Real Weddings

Katie and Louis at Raritan Inn

Posted on September 14, 2020 by New Jersey Bride

In 2008, Katie White and Louis Zieja were both working on a reality TV show.
“On the first day, he walked in and our eyes locked,” Katie says. “It felt like a lightning bolt hit us.” They went out a few times, but Katie, a writer and producer for non-fiction television originally from Roxbury, had just been offered a career opportunity in California and had to move immediately. It seemed like it was going to be the end of their romance, but on their “goodbye” date, Louis, a cinematographer from Philadelphia, impulsively offered to drive cross-country with her.
“We didn’t know each other super well yet and everyone thought we were crazy to spend five days trapped in a car together, but we did it anyway and felt in love on the most amazing road trip,” Katie says. “I came back a few months later and we officially became a couple.”

Will you marry me?

On a trip to Italy in May 207, eight years after they first met, the couple stopped in Ravello, a small town on the Amalfi Coast. After pasta and limoncello, they strolled the sleepy streets and explored the alleys and stairs. They sat in a quiet spot, and Louis quickly stood up again to take a knee and propose.
“I was shocked and before I could form any words, dog ran down the stairs and pushed between us, eagerly licking our faces,” Katie remembers. “It was the most magical moment of my life.”

The couple wanted their wedding to be reminiscent of Federico Fellini’s Italian films of the 1950s and ’60s- something earthy, surreal and fun. For their location, they chose the Rarity River surrounded by nature. Cocktails were in the barn, and their tented reception featured long rustic wooden tables and lots of candles. The groom built a large triangle arch for the ceremony, so triangles and hexagons were reacted throughout the site. Bridesmaids wore a mix of dusty rose, wisteria, dusk and gold. Reams of cheesecloth were dyed the perfect dusty pink that was used throughout for pops of color. Reed and greenery complemented the natural flora, and potted herbs were places on tables for guests to take home. They bought fireworks for a grand finale and had an afterparty with a bonfire and s’mores.

The menu:
Redwoods, a local restaurant served a buffet of wood-grilled salmon, beef tenderloin, orange chicken, smoked gouda mac and cheese, garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. For the bride and vegetarian guests, they whipped up butternut squash ravioli with roasted chestnuts, sautéed baby spinach and maple-bourbon cream sauce. The five-tiered cake featured alternating layers of dark chocolate and vanilla shadow cake with chocolate mousse and vanilla with lemon filling. It was topped with vanilla buttercream and flowers.

The gown:

Katie wore a Wtoo gown with a V-neck bodice and layers of floral burnout fabric for the skirt.
“It made me feel powerful like a goddess,” Kate says.

A favorite moment was when we snuck away with the photographer during dinner to take some magic hour photos. We looked back at the celebration from a distance and were just struck with the beauty of it all. The sun was setting, the tent was aglow with candlelight, the sounds of family and friend’s laughter and joy were drifting across the field.
After all the hectic planning and the whirlwind day we just took a moment to soak it in; it was serene.

The surprise marching brass band they hired for the recessional walk and cocktail hour.
“Our venue had a five-to-seven minute walk from the river to the barn for cocktail hour,” Katie says. “We thought it would be fun to turn that boring walk into a festive parade.”  They didn’t tell their guests about the band, and their wedding coordinator was able to sneak them down to the river.
“At the end of the ceremony, we kissed and the music started playing. Our guests were shocked that there was a band playing right behind them. It set the tone of the rest of the night, and it’s the one thing all of our guests rave about.”

We had little customized backpacks filled with favors and snacks stationed at the exit but in the chaos of the farewell, complete with fireworks and sparklers, most people didn’t notice them.

“I’ll Be Loving You” by The King Khan & BBQ Show
“During planning I read Priya Parker’s book The Art of Gathering,” says Katie. “I learned so much about hosting an event and used it all. Highest recommendation, I’m going to gift it to every bride-to-be from now on.”

After a six-week back-packing trek throughout Southeast Asia, they now live in Brooklyn.

the details


Brooklyn, NY

Reception Location

Raritan Inn


Janine Collette Photography


Joseph Jacobs (Friend of Bride and Groom)

Bride’s Gown

Wtoo by Watters- Langdon

+ more