An Outdoor Garden Party on Long Island

A science laboratory (yes, really!) acted as the perfect ceremony venue

Updated 08/22/17

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

It was a shared love of science (combined with a longstanding family connection) that led San Francisco–based Alex Liptsey-Rahe, a senior product manager, and Robert (Roddy) Lindsay, CEO and cofounder of Hustle, to choose Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, New York, as their wedding ceremony venue. The couple—who met at Stanford in 2008 and were engaged at the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta in Rome at midnight on Halloween—traveled to Roddy’s family home in Locust Valley after they said their "I do's." The reception for 180 guests was at an intimate and meaningful location, as the groom’s mother’s exquisitely designed garden was in full bloom on June 18, 2016.

“We wanted to capture the promise and magic of early summer on the East Coast with a natural outdoor ceremony, but ensure that the night was a magical, romantic, and elegant experience,” says Alex, who chose a palette of pale pink, spring green, and deep purple. The bride credits their incredible planner, Maria Seremetis, for making the process effortless and ensuring all the vendors perfectly met the couple’s aesthetic and mood. See more of their gorgeous garden wedding, as photographed by Birds of a Feather Photography, below!

Solo shot of bride outside

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Bride's shoes

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Because she typically favors dark colors, Alex didn't find the idea of a puffy white dress appealing. A relative suggested LOHO Bride to her, and there she found her ideal outfit. "I found this beautiful, simple raw tulle skirt that seemed like it would fit in perfectly with the natural surroundings of the ceremony," she says. "It also had a sleek, modern dress underneath I knew I could dance in!” And even cooler: Alex loved the idea of dyeing the A La Robe slip black after the wedding!

Wedding accessories included Miu Miu shoes, an Edie Parker clutch, Monique Pean jade drop earrings (her something-blue) and Alex’s great-grandmother’s gold-and-pearl pin in her hair.

Bride and groom hugging

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

The groom and eight groomsmen wore succulent boutonnieres that were a nod to those in the couple’s backyard in San Francisco. For the bouquet, the bride opted for a fresh, natural combination of white peonies, pale pink and green roses, snapdragon, mint, and ferns.

Guests at ceremony with parasols

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Bride and groom under chuppah

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Bride and groom during recessional

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

After the bride’s father walked her down the outdoor aisle to a birch-branch altar decorated with seasonal potted plants and flowers (to be replanted afterward in the garden), a good friend of the couple’s officiated a non-religious ceremony that featured meaningful poetry and prose. (The bride's and groom's mothers read a poem by e.e. cummings.)

Pool reception venue

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests headed to the groom’s family home for cocktail hour (poolside!) and dinner and dancing in a sailcloth tent.

Cottage house

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Ceremony venue

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Since the reception would take place in the backyard of her home, the mother of the groom stepped up in the planning process and created the dreamiest of garden settings.

Lime and tequila appetizers

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Oyster Appetizers

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Mini favors

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Creative cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres included a curated collection of fun gourmet bites paired with cocktails, such as caviar on edible cracker spoons with buckwheat blinis and mini iced vodka shots; fish tacos with margaritas in mini Patrón bottles, fried chicken canapés served with a rum and coke in a mini Coca-Cola bottle, and fried clams with mini bloody Marys.

Seating assignments near florals

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Guests found their table assignments in a bed of moss before they headed inside the tent to find their tables, which were named after places near and dear to the couple—cities where they’ve lived or traveled to together.

Reception tent

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Because sustainability is a sticking point for Alex and Roddy, their caterer, Peter Callahan, created a memorable three-course meal using only in-season ingredients that were locally sourced wherever possible. They loved every bite, but remember the rack of lamb as being especially delicious.

An award-winning SF–based bartender friend of the couple’s, Joey Picchi, crafted their signature cocktails: Golden Ratio, marigold-infused pisco, dry vermouth, golden raisin and black cardamom solution, and fresh lemon; and Barreled Brew, with Bulleit rye whiskey, wheat ale reduction, fresh lemon, toasted pistachio “crushed velvet” falernum, and Fever Tree Bitter Lemon Soda.

Floral tablescape

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Centerpiece with table name

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

Tables at reception

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

On dinner tables, instead of large centerpieces, they went with smaller arrangements—pale pink peonies, black calla lilies, ranunculus, orchids, pale pink roses, small potted plants, and dusty miller—with candles in silvered and gilded glassware, to create a “warmer and more inviting atmosphere.”

Bride and groom cutting cake

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

The pair find the cake tradition a bit outdated, but still had a simple flourless chocolate cake to snap the obligatory photo, though they didn’t serve it to guests. And since they’re avid chess players, they added chess pieces as the cake topper!

Bride and groom first dance

Photo by Birds of a Feather Photography

After their first dance, to Otis Redding’s “These Arms Are Mine,” their guests joined the dancing to a live band, Escort, and later DJ Atish. Roddy liberated his bride from her skirt so she could dance unencumbered in just the slip dress. At another point, an Italian friend got all the guests to participate in a traditional Italian wedding chant for a kiss between the newlyweds: “Bacio, bacio, back!”

A secret after-party tent was erected in a hidden part of the yard and Roddy and his DJ crew spun records while a food truck served comfort foods like fried mac and cheese. “It was a big hit with the youngest partygoers,” says Alex.

Looking back on their big day, the couple feels that they succeeded in getting the wedding they dreamed of by focusing on elements that were the most important to them, says Alex, like the atmosphere and quality of the food. “We spent most of our time finding an incredible band and caterer and booked them as early as we could.”

Ceremony Venue: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory || Catering & Rentals: Peter Callahan Catering & Events || Planner: Maria Serementis Events || Bride’s Dress: A La Robe at LOHO Bride || Bride’s Shoes: Miu Miu || Groom’s Attire: Isaia at Wilkes Bashford || Floral Design & Tent: Stonekelly Events || Music: Juilliard String Quartet, Duncan Lindsay, Escort, Atish and Mark Slee || Invitations & Paper Products: Union Street Papery || Artwork: Georgina Lipsey || Engagement Ring & Wedding Band: Bulgari, Cartier, Trabert Goldsmiths || Photography: Birds of a Feather

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