The first time they met, Ariel was still in college and Ben was living in the city. A few months later when Ariel, who works in the development office of a private school on the Upper West Side by day and is building her interior design business at Homepolish and writing for Vogue.com after hours, finally moved to New York, she kept bumping into Ben, now a vice president in the asset management division at Goldman Sachs. Six months after that initial meeting, they were at a charity event when a woman at the bar spilled her drink on Ariel by accident. “Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Ben running over with a handful of napkins to mitigate the damage, with the biggest smile on his face,” says Ariel. “I remember laughing immediately; we started talking, and haven’t stopped since.”
The couple had been dating for two and a half years when Ben popped the question. It was the afternoon, the day before Ariel’s birthday, and she was home earlier than usual as she had had a half-day at work. “All of a sudden I heard the keys jingling in the door,” she says. “I knew we had dinner plans that night at my favorite restaurant, Palma to celebrate my birthday, but it was still very early for Ben to get home, so when he walked in the door I was surprised. He said he had left early to shower and get ready for dinner, and then he asked me if I wanted my birthday present before dinner, to which I eagerly answered ‘Yes!’.”
He told her the present was in a top secret hiding spot in their bedroom and that she had to close her eyes. When he came back, Ariel opened them to find Ben standing in front of her holding a large box from a brand that she had semi-hinted she wanted a clutch from for her birthday. “When he handed the box to me, it felt really light, so I gave it a shake—and then I heard something small rattling around in there,” remembers Ariel. “I quickly pieced together what was going on and started half crying, half laughing, and ripped the top open to find an empty ring box from a store that we had an inside joke about. Ben got down on one knee, recited a lovely speech that he memorized, and proposed by pulling the most beautiful three stone emerald cut ring out of his pocket. I completely blacked out from excitement and couldn’t remember most of what he said! I asked him a few days later to write down what he had said and I framed it; I keep it on my nightstand.”
After the proposal, the newly engaged couple called their family and friends to share the good news and got ready for dinner. “When we showed up to Palma, instead of being shown to our table, we were ushered into a private room where both of our families were waiting with Champagne, including my amazing grandmother who came in from Philadelphia,” says Ariel. “It was perfect. Some of our best friends came to join us after dinner for drinks and dessert, and their excitement and love for us just filled the room. It was really one of the most special nights of my life.”
Ever since she was a little girl, Ariel always thought she’d get married in Palm Beach, where she grew up going every winter. “Little did we know, Ben’s sister and my childhood friend were both pregnant!” she says. “With concerns about Zika in Florida and travel, we ended up choosing Rosecliff, a historic mansion in Newport, RI, because it reminded me so much of the beautiful classic architecture on the water in Palm Beach. Once we decided on Newport, we completely fell in love with its quaint New England charm. Plus it’s three hours driving distance to the city!”
Ariel did, however, return to memories from childhood when it came time to choose a dress. “When I was a little girl, there was a bridal store on the Main Line called Elizabeth Johns whose windows I always stared in,” she admits. “When I got engaged, it only made sense to start my search there. My Pronovias dress was the second one I tried on, and I loved how it seemed to be cut for me even though I am 4’ 10”, and it is impossible to find anything that fits me well without tailoring, let alone a sample size. I had originally thought I wanted a big A-Line skirt, but when I tried my dress on and saw how I felt like me in it, I knew it was the one.” She went to a few other stores in New York just to be sure—and brought along her mom and girlfriends for good measure—but after the second store in the city she realized she loved the dress from home. “I went with my gut,” says Ariel. “And, I’m so glad I did.”
A stripes and loafers kind of girl in every day life, Ariel knew she wanted a gown that would remain timeless no matter the trends. “I was really inspired by Kate Middleton’s wedding gown—I actually woke up at 4:00 A.M. in college to watch the royal wedding—and Grace Kelly’s gown when she married Prince Rainier of Monaco,” she says. “But Grace’s high neckline and Kate’s full skirt would be overwhelming on my 4’ 10” frame, so instead, I chose a sleek cut, and had a custom v-neck jacket made out of Chantilly lace custom-made by a lacemaker in Tel Aviv to go over my dress, creating the classic look that I’d always hoped for. The pearl buttons on the wrists and running down the back matched up perfectly with my dress, and the cathedral train lent the gown some drama.”
