Liz McDaniel, the director of brand communications for Diane von Furstenberg and a freelance writer in her spare time, met Bert Stemmler at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. “We were friends for a long time and then we dated for a long time—about six years with a break in there somewhere,” explains Liz. “Our first kiss was at the Mercury Lounge in New York City after Bert’s band played. It was the 4th of July, and I remember he was wearing white jeans as some part of patriotic red, white, and blue outfit, which seems hilarious now.”
Bert eventually proposed on Christmas morning. “I was not expecting the proposal at that very moment, hence my flannel pajamas,” laughs Liz. “Also, it should be noted that my gift for him was a pair of earbuds.” He surprised her with a vintage Edwardian solitaire ring. “I think I once mentioned I liked a particular cut which turned out to not really exist because I had no idea what I was talking about . . . but he knew I liked vintage jewelry, and it’s perfect.”
The couple decided to get married in New York City on September 27, 2014. “We are both from the South, but love the city and feel like it’s home now, so we knew we wanted a city wedding in a church,” says Liz. “A close friend of mine had been to a party at the High Line and took me to see the refectory. I loved the space, and it’s connected to the General Theological Seminary, which has the most beautiful chapel. We liked that the grounds were enclosed so all of our out of town guests wouldn’t get lost between the wedding and reception. And when I met the officiant at the Seminary, strangely enough, it turned out that we already knew one other from high school!” It was a sign.
The couple wanted to keep things simple and classic, so the bride chose an ivory and black color scheme. For the flowers, she deferred to her florist, Putnam & Putnam, and just let them do their thing. “They are amazing,” says Liz. “I asked for a tiny bouquet of lily of the valley, and they made it happen.”
The bride’s dress was designed by Vera Wang. “I knew I wanted something timeless and comfortable—nothing heavy, puffy, or difficult to move in,” explains Liz. “There was actually another dress in the same collection that I went to see, but it had this nude mesh detail that didn’t work with my veil. So I tried mine and requested it without the cap sleeve. The veil was vintage, borrowed from my best friend’s mother, which was so special.” As for her hair, she opted for a basic bun and soft makeup with just a slightly more dramatic eye than she usually wears.
At the reception, the couple wanted the focus to be on the food and the band. “Our caterer, Peter Callahan is a genius,” says Liz. “We actually had this crazy situation where the venue suddenly did not have a caterer in place so we hired Peter three months out. He and his entire team were such a pleasure to work with and put us completely at ease. The food was southern inspired, and all of his hors d’oeuvres were a huge hit, especially the bacon and bourbon shots and the fried chicken with rum and Coke in mini bottles. For dinner, we opted for a buffet so people could dance to the After Party Band from Around Town Entertainment. They kept everyone on the dance floor all night long, and their manager Adam Michaels could not have been more responsive and wonderful.”
Friends and family gave toasts at the rehearsal dinner the night before, so Bert and Liz gave an impromptu toast at the wedding. “I have never understood why you rarely hear anything from the bride!” says Liz. “But in retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea to write something down in advance.”
The reception went until midnight, and then friends migrated to the Maritime Hotel for a nightcap. Liz and Bert retreated to their room at the High Line Hotel where they ate a packed meal of Peter’s hors d’oeuvres, and the following Monday the two took off for their honeymoon in Bali.
Photographed By: Karen Hill Photography