When Aleen Kuperman co-founded Betches Media in 2011, she did so with a desire to keep things unapologetically real for an audience of primarily female readers. Unsurprisingly, she took the same approach when it came time to plan her own wedding, even founding Betches Brides in the process. On August 24, 2019, Aleen married Rusty Dreksler in a ceremony that celebrated them as a real couple.
To start: The duo, who met online in 2014 after growing up in the same hometown, planned the wedding together, personalizing every detail from the cocktail napkins (featuring their dog, Sansa) to their vows and the reception music. "It was really important to us to make the wedding day personal," she says. "We wrote our own vows. It’s also not our style to sway for our first dance so we chose 'There Will Be Time' by Mumford & Sons. We went all in and learned an insanely cool routine, and it was one of the best parts of the wedding!"
Aleen and Rusty's families were also an important element of festivities. On the big day, they got ready in their childhood homes before meeting for the ceremony at Soundview Caterers, a location they ultimately selected for its proximity to their hometown of Roslyn, New York. "We both loved growing up where we did, and we wanted to get married in a familiar place, a place that meant something to us," Aleen says. That said, Aleen admits that they did consider a destination wedding before deciding their guest list outweighed an exotic destination.
"We originally wanted to do a destination wedding but our friends and family are really important to us and we knew that if we didn’t do it locally that many wouldn’t be able to come," she adds. "So, we found a venue that still felt like a little getaway but wasn’t far from everyone. Then, when we hired Birch Event Design we told them we want it to feel like even more of a getaway, like a destination wedding, like in a Tuscan villa, but here at home."
Keep reading to see how Aleen and Rusty said "I do" at home with a real celebration of their love, as planned by Guerdy Design and captured by Elvira Kalviste Photography. You can also hear Aleen talk all about wedding planning on the Betches Brides podcast here or here!
Aleen and Rusty invited their 240 guests to Long Island with a classic invitation suite by Shine Wedding Invitations. Each envelope liner featured subtle blush flowers that gave everyone a preview of the day's floral-filled (and pink!) décor. On the big day, the couple made sure to get a photo of the suite with their wedding bands, which were engraved with their initials and wedding date.
The bridal party got ready at Aleen's mom's house, where hairstylist Melissa Parizot created loose waves that coordinated perfectly with the bride's natural makeup by Joel Vasquez. Glamsquad did hair and makeup for her 'maids.
The couple did a first look before the ceremony so they could reveal their wedding attire. For hers, Aleen selected a Monique Lhuillier gown that featured a deep-V neckline, sheer lace back, and a trumpet skirt. It was one of the first dresses she tried on at The Wedding Salon of Manhasset, and she says she couldn't get it out of her mind. "Every time I went to try on others, I kept comparing it to that one, calling it the “OG” to my friends," she says. "At that point, I knew it was the one!" In fact, she was so certain that she kept trying it on for fun.
"Feel free to make fun of me on this one, but I made appointments after already buying it just to try it on because I loved it so much." She paired the gown with her future mother-in-law's diamond studs, a long lace veil, and Miu Miu heels that she immediately swapped for Keds post-ceremony.
Rusty opted for a custom navy and black tux by Chookhare & Sons. Cartier cufflinks, a gift from Aleen's mom, completed his look. "The cufflinks felt really special because I wore something of his mom’s, and he wore something my mom gave him," Aleen adds. "We also stitched our names and wedding date inside the tuxedo, and Chookhare surprised him with a monogrammed tuxedo shirt."
Aleen's bridesmaids wore shades of pink in materials ranging from silk to velvet. "I wanted them to feel comfortable and beautiful in their dresses," she says. Rusty's 17 (!!) groomsmen wore classic black tuxes with black bowties.
Rusty and Aleen posed for group pics with their wedding party before the ceremony.
Also a must? Pictures with Sansa, of course.
Since their wedding took place in the afternoon, Aleen and Rusty had custom fans made in case their guests got hot. "They were printed with our names and wedding date, and said 'Don’t be all uncool,'" she says. "I needed to get some subtle humor in where I could."
"We had a beautiful outdoor ketubah signing on the patio with our family and wedding party surrounding us, it was one of the most special and intimate moments that I will never forget," Aleen says.
