When Rachel first met Michael in 2014 on the Coffee Meets Bagel dating app, she was intrigued with the tall, smart tennis player. Despite a canceled first date due to a car break-in, the two met a month later. “I thought Michael was nice and sweet—and very tall, which was a bonus,” remembers Rachel. A second date soon became a third and the couple realized they had something special. “It didn’t take long for us to start talking about our future together and what our family might look like—though not in front of our parents,” says Rachel. “There came a point when I just could not imagine my life without Michael.”
Planning their wedding, Rachel and Michael wanted to bring together their friends and families in a venue that reflected their New York: down to earth yet elegant, intimate yet spacious enough to accommodate a huge party. The fact that it was just 10 blocks from their Irving Place apartment made the Prince George Ballroom a clear choice. “We felt like we were getting married at home,” says Rachel.
Rachel had been thinking about her wedding for a long time—maybe longer even than most brides. In fact, she was just 10 years old when she set down her aesthetic vision of the day in a note addressed to her future self with the directions Open on your wedding day while you are getting dressed. Complete with precise instructions on what her dress and shoes should look like, the note had the bride, her mother and sister in tears of joyous laughter. A good beginning, we think, to a day that just got better and better.
“The years we’ve spent together have been the happiest of my life,” says Michael, who entrusted Rachel with every detail of the wedding. Rachel, in turn, entrusted the incredible team she assembled to put on the party of a lifetime. “I knew to trust the experts,” says Rachel and it was in part this that enabled the bride to be fully present for her friends, her family and her groom.
After I put on my wedding dress I got to open a note that I wrote to myself when I was 10 years old. I drew a picture of what my wedding dress would look like and wrote a description. Opening it with my sister and mom in the room was a moment I will never forget. We could not stop laughing and crying at the same time.
Having three generations of my family there was really special. I was wearing my great grand-father’s watch and my grandfather’s cufflinks, so I felt a deep and strong connection to my roots on the most important day of my life.
We ended up picking a venue that was within 10 blocks of our apartment so we felt like we were getting married at home, in our neighborhood.
There is an air of invincibility when you’re the one in the wedding tux, and it’s a rare treat to have fellow New Yorkers smile as you go by.
Where did you turn for advice and inspiration for your wedding?
Rachel: A lot of inspiration for the wedding came from our everyday life. We love going out for a great meal, drinking an awesome cocktail and breaking it down on a dance floor. Our goal was to enable our guests to do the same at our wedding. We ended up picking a venue that was within 10 blocks of our apartment so we felt like we were getting married at home, in our neighborhood. We wanted it to have a true New York feel. We knew we needed a lot of space for our guests but still wanted it to be intimate. The restored classic ballroom with a modern gallery for cocktails provides a beautiful contrast that mirrors so many areas of the city.
We hired the most amazing vendors to make our day perfect so I really trusted them in a lot of the planning. I remember being on a phone call with the caterer and explained that we like really simple desserts like a warm brownie sundae and he said “Do I have something for you!” The name “sticky toffee pudding” still confuses me but I constantly have people telling me that it’s the best dessert they’ve ever eaten! I knew to trust the experts. The same with the band. We gave our band leader Adam one “must play” song and the rest was up to him. We told him we just wanted to keep everyone on the dance floor all night and that is exactly what he did. Our dance floor was a sweaty mosh pit and no one was ever sitting down. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Michael: Rachel gets full credit for the amazing job planning and bringing to life our dream wedding. I trust her explicitly and hope that she felt my love and support throughout the process.
Did you learn anything about yourselves or each other throughout the planning process?
Rachel: As an event professional, it is very hard for me to give up control. Add to this the fact that it was my own wedding and it seems impossible. I did not want to be in control on my wedding day and I learned that it is possible for me to give it up. I don’t like to use the word “vendors” because throughout the process these people became our family. So if I am going to give up control to someone, it would be to my family. This was huge for me. It allowed me to be truly present in every moment that day and I will be eternally grateful for that. Of course the fact that Michael is the rock in my life was also reinforced throughout the planning process.
Michael: I learned that Rachel is the most reliable, creative and amazing person that I’ve ever met. Event-planning is an art and Rachel is nothing short of Picasso. For my part, I learned that the details are worth getting right because they matter.
