An Intimate New York Wedding at the Strand Bookstore

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Tom James and Dustin Ngo’s relationship began with an affair. The bride and groom were both students at Yale University (Tom was an undergraduate student, Dustin was completing a graduate degree in physics) when they went on their first date, a hike in East Rock of New Haven. Years of adventure and discovery followed, culminating in two exciting announcements on February 11, 2016: The Discovery of Gravity Waves and Tom and Dustin’s engagement!

After trying to plan the wedding on their own (and figuring out their venue, caterer, and photographer), Dustin and Tom realized they needed another set of hands. They turned to Amy from Modern Rebel & Co. to finalize vendors and details for their June 17, 2017 wedding in the Rare Book Room at Strand Bookstore in New York City. “The Strand is all the things we love about our relationship,” says Tom. “It is a warm and intimate space full of history, knowledge and adventure.” They invited 69 guests – and their Maltipoo, captain, of course! – to join them in the bookstore for a relaxed and warm celebration inspired by a library from the 60s. Aaron and Whitney Photography were there to capture the moment as Dustin and Tom began their own story.

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography
Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

The bride and groom looked stylish in coordinating Thom Browne suits. Tom wore a dark gray suit with a light gray tie, while Dustin wore a light gray suit with a dark gray tie. Each wore a pin instead of a buttonhole: Tom’s was a Buddha shared by a group of close college friends, while Dustin’s was a Yale Graduate School pin.

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography
Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

The couple’s captain’s Maltipoo was a great sport, ranging from the subway ride to the ceremony throughout the reception. “She ended up falling asleep on one of the tables during the dance party,” says Tom.

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

“It’s so rare that so many people who love each other are all in the same room, so we kept the design simple to really focus on that feeling,” Tom describes.

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography
Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography
Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

The couple wrote their own vows, with Dustin referring to a quote from Carl Sagan. “Despite ‘the immensity of space and the immensity of time’, we are amazed to have managed to find each other. We each have half of that quote engraved in our covenants, ”says Tom.

Instead of just one outfit, the bride and groom asked their wedding party to choose their own leather jacket or bomber jacket and wear whatever they wanted underneath. “We wanted whatever they bought for our wedding party to be something they would wear over and over again,” says Tom. “Mixing our costumes with their leather jackets gave our wedding party a punk band vibe! ”

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography
Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

Neatly preserved stacks of books were topped with arrangements of white flowers, thistles, and greenery. The table numbers have been appropriately designed to resemble vintage library catalog cards.

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography
Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

For dinner, guests enjoyed a Chinese house-style menu that included Peking Duck Sliders, Jumbo Shrimp in XO Sauce, Seared White Tofu with Mushrooms, and Braised King Crab Noodles.

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

Who said a bookstore has to look like a library? A DJ and fairy lights gave the space a party vibe!

Photo by Aaron and Whitney Photography

Baked NYC’s Dustin and Tom cake was totally indulgent: layers of chocolate cake were dipped in salted caramel, then filled with a caramel-chocolate whipped ganache. A rainbow and two penguins added an extra touch to the personality of the bride and groom.

“At the end of the wedding, Tom and I strolled through Union Square Park, where we found a group of his friends waiting to sing for us,” says Dustin. “We ended up hanging out in the park and singing until it closed, then we continued the concert on the sidewalk! ”


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