Kevin Grady didn’t so much choose the right time to propose to Suzanne Gottdenker as the right time chose him. “We were planning a vacation to London, and we had been dating for almost four years,” he explains. “Proposing in London in the fall seemed like the perfect time and place.” The couple’s engagement on the Millennium Bridge was “a major surprise!” says Suzanne, and the timing gave the pair a full year and a half to plan their wedding.
An interfaith ceremony that was presided over by both a rabbi and a priest took place in the Grand Ballroom of a beautiful château located in close proximity to the bride’s family. Shaped like an octagon, the richly appointed space featured damask-paneled walls that soared to a vaulted ceiling topped with a grand glass dome. Towering golden urns that reached 14 feet into the air were filled with spectacular sprays of cherry blossoms that echoed the delicate blush shade worn by the bridesmaids. White votives encircled with orchids were placed in ornate stands along the marble aisle down which Suzanne’s parents escorted the bride per Jewish custom. A delicate fabric chuppah was suspended from gilded columns lined with garlands of greenery, and the couple’s vow exchange incorporated a unity candle ceremony a well as the traditional “breaking of the glass” that concludes Jewish weddings.
While guests enjoyed cocktails in a separate room on the estate, the ballroom was transformed for the dinner service. Creamy table linens overlaid in gold were topped with elegant white orchids arranged in rectangular vases for a delicate fan effect, and menus lettered in gold were tucked into ivory napkins. Seating cards were placed on a table that displayed the wedding photos of Suzanne and Kevin’s parents amid a pale pink arrangement of hydrangeas and tulips. A sweetheart table for the bride and groom was embellished with a swag of white orchids accented with Suzanne’s bridal bouquet of gardenias, stephanotis, and rosy cymbidium orchids. Seven tiers of white cake modeled after a design seen on a popular wedding show were beautifully stacked on a table festooned with orchids. When the final elements were all in place, the ballroom was reopened to guests for the reception. “Taking in the room was breathtaking,” recalls the bride of the remarkable unveiling.
The couple took to the floor for their first dance as man and wife to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.” “It was amazing!” enthuses Kevin of his favorite wedding memory. A 16-piece band encouraged hours of dancing, and the sentimental toasts offered by the best man and father of the bride were highlights of a truly memorable evening.
Communication was key in planning the couple’s wedding, and that included input from their families. “They were very involved,” affirms Suzanne, “and agreed on all the details.” Kevin asserts that sharing the decision-making was the secret to the couple’s success. “You can be more (or less) involved with certain aspects, but don’t divide the responsibilities completely. You don’t want there to be any surprises on your wedding day that could have been avoided by sharing input ahead of time.” And the best planning advice the couple received? “It’s your wedding; do what makes you happy.”