Love Looks Like This: We Got Married Where We Had Our First Date

"We decided to go back to where it all started."

Lauren and Nicholas Leiss love looks like this

Photo by Pattie Hale

Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey, but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, "Love Looks Like This." Below, CEO and founder Lauren Leiss shares her story.

Nicholas and I first matched online, but it wasn’t until weeks later that we shared our first meal at Liberty Street Bistro on August 23, 2019. Nicholas was determined to make our first date a special occasion with great food and the right atmosphere, and he succeeded!

That winter brought us even closer. I had tickets to London, but no concrete plans for where to go next. While browsing a magazine, I saw a picture of a romantic Irish castle. I told Nicholas how beautiful it looked and that I wanted to go.

On New Year’s Day 2020, Nicholas whisked me off to dinner at that castle, known as Adare Manor. I felt like a true queen that night and from then on in our relationship. Afterward, we continued to tour Ireland and discovered our Irish connection.

Lauren and Nicholas Leiss

Courtesy of Lauren Leiss

A short time later, we spent our first Valentine's Day together in Stowe, Vermont, where Nicholas romanced me with a pre-planned menu. I savored three days of Nick's delicious cooking. I was not only falling in love with him, but also his talent as a chef!

Soon after, the pandemic hit. We had to make a real-time decision about the trajectory of our relationship. We realized that we couldn’t stand to be without each other, so we moved in together only to deepen our commitment. After eight months of dating, Nicholas presented me with a promise ring.

We not only clicked romantically, but also shared an entrepreneurial spirit inspired by our goal of creating generational wealth for our future family. With Nick’s love and support, I finally gained the confidence to open my company, The Hyacinth Group, a fully remote digital agency. Nicholas signed up to be my first client for the launch of his website, Farm2ChefsTable

By the summer of 2020, we officially launched our respective businesses with a dual-backyard barbecue in Beacon, New York. Despite the pandemic, we had both fulfilled our dreams: Nicholas completed a stage at the world-renowned Noma in Copenhagen and I started my own company and became a teacher! We have since grown our businesses, helping each other along the way.

Lauren Leiss engagement ring

Photo by Patti Hale

Fast forward to the spring of 2021, Nicholas took me to brunch at our favorite brunch spot in Manhattan, a gluten-free restaurant called The Little Beet. On April 25, 2021, he proposed to me with my dream ring, and of course, I said YESSS! 

Now the planning had begun, but we had so many questions and concerns because of the pandemic. Do we have an engagement party? If so, how will we keep everyone safe? Where will it take place? Who should we invite?

Nicholas and Lauren Leiss Costa Rica

Photo by Andrey Bustos

After mulling it over, we ultimately decided to celebrate just us, in Costa Rica. It was the right decision. It was there that our relationship reached new heights, from zip lining down the mountains to romantic evenings in our room's cliffside infinity pool. Since our hotel had breathtaking views, we decided to take our engagement photos there, which came out amazing! By far, it was our favorite trip together.

Now it was finally time to plan the big day. Even before the pandemic, we had always wanted a small winter wedding. And, with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in New York just before our wedding, we decided to drastically cut our 50-person guest list to just 30 immediate family members and friends. It was a tough decision, but the health and safety of our guests were a top priority. 

We still wanted to include friends and extended family who live all over the world, including Pennsylvania, Florida, New York, and London. So, we opted to live stream our ceremony. This provided us with the best of both worlds. Most importantly, it allowed all our guests to participate without fear. 

After researching venues for our March 11, 2022 nuptials, we decided to go back to where it all started: Liberty Street Bistro in Newburgh. It was a magical day with perfect weather. The wedding was small and intimate. For our reception, we served brunch featuring an Irish breakfast, inspired by our first trip together overseas in Ireland.

Nicholas and Lauren Leiss cake cutting

Photo by Patti Hale

Nicholas [collaborated with Liberty Bistro's Chef de Cuisine, Maggie Lloyd to curate] our wedding menu, working almost exclusively with local farmers. In the future, he plans to open a restaurant that highlights the true potential of farm-to-table cuisine. In the meantime, I have continued to expand my digital marketing agency and support female entrepreneurs in the pursuit of our American dream.

Food has always been a cornerstone of our relationship. Nicholas loves to cook and I love to eat. Ever since our first date, we have mixed our passion for food and travel at top destinations around the world, but nothing beats Nick’s cooking. Since the start, we have supported each other in our goals. Together, we are an entrepreneurial power couple that is just getting started. Stay tuned for more good things to come!

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