For jewelry, she wore simple diamond studs (a gift from her mother), two gold bracelets: one that her parents bought her when she graduated from college and one that Ben gave her on their wedding day with their initials and wedding date engraved in it, and her engagement ring. “I don’t wear a lot of jewelry day to day—just my engagement ring, bracelet from my parents, and my signet ring from the all-girls’ school that I went to growing up,” explains Ariel. “I wanted to feel like me on my wedding day and stay true to that. Now I get to add my wedding band to that daily equation—a plain gold cigar band that matches Ben’s, engraved on the inside with our wedding date.”
While accessories were easy, Ariel had a hard time trying to decide whether or not she should wear her hair up or down, so she went with both. She kept her hair down for the portraits and the ceremony, and then put it into a classic low chignon before the party started. She also took off her jacket after the ceremony. “Looking back, since our wedding day was freezing and super windy, I kind of wish I had put my hair up once we started taking photos outside since it was blowing everywhere!” she admits with a live-and-learn matter of factness.
Ben wore a cream Ralph Lauren tuxedo jacket with a white piqué cotton shirt and black onyx and gold studs and cufflinks—a gift that Ariel gave him on their wedding day. He paired it with a black bow tie, black tuxedo pants, and black velvet Stubbs & Wootons. Ariel really wanted her bridesmaids to feel beautiful, so she simply asked them to choose their own dresses in a blush color range, and then Ben’s groomsmen wore black tuxedos and black bowties.
The ceremony was supposed to take place on the lawn overlooking the ocean, but on the morning of the wedding, the temperatures were unseasonably cold and accompanied by gale force winds. With predictions for a Nor’easter later on in the evening, they decided to move the ceremony inside. “New England weather is fickle, so I tried to hold out as long as possible, but every weather app was saying all signs pointed to a no go,” says Ariel. “We made a game time decision with our planner [Sarah True of True Event] at 3:00 P.M. to hold the ceremony in the salon at Rosecliff, which ended up being really nice because not only were people warm (which is important!) but the room is very elegant and candlelit, so it felt cozy and intimate, like we were in our own home. Plus, it started pouring the second I walked down the aisle, so it was, in the end, a good call!”
Right after the ceremony, the newlyweds went upstairs to the bridal suite to have some Champagne and enjoy a brief moment alone. When they came down, they joined their guests at the cocktail hour out on the stone terrace overlooking the ocean. When the party started in the ballroom, they were introduced to the song “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” and all of their best friends and family joined them on the dance floor. They then went into their first dance to Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together.” “Our band, Stardust, from Boston, nailed!” says Ariel.
For dinner, guests had a spring salad with herb-roasted plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, cannelloni beans and cucumbers, tossed in Ariel’s dad’s recipe for the best lemon Dijon vinaigrette and then a choice of pan seared wild salmon with a spring pea risotto or grilled filet mignon with butter crushed mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. For dessert, a separate room connected to the ballroom was filled to the brim with mini cupcakes, cookies and tarts. “The best thing we served though were mini grilled cheeses and egg sandwiches on mini everything bagels just before midnight on the dance floor—everyone was very happy to have some sustenance after all that dancing,” says Ariel. “However, Ben and I didn’t get to have a bite of food at our wedding because we were so busy dancing, so the next day when we got home we tore into leftover wedding cake—a chocolate pound cake with Oreo filling and vanilla buttercream frosting. It was delicious.”
After the reception, everyone piled into the couple’s hotel room. “I put on white silk pajamas with my new initials that I received as a gift at my bridal shower, and we had a ton of pizza delivered,” says Ariel. “A bunch of our friends stayed in the room with us in their PJs until 3:00 A.M., hanging out and reminiscing about the night.”
Ariel Feldman and Benjamin Okin’s Elegant Wedding at Rosecliff Mansion.
Planner: True Event
Caterer: Blackstone Catering, McGrath’s Clambakes
Florals & Event Design: Stoneblossom
Band: Stardust Band
Photographer: Erin McGinn
Videographer: Custom Made Productions
Hair: Lauren Thompson
Makeup: Stephanie Cintron
Day of Dressing Service: Beth Chapman