"We met the good old-fashioned way—at a mutual friend’s party in Williamsburg!" says Elizabeth Lail of her meet-cute with now-husband Nieku Manshadi.
Elizabeth, an actress known recently for her role as Guinevere Beck in Netflix's hit thriller You, and Nieku, a pediatric dentist, got engaged during the pandemic, while in Montauk, New York, for a "much-needed long weekend" in August 2020. "We were at our own little bonfire during sunset on the beach making s’mores when Nieku proposed with my grandmother’s wedding ring," she recalls.
For their wedding on April 24, 2021, Elizabeth and Nieku again planned a weekend escape from the city but chose the site of another milestone moment: Hasbrouck House in Stone Ridge, New York, where they spent their first anniversary together. "It felt right returning to a place from our story and sharing it with those we love," she says.
We planned everything with COVID in mind! I think we could have easily invited 200 people had it been another time.
Thanks to COVID-19, the number of loved ones was limited to just 22 guests (most of whom were vaccinated, and those who weren't were encouraged to test and quarantine). "We planned everything with COVID in mind! I think we could have easily invited 200 people had it been another time," admits Elizabeth. "We decided not to wait, and just invite family to keep it safe for everyone. We were also the only guests on property, which gave us peace of mind to be in our own little bubble."
They embraced planning just as they did the uncertainty of the times, describing the process as an "entirely intuitive experience." "We didn’t have a strong vision so we went with what felt right and true to us," she explains. "It’s easy to become overwhelmed by possibility, so we just waited and listened for what felt good. In a way, the wedding revealed itself to us over time as more and more creatives became involved."
Below, all the details on Elizabeth and Nieku's intimate spring wedding, which she says "felt like a surprise party that kept revealing itself all day," as photographed by Paul Simon of Forged in the North and planned by the couple with help from family and friends (the father of the bride even took videos on the day-of!).
"I had bought another dress out of excitement initially but knew in my gut something was off (hope I‘m not the only one)," says Elizabeth of shopping for a wedding dress. "I’ve always felt that dress was for a younger version of myself. "
Thankfully, U.K-based designer Andrea Hawkes came to the rescue—via Zoom, no less—to save the day by sketching out a custom gown of heavyweight, sandwashed Marrocaine silk. The final product: a stunning, one-of-a-kind wedding dress featuring silk-lined buttons up the front, a deep-V neckline, fitted bodice, and three-quarter-length sleeves.
There was an ease that came with the dress. It was important for me to still feel like myself.
"There was an ease that came with the dress," she says. "It was important for me to still feel like myself. It made me feel like the woman I am becoming."
The bride complemented her simple-yet-chic look with minimal-yet-meaningful accessories. Her jewelry, a Tiffany & Co. bracelet with a blue heart, was gifted to her by her mother-in-law. "Anytime I shopped for extra accessories or even shoes I felt overwhelmed," she admits. "I ended up wearing a pair of neutral heels I had in my closet. It wouldn’t be me if the shoes weren’t falling apart!"
One accessory, the bridal bouquet, was hand-selected for the big day and set the tone, quite literally, for the rest of the wedding design. "Our colors were inspired by all the spring ephemerals, tulips, and daffodils (my favorite)," she says. "We created a rust, peach, strawberry, yellow, green world with a hint of purple."
As a sentimental touch, Elizabeth had their Hudson Valley-based florist, Dark and Diamond, wrap a piece of lace from her mother’s wedding dress around the stem before she walked down the aisle.
In addition to the vibrant spring blooms that the couple brought in, the property itself was in full bloom on the day of the wedding. This made for beautiful portraits of the bride and her perfectly on-theme bouquet—notice her favorite daffodils in yellow!
For his look, Nieku chose a dark navy suit from Freemans Sporting Club and paired it with a black bow tie inspired by his grandfather and Oxford dress shoes by Ferragamo. He wore a dress watch by IWC.
On the morning of the wedding, Nieku took a few guests hiking, while Elizabeth organized a tea ceremony led by their "magical officiant" with a few of the women in her family. "It was such a peaceful, grounding way to start the day. It was so meaningful to share a practice I love with the people I love," she says. Just before walking down the aisle, the couple met up for a first look and photos around the stunning gardens.
We wrote letters to one another that we exchanged during our first look. It was such a beautiful moment to really connect with one another before adrenaline sweeps you away.
