It all started with a box of cereal. In 2005, as freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania, Sean and Rachel first met when he approached her group of friends and asked them what their favorite cereal was. And while her friends may have had more chipper answers than Rachel's LIFE, she and Sean still hit it off, quickly becoming friends and carpooling back to the New York area for long weekends and holidays. A year later, they started dating, but little did Rachel know, her favorite cereal would play a crucial role in yet another important day in their relationship.
For Thanksgiving in 2013, Rachel went home to Pleasantville, New York, while Sean was in Maryland with his family. Around noon, Rachel's mom frantically sent her out in search of coffee to serve with dessert. "When I got home, there was a box of LIFE cereal outside the door, and a note that told me to follow the breadcrumbs," she remembers. Inside, she found a trail of photos, Facebook posts, birthday cards, and mementos in chronological order, starting with the cereal and leading through her and Sean's eight-year relationship. Once she'd wound her way through the whole house, she found Sean in the backyard on one knee. When Rachel's family returned to the house, she was shocked to see that Sean's family was with them. "They'd pretended to be in Maryland when we called them to tell them we were engaged," she says, "but instead we got to celebrate with a joint Thanksgiving dinner."
For their New York City wedding on October 18th, 2014, the pair settled on an iconic location: The New York Public Library. "We loved the idea of getting to go back and visit with our kids," says Rachel. They hired David Reinhard Events to help with the planning, and Ira Lippke to capture every classic moment.
In keeping with their classic, romantic theme, Rachel donned Jimmy Choo sandals and vintage chandelier earrings, while Sean's tuxedo was complemented by a monogrammed shirt.
The bride wore a customized Ines Di Santo wedding dress that combined two designs she'd seen at a trunk show at Bergdorf Goodman. "I loved the front of one gown and the back of the other, and thankfully Ines was there to help me combine the two into something unique," says Rachel. "She was even there at my final fitting, so she got to see it come together, too!" Her vibrant bouquet combined roses, berries, and ferns in warm fall hues.
In keeping with the season, Rachel's bridesmaids chose their own gowns in shades of eggplant and burgundy. Says the bride, "I didn't want them to look too uniform, and I loved what they chose."
The couple's four flower girls wore white dresses with oversized bows and burgundy flats to match the bridesmaids. Rachel's veil was edged with the same lace that covered her dress.
Four violinists flanked the entryway to the ceremony, where warm gold draping and lights filled the room. Two large arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, and other seasonal blooms marked the start of the aisle. The altar was a canopy made of iron trees, orchids, and vines decked out with tea lights.
Sean and Rachel's officiant was the Honorable John G. Koeltl, one of the judges Sean worked for when he was a law clerk. The morning of the wedding, the couple gave each other cards containing their personal vows, then recited traditional vows at the ceremony.
The escort card display was a giant book, with each person's table written on a library check-out card tucked into a sleeve embellished with the couple's crest. The background featured hundreds of words that were significant to the couple and their relationship.
Long tables were topped with dark green linens, then covered with mixed arrangements in wood, glass, and brass vessels. Everything from roses and calla lilies to succulents and ferns created a romantic feel, while stacks of vintage books added height (and a nod to the library location).
Gold chargers set the scene for a menu of poached halibut and braised short rib, followed by gianduja milk chocolate cake.
The four-tiered wedding cake, a combination of carrot cake and buttercream frosting, was simply decorated with orchids. Later in the evening, servers passed sweets and treats (like French toast bites!) to guests on the dance floor.
"Even with 280 guests, our wedding felt so intimate," says Rachel. "It was the most amazing day."
The couple went on an adventure-filled honeymoon, from Chile and Peru to San Francisco and Palm Desert, California. Says the bride, "Remember to have fun! Don't take anything too seriously, it will still be the best day of your life."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: New York Public Library
Wedding Planner: Britt Simpson of David Reinhard Events
Bride's Wedding Dress: Ines Di Santo
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Makeup: Kimara Ahnert
Groom's Attire: Ralph Lauren
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: I. Friedman & Son
Floral Designer: StoneKelly Events
Invitations & Paper Goods: Regas Studio
Music: Vali Entertainment
Catering: Sonnier & Castle
Cake: Carousel Cakes
Photo Booth: Magbooth
Videography: Reuben Hernandez for Ira Lippke Studios
Photography: Ira Lippke for Ira Lippke Studios