Real Weddings

Marlee and Ben at Crystal Plaza

Posted on September 28, 2022 by New Jersey Bride

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.

Their Story

In front of a very tall, waterfall-like centerpiece that resembles a tree with long white decorations hanging off of it, the bride and groom pose with their around each other in an otherwise empty ballroom.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

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.

The Proposal

The groomsmen decked out in black tuxes smile and embrace the groom as they stand in front of a vault-like background.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

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.”

Their Crystal Plaza Wedding

The groom in a black tux is flanked by three bridesmaids on each side wearing pale blues gowns. The backdrop is an elaborate blue and green floral archway.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

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 Menu

A tall golden centerpiece holds white flowers among a tablescape with candles and glassware.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

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.

Bride’s Gown

A sparkling wedding dress hangs on a personalized hanger with the bride's new last name.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

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.

Favorite Moment

The bride and groom post with three members of their band: the trumpeter, saxophonist and trombonist wearing white suit jackets.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

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.

Nod to Cornell

A deli counter with Cornell University apparel on the walls is a shoutout to Collegetown Bagels in Ithaca.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

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 Honeymoon

A portrait of the bride and groom in front of elaborate blue, white and yellow florals, a glass ceiling and a mirrored reflective floor.
Photo by Anthony Vazquez Photography

The bride and groom, who work in real estate in New York City, honeymooned in Lake Como, Capri, Positano and Paris.—Susan Brierly Bush

the details


Short Hills

Reception Location

Crystal Plaza


Anthony Vazquez Photography


Rabbi Matthew Gewirtz

Bride’s Gown

Sareh Nouri

+ more