While college students in Boston, Massachusetts, Simone Aptekman and Walker Smith met during a spring break school trip, and it was magnetic. “We had a very memorable first encounter,” Simone smiles as she tells the story. “Walker had so much composure laying under an umbrella in a crisp linen shirt, his curly locks glistening in the sun, and the The Count of Monte Cristo in his hands. A 1,276 page book. Meanwhile, I was practicing some rendition of yoga oceanside, subtly glancing over at Walker from time to time. When his book was upside down, I knew that he had noticed me too.” 

Years went by and the pair organically reconnected, though Walker did make conscious efforts for a run in. “Finally, that inner compass oriented and it happened. The moment we locked eyes, we knew,” confides Simone. The following Christmas holiday, Walker surprised Simone with a trip to Napa Valley. “It was my first time there and he was very eager to show me around. We walked into a courtyard for dinner, and he was pointing out different areas, explaining the grounds… ‘and this is where they do events.’ Then, stopping in front of the barn, he said ‘and this is where I ask you to marry me,’” shares Simone. “I remember I exclaimed, ‘Really?’  It was truly a surprise, and I was flooded with happiness!” 

Wedding planning was an incredibly entrepreneurial and creative process for the bride, who agreed early on with her beloved that she would plan the big day and he would organize the honeymoon. It made it so they each had something beautiful to share with one another. “I found myself fully immersed in all facets of the planning – management, logistics, marketing, accounting, communication… the list goes on,” she says. “Of course, I was bummed with the headache of postponing our wedding so many times due to Covid, but ultimately it enabled me to fine tune the vision, push up on my original ideas, and build an incredible connection with my wedding planners.” 

Simone specifically asked the venue what planners they held in high regard because she liked the idea of a seasoned professional who was familiar with the luxury property. “I am so happy I chose to work with Bob Gail Events because they are a family business that is so passionate about what they do and take the time to understand their clients’ taste to then best recommend vendors to actualize the vision,” describes Simone of her important choice. “Allyson Joseph and Katie Pincus just got it. It was the most collaborative and enjoyable process, and my connection with them is lifelong.” 

"Walker and I both have an affinity for older music and classic films. We are old souls! We wanted it to feel like a supper club."

The décor concept for the outdoor ceremony surrounded by lush greenery and tall palms was intended to feel like a Provence garden and featured very romantic and elegant details within the whimsical setting, including lanterns, fresh lavender, fan-shaped programs with pearl handles, and a gorgeous white rose-adorned gazebo. 

Simone was a vision in a strapless lace gown featuring detached sleeves, and she carried a bouquet of long-stemmed calla lilies. Her long dark tresses were framed with a feminine veil highlighting a lace border. Once the vow exchange was completed, the newlyweds walked up the aisle to “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes. “This song was featured in the film Dirty Dancing and served as a hint to what was to come – our choreographed first dance!” muses the bride. 

“Walker and I both have an affinity for older music and classic films. We are old souls!” remarks Simone of their taste and thus, vision for the evening. The venue was the perfect backdrop for an Old Hollywood theme, since the décor of the hotel boasts strong art deco inspiration. “We wanted it to feel like a supper club and created a beautiful structural wall on the stage featuring vintage deco silhouettes and our ‘SW’ motif on the bandstands. The room was flanked with large birds-of-paradise palms, vintage Champagne coupes on the tables, and the dance floor would later turn into a lounge for the after-party,” illustrates the bride. 

Simone also liked the idea of mixed seating styles in lieu of a uniform room. “For instance, doing banquette seating for our college friends closer to the dance floor, long family-style tables for our families, and round tables under the gazebos for mixed groups of people. We made each one of our guests feel comfortable and special without them even realizing how intentional their seating was!” she explains. 

To honor Simone’s late father, she asked each guest to bring a rock or crystal that she planned to place at his headstone: “The rocks would be charged with the energy, love, and support from the ceremony, and it was a way for him to be a part of the special day.” At the end of the festivities, Simone felt a great sense of energy that was nothing short of euphoric. “It was the best day of my life,” she confirms.

This real wedding was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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