I’ll sacrifice for you
Dedicate my life for you
I will go where you lead
Always there in time of need
And when I lose my will
You’ll be there to push me up the hill
There’s no, no looking back for us
We got love sure ’nough, that’s enough
You’re all, you’re all I need to get by.
—Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell
The year was 2013 and six months into a promising relationship, Zach stood at a difficult crossroads. Faced with a job offer in Seattle that would take him away from Manhattan and his new girlfriend Carolyn, he had to make a decision. “It was a make-or-break moment,” remembers Zach. “If Carolyn didn’t want to move to Seattle, I knew I would have to turn it down. I was expecting her to say no. Instead, her answer was absolute perfection. She told me simply, ‘We’ll figure it out.’
Leaving the life she knew in her native New York for an unfamiliar city proved to be an acid test that made a deep impression on Zach. Is it any surprise that four years later he chose Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s sweet and soulful tribute to love’s sacrifice and dedication to accompany him down the aisle on his wedding day? That Carolyn and Zach’s love story to date culminated in a wedding at the Rainbow Room—one of New York’s most quintessentially glamorous venues—is an equal tribute to their ongoing romance with the city they have joyfully returned to.
New York played a starring role in Carolyn and Zach’s big day—so much so that sometimes it seemed that the city itself was offering the couple rare opportunities for enjoyment. City streets shut down for a Veteran’s Day parade afforded the pair a First Look in the middle of Madison Avenue and a leisurely stroll to Rockefeller Center. “It felt simultaneously like the streets had cleared just for us,” says Carolyn, “and like all of New York was watching us, cheering us on.”
Later that night, surrounded by friends and family—not to mention a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline—Zach and Carolyn celebrated with the dance party to end all dance parties. Wearing matching sneakers they specially purchased for maximum get-down, the newlyweds got down to their favorite funk, soul and Motown jams. “When we were in Seattle—or ‘the dark years’ as I sometimes call them—getting back to New York was a light at the end of the tunnel for us, both literally and figuratively,” says Carolyn. “When you’re dancing at the Rainbow Room and you look outside at all of New York’s incredible buildings glistening in the night sky, it can feel like they’re all celebrating along with you.”
We were there and we think they were.
I got dressed with my dad. My favorite picture of him is from around 15 years ago. He’s wearing a tuxedo and looks like James Bond. It seemed fitting that he would help me as I put on my tuxedo.
How and when did you meet?
Carolyn: My sister actually set us up at my birthday party in July 2013. I was hesitant because she told me I was a few inches taller than Zach and I had never considered dating someone shorter than me (ridiculous, I know)! I actually wore a very specific outfit keeping in mind that Zach might be coming: a black maxi dress, these silly little flats and a Levi’s jean jacket. Zach actually now has the same jean jacket because apparently they’ve come back in style for men. So now I guess we’re twins.
Zach: We probably spoke ten words to each other, five of which were me making a pun about the bun in Carolyn’s hair. (It didn’t go over well, if you’re wondering.) I was struck by how beautiful she was and how she totally controlled the room with her presence. She definitely caught me staring at her from across the room, which Hollywood mistakenly led me to believe was romantic. In real life, it’s kind of creepy. Luckily, she still agreed to go out on a date with me a couple weeks later.
When did you know you wanted to make a lifelong commitment to each other?
Carolyn: Kind of weirdly early. We were making decisions about moving across the country six months into dating because Zach got a job offer on the West Coast. It pushed everything into overdrive.
Zach: Funny you should ask, since I detailed this exact moment in my letter to Carolyn for our wedding ceremony. When I found out I had a job offer in Seattle, I knew immediately it was a make-or-break moment for our relationship. We had only been dating a few months but if Carolyn didn’t want to move to Seattle I knew I would have to turn it down. I also knew that there wouldn’t be great job prospects or social opportunities for her there, so I was expecting her to say no. Instead, her answer was absolute perfection. She told me simply, “We’ll figure it out.”
I told Zach that I had a really, really big dress on numerous occasions before the wedding, but I don’t think he really ever believed me. When he walked out to Madison Avenue and saw me in what truly was a really, really, really big dress his smile and laugh was incredible.
It felt simultaneously like the streets had cleared just for us and that all of New York was watching us, cheering us on—and wondering how I wasn’t frozen in a strapless dress and 30-degree weather!
What were your top priorities when planning your day?
Carolyn: My family had been planning weddings for 24 months straight by the time our wedding came around. My sister and brother-in-law—the very people responsible for setting Zach and I up!—got married eleven months before us, so my sister, mom and I have basically been in planning mode since 2015. My biggest priority (this is so dumb!) was to not mess up the escort cards. I messed them up with my sister’s wedding, which is hilarious because I actually work in weddings and specifically with paper goods.
Zach: I was put in charge of one thing: the music. I wanted our ceremony music to be upbeat and representative of us. I walked down the aisle to “You’re All I Need to Get By” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, and Carolyn walked down to “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder. Both songs set a happy, fun and funky tone for the evening. Our favorite part of weddings is the dance party, so we wanted to make that the focal point of ours. The ceremony music was a nice intro to the rest of the night, when we spent 90 percent of the time on the dance floor.
Who did you decide to get ready with?
Carolyn: I was with my sister, mom, cousin (who is basically our third sister), grandmother and aunt for most of the day. My bridesmaids joined us for the afternoon. I ate three or four Ess-a-Bagel bagels. All you need: family, friends and bagels!
