Going to the Chapel

Sophie Roberts

You've already found love, said "yes," set the date and chosen one of the City's most exciting venues to tie the knot—an upscale new wedding chapel at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. What else could you possibly want or need? Quite a few things, actually: there's the dress, the ring, the bouquet, the flawless hair and makeup and the perfect place to celebrate with a meal or a toast after the ceremony.

The search for the dress can often be daunting, but here in the City, it's easy for brides to find exactly what they're looking for to fit their style and budget. Whether it's long or short, traditional or edgy, simple or fancy, an impressive variety of dresses can be found downtown near the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. Right in SoHo is the Nicole Miller flagship boutique, a great source for off-the-rack frocks including cocktail dresses in a range of hues and elegant silk gowns that match the old-world elegance of the wedding venue itself. Nicole Miller also offers brides a chance to set up an appointment to peruse the sleek signature selection of bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. If traditional is your thing, nearby classic clothier J.Crew, on Front Street, can outfit the bride and groom as well as their family members. Finally, for the bride who wants to step it up a notch, The Bridal Garden, on 21st Street, is a unique nonprofit boutique that offers high-end designer gowns at up to 75% off. That means Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Carolina Herrera and more than 50 other big-name bridal labels at a fraction of the retail cost, with the added bonus that all proceeds benefit education for New York City children.

For a little extra beautification, you may want to consider getting your hair and makeup done professionally. At Cutting Image Salon, a cozy spot located on a tree-lined block in the East Village, the focus isn't just about brilliant updos and perfect makeup application but also about creating an oasis to calm day-of jitters (think lovely staff and complimentary wine and cheese). Have friends and family you want to prep with? Parties of nine can rent the entire salon at an hourly rate. And if you're looking for the ultimate way to relax before the big moment, try Great Jones Spa. In addition to hairstyling and makeup application, the spa offers massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and a famed water lounge featuring a thermal hot tub, cold plunge pool, river rock sauna and chakra-light steam room that are all free for spa visitors spending $100 or more. And it's not just for women—the bride and groom can enjoy treatments side by side in the VIP room, where they can relax together in the private Jacuzzi.

While Great Jones Spa's Red Flower hammam treatment and massage is not to be missed, you'll also definitely need fresh blossoms in the form of a bouquet. Right in TriBeCa is Elan Flowers, the source for creative arrangements that have won over a diverse set of clients including Donald Trump, Diesel and the Walt Disney Company. But these big names don't necessarily equal big price tags—Elan's bouquets start at $65. Another place for fabulous flowers is Polux Fleuriste, which brings an element of Paris to the heart of NoLIta. Stunning monochromatic arrangements stand out with unexpected touches like twigs and wild grains.

The dress may or may not be worn again, your spa experience will become just a fond memory and the flowers will eventually dry, but the ring on your finger will be a constant reminder of your love and devotion. If you're a traditionalist, DeNatale Jewelers, a friendly, family-owned business in the Financial District, offers an extensive selection of beautifully designed engagement and wedding rings—all deeply discounted. For more offbeat selections, Jelena Behrend Studio on the Lower East Side specializes in artisanal engagement rings and wedding bands that are all handmade and hand shaped. The funky—yet often delicate—designs come in platinum and yellow gold, rose gold, green gold and silver, and Jelena Behrend often mixes her metals for an especially distinctive look.

Finally, after it's all over and you've said "I do," there's only one thing left to be done: celebrate. And there's no shortage of places near the Manhattan Marriage Bureau to make merry. Battery Gardens restaurant is a dreamy destination situated on the water with panoramic views of New York Harbor, including Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, while legendary Cipriani Wall Street boasts timeless luxury both in the stunning Greek Revival architecture replete with a 70-foot-high ceiling and in the sophisticated Italian menu. For those looking for the ultimate toast to a life of happiness together, there's The Bubble Lounge, in TriBeCa, which serves up 300 types of champagne and sparkling wines plus celebratory cocktails perfect for post-nuptials. The Bouquet of Rosé and the Passion Cosmopolitan are especially befitting to raise a festive glass to the happy couple.