Over-the-Top Beachfront Bender

Ondine Karady & James Rutenberg
The Crow’s Nest Restaurant & Inn, Montauk, N.Y.
September 8, 2007

As a former set decorator for Sex and the City, Ondine knew that when it came time to design her wedding reception, she would do it herself. All the details were homemade: the cake toppers painted by her sister to resemble the couple, the circus-theme tablecloths sewn by her mother, the 40-pound grass monkey topiaries grown in her parents’ backyard—a spectacle in their suburban neighborhood. “Ondine’s parents used to throw animal-theme birthday parties for their daughters,” says James. “So when on a trip to Costa Rica, Ondine had a dream about monkeys serenading us good-bye, well …” They chose the Crow’s Nest in Montauk because it’s where they surf every summer (fellow surfer friend “Honolulu Eddie” played island songs on the ukulele) and it had the boat access required for their surprise grand entrance: Ondine, in her wedding gown, and her father in an unventilated monkey suit.


Bride’s Gown: Blue
Hair and Makeup: Danny Rivera of M Salon, East Hampton and Sarit Klein
Groom’s Attire: Lord Willy’s and Prada
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Calypso Christiane Celle
Invitations: Fran Gaitanaros of Rooster Design Group

Click to Read Their Story
Photographs by Dave Robbins

For the cake, my mother made a Hungarian chocolate dobos torte. My parents had to custom-build a special box for it so it wouldn”t melt during the six-hour journey to Montauk.

We wanted peacocks strutting around, but they”re apparently the nasty, noisy jerks of the bird world. So we did peacock-flower topiaries instead and hung grass-monkey topiaries from the tent. People loved them so much, four of them were stolen.

My father and I launched from Uihlein”s Marina. My cell phone died at the crucial moment that our director cued our boat; but it all worked out. My dad went off-script when he began making obscene gestures as the boat came into view of the guests. He wore the monkey suit on the boat, and then disrobed to walk me down the aisle.

For the escort-card table, we had windup monkey toys from Pearl River Mart on little surfboards.

We had hot-pink and orange confetti in bags for everyone to throw”but the paper clumped, and it felt like getting pelted by softballs. I wanted the flowers to be ranunculus in those colors, too, but settled on spray roses with berries after hearing the budget. We had seven bridesmaids and six groomsmen, which included our cat, Norman, and our ringbearer: Little Bear, our chowchow.

Over-the-Top Beachfront Bender