Zach: I had brunch with my dad, brothers, brothers-in-law and father-in-law to be. Then we went back to the hotel and hung out with my groomsmen. We had a rare bourbon that was gifted to us in Kentucky a few weeks prior and just got to relax and hang out. It set the perfect mood for the rest of the day. Then I got dressed with my dad. My favorite picture of him is from around 15 years ago. He’s wearing a tuxedo and looks like James Bond. It seemed fitting that he would help me as I put on my tuxedo.
What were your thoughts and feelings when you first saw each other on your day?
Carolyn: I told Zach that I had a really, really big dress on numerous occasions before the wedding, but I don’t think he really ever believed me. When he walked out to Madison Avenue and saw me in what truly was a really, really, really big dress his smile and laugh was incredible.
Zach: Carolyn’s dress was equal parts breathtaking and enormous. I had been hiding in the lobby for about 20 minutes until they were ready for me and then I walked out on to Madison Avenue where Carolyn was standing in the middle of the street, looking more amazing than I had ever seen her. You can see in the photos that I couldn’t stop smiling from that point on.
Tell us what it was like to have Fifth Avenue all to yourself.
Carolyn: Beyond cool. We were scared when we realized the Veteran’s Day parade was right where we needed to be, but it couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. All of the streets from the hotel to the Rainbow Room were closed and we truly had them all to ourselves. It felt simultaneously like the streets had cleared just for us and that all of New York was watching us, cheering us on—and wondering how I wasn’t frozen in a strapless dress and 30-degree weather!
Zach: I was worried that if our First Look was in public we’d be distracted by all the people around us. In that moment, though, everyone faded away and it was just me and Carolyn alone in the streets of New York. After spending two years in Seattle, Carolyn and I were both eager to get back to New York to start our life here. Having Fifth Avenue empty and all to ourselves was this incredible culmination of our return to our shared home.
I walked down the aisle to ‘You’re All I Need to Get By’ by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and Carolyn walked down to ‘I Was Made to Love Her’ by Stevie Wonder. Both songs set a happy, fun and funky tone for the evening.
When you’re dancing at the Rainbow Room and you look outside at all of New York’s incredible buildings glistening in the night sky it can feel like they’re all celebrating along with you. It’s truly magical.
What were some of the more meaningful moments of your day?
Carolyn: The city was a part of the day from the very beginning—from the bagels to all the streets being shut down to dancing on top of the city in the center of Manhattan. My mom said the sweetest thing the other day that is probably one of the more appropriate ways to put it: when you’re dancing at the Rainbow Room and you look outside at all of New York’s incredible buildings glistening in the night sky it can feel like they’re all celebrating along with you. It’s truly magical.
Zach: Everyone told us to make sure we spent time with each other at the wedding. They said we’d get pulled all over the place so it’s easy to spend the night apart from each other. The most meaningful part of the night was getting to spend the whole time together, enjoying it with all of our guests. It really felt like a party.
How did it feel to get married at the iconic Rainbow Room?
Carolyn: Thesaurus.com did not have great suggestions for “magical,” so I’m sticking with magical here again. It couldn’t have been more New York. It was perfect!
Zach: The Rainbow Room is such a beautiful space, made even more spectacular by the work Carolyn and her mom did with all of the design. It felt so fitting that we got married at a former nightclub, since we wanted the wedding to be one big dance party.
What details did you include to personalize your day?
Carolyn: The music during the ceremony was especially personal. I grew up basically listening to Motown on repeat. I used to—and still do—sing what my family has dubbed the “Motown Medley” in the shower, so it was great to have some of those songs played during the ceremony.
Zach: The music throughout the evening was representative of our relationship. From the ceremony to the cocktail hour to the reception, everything that was played was what we listen to all the time together. Also, we each got a pair of sneakers to match our outfit to make sure we could properly enjoy the day.
If you were allowed to relive only one moment from your day, what would it be?
Carolyn: The cocktail hour, but only for a very specific reason! We had a meatball station, and it was the one thing that I didn’t get to taste. There were six sauce options! Does it get any better than that? Are these the least emotional responses any couple has ever given?
Zach: Walking from the hotel to the Rainbow Room in the empty streets. Even while we were surrounded by tourists wishing us well on the walk over, all we could think about was how happy we were and how amazing that day was. There’s nothing like standing in the middle of an empty New York street to make you feel like you’re the only two people in a city of millions!
What is the most valuable thing you have learned from each other?
Carolyn: Figure it out together. Zach is probably writing a way more eloquent version of this, but if there’s anything we’ve learned that’s carried over from one phase of our relationship to another, it’s that. I will always think that I’ve figured out the answer, and when we discuss it together, we always land in a better place.
Zach: Carolyn has taught me how to really value what’s important. You can tell when she’s passionate about something because she nurtures and loves it so much. I try to learn from that by identifying what’s important and focusing all my energy on it.
Our favorite part of weddings is the dance party, so we wanted to make that the focal point of ours. The ceremony music was a nice intro to the rest of the night, when we spent 90 percent of the time on the dance floor.
- Second Photographer Josh Strauss
- Planner Loli Events
- Venue The Rainbow Room
- Dress Vera Wang
- Catering The Rainbow Room
- Cake Madison Lee
- Decor DeJuan Stroud
- Lighting Bentley Meeker Lighting & Staging
- Hair Alison M. Cristofar
- Makeup Olivia Halpin
- Music Element Music
- Stationery Dempsey & Carroll