How did you meet?
Michael and I met at a conference for performing arts professionals in Minneapolis, MN. While we were familiar with each other from the industry, we had never met until that first night at a networking party. I saw him from across the bar and was instantly interested. After some encouragement from my friends I headed up to the bar where he was currently speaking with a colleague. Little did I know that they were deep in a conversation about love and marriage and how you know when you’ve found the right person. Right at that moment, hoping to catch his attention, I loudly ordered a “Manhattan, up, no cherries” and the rest was history.
How did you get engaged?
We navigated a long-distance relationship for the first three years, first from Gloucester, MA to Hoboken, NJ and then from Gloucester to Dallas, TX. I think that we both knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together pretty early on in our relationship, but our careers were both exploding at the same times. Feeling hopeful that he would be able to continue his job while working remotely from Dallas, Michael started to plan a proposal. Initially he hoped that we would travel to Paris together and he would propose in front of the Eiffel Tower, however life had other plans.
On what I had hoped would be one of my last trips up to Gloucester, MA Michael planned a dinner at our favorite restaurant, sharing that the team there wanted to do something special for us as we had become close friends with many of the chefs and bartenders. After a relaxing day we got dressed up for what I anticipated would be a fun date night. When we arrived at Short & Main we were instructed to head upstairs as our friend Matt Rose wanted to make us a cocktail before we were seated for dinner. When we sat down, he brought over two Manhattans, reminiscent of the night that we met, and there on the garnish was a beautiful ring. Michael promptly got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.
Details of the day!
We went for a modern romantic feel for the day and chose the colors gold, champagne and blush to achieve that look. The flowers came out even more beautiful than I could have ever imagine. Craig Kiely was a dream to work with. In lieu of favors, we made a donation to Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit that ensures public school children have the opportunity to unlock their inner music makers. In this same vein, our band really made the party. We love to dance and they kept everyone on the dance floor the entire night. We had professional musicians and arts professionals in attendance that evening and everyone agreed that it was the best wedding band they had ever heard. We felt very fortunate to have them add to our celebration.
Why did you choose your venue?
Once we decided that we were going to get married in New Jersey the next step was to find a place where both of our families could spend the weekend all in one location. We were looking for a modern hotel that could accommodate a lot of out-of-town guests and where we could have both the ceremony and reception on site. When we arrived at the Oyster Point we instantly fell in love with the stunning river views and were really impressed with the friendliness and professionalism of the team there. It was an added perk that I grew up right around the corner and Red Bank offered both a downtown vibe and a feeling of coming home.
What was on your menu?
The food was definitely one of the highlights of the day and there was so much of it! We had a fabulous cocktail hour with tons of passed bites and interactive stations. For dinner we started with a ricotta and pesto ravioli and a Jersey Fresh salad, mango sorbet as an intermezzo and then a choice of Chilean sea bass with a lemon-basil white wine sauce or surf and turf duet featuring filet mignon and lobster tail. Our wedding cake was a classic vanilla cake with fresh strawberry mouse, reminiscent of my childhood favorite dessert – strawberry shortcake. We also had bananas foster made to order and a Viennese table. Michael’s Mom made Italian wedding cookies from scratch for everyone to have and take home. It was a true labor of love!
All about your gown!
Since I live in Dallas and my whole family lives in New Jersey, we planned one day where I basically HAD to find the dress – no pressure! Growing up I always had this vision of what I would wear on my wedding day and in the end, I wound up choosing something completely different. I loved this dress because it made me feel young and romantic and I knew that I would be able to dance all night – which was a must. The delicate lace, the flattering neckline and the low back all made feel beautiful and confident. I think I knew the moment I put the dress on, but then the unanimous reaction from my family and friends sealed the deal.
What was your favorite moment?
My favorite moment was our Ketubah signing. After photos and before the ceremony, we went back to the bridal suite with our immediate families. In addition to signing the Ketubah, which was lovingly painted by my Mom, we shared personal vows that we hadn’t shared with each other prior to the day. It was beautiful, relax and heartfelt and allowed us to really soak in the day.
One detail you couldn’t live without?
I incorporated a lot of personal details that allowed me to involve my family members who could no longer be with us on our wedding day. On my bouquet I pinned a heart pendant that is made from the wedding rings of my Grandma and Grandpa, my Dad wore my Grandpa Gerson’s cuff links which were given to me as a wedding present since I am named for him and we share the same initials and the tablecloth on the ceremony table is a family heirloom that has been used at my cousins’ weddings and our names were lovingly embroidered on it as well by my Great Aunt Joan. These personal touches really made the day so much more meaningful.
Did anything go wrong?
It rained all morning, which posed some logistics challenges and meant that we had to relocated our first look and family photos. But in the end, the skies cleared right before the ceremony and we were able to take the time to slip out with our photographer and spend some quality time along the river before we got married.
First dance song?
Ribbon in the Sky by Stevie Wonder! We heard him perform this song live at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and knew that this song and that experience defined our relationship.
Any advice for future brides?
Don’t sweat the small stuff! I’m sure everyone tells you this, but in the end you are marrying the love of your life, surrounded by friends and family who support and love you. Everything else will work itself out. Oh – and don’t skip the videographer. It is absolutely worth the additional expense and it is my favorite memento from our day.
Where did you honeymoon?
We went to Greece and had the most incredible time! We worked with a travel agent to plan a 10 day trip that would allow us to spend time both relaxing on the beach and exploring the history and agriculture of the islands. We visited the island of Crete and stayed in the beautiful village of Elounda. One of our favorite experiences was going on a private all-day wine tour of the region. Then we took the ferry to Ios and then we headed back to Athens where we got to tour the Acropolis and the amazing New Acropolis Museum. We can’t wait to go back to Greece again and experience more of the country!
McKay Imaging Photography
Rabbi Laurence Malinger
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