These Cornell University sweethearts wanted a chic and elegant wedding day. Scroll down to experience their big day at Crystal Plaza featuring cascades of blossoms.
Marlee Birnberg, of Short Hills, and Ben Horowitz, of Queens, first locked eyes when swimming with friends just before their Fall 2014 semester at Cornell University. Both felt the spark right away. Soon after, following a date to a farmer’s market, their relationship flourished.
Seven years later, while they were visiting their respective parents’ homes for Thanksgiving, Marlee went out for Friday-night dinner with her family. “My mom had suggested we all dress up because she wanted to take a holiday picture, but that was a ploy,” she recalls. “Unbeknownst to me, Ben arrived at my house while we were at dinner, and set up a romantic backyard display of rose petals, candles and a ‘Marry Me’ light-up sign. When I went to the yard, I was shocked to see Ben standing in front of me, with my family watching from the window.”
Marlee’s mom, Jill, and sister, Lila, took the lead on wedding planning, calling themselves “Lil Productions.” An oversized invitation, with gold laser-cut jacket, set the tone for the city-chic event. Yarmulkes were ivory silk and embroidered with a gold monogram, and the programs featured a pop-up bride and groom. The dreamy huppah was enveloped in flowers and reflected dramatically in the mirrored aisle. The ballroom was a vision in white, ivory and gold. “We were blown away by the cascades of blossoms, designed by Tom Sarcon,” Marlee says. Band members wore white dinner jackets, resembling an old-school orchestra. And a five-tiered cake was monogrammed in gold and adorned with sugar flowers.
The Crystal Plaza in Livingston was a sparkling setting for the black-tie event. “In recent years, they transformed the ballroom and made spectacular additions of ceremony space, bridal suite and groom’s vault,” the bride says. The couple was excited about the menu as well. “We are ‘foodies’ and wanted to make sure our guests would experience restaurant-level presentation and taste.”
The first course featured fresh burrata with roasted peppers and tomatoes; tri-colored salad in potato nests; blood-orange mojito shooters; and honey-glazed rolls with black sea salt. The main course was coffee-crusted Chateaubriand or Chilean sea bass. Trays of sweets completed dessert.
Marlee’s gown, from the Sareh Nouri flagship salon in Short Hills, was a fusion of sequin lace, modified tulip neckline and bodice with a shantung asymmetrical flare. “The moment I tried on my sophisticated gown, I knew. The fabric and silhouette were exactly what I had envisioned.” The bridesmaids and maid of honor wore ice-blue trumpet-flare gowns.
Marlee and Ben say the whole night was magical. But their first dance to the ballad version of “What Dreams Are Made Of” from The Lizzie McGuire Movie was a real crowd-pleaser. During the final dip and fireworks display, the band shifted to the pumped-up version of the song, and everyone jumped on the dance floor.
The couple’s alma mater played a large role in their love story, so they created a wedding version of “Collegetown Bagels,” a local Ithaca hangout, as a send-off.
The bride and groom, who work in real estate in New York City, honeymooned in Lake Como, Capri, Positano and Paris.—Susan Brierly Bush