The ceremony took place at Soundview Caterers, where the ceremony site was set next to the Long Island Sound. "The thing that we loved most about Soundview is that it’s an extremely intimate venue sitting on the water," Aleen says. "It is so serene and beautiful."
That said, Aleen asked Birch Event Design to transform the space with an asymmetrical chuppah and an abundance of flowers. "The most important thing to us was to create a romantic and intimate vibe despite the headcount," she says. "I also really wanted to have colorful vibrant florals. So, I told Birch don’t be afraid to use color...specifically some pink!" Roses were flown in from Kenya to execute Aleen's "wild-looking" vision of blooms bunched together.
The couple's dog walked down the aisle with Aleen's little brother before Rusty's niece made her grand entrance as their flower girl. "She ran down the aisle into a big hug with Rusty but then her flower crown fell off, so she picked it up and put it right back on," says the bride. "The video is so sweet."
Rusty walked down the aisle to the Game of Thrones theme song, while Aleen walked with parents as a string quartet played "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol. Once at the altar, the couple exchanged vows they'd written themselves. (Aleen says this was the easiest part of wedding planning.)
The newlyweds exited to "This Must Be The Place" by the Talking Heads.
After a ceremony on the Long Island Sound, the group moved into an indoor reception space for dinner and dancing. Birch Event Design continue the lush floral theme inside the chandelier-filled ballroom with arrangements of colorful blooms in natural-looking vessels. The escort cards coordinated with the wedding invitation suite.
Rectangular tables were set with textured nude linens, silver flatware, and bundles of pillar candles. Again, the florals were the focal point of the room thanks to three tall centerpieces that combined to form a canopy of blooms.
Aleen's family is Russian and Ukranian—she's first generation—so she wanted to incorporate that heritage into the night's menu. "We worked with two catering companies to provide food for the crowd and create a unique culinary experience," she says. "Aside from the main in-house caterer of the venue, we also brought in Orange Grill, a Russian style restaurant and caterer where I celebrated both my college graduation and 25th birthday with my close friends and family. As guests took their seats at reception, they were treated by assorted appetizers on the table like truffle burrata with pesto and filet mignon mini bites."
Naturally, Sansa made an appearance at the reception on cocktail napkins that read, "Lady Sansa says, 'Drinks are coming.'"
After dinner, Aleen and Rusty cut into a "naked cake" topped with fresh fruit from Leonetti's Bakery.
After the aforementioned first dance and a playlist of Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen, the night ended with crowdsurfing for the bride and groom. "When the band played 'Shallow,' not only did all the guests sing along, but Rusty’s friends started to lift him to crowd surf," Aleen recalls. "So when my girlfriends and bridesmaids saw that, they all were like, 'We don’t need guys help,' and lifted me completely horizontally in the air. It was an incredible moment."
When asked for advice for future brides, Aleen again kept things real. "I don’t think anyone talks about this enough, but the financial aspect of putting a wedding together is definitely the most stressful part," she says. "During the last month, suddenly things become more expensive than you originally planned for, so I would advise everyone to cushion their budgets. Also, the most challenging part was definitely the seating chart. It felt like a giant puzzle, but I’m a nerd so it was kind of fun!"
Wedding Planner: Guerdy Design || Venue & Catering: Soundview Caterers || Officiant: Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai of Roslyn || Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier, from The Wedding Salon of Manhasset || Bride's Shoes: Miu Miu || Hair: Melissa Parizot || Makeup: Joel Vasquez || Bridesmaid Hair & Makeup: Glamsquad || Bridesmaid Dresses: Reformation, Jenny Yoo Collection || Groom's Attire: Chookhare & Sons || Wedding Bands: Lauren B Jewelry || Floral Design: Birch Event Design || Stationery: Shine Wedding Invitations || Music: David Clark Music || Cake: Leonettis Bakery || Supplemental Catering: Orange Grill Catering || Rentals: Luxe Event Rentals || Lighting: Dynamic Vision || Transportation: All Star Limo || Accommodations: The Mansion at Glen Cove || Videography: By Design Films || Photography: Elvira Kalviste || Photobooth: Sharing Box