The bride and groom wore Thom Browne for their wedding at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Photo: Charles César

Writer and filmmaker Jacob Brown and painter Benjamin Curtin Staker met about eight years ago when Benji was singing backing vocals in a group. Jacob attended a show he performed at the Boom Boom Room in New York’s Meatpacking District. A few years later, they became friends while living in LA. “We really hated living there,” Jacob admits. “I returned to New York after nine months, and he quickly followed suit. And we both ended up being single. Initially he traveled a lot as a model, spending months at a time in Tokyo, Paris or Guangzhou, but when he was in New York we started hanging out a lot as friends. “They discovered all kinds of common interests – obsessions with obscure books, artists, and aesthetics.” There has never been that awkward dating or getting to know each other phase. because we were already friends, “Jacob says.” So when we first kissed outside of a West Village bar, the relationship was already inevitable, comfortable, exciting and wonderful. “

A commitment came very naturally. “We’ve been talking about this for quite some time,” says Jacob. “It was really obvious and true.” Benji asked the question on Fire Island where the couple shared a home every few weeks with their COVID pod. “We were on one of our long walks together, and he was acting very weird and wanted me to go to that specific area he had chosen in the dunes. The best part was probably right after we came back to our house for dinner with many of our friends and got to tell them everything at the same time – there was this amazing and immediate warm celebration moment.

The wedding was scheduled for August 16 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “It’s an amazing and beautiful place that we love,” says Jacob. “We got engaged in September 2020, but kind of waited to plan the wedding until we were sure our family could attend. So we planned enough – and did it late enough – that we didn’t have to postpone. “

The goal was to create a simple but special wedding, “like a really perfect day at the park with friends,” Jacob says. “Neither of us drink anymore, so we decided to make it a daytime affair and skip the sit-down dinner. And we kind of reversed the day. So we got what you might call the front desk first. Follow-up of the ceremony. Followed by what we thought was a quick bite of cake, but turned into two hours of cake, talk, dance and hangout. Luckily the venue let us crush because it was a lot of fun.

The two did it all together, for better or for worse. “I think our mothers, especially Jacob’s, were getting very anxious because we really didn’t want to stress or rush, which meant a lot of things didn’t fall into place until last week,” Benji says. “A week before the wedding, we still didn’t have a celebrant, photographer or string quartet. But our process has worked very well for us.

For the officiant, they knew they wanted someone traditional, but not religious. “We ended up googling ‘Lesbian Rabbi’ and came across Gail Nalven, who we could immediately tell from her chunky scarves and silver brooches, possessed the second wave feminist mom vibes we wanted. amazing and gave us a simple ceremony that followed the outlines of a traditional Jewish ceremony without any mention of god.

For the photographer, the two knew they didn’t want a “wedding photographer“. “It was just wrong,” says Jacob. “We really wanted someone who we had a personal connection with and who knew some of our friends and who was gay.” At the last minute, Jacob reconnected with Charles Caesar, with whom he had worked on editorial projects and a film project years before.

For music, the couple ended up finding Art Strings Ensemble, directed by Alex Abaev – who Jacob said “looked straight out of a Wes Anderson cast, gray hair and formal tuxedos, etc.” , and who performed in a truly impeccable classical style. “

The couple did their own planning, but were grateful to have accepted help with the execution as the date approached. William Gideon of the Botanical Garden’s in-house caterer organized the food and drink, fulfilling Jacob and Benji’s request for a menu that could best be described as “Excentric Tea Party In The Park”. Benji’s best friend, Erica Rompani, arrived from Italy two months earlier and took care of all the planning, right up to the day, carrying bushels of dried flowers to the venue.

The bride and groom both wore Thom Browne for their main look. “We coordinated by wearing seersucker,” says Jacob. “Mine was a bit more classic, gray stripes on white. Benji was a bit more fun, with a patchwork seersucker jacket and shorts and a solid navy blue block, plus shiny nautical brass buttons. Jacob wore his with Givenchy lace-up derbies and a Fendi floral print shirt. Benji opted for a Thom Browne shirt and a pair of Dries Van Noten lace-up derbies with a spiky platform sole.

“We chose Thom Browne suits for a lot of reasons,” explains Jacob. “He was the first designer I met and interviewed years ago when I started. I’ve written about him for everyone from Paper to NYT to Vogue. And I felt like in the context of a wedding, the kind of theatrical tinge to its tailoring adds a really special sense of formality, without anything stuffy, serious or embarrassing. Benji has also modeled a ton for him, both for runway shows and models. “

On the wedding day, Jacob’s 4-year-old nephew Knox served as the ring bearer. “We kind of assumed he would be shy, but he was really the life of the party,” Jacob says. “He had no problem stepping out into the ring and posing for a quick photo.”

Before the service, Jacob and Benji had wicker baskets filled with dried flowers displayed in the garden. “Our hope was that at our pre-ceremony reception, the guests would assemble small Shakespearean bouquets to take with them and hold during the ceremony,” Jacob explains. “Of course no one did, until Knox discovered the flowers and started making bouquets for the guests. Then everyone really got down to it and made their own.

As the grooms finally made their way to the location of the ceremony – it was held in the Greek Amphitheater, so they asked guests to walk through the Cherry Esplanade as they walked alone near the Japanese pond – they continued to meet latecomers who wanted to stop and chat. “We wanted to be polite, but we also had big butterflies,” Jacob recalls. “Then our photographer Charles, bless him, made us stop for some portraits. So our nervous energy was through the roof as we walked into the amphitheater base. The simple words of the ceremony that our officiant Gail used sounded really powerful. We were both crying and shaking. I guess everyone is saying it, but it was like the most beautiful ceremony that ever took place. “

Immediately afterwards, the newlyweds were mobbed by their guests, but they finally made their way to the Botanical Garden to take photos despite the tears. “We got him together for a few portraits, then hid in our little green room so Benji could change his outfit,” Jacob said. “Then, to be honest, we didn’t really know what we were supposed to do. Do you talk to people? How’s the cake going? We hadn’t really thought about that part. But somehow we ended up at the cake. They cut a slice, danced a bit, then listened to friends give speeches. Once that was done, they spent the night at the Plaza eating room service desserts.

“I don’t think any of us are married,” said Jacob. “We didn’t expect it to be so ‘magical’ – it’s such an overused word when it comes to weddings, but the truth is, it’s the only word to describe the day. thing we both feel is that, amazing and unique as a day has been… it’s all been a part of our life together. The days before, during, between and after our wedding and our honeymoon. honey look like a single trajectory Somehow we have stumbled / lucky on this amazing life path together and each day is as exciting as the last.

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