They say friendship is the best foundation for any relationship, and Aliza Olin and Russell Dubin are proof that the statement is true. The couple first met in September 2010 as post-grads in New York City and became fast friends. But after two years of friendship, Russell decided to "put it all on the line" and tell Aliza how he really felt. “We sat in Madison Square Park, with the beautiful Manhattan skyline in the background, and talked for hours," she recalls. "Jokes were cracked, tears were shed, and with each passing moment, our friendship began to bud into something way more substantial. By sunrise, we both knew that the rest of our lives would be changed forever."
They were—and especially so on August 11, 2017, when Russell had a surprise planned for Aliza. First, he delivered a hand-written note to Aliza’s office, asking her to leave work for the day and to follow his clues. “I was getting more and more excited with each stop,” she recalls. Finally, after several clues and a few hours later, she made her way to the park beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. There, with the city skyline again as a backdrop, Russell popped the question. Aliza says, "It was decided #weredubinthis!"
The couple set the date for exactly a year later, on August 11, 2018, and didn't have to look far for a wedding planner. “Russell’s mother is wedding planner Victoria Dubin, and it was amazing to have her and her team working so closely on our wedding day,” says the bride. That team also included event designer Ed Libby, who weighed in as art director to create a truly bespoke celebration. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, Aliza and Russell invited 261 guests to join them in New York City, where they said “I do” at the Ascent Lounge and then partied at the Mandarin Oriental nearby. (Both featured more iconic views of the city—this time, of Columbus Circle.)
Keep reading to see how this NYC duo hosted an epic city celebration, as photographed by Roey Yohai of Roey Yohai Studios.
The couple's classic invitation suite was created by Ceci New York, and included a gray and blush watercolor liner that set the wedding’s color palette. In fact, it was later featured on some of the reception decor.
For the black-tie celebration, Aliza chose a romantic and intricate Isabelle Armstrong ball gown featuring a blush liner beneath swirling lace. And she actually found the dress almost by accident: After visiting several salons with no luck, she went shopping at Kleinfeld Bridal with Russell's sister and mom over Thanksgiving weekend. “Our stylist, Shay, brought this dress out on a whim as something different, and we immediately all knew it was the one," she recalls.
The bride wore Stuart Weitzman sandals and carried a modern all-white bouquet of Marco Polo roses, vendela roses, and miniature Phalaenopsis orchids. Russell, meanwhile, donned a bespoke midnight blue tuxedo by Michael Andrews, paired with a duchess satin bow tie.
The blush underlay of Aliza’s gown inspired the palette for her bridesmaids, who each wore a blush dress of their choosing. The bride’s sister, who was maid of honor, and the groom’s sister both wore neutral metallic gowns so they would stand out from the crowd.
The flower girl’s dress was chosen to match the bride’s with a lace bodice and a layered tulle skirt. “She was so excited to wear her flower crown, and had practiced tossing petals," Aliza says. "But at the last minute, she changed her mind. She still walked down the aisle, but she didn’t toss a single petal because it was, in her words, ‘all too much.’ ”
The white aisle led to an elevated mirrored chuppah, capped with white roses and orchids. Russell and Aliza exchanged traditional vows during their ceremony but also shared personalized vows in private. “We wrote them in separate booklets and gave them to each other the night before the wedding," she explains. "That morning, we read the other person’s vows right when we woke up. It was an amazing way to kick off our wedding day."
Following the ceremony, guests walked over to the reception venue, which was also by Columbus Circle. “We chose the Mandarin Oriental because it is so modern, and the floor-to-ceiling windows have the most incredible views,” says the bride.
As guests arrived at the reception, they were treated to a two-part cocktail hour. The first took place in the pre-function space, where guests sipped "Provençal Spritzes," a twist on an Aperol Spritz with rosé instead of champagne, and enjoyed fresh sushi and a dim sum cart. Then, the doors to the ballroom opened to reveal an oversized wall, printed with the watercolor artwork from the couple’s invitations, that displayed escort cards and had a luxe bar on the other side. Sheer fabric separated the cocktail area from the dining tables, with only the candles visible through the fabric.
When dinner was about to be served, the fabric was drawn back to reveal luxe modern tables surrounded by gilded chairs, completely bathed in candlelight. Mirrored runners reflected the light, as well as clusters of blush and white roses, while gold accents were scattered throughout.
The indulgent dinner included truffle burrata, herb-crusted rack of lamb, and Oreo cookie Whoopie pies. “We had a wild cocktail station from Momentum, a mixology company that creates these incredible, totally fresh cocktails. It was a surprise from Russell’s mom,” Aliza says. The most popular request was for the passionfruit mojito, which skipped the club soda in favor of a C02 pellet that caused the drink to smoke and added bubbles!
Lulu Cake Boutique designed an equally impressive five-tiered wedding cake that was hand-painted to match the couple’s invitations. It was made with torn fondant edged in edible gold and featured sugar roses and ranunculus flowers cascading down the side. Inside, crème fraîche vanilla cake was layered with hazelnut buttercream, praline croquant, and Valrhona Manjari ganache.
After Russell and Aliza shared their first dance to “Amazing Day” by Coldplay, the groom and his wedding planner mother danced to Bill Withers’s “Lovely Day.”
“I couldn’t believe how relaxed I was by the time our wedding day arrived,” Aliza recalls. “I was so at ease in the company of the people we love the most.” Though, looking back, she says it helped that both she and Russell did their best to keep things in perspective. “Your love for one another is the priority,” she explains. “Your guests will have a blast if they can feel your love! And remember, this is only one day of the rest of your lives—it’s not worth it to get caught up in a trivial detail when there’s so much more to be excited about!”
Wedding Planner: Victoria Dubin Events
Art Direction & Floral Design: Ed Libby & Company
Ceremony Venue: Ascent Lounge
Reception Venue: Mandarin Oriental
Officiant: Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman
Bride's Dress: Isabelle Armstrong
Bride's Veil: Kleinfeld Bridal
Bride's Shoes: Stuart Weitzman
Bride's Jewelry: Samantha Doppelt
Bridal Stylist: The Stylish Bride
Hair: Once Upon a Bride
Makeup: Bridget Lembo
Groom's Attire: Michael Andrews Bespoke
Flower Girl’s Attire: Joan Calabrese for Mon Cheri
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Michael Doppelt Jewelry Company
Floral Donations: Repeat Roses
Paper Products: Ceci New York
Catering: Mandarin Oriental
Mixology: Momentum Events
Cake: Lulu Bakery
Music: Element Music
After Party Music: Total Entertainment
Rentals: La Maison Fete, Party Rental LTD, High Style, Luxe Event Rentals, Nuage Linens
ScentSpeakers: Belle Fleur
Flooring: Hi Tech Events
Videography: Prime Focus Media
Photography: Roey Yohai Studios