When you think of your dream wedding, does an intimate restaurant gathering centered around really good food pop into your head? If not, don't fret. Kate Shilling of Nous NY is here to change the restaurant wedding stigma for couples getting hitched in New York. Focused on good food and better company, her weddings are filled with meaning, collected memories and plenty of glass raising. Kate set out to create a dream dinner party wedding to inspire NYC couples to rethink their own urban nuptials and showcase the beautiful possibilities of a restaurant wedding. For the setting, she selected one of her favorite venues in the city, il Buco Alimentari, an artisanal Italian restaurant that sources one-of-a-kind items like plates from Umbria and napkins hand dyed with rust and tea.
Embracing the rich colors of fall and a harvest inspired menu, Kate designed a nontraditional, intimate fall wedding for the modern New York couple who loves food and wine. She is also sharing her top tips from years of planning NYC weddings from what decor to bring to a restaurant to how to plan a wedding week that all of your guests will love. Read on to get the full scoop on this shoot and how to plan your own restaurant wedding.
Photography by Elizabeth LaDuca
Tell us about the inspiration for this shoot.
il Buco Alimentari celebrates artisanal Italian products, seen in both the space and the cuisine. The event concept was anchored in that aesthetic, centering on the seasonal menu which included Sicilian salt-crusted whole market fish, porchetta, roasted squash and tagliatelle with winter mushrooms. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, dessert was an elegant flourless chocolate cake served with figs, fall pears and berries.
The table was set with tall tapered candles and organic florals in a soft fall palette of copper and bronze with soft browns, muted pinks and pops of chocolate for drama. Scattered seasonal fruit including concord grapes and ground cherries added layers of richness to the spread. Thoughtful details like il Buco Vita plates sourced from Umbria, napkins hand dyed with rust and tea and gorgeous menus printed on pages torn from vintage books extended the handcrafted concept.
How is a restaurant wedding different than one you may find at a traditional venue?
I like to think of it as dinner-party entertaining. Restaurant weddings allow couples to prioritize the dining experience in a way that truly reflects their shared style. More intimate by design, these celebrations foster deep conversations amongst friends and family as they relax over delicious food and wine in a warm, non-traditional setting.
What is something most couples don’t think about when hosting a wedding at a restaurant?
Pricing for a restaurant celebration will vary from a traditional wedding venue. Restaurants typically don’t charge rental fees for the space you’re using, and budgets are often determined by a minimum food and beverage spend for the day of the week or time of day. From there, menus and beverage selections impact the price per plate fee for each guest.
Keep timing in mind, restaurants that are already established as popular wedding venues often book as far in advance as traditional venues (a year or more). And, restaurants are often in high demand during November and December for holiday parties.
Just because you’ve never been to or seen a wedding happening at a restaurant you love, don’t rule it out—they may have the perfect space. Having eaten at il Buco Alimentari many times over the years, it was a pleasant surprise to host an event in their loft space and outdoor terrace—it’s so versatile for both a wedding ceremony and reception. It’s an untapped gem!
If dancing isn’t permitted at the venue, I always recommend moving to a nearby lounge for an after party, giving guests yet another exciting environment to enjoy.
How can you bring in design elements without clashing with the restaurant’s decor?
We’re lucky that in New York City there’s a restaurant that’s the right fit for every couple. I work with couples to identify venues that fit their logistical requirements as well as the aesthetic they’re aspiring to achieve. Restaurants often come complete with a strong interior design, eliminating the need for over-the-top decor or rentals. With that existing canvas, couples can get creative with florals, paper details and music to make it a special experience for their guests.
How can hosting a restaurant wedding give your guests a unique city experience?
Embrace the personal perspective that comes with a more simple, intimate gathering. Restaurant weddings can provide your guests an unexpected, yet meaningful experience. I encourage my clients to use their wedding as an opportunity to share their lives in New York with their guests. Host a welcome reception at one of your favorite bars near your apartment. Get married somewhere that means something to you—or even city hall. Celebrate with dinner at a restaurant that reflects something special about your relationship. Your guests will love experiencing the city through your eyes.
Explore restaurant venues in NYC →
Planner & Designer: Nous NY | Photographer: Elizabeth LaDuca | Venue: il Buco Alimentari | Plates: il Buco Vita | Florals: Bourgeon by Amy Febinger | Paper: Ink & Press Co. | Linens: Samantha Verrone | Hair: Andy Tseng | Makeup: Beauty by Jessa Blades | Gown: Donatelle Godart courtesy of The Mews Bridal | Rings: Erstwhile