As a wedding designer, Little Sister Creative‘s Julie Guinta couldn’t help but notice a major trend in weddings: They were getting bigger and bigger. Clients were hosting three, four day weddings, planning huge events started to feel like the norm. But the cost of hosting this massive weekend-long soirees was certainly not for everybody.
“As much as I love doing those big weddings, I saw there was an extreme lack in the market for people who just want to get married,” Guinta said. The lack became even more evident when two dear friends texted Guinta about marrying them. She got ordained via the Universal Life Church online, met the couple at St. Anslem and married them over steaks.
“A lightbulb went off, Why isn’t there something kind of Vegas-style here? Or in LA? Or Miami?” Guinta realized. In mid-2019, she hit the ground running, wanting to “serve everyone who wants to celebrate love.” Unfortunately, she had to turn away potential clients with small budgets. “That started to weigh on me, break my heart.”
As 2020 postponed or cancelled almost all big weddings, the necessity of Guinta’s idea of a small, lovely space to just get married became evident. So, she opened Sweet Hearts (57 Conselyea St.), in a gallery space steps from her apartment.
Amidst all the pandemic and political chaos of last year, Guinta couldn’t find an appropriate opening date, so she settled on Valentine’s Day 2021. Sweet Hearts will offer a wheelchair accessible white box space, with a custom backdrop by Greenpoint artist Michael Haff, and all the necessary add-ons including photos, local flowers and an officiant. An hour rental includes twelve chairs for guests, plus wifi and a connected speaker. A honeymoon in a bag also aims to “inject as much business to local businesses” as possible, with suggestions of where to locally celebrate over a glass of Champagne, cake, and more.
“This trend of going smaller is really lovely, more intimate,” Guinta said. “It relieves a lot of pressure off of the couples. It’s a good excuse to cut the guest list and family stress, and have genuine moments with all of your guests. It’s been incredible witnessing this explosion in the wedding market through 2019, and then completely retreating to what really makes our heart full, and what we really want to take away from a wedding.” In the future, she’s planning to block some time for couples with terrible COVID cancellation stories to utilize the space for free.
Sweet Hearts isn’t just for wedding ceremonies, Guinta notes. In workshopping the concept, couples have used Sweet Hearts to celebrate adopting a dog, to re-do their lost wedding photos, to celebrate a year of bonding together in isolation and more. She’s recently had an inquiry for a self-love ceremony for someone turning 35. “It’s a happy, lovely space for people to celebrate what love means to them,” Guinta said.
“Right now, the more intimate, the better,” Guinta said. “True connections, true love, is so needed.”