amanda Young

Al Di Là was David’s first job out of culinary school, and he’s remained close with chef and owner Anna Klinger.
Photo: Amanda Young

The couple, who met at work, have thought about opening their own place one day. “I look at the wedding and think, Okay, there is something to this — the two of our brains together,” says Kari.
Photo: Amanda Young

The Italian feast kicked off with several salad varieties.
Photo: Amanda Young

Next up: lasagna, malfatti made with Swiss chard, and cuttlefish and oxtail over polenta.
Photo: Amanda Young

As Kari’s father is critically ill, the couple held an even smaller wedding two months earlier over Thanksgiving so he could be sure to attend.
Photo: Amanda Young

The bride and groom’s best friends gave speeches. “I cried like a baby, of course, again,” says David.
Photo: Amanda Young

“A one-day wedding, it all becomes a blur,” says David. “We thought this would allow us to really remember the good parts.”
Photo: Amanda Young

The next day, the couple took a party bus from their apartment to Tatiana. “We rented one of those ridiculous things with the lights and the lasers inside, and drank Champagne out of Solo cups on the way there,” says Kari.
Photo: Amanda Young

For day two, the bride wore a glittering, Jessica Rabbit–esque gown, and the groom wore black-on-black.
Photo: Amanda Young

Tatiana’s retro-kitsch décor didn’t need much adding to, so Kari just ordered loads of gold balloons to dangle from the ceiling.
Photo: Amanda Young

Tables were piled with meat, fish, cheese, salads, and Russian specialties like pelmeni.
Photo: Amanda Young

Large quantities of vodka were poured in little goblets at all the tables.
Photo: Amanda Young

The dress code called for guests to wear sequins and fur.
Photo: Amanda Young

The performance included traditional Russian moves, magic tricks, cancan dancers, aerial acrobatics, and more.
Photo: Amanda Young

The couple weren’t sure how their guests would respond to the show, but report they were blown away.
Photo: Amanda Young

The stage show, and DJ June Events, set the tone for the rowdy party that followed.
Photo: Amanda Young

Kari’s dad made it out onto the dance floor …
Photo: Amanda Young

… while David’s father hoisted him on his shoulders.
Photo: Amanda Young

Guests lifted the newlyweds for the Horah, and the party continued on at a neighborhood bar.
Photo: Amanda Young

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