Claire & James: A Timeless New York Love Affair At Capitale


Claire & James Wedding – Bride & Groom – Capitale – by Susan Shek


Claire and James’ love story begins at the start of their freshman year in college. “We were actually introduced by one of my bridesmaids and her boyfriend, who is now her husband. She asked me to come and hang out with their friends one evening and that is when I first met James.” They hit it off immediately, but there was one small problem. Both were seeing other people at the time. Claire looks back and says with a little laugh, “Our relationships didn’t last too much longer. We went back home for Thanksgiving break and told our significant others that we had met someone. That was nine years ago, we’ve been inseparable ever since.”

Part 1: Proposal & Wedding Planning 

After graduation, the couple eventually made their way to New York City. With the fast-pace of city life, they made sure to set aside time each day to spend together. Every night, James would meet Claire at the subway after she got home from work and they would walk Buddy, their mini daschshund home. One cold evening, Claire got to the top of the subway stairs to see only James waiting for her. Buddy wasn’t in sight. She recalls, “I got a little suspicious, but then he suggested that we should go get drinks. I thought, ‘Ok, that makes sense.’ We first walked down to the waterfront and I continued to tell him about my day.”

Claire had good reason to be suspicious during those first moments. Just as they arrived in front of the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City, James turned to her and said, “I have a question to ask you.” Then he got down on one knee and asked Claire to marry him. “I actually responded ‘Yes. Are you sure? Yes!’ It couldn’t have been more perfect though,” she recalls. “Because just after he arrived to America as a young boy, James’ Great-Great Grandfather actually worked near our proposal spot. And he eventually set up a Taxi garage in Queens. Knowing that this important event for us was also connected to family history really meant a lot to me.”


Claire & James Wedding – Proposal – courtesy of bride


Claire fell under the spell of New York City’s timeless charm the day she arrived. When asked about planning for her wedding, she replied, “I knew that I wanted the day to be a celebration of the city. I love Old New York and wanted our wedding venue to reflect that feeling.” After touring a few of the city’s major venues, Claire and James found everything they were looking for at Capitale. Dating to 1895, the landmark building boasts a magnificent interior marked by an ornate coved ceiling, glass skylight, and Corinthian columns. “We wanted our wedding to be in an iconic space. When we walked into the Capitale, we were floored. It was perfect.”


Claire & James Wedding – Reception – Capitale – by Susan Shek


Claire & James Wedding – Centerpiece – Capitale – by Susan Shek


With the venue in place, Claire could begin thinking about floral décor and styling. “I’m not high maintenance at all,“ she says. “I would describe my style as simple, elegant, and romantic.” While many brides-to-be may find Capitale’s immense architecture intimidating, Claire used it as inspiration and planned her entire wedding! She worked with Bride & Blossom, translating her wedding vision into a stunning palette of white, red, and burgundy flowers. Additional elements such as feathers and Art Deco accents evoked a look reminiscent of The Great Gatsby. “It wasn’t my first intention. But then I found out that Capitale is where The Great Gatsby Ball is held each year and did a little research. So the fact was definitely in the back of my mind. As big Fitzgerald fans, we we’re completely happy with how everything turned out.”


Claire & James Wedding – Bride & Groom – Capitale – by Susan Shek


The couple’s escort car deserves a mention. “Long before he proposed, James would always talk about arriving to our wedding in a vintage taxi.” Susan Shek, their photographer suggested they check with NY Film Cars. Claire remembers, “Peter Yannello, our driver, actually used his own personal car. Turns out, the rest of the fleet was in South Carolina for a classic car show.” So moved by the groom’s family story, Peter immediately responded to their request saying, “I’m honored to have this invitation to be part of your celebration, knowing that the fabled taxicab will bring an enormous amount of charm and distinction to the day, not to mention its place in family legacy.”


Claire & James Wedding – Bride & Groom – Capitale – by Susan Shek


Next week in Part 2: Wedding Dress and Personals, Claire talks about her beautiful Pnina Tornai gown and the special touches she incorporated into her special day.

Couple’s Vendor List

Venue: Capitale
Photographer: Susan Shek Photography
Video: KLassey Productions
Bride’s Dress: Pnina Tornai
Bride’s Veil: Justine M Couture
Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Groom’s Tux: Brooks Brothers
Groom’s Shoes: Allen Edmonds
Hair & Makeup: Beautini
Invitations: Minted
Favors: Gracious Bridal + StuffforEverything
Music: Jenna Wynne Band (Hank Lane Music)
Vintage Taxi: NY Film Cars




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