Shortly after Lena Auerbuch moved to New York City in September of 2011, she went to the gym in her apartment building, which is where she spotted William Anderson. “I remembered a piece of advice someone had once given me about living in New York—that you should always talk to someone if they grab your attention because you may never see them again,” Lena says. Once she struck up a conversation with Will, the pair realized they were both California transplants and met up for a drink later that evening. Fast forward four years, to November of 2015, when Will planned a romantic day that included brunch, a visit to Rockefeller Center, and an extravagant proposal. Will carefully planned the proposal: Lena was taken to Central Park in a limo, where her driver handed her a card with scavenger hunt directions. After the scavenger hunt through the park, Will popped the question and the pair celebrated with a surprise engagement party with their friends.
For their big day, Lena and William envisioned a timeless outdoor wedding that felt like a fairytale, so they wanted to find a venue that already had natural beauty. “One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to get married in Napa,” Lena says. After checking out Beaulieu Garden in Rutherford, California, the pair fell in love with the venue and solidified it for their September 24, 2016 wedding. And since they lived over 3,000 miles away from the venue, Lena and William brought in a local planner—Erin Taylor of Bustle Events— to pull everything together. Photographer Jessica Burke captured all of their carefully planned details—from the bride’s stunning custom gown to the “ceiling” of the reception space. Keep reading for more!
Lena was worried that finding her gown would take a lifetime, but she made her decision after shop number two. The winning gown? A custom silk dress by Anna Maier Couture featuring an ivory lace overlay, sweetheart neckline, fitted bodice, and a low back and a train. “I essentially chose the front of one gown and the back of another, changed the color of the shell underneath, and tweaked the cut a bit,” Lena explains.
The bride’s older sister (who also wore Anna Maier on her wedding day) happened to have an ivory veil for Lena to wear as ‘something borrowed’. The bride completed her look with Henri Bendel earrings, Vince Camuto lace wedges, and a diamond necklace and tennis bracelet borrowed from her mother. Her bouquet was a loose arrangement of white garden roses, iceberg roses, ranunculus, and greenery—all tied together with a green satin ribbon.
For her 'maids, Lena knew they'd be in neutral tones like beige and cream (she claims that moving to New York has brought on an allergy to color!). Her bridesmaids wore ivory chiffon Shoe Me Your MuMu dresses, while the maids of honor (the bride’s sisters) wore ivory dresses by After Six. As a gift, the bride got each bridesmaid a bracelet with their initials and the coordinates of where they first met.
William wore a black cashmere custom suit from Lucky Angel in Bangkok, Thailand (he travels there for work often!), paired with black Calvin Klein shoes, a black bow tie, and a champagne pocket square from The Tie Bar. He also wore a personalized handkerchief the bride gifted him for the big day.
The ceremony took place in a sunken garden area surrounded by beautiful foliage, with a large fountain as a focal point. William was escorted by his parents down the aisle, followed by the wedding party and Lena with her parents, while sax musician Justin Ward set the mood.
The happy couple exchanged their own vows underneath a chuppah made of birch tree legs and blush, ivory, and beige flowers. “The actual chuppah itself was a family chuppah embroidered with my family names,” Lena says. Lena and William’s loved ones shared special readings during the ceremony, including Blessing of the Hands, Seven Wedding Blessings, and the Apache Wedding Blessing.
During the cocktail hour, guests enjoyed drinks and hors d’oeuvres like watermelon gazpacho, ahi tuna cones, and fennel arancini. They also had the option to visit the taco station that featured smoked chicken, peking duck, and vegetable wonton tacos.
The bar at cocktail hour made a statement, thanks to greenery garlands and its location under a breathtaking canopy tree.
At the reception under a well-lit trellis, each table was topped with blush La Tavola linens, while half of the tables were topped with a garland runner and candles and others were decorated with arrangements mirroring the bride’s bouquet. There was one big head table for the newlyweds, their bridal party, and their dates—32 people total!
Each place setting featured a gold bead rimmed chargers, gold flatware, and a gold foiled menu tied with a piece of lavender.
To Lena, the food at the wedding was a top priority. Dinner included an heirloom and watermelon salad with feta and pumpkin seed pesto (vegetables came from the garden on-site!) followed by either a lemon infused grilled halibut or rosemary roasted beef tenderloin. For dessert, they offered a dessert station with s’mores, bite sized donuts, and mocha cheesecake lollipops. They also served a three tiered lemon lavender cake with lemon curd and earl grey tea cake, decorated with white fondant flowers and a cake topper that said “Best Day Ever”.
To brides knee-deep in planning, Lena has this advice: “Try not to sweat the small stuff! Our wedding day was more amazing than I ever could have imagined, and I wish I worried less about the little things!”
Coordinator: Erin Taylor, Bustle Events || Catering: Paula LeDuc Fine Catering || Cake: The Whole Cake || Bride’s Dress & Veil: Anna Maier Couture || Jewelry: Henri Bendel || Bride’s Shoes: Vince Camuto || Makeup: Meaganne McCandess || Floral Design: Valley Flora || Music: Gen8 Band of Elan Artists, Justin Ward || Invitations: Minted || Other Paper Products: Aerialist Press || Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Salvatore & Co. || Videographer: Elysium Productions || Photography: Jessica Burke