Kathryn Foley and Michael Rafferty became engaged after a day of quintessential New York activities. They viewed an exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ate hot dogs from a corner vendor (affectionately referred to as "dirty water dogs"), and then headed to Wollman Rink in Central Park to go ice skating. While walking home through the park, Michael asked Kathryn to marry him.
And the couple was determined to wed in matching New York style just six months down the road. "Since I am a teacher, we knew the summer was going to be our best option for having the wedding and then being able to take a honeymoon," explains Kathryn. Pulling together a wedding in Manhattan in such a short period of time is no easy task, but with a little faith and a lot of support from family, friends, and their wedding coordinators, Kathryn and Michael's wishes were granted. The couple's very first choice of reception venues, the New York Public Library, had a last-minute opening in June, and their nearest and dearest were all available to attend the celebration.
Both the church where the couple held their ceremony and the library are inherently majestic spaces, so the couple wanted to strike a balance with the decor that complemented the architecture without being too ornate. They decided to keep the flowers in the church simple and serene, entwining the entrance railings with garlands of greenery, roses, and orchids and requesting similarly refined arrangements for the bridesmaids' bouquets. Kathryn's florist even took it upon himself to create two separate bouquets for her to choose from on the morning of the ceremony. "I went with the pink!" says Kathryn of the peony arrangement she ultimately fell for. Two priests -- friends of each family -- conducted the ceremony in front of 315 guests.
Since they had to wait until the library closed before being permitted entry to the evening reception, the guests had time to fill following the afternoon ceremony. Much of the group, including the newlyweds, convened at midtown's Bryant Park Grill for cocktails. Then, a pair of bagpipers led the group down 42nd Street right up to the steps of the library. "It was really a unique moment as Michael and I walked along together. People were pulling over to take pictures of us, and it was just such a fun moment for us, one that we'll never forget," asserts Kathryn.
For the cocktail hour in the library's Astor Hall, the white marble walls were given a punch of color by lime green linens and an enormous flower arrangement that sat atop the escort card table. The arrangement was designed to look freshly picked, albeit expertly arranged, and its flowering branches were hung with flickering votive candles. Guests were directed through an immense hallway toward dinner and dancing by a trail of luminaries along the walls, as well as garlands -- like those used earlier at the church -- clinging to the railings. Inside the ballroom, the tables were adorned with two types of centerpieces -- one in a single footed bowl and the other consisting of a trio of arrangements. Both types used bright pink, cream, green, and apricot flowers to impart an elegant and understated look to the room.
Before guests could enjoy the buffet dinner and strawberry shortcake, they were witness to a very special surprise. Michael shocked Kathryn by arranging for Edwin McCain, the original singer of their first- dance song "I'll Be," to perform live. But before he was revealed to her, Kathryn remembers being concerned that the timing of the band's version of the song would not be the same as the recorded version the couple had used during their pre-wedding dance lessons. "Right as we walked in, Michael turned to me and said, 'I don't think the timing is going to be a problem,' and I looked up and saw Edwin McCain. It was amazing!"
And even if the accompaniment is not as unique as theirs was, Kathryn and Michael recommend that other couples invest in dance lessons. "It's a great way to get your mind off the wedding and focus on something fun." The bride also advises taking one night off per week from all the planning chatter. She and Michael even set aside the night before their wedding festivities began to "shut it down" and just enjoy some peace and quiet. "We relaxed and had dinner at home before the mayhem began!" she says.
The newlyweds used their engagement as the inspiration behind the "favors" they gave to guests. For a final taste of their New York celebration, the couple served hot dogs, and they were well received after the big night of celebrating. Kathryn recalls, "I think one of my favorite pictures from our wedding is of me in my wedding dress sitting on the steps of the library eating a dirty water dog!"