Black Tie Winter Wedding Inspired by A Midsummer Night's Dream

Celine Gumbiner and Neil Jacobson

Photographed by: Scott Clark PhotoLocation: Los Angeles, California, United States

“You seem like a nice kid; I’m going to help you find a girl,” a doctor told Neil Jacobson after meeting during a round of golf. That doctor happened to be a family friend of Celine Gumbiner, and she and Neil were soon set up on a date. What followed was a whirlwind romance: “I knew as I sat down at the sushi restaurant on our second date that I was going to marry her,” remembers Neil. Soon after, they “pretty much started living together,” according to Celine. “We fell for each other really fast.” After just under one year of dating, the couple was engaged. However, Neil had been planning the elaborate proposal for months. First things first: a flight to Europe to ask Celine’s father for her hand. “My plan was to talk to him the next day, but we had a beautiful bottle of wine, and like an idiot, I blurted it out to him completely unlike I had prepared in my mind,” Neil confesses.

As his brother-in-law owns a jewelry shop, Neil found the ring shopping process relatively painless and selected a beautiful oval diamond set on a thin pavé band for his soon-to-be bride. Finally, the day arrived. When Celine traveled to New York for work, he came along. On their first date, the couple had mentioned neither of them had ever been to the Statue of Liberty, so Neil pitched it as a fun tourist activity. Stuck on the other side of town after getting lunch with her family, Celine didn’t realize how important the timing was. She called Neil to suggest they go the next day, as her taxi was rushing through city traffic. “It was pretty funny; he was trying so hard not to make it sound too important that I be there on time,” Celine reminisces. Luckily they barely made it onto the last ferry, where they were ushered to the captain’s area. Outside, with the ferry stopped in front of the iconic landmark, Neil got on one knee and asked Celine to marry him. After celebrating on the boat, the future bride was further surprised when their families joined them to continue the festivities. “It was surreal,” Celine muses of the experience.

With their relatives in Europe and on the East Coast and the wedding to be held in Southern California where they reside, the engaged sweethearts had their work cut out for them. With just five months to plan, they hired Alex Events to coordinate their nuptials. Selecting a venue was easy, as Neil – an avid golfer – belongs to an exclusive country club. “I think he chases a little white ball in his dreams,” laughs Celine, but she was thrilled with the choice as well. “It captures a bygone era, and I thought it gave our wedding a timeless feel.” While planning the wedding, Celine was also busy studying to convert to Judaism so she and Neil could wed in a temple. “The process was so special because I was working towards marriage,” she shares.

The ceremony was officiated by two rabbis: one from the temple and one who helped Celine through her conversion. As the bride is a native of France, a singer performed French music as Celine glided down the aisle in an ethereal tulle A-line gown with leaf detailing. “I just started to cry,” Neil admits. Per Jewish tradition, the bride was escorted by both of her parents. “It really symbolized them entrusting me to Neil,” she says. The chuppah featured an abundance of blossoms as well as the tallit of father of the groom, who passed away several years prior to the wedding.

Despite the country club setting, the bride and groom wanted the space to convey a more natural feel. “We both wanted to imagine what Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream would look like in the winter,” Celine reveals. They paired a color palette of green, burgundy, and cream with wood and other earthy textures. At first the respective mothers of the engaged couplewere horrified that their children were not using linens at their black tie wedding, but “once they saw it all put together they said, ‘Oh, I get it now,’” confides the bride. Low centerpieces with florals flowing onto the raw wood table allowed guests to speak to each other across the table, and real leaves with gold calligraphy led attendees to their seats. “We also put in wood floors to make the venue fit our theme, and they kept them!” Celine exclaims.

Given Neil’s experience in the music industry – he was recently named the new president at Geffen Records – it is only natural that selecting the entertainment of the evening was the most important aspect for the groom. “We had a very specific concept for how we wanted the songs to progress,” he shares. Starting with French folk music to honor Celine’s background, followed by jazz at the cocktail hour, the reception music flowed chronologically – 1960s and ‘70s soul with dinner, then ‘80s hits for dancing, and modern hip-hop for the after-party. However, there was one song played that won’t be heard at any other wedding. Jeff Bhasker, a multiple Grammy-winning producer and one of Neil’s groomsmen, wrote and performed a tune called “Monte Carlo Dream” in honor of the newlyweds.

Reflecting on their big day, Celine notes that the stress of wedding planning can help a couple work together as a team. “I think it made us that much closer when we were done. He was an incredible partner, and still is,” she reflects. For his part, Neil has one piece of advice for grooms preparing for their own celebrations: “Spend as much time dancing with your wife as possible.”