When agreeing to a blind date, most people keep their expectations low: Sharing even the slightest thing in common with the other person is usually all one can hope for. That is why when Julie Belkin and Michael Rand learned just how enormously compatible they were, their encounter seemed like a miracle. Not only did they discover they resided in the same Manhattan building, but their parents lived within ten minutes of each other in Massachusetts and owned summer homes in the same small Cape Cod town. Julie and Michael had also attended neighboring summer camps when they were kids, and most importantly, the two shared the same birthday: January 28th.
As Julie says, “It was a date that turned into a lifetime,” and while on vacation together in Anguilla some time later, Michael pulled out all the stops to pop the question. As they were getting ready to leave for dinner, he pointed out a display of fireworks – a favorite of Julie’s since childhood – taking place over the ocean. They walked down to the beach, and when Julie commented on how beautiful the fireworks were, Michael responded by getting down on one knee and saying, “Well, they better be. They are for the most beautiful girl I know.” At that same moment, their parents were taking in the fireworks from a neighboring island – also part of Michael’s plan – and joined the couple the next morning for a boat ride to celebrate Julie and Michael’s engagement as a new extended family. Julie and Michael wanted to host their wedding at a unique and memorable location, so they took advantage of the Belkins’ 250-acre orchard outside Boston and scheduled a grand celebration to take place there on 07-16-05 – the digits of which added up to the couple’s lucky number, 28. With nothing but open space as far as the eye could see at the orchard, the couple’s talented design team, consisting of event coordinators Linda Matzkin and Abby Matzkin Gordon of the Boston-based company Hopple Popple, Inc., event designer Domenic Cambio, and lighting designer Suzanne B. Lowell, dreamed up plans for a 48,000 square foot structure to house every element of the event – ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, and after-party – draped entirely in diaphanous white fabric.
Invitations delivered in handmade silk boxes introduced the highly elegant and personalized tone for the event. When the 350 guests finally arrived on the big day, everyone was in awe of the sophisticated details that infused the heavenly décor with touches of pale pink: a hand painted dance floor, three different types of china and crystal, exotic orchid centerpieces, and beaded organza linens, to name a few. Specialty lighting illuminated the structure’s many hallways and foyers, adding to the sleekness of the design. In the ceremony room, enormous crystal chandeliers graced the ceiling above the aisle as Julie, escorted by her parents, walked to a live performance by singer Marc Cohn of his song “True Companion.”
“The lyrics gave me goose bumps,” remembers Julie. Beneath a striking chuppah, she and Michael were married in a service led by a family friend, Rabbi Edward Schecter. “It was very meaningful, especially to my grandmother, to have him officiate our wedding,” she says. More meaningful still was the wedding band Julie was married with: her grandmother’s. After the cocktail hour, which was held in a clear-topped area of the structure, everyone was welcomed into the formal dining room, outfitted with an array of square, rectangular, and round tables surrounded by chiavari chairs and upholstered banquets. Guests indulged in sea bass and rack of lamb, as well as a dessert course designed to complement the wedding cake, a towering display of sugared flowers and intricate lace detailing by celebrated confectioner Ron Ben-Israel.
But the pink and white art deco dance floor was where the guests spent most of their time, reveling in big band music (pink and silver beaded slippers were handed out to the women while they danced) and Michael’s rendition of “Wonderful Tonight,” which he sang as a surprise for his new wife. Surrounding the festivities, lights subtly transitioned the fabric walls from pink to lavender to periwinkle, adding to the dreamlike atmosphere of the night. “I loved how beautiful everything was and yet, how nothing was overdone,” asserts Julie. “It was also the most fun wedding I have ever been to!”
And just before the most energized members of the group moved on to the ‘80s-themed after party (the rest retired with their party favors – bushel baskets filled with fruit from the orchard as well as fruit-flavored martini mix and glasses), the most magical element of the celebration made its appearance: A display of fireworks burst into the night sky, paying tribute to the romantic engagement that began it all.