Formal Wedding Inspired by Central Park & Springtime in New York

Ashley and Guillermo

Photographed by: Roey Yohai PhotographyLocation: Brownsville, New York, United States

“The proposal wasn’t planned – it just happened,” says Guillermo Drew-Bear. While visiting his sweetheart Ashley Fina’s parents one Sunday, he took them aside and mentioned that he wanted to set a time to discuss something important with them at a later date. Ashley’s mother unexpectedly replied, “Why don’t we speak right now?” Though taken aback, Guillermo seized the moment with aplomb. “I told them how I felt about their daughter, how we complemented each other, and why I knew she was The One,” he recounts. “It came from the heart.”

Not wasting any time, Guillermo then headed downstairs and proposed to Ashley. “It was a complete surprise,” she says. The impromptu manner of asking for her hand was not the only reason he didn’t have a ring to present Ashley. “Since she has a jewelry store, I knew it was something that we should pick together,” Guillermo explains. By the next day, Ashley was wearing an exquisite pear-shaped diamond engagement ring.

As a nod to the groom’s lucky number, June 14 was decided as the wedding date. Guillermo was involved throughout the planning process. “We work great as a team and are both very detailed oriented,” Ashley shares. So they gave their creativity free reign and had fun with it.

For their unique celebration, the couple did not want to take the typical route of hosting their nuptials at a hotel. Moreover, they needed a space that could accommodate their 400 guests and would not limit how late the celebration unfolded. An architectural gem in Brooklyn met their criteria to the hilt.

Loved ones gathered for the ceremony beneath the venue’s breathtaking 110-foot-high dome displaying a vivid, ornate mural – part of which was replicated in the envelope liners of the wedding invitations. The fading light of evening filtered through the 20 oval windows at the base of the dome. Votives flickered in frosted hurricanes along the aisle, and a lush chuppah composed of ivory roses, hydrangeas, and greenery stood out against a backdrop of crimson Austrian drapes.

A chamber ensemble played classical compositions for the processional. Bridesmaids wore an elegant assortment of mismatched sapphire dresses. Reflecting Ashley and Guillermo’s respective faiths, a rabbi and a priest officiated the service.

Ashley will never forget walking down the aisle and seeing Guillermo’s smiling face. “He was beaming,” she asserts. The bride was resplendent in a custom gown with an illusion neckline accented with floral appliqués that were also sprinkled on the bodice and skirt. Her tresses were upswept to reveal brilliant diamond drop earrings, and she held a bouquet of white peonies. The groom accessorized his black tuxedo with an alabaster calla lily boutonniere and pearl cuff links.

“The most important thing was the commitment we were making to spend the rest of our lives together and be surrounded by all our family and friends from around the world,” affirms Guillermo of the ceremony. Fittingly, they exchanged rose gold bands by Michael C. Fina with “I love you” engraved in hers and “Yo también” (Spanish for “Me Too”) in his.

The décor of the dinner service captured the couple’s fondness for Central Park and springtime in New York. For starters, guests’ seating assignments were inscribed on emerald leaves and wine was poured at a hedge bar. Rows of long mirror-top tables were bedecked with veritable gardens. Bushels of verdant branches dotted with diminutive white flowers in glass vases towered over small single-variety bouquets of greenery and vanilla blooms. An array of attractive crystal vessels were used to create enchanting terrariums.

The aged-bronze tone of chairs added to the woodsy atmosphere. A bear crafted of moss – paying a whimsical homage to the groom’s surname – was even placed in the vault for fun photo ops. A tree motif – a symbol of life – graced Guillermo’s handkerchief, dinner menus, and Spanish espadrilles given to attendees, and represented the new one the newlyweds were about to start together.

Tasty fare fueled partygoers throughout the festivities. Tequeños – a Venezuelan treat of cheese wrapped in a crispy dough typically served at parties – were passed around the dance floor. In addition to the slices from the wedding cake – festooned with fresh flowers and foliage, and an adorable topper that resembled the couple’s pet parrot, Oscar – an impressive collection of some of New York City’s best desserts were presented. Lastly, there were scrumptious late-night snacks from The Burger Guru.

The couple made sure to incorporate personal cultural elements in the entertainment. They participated in the traditional Jewish hora and, since Guillermo is Venezuelan, their band included Latin musicians. In keeping with wedding celebrations in his homeland, fun props – such as sunglasses, feathered masks, and top hats – were distributed to the revelers.

Guillermo remembers dancing with Ashley at about 4AM and calling her his wife. “We both looked around at everyone having such a good time and us having an amazing time, I didn’t want the day to end,” he says. “Our vision was translated into reality. I would do it all over again – but only with her.”