It is rare that I travel for work
and not so rare that I travel, but sometimes lines get blurred! Earlier last
year I received a call from Ashley Taylor Cooper who was devastated that she
had to cancel her wedding with 7 week’s notice in Colombia because of Zika!
Hearing her story just made me want to help! She was living in Miami at the
time but was born and raised in the Tri State area so now wanted to be married
in New York City. I knew she had to be at The Plaza! After multiple emails and
phone calls I went out on a limb and told her I was going to be in Miami for a
friend’s wedding so we should just meet and talk. What I thought would be a one
hour chat with her fiancée Ernesto turned into a three hour brunch at the Soho
House! We clearly hit it off! Next thing I knew I was flying back to NYC that
night and I received a text saying “We booked a flight, we want to meet at The
Plaza tomorrow morning!"
I couldn't believe it! I knew I had to do their wedding. I saw Ashley and Ernie the next day and we talked through so many options. They were also looking at a very hip restaurant that Ashley's family was a part of. Ernie loved The Plaza but had strong feelings towards the chic downtown space. Ashley was set on The Plaza from day one but understood her family's situation too. I got a phone call the next day that they were moving forward with the downtown location. I was heartbroken but knew I had made new friends. Then about a week later I got another phone call. The restaurant wasn't the right fit after all and The Plaza won! My whole office who knew the story cheered! Ashley and Ernie are the kind of couple you just want to do anything and everything for. Their relationship breaks society's rules and their love for each other is so obvious when you first meet them!
Some people would question their age difference but they truly are a perfect pair. Ernie met Ashley through her parents and they began dating long distance. Ernie knew she was the one early on and put in a lot of time and energy to travel back and forth from Miami to New York where Ashley was living at the time. Love prevailed and Ashley moved to Miami and their story continued. Ernie who is an entrepreneur is also a great believer in philanthropy, and Ashley shares the same values. They weren't afraid to put the work in that was necessary to plan this wedding on their own and make it unique and special!
Over the next few months we had a great time getting together when the couple came to New York! One thing that was definitely important to them was their decor. They wanted to keep some of the same ideas that they had for their wedding in Colombia and use them in The Grand Ballroom. We hired Dieter Van Beneden of Vert De Gris to produce the entire event but this was unlike any job he or I had ever worked on.
The big weekend arrived. Thursday night was the kick off scavenger hunt that Ashley and Ernie setup for all of their out of town guests followed by a Bull Riding Competition at Johnny Utah's. Each guest was given a T-Shirt to wear with "Straight Outta The Plaza" which is a play on words from the movie "Straight Outta Compton." They were a HUGE hit! Friday afternoon it was time for the Church rehearsal followed by the rehearsal brunch at the fabulous downtown hot spot Bagatelle! The rosé was flowing and the guests danced the afternoon away. This was great because everyone had time to rest up for Saturday.
Ashley & Ernie could not have been in better spirits on Saturday morning! They were calm, cool and collected as they got ready with their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Soon we were off to Saint Patrick's Cathedral for the ceremony. The church was gleaming after its renovation and Ashley could not have looked more stunning in her Naeem Khan gown. Ernie wore a custom burgundy tuxedo with a hand carved wooden bow-tie and custom sneakers that he had also made for all of his groomsmen. It was so uniquely Ernie! This was a wedding made for the movies!!
After a spectacular ceremony we were back to The Plaza and all the guests entered the Terrace Room through the Palm Court to find gorgeous girls with champagne tower skirts directing them to a Giant Birdcage with an aerialist dressed as a white bird who was passing out the white crane escort cards! The whole cocktail hour was so theatrical!
As cocktail hour came to a finish, the guests were directed to the Grand Ballroom. Here they were greeted by the sounds of birds, a ceiling that had been lit to look like a cloudy sky and more cranes that looked as if they were flying through the Ballroom! If Ashley and Ernie couldn't have their outdoor wedding in Colombia they were determined to bring the outdoors inside! Two large birdcages flanked the main stage where the Carlos Estrella Band of Hank Lane Music played salsa and samba sounds. The dancers inside the cages really set the tone for the night! This party was all about bringing the energy you feel from being in a Latin Country to New York City! Dieter and his team put together these oversized white rose centerpieces that Ashley and Ernie found and went along with the whimsical theme that was felt throughout the night!
Image: Oscar Castro
The guests were treated to a three course dinner as they arrived of lobster risotto, a choice of branzino or filet mignon and dulce de leche cheesecake! As the toasts were winding down the band started winding up and the dance floor was rocking for the remainder of the night. Carlos’ band couldn't have read the crowd any better! There were some great entertainment breaks along the way that included a mariachi band, samba dancers and even a beat box trio that knocked everyone's socks off! We knew this crowd was going to be a wild one but I was beyond impressed that the dance floor was still packed and jamming until 1am!
After the last song, the crowd was pleased to hear that there was an after party at nearby Beautique! Ashley and Ernie let their guests enjoy the rest of the night while they decided to stay at The Plaza. We had this lovely moment at the end of the night where we all sat down in the Campbell Suite to just talk and revel in the moment of what had gone on all day. As we talked about so many highlights of the night, Ernie showed me his wedding band. Ashley had one to match as well. It was a gold band that on one side of the band had the shape of a wrench. It was so small that you wouldn't necessarily notice it but Ernie let me know that it was to symbolize that marriage isn't just the wedding, it is a lot of work and this was a reminder that Ashley and Ernie have committed their lives to work on their marriage. It was so thoughtful and of course so unique just like the two of them! If they work on their marriage as hard as they worked on this wedding, I know it will be full of love and last forever!
Congratulations to Ashley and Ernie! Thank you for reminding us all that if you work hard dreams do come true!
Image: Oscar Castro