There’s an old saying that rain on a wedding day is good luck. But what about snow, gale-force winds, biting cold, and a virtual shutdown of New York City?
Tara Consolati, wedding planner and founder of the Berkshire Wedding Collective based in Lenox, Mass., had occasion to find out recently while coordinating a wedding celebration for her clients Dr. Alison Haimes and Walter Cook of New York City. The couple invited guests from all over the world to New York for a Saturday evening wedding at Riverpark in Manhattan, an upscale eatery owned by Top Chef Host Tom Colicchio, overlooking the East River. One unwelcome visitor crashed the party, though: Winter Storm Jonas, which went on to cause a state of emergency and ultimately close Haimes’ and Cook’s wedding venue, along with the rest of the city.
“The role of a wedding planner is not to stress out, or stress your bride out,” joked Consolati, who’s no stranger to snow storms – her business is based in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. “So, I decided to give Alison a call to see how her Saturday morning spin class went.”
The inevitable bad news came soon enough: Haimes’ evening wedding, 16 years in the making, would have to be postponed. But Riverpark had an opening the next morning at 10:30 a.m., to which the couple agreed, and Consolati set to work planning what was now a Sunday morning ceremony being held in the wake of a blizzard. While there were some complications switching a celebration that had been planned as a nighttime affair overlooking the lights of the city over to a morning gathering in a matter of hours, the various choices the couple and Consolati had made for the ceremony and following dinner soon proved to be stunning by both candle- and morning light.
Haimes, who’d chosen to wear a black evening gown by Morgane Le Fay, and Cook in a formal tuxedo were able to stand under their custom designed chuppah, created by the floral designers at L’Olivier from white birch branches. A seating chart Consolati fashioned from a mirror, originally meant to catch the twinkling lights of the high-rises beyond the river, instead reflected the new-fallen snow. Centerpieces and bouquets – roses, calla lilies, tulips and parrot tulips in a fitting winter white – were made on Saturday and stored in the restaurant’s walk-in cooler, and later paired in tight, modern bunches with gold and mercury glass candle holders that complemented the bright white streets outside and celebrated the current ‘warm metals’ trend in decor and fashion.
In part due to the storm, photographer Christopher Duggan and officiant Gerald Fierst, author of The Heart of the Wedding, were able to extend their stays into the next morning. Sirloin, halibut, a light lemon wedding cake and wine were on the menu, perfect for an early lunch when paired with many of the restaurant’s original sauces and desserts, and a group of musicians from The Juilliard School played the couple down the aisle.
“The guests arrived all polished as though nothing had happened,” Consolati said. “The food was fantastic. The sun was out, the river was sparkling. And everyone was just slightly happier on Sunday morning than they probably would have been otherwise, simply because we all thought this might be ‘the wedding that wasn’t.’”
Since the nuptials, the story has caught the attention of several news outlets including CBS news, ABC news, The Washington Post, and The Daily Mail. Now that this wedding is in the books for Consolati, however, she’s on to planning Haimes’ daughter’s wedding; this time in the Berkshires, and in the late summer — with luck, a long way from any snow and ice.
Couple’s Wedding Photos Courtesy of Christopher Duggan. Tablescape and storm photos by Tara Consolati.