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A Quintessential New York City Wedding at Manhattan’s Knickerbocker Club

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Peter Blaikie from Bachrach Photography

Annabel Fowler and Philip Gatto first met while she was campaigning for class president at Cornell University in 2009. “While a brief encounter, it left a lasting impression on both of us,” she says. The two reconnected about a month later at a frat party, where Annabel was just arriving and Philip was heading out. “He came back to congratulate me on winning the election and we immediately hit it off and ended up talking all night,” she recalls. “The connection was instant and we have been inseparable ever since.”

The two dated for six years and talked about marriage often, but Philip was determined to make the inevitable proposal a surprise. One December evening during his first semester at Wharton Business School, Philip asked Annabel, who was dressed in workout clothes, to run an errand with him. “All of a sudden, Philip pulled the car over and asked me to follow him outside,” she says. “When I opened the car door, I realized we were at this lovely secluded spot in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park overlooking the city skyline. I turned to Philip to find him down on one knee holding a beautiful solitaire diamond. We spent the night celebrating at a dinner Philip had planned. It was just the two of us and so romantic.”

After some deliberation, the couple settled on New York City’s The Knickerbocker Club for their wedding venue. “My parents had their rehearsal dinner at The Knick, and growing up my grandparent’s would always take me there for dinner whenever I came to visit them from Texas,” Annabel explains. They fell in love with the private club’s rich colors, spacious rooms, and antiques and art collection. “There was no doubt this was the perfect spot for our special day.”

Together they worked with the Plant Shed NY’s Director of Operations Jay Casiano to create seasonal flower arrangements in several hues to complement the faded colors of the majestic rooms in the club. “The club is one of the few venues in New York where open flame is allowed, so we took full advantage of this perk!” the bride adds. “We lit up the empty staircase with lanterns and Plant Shed made sure votives filled every room to add an extra sparkle.” While most of the planning was done between Annabel and her mother, a month before the wedding Jennifer Taylor from A Taylored Affair was brought in to provide day of services. “She nailed the execution. The wedding would not have gone as smooth without her,” she says. Peter Blaikie from Bachrach Photography photographed the wedding. “It was very special to have Peter photograph our wedding as he photographed my parent’s New York wedding 34 years ago!” she says. “His eye for detail and capturing a moment is extraordinary.”

During a visit to her hometown in Houston. Annabel was instantly struck by Oscar De La Renta’s Ansley dress. “The intricate hand-embroidered detail was just magnificent. It’s an ivory silk taffeta threadwork strapless gown with embroidered silk faille designs,” she explains. “The irony was that I never thought I would choose a strapless dress, but it was perfect. It felt like a piece of art.” Since her dress was so ornate, Annabel chose a sheer cathedral length veil with a touch of ribbon on the edges.  For shoes, she wore Jimmy Choo Dahlia pumps in champagne, and for jewelry, her mother-in-law’s gorgeous diamond cluster earrings. “I worked very hard with Plant Shed NY to create my bouquet. My favorite flower is an orchid, and Plant Shed created a cascading white bouquet with phalaenopsis orchids, lily of the valley, stephanotis, astilbe, peonies, and ranunculus.

Meanwhile, Philip chose a Brooks Brothers tuxedo and bowtie, and Alden shoes. He and each of his groomsmen sported a white ranunculus. Annabel’s bridesmaids started the day in pink monogrammed waffle robes and later donned Alfred Sung chiffon gowns in navy paired with oval aquamarine stud earrings. The morning of their wedding, the groom gave the bride a Tiffany gold band engraved with a special phrase and Annabel gifted him a silver Asprey’s of London engraved jigger.

On May 20th, 2017, Philip and Annabel and their loved ones headed to the Church of the Heavenly Rest on Fifth Avenue to get married. The bride’s father walked her down the aisle to “Trumpet Voluntary” by Jeremiah Clarke, while hymns by the church’s choir played throughout the ceremony.

“We were married by Reverend Cynthia Stravers, who gave a very touching sermon about us, marriage, and love,” Annabel recalls. “I vividly remember looking into the first row to see my 93-year-old grandmother with the biggest smile on her face. The feeling of love in the room was electric.”

After the ceremony, guests made their way to The Knickerbocker Club, where a jazz quartet and hors d’oeuvres such as caviar on mini blinis and peekytoe crab meat on crispy plantains, awaited. An hour into the reception, the newlyweds and their parents ascended onto the spiral staircase and gathered their guests in the foyer for toasts. First, Annabel’s father welcomed everyone and noted that almost 34 years ago, he and his wife had walked up those same stairs for their rehearsal dinner. Annabel’s mom closed the introduction, followed by a speech by Philip’s father, and then it was time for the couple to toast each other. “I was tearing up but Philip stole the show with the sweetest toast before welcoming guests upstairs for dinner,” Annabel says. “We were overwhelmed with emotion from all of the love in the room.”

Dinner was served in three different dining rooms, each with its own color theme. After dinner, the couple had their first dance to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by. Frankie Valli. “Philip and I took a few dancing lessons at NY Wedding Dance with a lovely instructor named James,” she says. “We surprised our guests with a wild routine that had me spinning in the air. Everyone was cheering us on and it was a great way to kick the party off.”

Even though the bride had picked out a short Victoria Beckham dress to change into once the party kicked off, she never got a chance to do so. “Once the music started we just never left the dance floor,” she explains. ‘I simply forgot to change before our band, Atomic Funk Project, closed the night out with ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’ This is the first song we dance to freshman year and was commonly the last song of the night played at our favorite bar in college, Johnny O’s.”

Just after midnight, all of the couple’s guests lined up outside The Knickerbocker with sparklers to bid the newly married couple goodbye. “We departed into the night under a flurry of sparkling lights, then walked down Fifth Avenue hand-in-hand with our guests and people in the streets cheering us along the way back to our hotel in our wedding attire!” she says. “It felt magical, like one of those only-in-New-York moments.”