After Stephanie Davidson’s fiancé proposed last August, she was thrilled to start planning her wedding. Until she realized that she hated the process, that is.
“It’s not as fun as people make it seem,” Davidson, who is 27 and a nursing student in Queens, said. “I was saying to [my fiancé] Chris, ‘I wish that I could just have somebody plan everything for me, make all the decisions. He said, ‘What are you, Kim Kardashian?’ No, but a girl can dream.”
That dream came partly true this week when Davidson watched a TikTok created by Mackenzie Newcomb, a 28-year-old woman who is currently trying to sell a wedding she fully planned but has no intention of attending herself.
Luckily, there’s no major drama with the groom (though Newcomb admitted to The Daily Beast, “I think some people were hoping for it”). Newcomb, who runs a popular online book club, is happily married to her husband Ben.
They just chose to ditch their trendy Brooklyn garden ceremony after moving out of New York last summer. A few hard months—which included the death of Ben’s father and Newcomb’s grandparents battling long COVID—encouraged them to reevaluate their priorities together.
So the couple chose to tie the knot last summer during an intimate backyard ceremony on the South Shore of Massachusetts, close to where Newcomb was raised.
The bride wore the dress she bought for the occasion, and her grandmother, an Episcopalian minister, officiated the affair. Guests dined on lobster and caviar sent by Newcomb’s old boss. It was perfect.
“Because I had this luxurious, personal, incredible, aesthetically-pleasing wedding already, I don’t need to do it again,” Newcomb said. “It’s been a year of extreme ups and downs in our lives. And this second wedding doesn’t feel like mine anymore. It feels like someone else’s, from a different time. It would be better off going to someone else.”
But Newcomb is still on the hook for the date—September 18—and about $23,000 she spent on the 80-person ceremony at a modern Italian restaurant called Milk & Roses. (Newcomb says $10,000 of that budget was a gift from her mother.)
Everything is set: the floral arrangements, which Newcomb said have a “secret garden” theme; the photographer, who has an LGBTQ-friendly portfolio; and the DJs, an all-female company that “agreed not to play any problematic men.”
It sounds like a night to remember—one that Newcomb is eager to pass along to another couple. “It brings me dread to think about it, because I’m already married,” she said. “I’d rather go on a honeymoon or plan a trip to the Philippines.”
Newcomb’s father has spent the past few months urging her to sell it on Craigslist. She resisted at first: “I said, ‘Dad, that’s not a thing, people don’t do that.’”
Then a member of Newcomb’s book club suggested she film a TikTok. She wanted it to feel “cheesy and cliché on purpose,” and it does. Newcomb has never seen the iconic Grand Prospect Hall commercials, where Michael Halkias and his wife Alice promised their Brooklyn venue would “make your dreams come true.” But her TikTok has a similar vibe. (Halkais died of COVID last May.)
The video worked: Halcomb now has around a dozen “serious offers” from couples around the city.
Newcomb is willing to sell her wedding at a loss—she’s only asking for $15,000—as long as it goes to a New York couple who might not be able to afford it otherwise. (On average, Brooklyn nuptials will set one back around $46,000. So $15,000 is a steal.)
There are a few ground rules: though Newcomb planned and is advertising the wedding for 80 people, the couple must understand that COVID capacity rules could still be in effect by September, which would limit the guest list to 50.
The vendors are set in stone and part of the price, so the couple cannot get a new photographer, DJ, or florist. (Though Newcomb factored a chuppah, the canopy that a Jewish couple stands underneath during their ceremony, into the flower budget to honor her husband’s faith, if the couple isn’t Jewish, they can turn the chuppah into a different floral arrangement. “I’m not going to make anyone have a chuppah,” Newcomb said.)
Newcomb also made clear that the winning couple must preferably pay in full, or two installments at most. She’ll get a lawyer to review all the contracts, so everything is legally square.
“At the end of the day, this is a business transaction,” Newcomb said. “I’m not trying to get more than $15,000, or less. That’s just the price of it, I’m not raising it for inflation just because people are interested.”
She could be swayed by a couple that has a “cute story,” though. “One couple reached out, and they’re lesbians in Brooklyn who have a kid and never got around to getting married,” Newcomb said. “Now they want my wedding. I’m into that idea.”
One bride-to-be told Newcomb she would invite her to the ceremony. “I don’t really want to go, but I would definitely be down to spy during a cocktail hour: check out the scene, have a glass of Prosecco, take some pictures, and then go to dinner with my friends,” she said. “That’s a funny touch.”
Newcomb added that she’d love it if the winning couple could make a follow-up TikTok documenting their wedding. “They don’t need to have a ton of followers, I would just love to watch a video,” she said.
And if the bride is a size 10, Newcomb said she will “throw in” her wedding dress, too. Why not?
When Davidson saw Newcomb’s TikTok video, she messaged Newcomb with an offer immediately—before consulting her fiancé. (He has since been informed and feels “actually really excited” about the prospect.)
The pair were engaged on Long Island last summer, during a break before they both returned to school full-time. They roamed the Planting Fields Arboretum, a former Gilded Age estate with over 400 acres of garden. The couple spent their first anniversary there, and like to return as much as possible.
Davidson had a hunch she might end the long weekend with a proposal—she got a forest-green manicure just in case—but was still surprised when, as they walked up to a tree they once carved their names into, Chris got down on one knee.
“I kinda knew it would happen, but I was still bawling,” Davidson said. Nursing school, which Davidson was accepted to on the day New York City went into lockdown back in March, has kept her from properly planning a wedding. She loves that Newcomb’s is in Brooklyn, where she is dying to get married but finds the venues “prohibitively pricey.”
What else does Davidson love about the offer? “Oh my gosh, she said something about the DJ that made me know we have the same kind of vibe. She said her DJ doesn’t play any problematic men—that is amazing. Because when the Chris Brown [abuse allegations] came out, I was heartbroken. I loved him, but could never listen to him again. So I don’t have worry about that. Really the location and the DJ sold me on it.”
“This has answered my prayers,” Davidson said. “I’m trying to not get too excited, because I don’t want to get my hopes up. But I’m at the point where I’ll do whatever it takes.”