I'm with the bride: How a former CBGB manager began planning weddings in Queens

A wedding arrangement at the museum of the moving image. photo courtesy of momi

A wedding arrangement at the museum of the moving image. photo courtesy of momi

By Victoria Merlino

BG Hacker, event planner extraordinaire for Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image, thinks that weddings and rock shows have a lot in common.

“Well, it seems like it's different, but it isn't really,” Hacker said, comparing the multitasking, teamwork and planning that needs to happen to pull off both types of events successfully.

“I think that there are a lot of parallels, you know, between those two,” he added. “I don't think of it as such a stretch.”

He would know. Hacker used to manage the legendary East Village rock club CBGB during its heyday, shepherding musicians through the infamous venue that would eventually be christened the birthplace of punk, with genre titans like the Ramones and the Misfits gracing its stage.

Now, Hacker deals with a different main attraction: brides and grooms. Since 2011, Hacker has served as MOMI’s event planner, dealing in not just weddings, but conferences, bar mitzvahs, charity galas, film shoots and more.

“It really runs the gamut,” Hacker said, estimating that the museum hosts around 85 events per year.

To understand the appeal of having an event like a wedding at MOMI — which can set you back $10,750 for the space alone on a Saturday night — is to understand the space itself.

MOMI is the only museum in the United States dedicated to all things film, video games, TV and other moving images. Couples can plan to rent out the entire museum, enabling their guests to explore the halls of exhibits, like an ode to master puppeteer and Muppets creator Jim Henson.

There are also a number of customizable experiences that couples can choose to make their day unique, including opportunities to let guests create stop-motion animation or build flipbooks and the ability to project custom video or home movies during the event.

The legendary rock club CBGB. Photo by  adam dicarlo via wikimedia commons

The legendary rock club CBGB. Photo by adam dicarlo via wikimedia commons

“It is great for people who are creative, because we really think of the museum as a blank canvas for people to create whatever they want,” Hacker said.

Couples who usually want weddings at the MOMI are looking for something “out of the box,” Hacker explained. He said he has worked with some who just want an elegant party in a beautiful space with beautiful lighting and centerpieces, while others want a large wedding where guests are encouraged to wander through every nook and cranny in the galleries.

The novelty of the venue extends to its cultural significance, Hacker said, with couples hoping to wow their guests with something they have never seen before.

“Even people who live in Queens — I can't tell you how many times I walk people through and they say 'I can't believe I've never been here. This is so exciting.'” Hacker said. “And I hear that over and over and over again.”

“Because sometimes when something's right there you always think, 'Well I could go there tomorrow, because it's right there,' and you'll travel far and wide to see other things but you often neglect the things that are closest to you,” he continued. “So it's an opportunity to share the museum with your guests and people really enjoy that.”

Of course, one of the draws of having a wedding at MOMI is Hacker himself. He has spent years in the industry planning for clients like HBO, the NBA and Hugo Boss.

“Best of all was BG. We must have asked him about a thousand questions as we went through all of the different options and decisions — and he was always there with a patient answer for us,” wrote one person in her 2013 TheKnot.com review of her MOMI wedding.

Other reviews similarly rave about Hacker, calling him “above and beyond amazing,” and the “most organized, calming and detail-oriented person I've ever worked with.”

Hacker, however, takes all the praise in stride. To him, working on weddings is something he genuinely enjoys.  

“How great is it to be working with people, young people, mostly who are preparing for one of the most important days of their life,” he said.

He detailed how he gets to know and understand a couple over the course of a year, answering questions and guiding them through what will be one of the most important days of their lives.

“It's just incredibly rewarding,” he said.