Donatella Arpaia always knew she wanted to be married in New York City, and when she and fiancé Allan Stewart discovered that The Plaza was available on short notice, the pair plunged into wedding planning with just three short months to coordinate. The bride had long admired the grandeur and formality of the legendary hotel, and was dazzled by the spectacular Grand Ballroom. “Plus, the staff and service at The Plaza is impeccable,” she adds.
Rather than focus on a particular color scheme for the décor, the bride concentrated on the feeling she wished to invoke. “I wanted drama and old-fashioned formality, but presented in a modern, glamorous way,” she describes. The luxurious hotel had recently renovated the ballroom to update its original opulent qualities and timeless Beaux-Arts architecture. Donatella decided the magnificent room would serve as both the ceremony and reception area, with a dazzling cocktail hour in between so the space could be redesigned for the second half of the evening. The ceremony décor boasted abundant displays of pink cherry blossoms placed in large silver urns, while the reception included glamorous details such as a wall of flowing ivory chiffon that served as the bridal party's entryway. An escort-card table was accented with a glorious cherry blossom centerpiece, and patterned with rows of Martini & Rossi Pink Rose mini bottles paired with gold straws. “Everyone loved the bottles and they looked beautiful beneath the cherry blossoms,” affirms the bride.
Donatella's one-of-a-kind strapless ivory gown sparkled with beautifully embroidered detail, and her delicate bouquet of peonies in muted shades of pink and ivory complemented the vibrant lavender hue of her bridesmaids’ elegant dresses. “She looked angelic,” describes the groom. Although the couple is Roman Catholic, they arranged to have a Lutheran priest and rabbi officiate their very special nuptials, which included readings from the Bible and The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. “The [ceremony] details revealed that spirituality is essential to us, but expected norms are meaningless,” says the groom.
The wedding couple bridged their emotional ceremony and formal reception with a fun drive down Fifth Avenue in their yellow Lamborghini decorated with cans and a “Just Married” sign. “It represented our desire to live life to the fullest!” exclaims the bride of the feat. The pair was particularly tickled when amateur paparazzi took pictures from the street and shouted congratulatory messages to them. “It was like a scene from a movie,” Allan recalls. Inside the stunning ballroom, tables in varying shapes were set with creamy damask linens and festooned with gorgeous centerpieces composed of pretty pinks, lavender, and classic ivory roses, hydrangea, and peonies. Each elaborate place setting of gold chargers, perfectly folded ivory damask linens, and sparkling crystal glassware was accented with a monogrammed card listing the magnificent dinner menu selected by the bride alongside dreamy candlelight.
As an esteemed chef and restaurateur, Donatella required that the grandness of the celebration be reflected in the food, and worked closely with the hotel’s chef to develop the evening’s scrumptious bill of fare. Luscious lobster risotto with crispy shiitakes and butter-poached lobster claw began the meal, followed by a trio of entrée choices. Black cod glazed in honey soy was offered with wilted lotus root, baby bok choy, enoki mushroom salad, and pickled ramps with Forbidden (black) Rice. Guests preferring beef were served grilled filet mignon accompanied by blue potato gratin, ragu of morels, asparagus, English peas, caramelized onions, and patty pan squash. The third offering was a Cayuga Farm Grains stuffed pepper paired with a salad of radish and fava beans. For dessert, an array of sweets was passed – including espresso crème brulée, strawberry-rhubarb cups, and mini ice cream cones – before a three-tiered coconut confection concocted from Donatella’s personal recipe was enjoyed. “It’s the cake which I am known for, so we had to serve it!” explains the bride, who entrusted the executive chef of her restaurant Donatella to provide the towering sweet.
The groom heavily influenced the musical selections for the evening. “I believe music makes a party special,” he explains, so he worked hard with the entertainment company to create an amazing playlist for the live Erik Marshall Band. “The band sang an array of current musical selections, and the incredible Italian vocalist Michéal Castaldo sang beautiful Neapolitan ballads,” Allan shares. Spectacular lighting danced off the walls of the luxurious room, while arrangements of beautiful pink cherry blossoms set at each end of the stage offered a striking décor element.
The flawless event left the newlyweds yearning for their big day to last longer. “I wish I could have slowed it down,” says Donatella. “It felt like the wedding lasted five minutes! It was a total whirlwind.” The groom’s sweet description aptly explains the beauty of the day: “The Plaza was amazing, the food was fantastic, the band was superb, and the girl was my soul mate,” he asserts. “It was perfect.”