It was work that originally brought Rachael Russell and Michael Saiger together. In 2014, Michael hired Rachael to style an ad campaign for his jewelry company, Miansai. They worked together on the project (and several after that) but it took a chance encounter on a flight from Miami to Hong Kong for the two to ultimately connect. They have been inseparable since, so much that the groom admits that he actually proposed twice. The first attempt took place on another flight, after less than five months of dating.
“It’s true about just knowing,” he says. It wasn't the right time, but Michael popped the question again later that year—this time, with a custom-designed ring in Morocco’s Sahara desert. The couple was shooting a Miansai campaign there, and Michael put the ring in front of her camera lens as she was shooting. This time, she said yes!
For two experts in aesthetics, it’s only natural that the details were important to the couple. The easygoing pair incorporated many personal, customized elements into their big day, revealing that they were intimately involved with all the preparation and planning. Rachael, a great chef, even made toppings (chimichurri and piri piri sauce) from scratch for their main course just the day before the wedding. “She really wanted the dinner to feel like it was from our kitchen," says Michael. On November 11, 2017, Rachael and Michael married in a ceremony at their Miami home, where they decorated their backyard dock with a DIY chuppah, before moving next door to dine at the Standard Hotel & Spa with their 120 guests.
“We’re constantly hosting and entertaining at our house so it was a natural fit to get married there," Michael says. "We also live right next door to the Standard Hotel—it’s like an extension of our house. We’re always there when we’re not working.”
The simple, chic event had a navy-meets-neutral color palette and featured plenty of creative details courtesy of the couple. Keep reading to see how Michael, Rachael, and their creative team (Carolina Toledo on planning; Anastasia Koutsioukis on event design) brought their dream Miami wedding together.
Rachael looked at dresses in New York, Miami, and London before she met designer Celestina Agostino in Paris. “I knew I wanted something simple and elegant that would be timeless but still have a little edge,” she says. Ultimately, Celestina created and handmade a custom haute couture dress that featured a rare Georgette crepe that’s only available in France.
Rachael's minimalist dress included a deep-V neckline and side cutouts with rope detailing. She also wore custom Miansai jewelry (of course!) and custom Marksin Rippsy shoes, which were made by one of her best friends and embroidered with “Mrs. Saiger.”
The groom wore a classic navy blue suit with white shirt and bow tie from Dolce & Gabbana. He completed his look with a cuff and watch by Miansai, neutral leather shoes by 2120 Footwear, and a custom wedding band also by Miansai. “As a designer, I never imagined wearing the same piece of jewelry every day for the rest of my life, so I created a wedding band that was really simple and effortless,” he says.
The couple took photos and traveled to the reception in their blue 1970 Ford Bronco.
Rachael and Michael sourced one-of-a-kind vintage furniture rentals for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and the reception. At cocktail hour, they served beer (kept cool in large tin buckets and tubs) and lobster rolls as a nod to their Northeastern roots.
The evening's dress code was "resort formal," which meant their guests were told to dress to match their navy-and-neutral theme. “Because we live on the water and these are classic colors, we figured it would suit the setting best," explains the groom. "Plus, everyone looked really cool!"
Rachael and Michael designed and made their chuppah from thin copper pipes, white fabric sheers, olive leaves, and greenery. A group of violinists from New World Symphony played during their ceremony, and in lieu of a wedding party, they walked down the aisle with their family members.
At the reception, table settings were simple, minimal, and chic. Anastasia Koutsioukis, Anthology & Co., and Ace Props pulled together the look with vintage farm tables, wooden chairs, amber-colored drinking glasses, and simple white blooms. The bride worked with Miansai cofounder Thier Peraza to sketch their favorite foods—including lobster, octopus, and key lime pie—on each dinner menu.
In true Miami fashion, a Cuban band played before DJ YSL took over for the reception and played ‘90s hip-hop and tropical house late into the night. The couple’s first dance was to Adele’s “One and Only.”
Rachael and Michael helped design a three-layer confetti cake styled with anemones, olive leaves, and wild greens. (They also had mini key lime pies assembled in glass clipped jars, and a whole table of Fireman Derek’s specialty pies.) And as another personal touch, they brought their newly restored 1958 Piaggio Miansai Mobile Retail Unit to the wedding to create custom leather favors for guests.
The newlyweds partied late into the night—the groom even split his pants open during dancing!—but the highlight was the time they spent together. “In Judaism there’s a tradition called Yichud, which is when the bride and groom go have togetherness time following the ceremony,” says Michael. "It was a special tradition for us to honor."
Reception Venue & Catering: The Standard Hotel and Spa || Planner: Carolina Toledo; Anastasia Koutsioukis || Custom Jewelry, Wedding Bands & Favors: Miansai || Bride’s Dress: Celestina Agostino || Bride’s Shoes: Marksin Rippsy || Groom’s Attire: Dolce & Gabbana, 2120 || Hair: IGK Salon || Makeup: Chelsea Sule || Floral Design: Anthology & Co. || Music: Chiang; DJ YSL || Guest Book: Starboard Press || Rentals: Ace Props; Unearthed Vintage || Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Custom Miansai || Photography & Videography: Un Cercle