"We wrote letters to one another that we exchanged during our first look," says the bride, who encourages couples to consider doing the same. "It was such a beautiful moment to really connect with one another before adrenaline sweeps you away."
Looking back on the planning process, Elizabeth says she could not have done it without the help of her sister—and one very organized planner with checklists of what to do. "I would have been lost without it and her," she admits.
She says she scoured Pinterest for ideas, but everything really fell into place once they booked the venue. "The date, the photographer, the flowers, the cake—it was all based on recommendations/availability from Hasbrouck House," explains the bride.
The couple worked closely with Kayleigh, the coordinator at Hasbrouck House. "She was a dream. We could not have done it without her," Elizabeth adds. "She handled all of the logistics, so on the day, all we had to do was get dressed and show up. It made our wedding feel like a surprise party that we kept happening upon throughout the day."
"We were fairly busy at the time so my motto was if it doesn’t get done, it wasn’t meant to be," Elizabeth says. "I had to be tender and realistic with myself. Luckily, I discovered the joy of delegating and had such great help from friends and family."
"We were blessed with a beautiful day so we were able to have the ceremony outside," Elizabeth says. "Our florist, Dark and Diamond, did an incredible job at creating an arch of flowing flowers that was both vibrant and organic. It brought so much joy to our ceremony."
The hardest part of planning a wedding mid-pandemic? "Not being able to have all of our friends and family attend due to COVID," says the bride. "There were many moments where we weren’t sure the wedding would happen at all. We knew at any moment we may have to postpone. It was such a relief to us when almost our entire party was vaccinated in time for the wedding."
We didn’t have a strong vision so we went with what felt right and true to us.
Nieku put together "the most incredible wedding playlist," says Elizabeth. "I walked down the aisle to 'Crazy Love' by Van Morrison. After we kissed, they played 'Elephant Gun' by Beruit. I haven’t stopped singing these songs since."
That "just married" feeling...
Upon arrival, each guest was welcomed with a bag of some of the couple's favorite things like Sadaf Persian tea, Upstate Stock hand sanitizer, Mast Chocolate, and Chad’s Carolina Dill pickle popcorn.
Dinner took place at Butterfield, the property's in-house restaurant, which was dressed up for the occasion. "I wanted our tables to feel like we had cut fresh flowers from my grandmother’s garden," says the bride. "Butterfield at Hasbrouck House is already such a cozy, cool space. It gave our intimate wedding a homey feel."
The bride's best friend hand-calligraphed each place card on watercolor paper. "She truly makes everything she touches beautiful and has such an iconic way of writing," says Elizabeth. "It brought me so much joy to look down and see her handwriting."
The menu of "delicious, local" food included a vegan lentil dish; "the best chicken I've ever had," as one guest raved; and, later, s'mores by the bonfire.
"My favorite part of a wedding is the speeches," Elizabeth says. "Ours were so heartfelt and funny. You had to be there. I think it’s such a beautiful tradition to publicly express love for one another. We should do it more often."
The newlyweds cut into a small, semi-naked cake by Maxine’s Catering/Bittersweet Bakers, which was topped with fresh florals and little animal figurines (as an inside joke). Elizabeth calls choosing the cake "fairly easy work." "It’s a pretty great day when you come home with multiple cakes you’re 'forced” to eat,'" she adds with a laugh.
"We didn’t plan on dancing due to the size of our party, but somehow got swept up by the music once dinner was over," says the bride. "Nieku’s family is Persian and taught us all how to dance."
"We bought a Polaroid camera on our drive up to the wedding as a last-minute idea," says the bride. "They ended up being some of our favorite photos from the night."
Our wedding was so small and intimate we couldn’t help but have every aspect reflect a part of us.
"Our wedding was so small and intimate we couldn’t help but have every aspect reflect a part of us," reflects the bride. "It was primarily our two families coming together for the first time. We laughed and cried the whole way through."
Venue & Accommodations Hasbrouck House
Officiant Rachel Jesien of My Sacred Spine
Bridal Gown Andrea Hawkes
Hair Teddi Cranford of White Rose Collective
Makeup Tiffany Patten of White Rose Collective
Rehearsal Dinner Attire Reformation
Groom’s Attire Freemans Sporting Club
Engagement Ring Catbird
Floral Design Dark + Diamond
Invitations Paperless Post
Welcome Itinerary Etsy
Photography Paul Simon of Forged in the North