Tell us about who you got ready with on your day. What memories from that time are the most meaningful to you?
Rachel: The only way I imagined the wedding day to start for me was with a full New York–style brunch so we had bagels and lox and lots of friends of mine from all points in my life came over for breakfast. We sat around and shared stories and looked through old pictures. But the most special moment was after I put on my wedding dress I got to open a note that I wrote to myself when I was 10 years old. I drew a picture of what my wedding dress would look like and wrote a description. In true Rachel fashion, it was dated and all, with specific instructions on the brand and type of shoes. I had folded it up and stapled it and on the front it said “Open on your wedding day while you are getting dressed.” It seems I was already the event coordinator at 10 years old! Opening it with my sister and mom in the room was a moment I will never forget. We could not stop laughing and crying at the same time. It’s amazing how your 10-year-old self can come back and remind you that you are still the same person you were then. I wish I could go back and tell her that her fairy tale did come true.
Michael: I was with my father, grandfather, Rachel’s father and Rachel’s brother. Having three generations of my family there was really special. I was wearing my great grandfather’s watch and my grandfather’s cufflinks, so I felt a deep and strong connection to my roots on the most important day of my life.
I kept my eyes right on Michael as I read my vows. I could hear tears all around me (including my own) but I knew if I looked at him, I would get through them.
After cutting the cake, I was so overwhelmed with emotion because I couldn't believe we were living our dream wedding. I broke down as I was thanking our guests for being there.
What were you thinking and feeling when you saw each other for the first time on your day?
Rachel: I could not wait to see Michael! Knowing that he was waiting for me downstairs, I ran out of the apartment before many other people could see me in my dress because I wanted to get to him. Nathan positioned me so he could get a great shot and as he was talking to me, I could not stop crying. I could not believe that it was my wedding day and I was about to see my groom. However, once Michael turned the corner all I saw was his huge smile and I could not stop smiling as well. He looked so handsome and any worry that I possibly had melted away. I knew this was our day and I could not wait to be by his side for the rest of it.
Michael: There was so much anticipation in getting to see Rachel for the first time, and it was all worth it. Who knew that a wedding dress could look so good! Can she wear that out every weekend in the city?
How did it feel to walk around New York as bride and groom?
Rachel: A wedding dress is like a shield from the rest of the world. There was rain in the forecast so we made arrangements to go to Grand Central to take pictures if we couldn’t go to the parks. As we walked into a packed Grand Central Station, the crowds just parted. People were wishing us congratulations all over the place and it really makes you feel like the most special people in the entire world.
Michael: There is an air of invincibility when you’re the one in the wedding tux, and it’s a rare treat to have fellow New Yorkers smile as you go by. I love Rachel, I love this city, and I felt that the whole city was embracing us in our celebration.
What moments from your day held the most meaning or significance?
Rachel: The most meaningful moment of our day was reading the vows that we wrote to each other. I admit that I fought this idea from the beginning, knowing that it would be difficult for me to get through them in the moment. Michael gets all the credit for pushing me to do it. Michael’s vows were perfect. I was crying through each word. When it became my turn, I took a really deep breath to try and pull myself together. You could hear all of our guests also taking that same breath. Even with over 250 people in the room, our words brought everyone into this special moment with us. I kept my eyes right on Michael as I read my vows. I could hear tears all around me (including my own) but I knew if I looked at him, I would get through them. He is such a calming force in every aspect of my life and under the chuppah that was no different.
Michael: Hearing Rachel read our vows is a moment I’ll never forget. She spoke so beautifully and masterfully and brought me to tears.
Did anything come as a surprise to you?
Rachel: No one could have ever prepared me for the extreme happiness and joy I felt all day long. Every moment felt surreal. It was our perfect day! It may be that it all was just right: we were in the right place, at the right time and right for each other. When that happens, it’s perfect.
Michael: The biggest surprise was how amazing the whole weekend felt. Nothing went wrong, everything went right, and I felt pure unbridled joy from the beginning through the very end.
Our dance floor was a sweaty mosh pit and no one was ever sitting down. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Rachel is the most reliable, creative and amazing person that I’ve ever met. Event-planning is an art and Rachel is nothing short of Picasso.