Ready to cheer on the University of Michigan's football team, Rachel Nussbaum and her friends from college spent one Halloween night dressed up and watching a nail-biter of a game at a university-sponsored bar. “We said hello to the faces we knew and introduced ourselves to the ones we didn't, which is when this guy wearing a ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ costume appeared,” recalls Rachel of the first moment she saw her future husband, Brendon Barnwell. After talking, watching the game, and even dancing that night, the two shared a sweet kiss and the rest was history. 

Two years later on a beautiful Saturday in upstate New York, Rachel and Brendon took a morning hike. Once they approached a waterfall, Brendon popped the big question and perfectly caught her reaction with the help of a Ring camera. As an engaged couple, the pair took a fun, celebratory trip to the Utica Zoo for a red panda experience. For an added surprise, their room back at the bed and breakfast where they were staying was filled with rose petals, Champagne, and chocolates. “It was the perfect treat to top off the perfect day,” admits Rachel. 

Since Rachel and her brother were getting married just six months apart, she and her sister-in-law became each other's support system for all wedding-planning stresses. With the help of her mother and wedding planning team at State of the Art Enterprises, the bride was able to bring all of her visions to life for a dream wedding at The Pierre. 

As an ode to their first meeting, the bride and groom – along with their wedding party – shared a special moment before the vow exchange together. Since the Michigan vs. Penn State game would be played during the ceremony, they took a few minutes to watch the game just as they had at the college bar. After a touchdown, the nuptials began and 305 loved ones joined together for the couple’s traditional Jewish ceremony. 

Incorporating customs such as the bedeken and the presentation of the ketubah, the couple stressed the importance to honor such traditions on their special day. “This was personally significant as Brendon and I chose our ketubah together when we came across it on happenstance during a trip to Israel,” reveals the bride. In keeping with Jewish tradition, the ceremony took place beneath a lovely chuppah, which was embellished with colorful blooms. Decorated in tones of lavender, green, soft yellow, orange, and white, the pair sought to capture hints of a waterfall theme throughout the ceremony to honor the proposal. 

Following a joyous cocktail hour, the reception showcased a regal castle vibe and featured a deeper color palette of greens, blues, and purples, with hints of copper. Decorated with a wide range of floral arrangements, four different centerpieces graced guest tables. Décor featured jewel-toned florals, elegant votive candles, and lush greenery that beautifully complemented the eggplant-hued linens. Awash in a gorgeous purple lighting displaying soft waves on the ceiling, guests were met with a night filled with laughter, love, and lots of fun. 

After indulging in a delicious dinner, family and friends enjoyed slices of a four-foot-tall, seven-tiered ivory fondant cake with cascading rose petals over a pearlized background designed by Charlotte Neuville to once again emulate a waterfall. In addition to the beautiful confection, guests were also treated to a s’mores bar, mulled wine, and a hot cider station. With their energy high, everyone hit the dance floor to celebrate to the sounds of the live band and had fun in the photo booth before the night came to a close. 

As she looks back on her special day, Rachel admits, “It’s easy to get wrapped up in the small things, but if you take a step back and give yourself a moment, or talk it through with your partner, you’ll find ways to readjust and maneuver, and it could end up being even better than before.”