We’re 100% behind women making the first move. And that’s exactly what happened when Rachel Pecker met Ari Zelman in college. “We met at a mutual friend’s apartment, where we were both sitting on the couch and started chatting naturally,” she remembers. “I was the one who asked him for his number and he made me work for it!”
The two ended up dating throughout their college years and got engaged seven years after that initial encounter. One summer, they were driving out to Montauk and stopped by the lighthouse to walk around. “I saw a photographer there taking shots of the cliffs and I told Ari that I wanted to ask her to take a nice picture of us. He told me I sounded like a crazy person,” she says. “A few steps later, Ari got down on one knee, and the photographer in the back had been hired to capture the moment!”
At first, the native New Yorkers were torn between having a destination wedding and doing something local. But after visiting The William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn, they quickly decided to keep things close to home. “We toured the hotel before it was even completed, hard hats and all,” she explains. “When we saw the rooftop, it was a done deal.” They settled on September 3, 2017 for their wedding date and hired Sara Landon of SL events for help with the planning process. “She runs a tight ship, but she is everything!” Rachel says.
Rachel had already settled on a wedding dress, but one month before the big day she started having doubts. “My mom and I spent a day revisiting the boutiques, when we found this one at Carolina Herrera and we knew it was it!” she says. “The silk crepe fabric, simple silhouette, and organza details were the perfect mix of modern and romantic (without being too feminine.) It was comfortable too!” She picked out her shoes, a pair of embellished denim pumps, at Bergdorf Goodman. “I loved a good pair of jeans so being able to wear denim shoes to my wedding felt just right,” she adds. As for her jewelry, she chose a pair of flower diamond earrings that were a gift from her parents on her wedding day.
For hair, she went with an updo for the ceremony, in order to show off the back of her dress, and later switched to loose waves for the reception portion of the night. She also changed up her beauty from day to evening, going with a natural look paired with a nude lip for the ceremony, and a brick lip for the party afterwards.
Ari, meanwhile, wore a Martin Greenfield Clothiers tuxedo. “We were lucky enough to work with Martin Greenfield, himself. He’s a Holocaust survivor, which really moved Ari because his grandfather is a survivor, too,” Rachel explains. “Martin also made suits for my grandfather in the past who passed away last year, so it really felt extra special.” Attendants wore black tuxedos, while Rachel’s bridesmaids donned Monique Lhuillier bridesmaid dresses in blush.
The day of the ceremony, Rachel recalls waking up to gray skies and a downpour of rain. “I was certain we had to move it inside, but by some miracle the skies cleared up and we were able to have it on the roof,” she says. “It was the windiest hour of my life, but at least it was dry!”
After they were declared husband and wife, the newlyweds and their guests moved from the William Vale’s rooftop to a ballroom inside. “Our florist did a great job of making it lush with big Thai leaves and lots of greenery,” she says. Their first dance was to “Waterloo Sunset” by The Kinks and they later danced the night away to the music of Hal Prince band “We didn’t sit down once at the reception!”
They later continued the party at The Counting Room, a local bar in Williamsburg, where they feasted on mini grilled cheese sandwiches and a lot of tequila shots. But Rachel admits her favorite part of the night was when Ari surprised her with a toast during their reception. “Apparently he wrote it the night before in his hotel room, and I believe it because he whipped out a crumpled up piece of William Vale stationery when he got up to speak!” she says. “It was sweet, genuine, and absolutely hysterical.”