“It was a fun and mostly relaxing experience!” is how Sara McCooey enthusiastically describes the planning process for her nuptials to fiancé Andrew Karlsberg. Though this is not how brides-to-be often recall their journeys to their big days, Sara credits her wonderful wedding coordinator for guiding her every step of the way. “My mom helped to take a lot of the stress out of it as well,” Sara adds.

Since the couple met in New York City, the location holds a special place in their hearts and was naturally chosen as the site for their celebration. To showcase the sophisticated metropolis, they set out to find emblematic Gotham venues – starting with a landmark Gothic Revival sanctuary with a meaningful connection. “Saint Vincent Ferrer is the same church that my parents were married in almost 37 years ago, so it was very special to have our ceremony there,” explains Sara. As for the reception, a historic building in Manhattan proved to be the perfect setting.

Reflecting the season, floral arrangements in summery shades of pink and green decorated pews, gracefully complementing the soaring ceilings, stained-glass windows, paintings, and marble details of the awe-inspiring parish. An ivory aisle runner – featuring a hand-drawn monogram – led to the magnificently ornate altar. Sara and Andrew were honored to have the Catholic mass officiated by a priest Sara has known her entire life and who baptized her.

Bridesmaids clad in breezy dusty-rose dresses followed angelic flower girls in pearl satin frocks with blush sashes, and rosette halos. The blissful bride seemed to be floating on air in her strapless gown with a bodice covered by beautifully embroidered flowers, which also accented the ethereal flowing skirt as well as the cathedral veil that trailed behind her. She carried a bouquet of vanilla and pale pink peonies, along with white tea roses and ranunculus. Andrew, like his groomsmen, wore a navy blue suit, a soft green-hued tie dotted with fuchsia elephants holding cocktails, and a creamy rose boutonniere.  

An inviting summer-garden theme inspired the reception’s colors and décor. “I didn’t want the wedding to be too formal,” says Andrew. “I wanted it to feel more relaxed.” Warm-toned lighting complemented by rosy embossed satin tablecloths, as well as golden chargers and chairs, filled the majestic ballroom. Grand centerpieces created an indoor arboretum atmosphere. Slender glass and gold vases astoundingly held aloft bushels of flowering branches adorned with stargazer lilies, roses, peonies, Bells of Ireland, and greenery. The lush design alternated with gilded candelabra holding taper candles, surrounded by peonies, hydrangeas, and roses. Clusters of votive candles in bullion vessels lent another sunny element to the tablescapes. “Seeing the room for the first time when we arrived was pretty amazing,” marvels Sara. “It was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.”  

The celebration certainly exceeded expectations at every turn. “The food was delicious,” confirms Andrew. “We knew how great it was from our tasting, but I was still really impressed.” Since the bride and groom love dancing, the evening’s entertainment was an integral factor. “The band was awesome – everyone danced the whole night,” notes Andrew. A close friend added one more musical component to the occasion by serenading the newlyweds and their parents with an a cappella version of “Turn Around” by Harry Belafonte – something that has become a tradition among Sara and Andrew’s circle of friends. “It was a very special moment,” the bride remembers. A six-layer lemon cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting – accented with pearl dots and fresh flowers – provided a sweet ending to the reception.

Besides hiring the right professionals, a positive approach seems to be just as important to plan the wedding of your dreams. “Try and enjoy all of it because it goes by so fast!” recommends Sara. “We did [and] had a lot of fun this past year!”