“It seemed like a great idea at the time, but thinking back on it now, it wouldn’t be my first outfit choice for meeting my future wife,” Robert Nitkin says of his Boy Scout Halloween costume. In his defense, he was a 16 year old at a party, and likely did not anticipate that Jessica Preiser would marry him almost a dozen years later. They bonded over The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the New York Knicks. Even though they were both teenagers, the young couple knew their relationship was something special. Jessica and Robert beat the odds by maintaining their love throughout college, despite being halfway across the country from each other. If anything, it made them stronger. “I think I realized I wanted to marry Jess around my sixth time flying from Ithaca to St. Louis,” reveals Robert. However, there was some business to take care of first, as Jessica earned her JD while her boyfriend obtained an MBA.
During their relationship, the couple travelled to 11 different countries, but none of those trips were as special as the one to Mallorca, Spain. Jessica’s suspicions were piqued from the first night. “Rob arranged for a surprise afternoon sailboat ride around the island,” she explains. “The entire time we were on the boat I thought he was going to propose, but he never did!” Instead, he had a private dinner set up by the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. As the sun set, Robert dropped to one knee and asked Jessica to become his wife. “We spent the next week vacationing around Spain on our ‘engagement moon.’ It was one of the best weeks of our lives and we loved having time with just the two of us to soak in that special moment,” muses the bride.
The first, and easiest, decision the newly engaged couple made was their wedding location. “We both grew up in Connecticut, so New York was logistically easy for our friends and family,” Jessica shares. “We also have spent the last seven years living there and we felt that it was the place where we matured into adults, so New York City was the perfect fit.” Though initially hesitant of selecting a hotel for their nuptials, the bride and groom decided on The Plaza Hotel, feeling they would be able to make the iconic space uniquely theirs. “For the ceremony, we wanted to pick up the soft and romantic side of the Old World charm of the venue,” the bride tells. The room was filled with candles, providing warmth. A stunning chuppah featured two trees forming a canopy of orchids and branches. “The room really did feel magical during our vows,” Jessica confides.
The bride was escorted down the aisle by both of her parents, while a classical piece from the sound track of The Secret Garden played. “It had added meaning because that was one of the first books I read with my father when I was a little girl,” she explains. Robert was entranced when he saw Jessica in her ethereal lace gown. “She looked so beautiful and when she smiled at me, I knew how lucky I was to marry her,” he says. The rabbi who conducted the vow exchange worked at the temple they both attended in high school. “It was important for us to have someone marry us who knew our unique past and our families,” the bride emphasizes. Jessica and Robert were asked to write love letters to one another, and though they were originally told only excerpts would be read, their rabbi was so moved that she incorporated both notes into the service.
For the reception, the couple steered away from the classic garden look of their ceremony, choosing to incorporate some modern décor elements. “We placed a lot of emphasis on fun and unique moments that would be conversation pieces for our guests,” notes Jessica. This started from the moment attendees walked down the staircase leading to the reception. Virtual framed photos of the bride and groom from their childhoods through their engagement were projected onto the wall, making The Plaza Hotel feel like home for the evening. The pièce de résistance, however, was the Lucite fixture suspended in the center of the ballroom, draped with white orchids – Jessica’s favorite flower. Each table featured a centerpiece that complemented the design, in addition to mirrored details.
Often, wedding favors are more of an afterthought for brides and grooms, but this was not the case for Jessica and Robert. As the revelers departed, they stopped by a station with gift boxes filled with fresh, warm scones and tasty jam. Then, hired actors portraying old-timey newsboys handed everyone a very special Sunday edition of The New York Times. “We created our own version of the front page and filled it with stories about our relationship and photos of us together over the last 12 years,” shares the bride. Following the reception was a Roaring 20s-themed after-party in the newlyweds’ ceremony space, transformed into a sleek speakeasy lounge.
Though Jessica admits she may have focused a bit too much on the minutiae of wedding planning, she is happy to say that she was able enjoy her day, taking moments throughout to stop and soak everything in. For Robert’s part, he was nervous about being the center of attention, but wound up feeling nothing but happiness. He adds, “The only thing that should really matter at the end of the day is making your bride happy.”