Stylist Elle Strauss Looks Back at Her Chic City Hall Ceremony

By Alexandra Macon

Stylist and brand consultant Elle Strauss first crossed paths with her future husband, James Dimmock, on a shoot for The Face magazine in London in 2001. “He was shooting and I was busy ironing clothes as the fashion assistant,” she says. “I thought ‘ooh, he’s cute,’ and apparently (he assures me) he thought the same.” Three years passed before they saw each other again, this time at the British GQ Man of the Year Awards—Elle worked for the magazine and James had photographed that year’s winner, actor Paul Bettany. “This time we were both single and the drinks were flowing,” Elle remembers. “We spent the evening with Paul and his wife, Jennifer Connelly. At one point, she whispered into my ear to ask if James was my boyfriend. When I replied ‘no,’ she said, ‘he should be.’ I mean, with a blessing from Jennifer Connelly, our fate was sealed.”

The two eventually relocated to New York City, where Elle later got a big promotion at Lucky magazine. “And with that came the wonders of health insurance,” she explains. “I romantically rang James from Duane Reade in Times Square and promptly announced that if he wanted health insurance he was going to have to marry me and I was giving him three days to come up with a decent proposal.” The night before Thanksgiving, James popped the question at Gramercy Tavern.

Less than a month later, the couple decided to tied the knot at City Hall. For the occasion, Elle had initially bought a Vera Wang dress at a sample sale and kept it in a large drawer at work. “Everyone thought I was nuts,” she says. “They were correct. When I went to put it on, it wasn’t right, so I quickly sold it on eBay and regrouped.” She ended up finding a one shouldered white dress from the now defunct Italian label Abaerte on Shopbop and a veil from Monique Lhuillier. “I borrowed a scarf from my BFF and witness, Nikki Rothberg, my ‘something old’ was a vintage gold clutch that belonged to my nana, and my ‘something new’ was a Chanel diamanté bowed cuff James had given me for my 30th birthday,” Elle adds. “I finished off the look with black tights (it was freezing!), a white cropped blazer by Cynthia Vincent, and vertiginous black Prada heels.”

As someone who follows fashion trends rather closely, Elle admits she doesn’t have any regrets regarding her 2008 wedding day look; in fact, she calls it “perfect for the time.” But the one thing she does wish she could’ve changed a decade later is her bridal bouquet. “The florist mixed up my order and gave me a bouquet of lilies, which I’m afraid I can’t stand,” she says. “But there was no time and I didn’t wish to cause a fuss—I should’ve caused a fuss.”

Since their wedding took place in early December, New York and City Hall were already covered in tinsel and holiday decorations. “There were fake Christmas trees everywhere you turned,” Elle says. “There was an all-round wonderful feeling of happiness. It also started to snow.”James’s best man, Jonathan Bookallil, performed double duty as the day’s photographer, too. After their ceremony, the couple and their small party tried and failed to hail a cab, as the weather was quickly turning into a blizzard. “We jumped on the 6 subway train to have a lunch of oysters and champagne at Balthazar’s,” she says. “James then surprised me with a stay at my favorite hotel, The Gramercy. After checking in, we had a cup of tea (obviously) on the glass roof and later headed to the Bowery for dinner with our witnesses and best friends. James gave a wonderful speech and we drank champagne and ate far too much into the New York night.”

Ten years later, Elle does have one piece of advice for future brides: “Try not to worry so much—and eat as much cake as you can!”