This New York Couple Created an Enchanted Forest in a Historic Brooklyn Bank

Updated 09/19/16
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Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Just over two years after first meeting at a friend's birthday party in 2012, Gabriel Lopez told a series of white lies that convinced Sarah Stein-Sapir to take a Friday off work and stay home. "He emailed me that afternoon with a packing list, and told me to be downstairs in an hour," she remembers. At the front door, a black car picked her up to take her to the Manhattan heliport, where Gabe was waiting. Their destination? The Castle Hotel, a property in Westchester where they had spent a weekend together shortly after they started dating. "We got up to our suite, which was covered in rose petals, and Gabe got down on one knee!" Sarah says. They celebrated with a romantic dinner and massages the next morning, then headed back to New York City for dinner with their families.

They spent the next year planning a wedding for 210 guests on October 24, 2015. "We wanted a beautiful, unique building that could accommodate our large guest list," says the bride. They fell in love with Weylin B. Seymours, set inside the restored historic Williamsburg Savings Bank in Brooklyn. "We loved that there were several spaces that allowed us to create an experience for our guests that moved through the building as the evening unfolded," Sarah says. With help from Jung Lee of Fête, they created an enchanted forest feel beneath the venue's towering vaulted ceilings, incorporating deep autumnal hues, food and wine that represented their cultures, and even a canopy of trees over the dinner tables. Photographed by Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios, this dramatic Brooklyn wedding was a stunning combination of urban and natural — one we won't soon forget!

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Though she visited what seemed like every bridal boutique in Manhattan, Sarah kept coming back to this satin column wedding dress from Anna Maier - Ulla-Maija, with a draped bodice and a voluminous detachable train. "It was like two dresses in one!" she says. "I had drama walking down the aisle with the train, then it became something I could easily move in for the rest of the evening."

She paired her gown with a pearl and diamond necklace her late father had given her mother, as well as heart-shaped diamond earrings. "My dad gave my mom heart-shaped diamonds every time she had a baby, so they're very special to me," Sarah explains. "They also matched my heart-shaped engagement ring!" Her something blue was a pair of light blue Manolo Blahnik pumps.

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Gabe wore a slim-fit Ralph Lauren peak lapel tuxedo, which he paired with a monogrammed pocket square — he also bought pocket squares for each of his groomsmen.

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Sarah's all-white bouquet was a mix of roses and ranunculus, classically tied with white satin ribbon.

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

The ceremony took place beneath a lush altar of cascading flowers and vines, including a canopy of blooms over the bride and groom's heads. "Our goal was to create a space that was warm, simple, and elegant," says Sarah of the soft lighting and the flowers' romantic vibe.

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Two of Sarah's three brothers walked her down the aisle to her eldest brother, who gave her away. The ceremony was officiated by Gabe's best friend, who filled the passages with anecdotes about the bride and groom. "My sister-in-law and one of Gabe's friends read our favorite Pablo Neruda sonnet in the original Spanish and in English," says Sarah. Then she and Gabe shared vows they'd written together, incorporating promises they'd chosen to make to one another.

© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Immediately after the ceremony, the couple, their officiant, and their witnesses snuck away to a private room to sign the marriage license. "The caterer brought out our signature cocktails and a tray of passed hors d'oeuvres so we could try everything," Sarah says.

© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Guests found their table assignments written on oversized chalkboards, arranged at the entrance to the reception area.

© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

During cocktail hour, guests dined on appetizers with a decidedly Spanish influence. "Gabe's family owns a Spanish restaurant in New Jersey," Sarah explains. "We flew in Jamon Iberico, hired a professional to carve it, and served it alongside other Spanish-inspired hors d'oeuvres." His signature cocktail was a Whiskey Sour, while hers was a Moscow Mule.

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Beneath Weylin B. Seymour's towering dome, long tables were dressed with black linens. "The trees helped make the cavernous room feel more intimate, while the mirrored tables gave guests a peek at the painted dome," says the bride.

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Candelabras and clusters of votives lit each table, with arrangements of white, green, burgundy, and plum-hued flowers were set beneath the trees and under glass bell jars. A mix of roses, dahlias, and ranunculus created contrasting textures. The couple wanted dinner to feel like fine dining instead of a catered event, so they offered a menu that included seafood pasta with lobster, scallops, and mussels and seared tenderloin and beef short ribs with roasted potatoes and shaved black kale. A jazz band played music inspired by Miles Davis during the meal.

© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

In the next room, a lounge-like space was set up for dancing and dessert, with a DJ ready to spin once dinner ended.

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

The dessert spread was a selection of Gabe and Sarah's favorites from throughout New York City, including Momofuku cake balls, Magnolia cupcakes, and gelato from L'Arte Del Gelato.

The six-tiered wedding cake was a custom Momofuku Milk Bar creation, with three tiers of birthday cake, one of chocolate malt cake, one of dulce de leche cake, and one of chocolate chip cake.

© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

The couple's first dance was to "Nothing Can Change This Love" by Sam Cooke. We love when the first dance ends with a good spin!

© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker
© Jason Walker

Photo: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Gabe is a whiskey lover, so the couple treated their guests to a tasting bar at the after party with all of the groom's favorites, including Yamazaki, Nikka, Duncan Taylor, and Macallan. If the dessert spread wasn't enough, there were also containers of KFC, another nod to Sarah's dad. "He used to own KFC franchises, so we had to have some late-night!" she says.

Everyone formed a huge circle for the last song, dancing until the music finally stopped. "The moment was filled with so much love, it was the perfect way to end the evening," Sarah says. Her advice is to remember what truly matters. "When it gets stressful, step back and focus on the fact that, at the end of the day, you'll be married. Don't lose sight of that, and have as much fun as you can!"

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Weylin B. Seymour's || Wedding Planner & Flowers: Fête || Bride's Wedding Dress: Anna Maier - Ulla-Maija || Shoes: Manolo Blahnik || Hair: Donna Tripodi of Eva Scrivo || Makeup: Tiffany Patton of White Rose Collective || Groom's Attire: Ralph Lauren || Invitations & Paper Goods: Castle Graphics || Music: Element Music; DJ Phresh || Catering: Bite || Cake & Desserts: Momofuku Milk Bar; L'Arte Del Gelato; Magnolia Bakery || Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.; Broadway Party Rentals || Lighting: Bestek || Photographer: Rebecca Walker for Ira Lippke Studios

Searching for more Brooklyn wedding inspiration? Then check out another couple's flowering celebration in the video below.

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