Charlene Schmitt, head of marketing for luxury hair care brand R+Co, and Federico Persico, head of business development at the hedge fund Tilden Park, met at a charity event hosted by mutual friends. In their initial conversation, they learned that they worked in the same building—900 Third Avenue. They didn’t exchange contact info that night, and never saw one another in their office building, but reconnected a year later through an app. After dating for three-and-a-half years, he proposed at Westlight atop The William Vale with her parents.
As Federico was born in Argentina, he had always thrown his home country in the ring as a wedding destination, and Charlene was never opposed to it. They happened to have already planned a trip down after their engagement, so she was able to see Estancia Villa Maria in Buenos Aires for herself. They signed the contract within a few weeks of viewing the elegant horse ranch, built in 1917, and the on-site planner, Luciana Tomas, helped put together everything. “We loved that our guests would get a truly unique Argentine experience at the estancia, versus at a hotel somewhere downtown in the city.”
Before leaving for their wedding in South America, they had a small wedding at city hall in Manhattan because they were saying, “I do,” abroad. And in order to get married outside of a church, their priest, Father Jorge Maloberti, required an intimate ceremony at Lomas de Zamora Cathedral in Buenos Aires. But the two consider their “true” wedding date to be the third one at Estancia Villa Maria.
Since Charlene was never the girl who imagined what her wedding dress would be, she tried on “practically everything in every shop you can imagine in NYC and Washington D.C.” After three months, she narrowed it down to two options and ultimately went with the Monique Lhuillier gown. She completed her bridal look with a matching cathedral veil, Oscar de la Renta pearl drop earrings, and Monique Lhuillier pearl block heels. For her “something borrowed and something blue,” she wore her mother’s gold necklace tucked into her dress and a white and blue garter belt.
Federico wore a classic navy Tom Ford tuxedo, his late father’s watch, Cartier cufflinks that Charlene gifted to him on the day-of, and Paul Stuart shoes. “He looked so dashing, and I loved that our timeless looks paired so well together,” she says. Groomsmen also matched well in black tuxes, and bridesmaids looked beautiful in champagne satin dresses by Jenny Yoo.
In an outdoor garden, the bride walked down the aisle with her father to meet Federico and the priest for the Catholic ceremony. “While he didn’t speak English, we found a translator so both our Spanish and English-speaking guests could understand everything during the ceremony.”
In honor of Charlene’s mother, who is Korean, they incorporated a traditional Korean wine exchange right before the exchanging of the rings. “I really wanted to honor my mother in a meaningful way and doing something that linked to her Korean heritage deeply resonated with me,” the bride says. “Fed even found authentic Korean wedding gourds, which are rare these days, to drink out of.”
After the two were announced as married, everyone rejoined the couple for dinner inside. Since their guests came from Egypt, London, Costa Rica, and from all parts of America, they wanted to highlight local cuisine and served a three-course traditional Argentine meal, including its famous steak. For dessert, a multi-tiered wedding cake was brought out, featuring chocolate, vanilla, and dulce de leche flavors.
Once everyone had had their fill of delicious food, they hit the dance floor with the DJ group, Sarapura, keeping energy high all night. “There were two pairs of ripped pants, a few dance-offs, a blown knee, and several backflips that occurred on our dance floor!”
In a quiet moment, the newlyweds had their first dance to a mash-up of “Annie’s Song” by John Denver and “For Once in My Life” by Stevie Wonder. Then the bride danced with her father to “My Girl” by The Temptations, which has been their song ever since they sang it together, when she was 10 years old, in a karaoke bar when they lived in Korea.
In Argentina, it’s common for a dessert station to open up around 1:00-2:00 a.m., which gives everyone a sugar rush to make it through the rest of the night. At the same time, espresso martinis were served, and they capped the night off, around 4:00 a.m. with pizza and burgers. “I remember being starving right before bed because I barely ate due to all the excitement, adrenaline and dancing!!”
The next morning, they opted out of a big morning-after brunch and went with an “asado” (typical Argentine barbecue done for social gatherings with lots of steak and sausage) outdoor brunch with family. Charlene and Federico stayed in Buenos Aires for one more night and then took off to Patagonia for their mini-moon!