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A Modern French Countryside-Inspired Wedding at Natirar

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Amarachi Ikeji

|Planning by 

Elegant Occasions

Morgan Booker and Philip Gertner first met in primary school over recess and play dates in New York. As they grew up, however, they attended different high schools and their paths diverged. But Philip’s friend reintroduced them through “good old-fashioned AIM.”

After 12 years together, Philip proposed to Morgan in one of their favorite places, Gardiner’s Bay in East Hampton. During a sunset stroll with their dog, Kodo, he got down on one knee and asked Morgan to marry him. Once she said yes, a neighbor emerged from behind the dunes with sweet shots of the proposal and a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

Securing a venue during the pandemic was a struggle, but the stars aligned, and they secured the luxury resort Natirar in New Jersey, after Philip’s mother suggested it. “We were so blown away by the pictures online that we didn’t even physically see the venue until after we booked it,” Morgan explains. “We really wanted a place that embraced its environment and felt as though you were in a home rather than a cookie-cutter venue, and Natirar checked all those boxes.”

For their wedding aesthetic, they envisioned: “French countryside with a modern twist.” The couple also combined Philip’s love for the color blue and Morgan’s adoration of the effortlessly refined Paris. Deb from Peonies to Paint Chips arranged bouquets of delphinium, snapdragon, ranunculus, and roses in an array of whites and blues.

For the rest of the planning, the couple looked no further than JoAnn Gregoli from Elegant Occasions. Morgan and Philip loved working with her. Morgan continues, noting, “One of my sister’s good friends had worked with her for her wedding and had such amazing things to say about her. She was really great to work with and knows how to plan a wedding. She truly cares about her couples and wants to create the most special day for them.”

Long before ever being engaged, Morgan knew she wanted a dress from Mark Ingram Atelier in New York City. She visited with her mom, sister, and best friend to try on seven different gowns. She and her mother returned later to revisit a dress from the Mark Ingram Collection for Valentini Couture, and Morgan realized the gown shared the same name as her childhood best friend who passed away. It felt fated. Morgan adds, “I took that as a sign that this was my dress, and we got it that day.”

Explaining her personal style, the bride says, “I’m a minimalist when it comes to jewelry, hair, and makeup and prefer to express myself through clothing and shoes.” Morgan describes her epic Gucci sandals best as “an explosion of crystals.” She purchased them with her maid of honor, Allegra, after they saw the light beams reflecting off the pair on the shelf. “It was a true Cinderella moment when I tried them on.”

On the day-of, the bride’s hair was styled by Blow Bar Bernardsville, and her natural makeup was applied by Yuby Leoce from Bobbi Brown. And Philip surprised  her with a diamond necklace.

Morgan wanted all of her bridal looks to be just as unique, so she searched high and low for standout pieces. Her friend, Natasha Das of Danarys New York, designed a custom cream blazer mini dress with ostrich feather cuffs and bejeweled buttons for Morgan’s welcome party outfit. “I’m currently trying to figure out another event to wear it to,” Morgan muses. For the after-party, Morgan changed into a bedazzled Alexis mini-dress from Poshmark.

The groom did not see himself in a traditional tuxedo for his wedding day. Instead, he hoped to reflect his personal style and choose something refined and relaxed—”which was very much our theme for the weekend,” Morgan notes. Philip opted for a pair of black tuxedo pants from Ted Baker paired with a dark blue velvet smoking blazer from Bonobos. He pulled the look together with Giuseppi Zanotti loafers that were adorned with a lightning bolt. His bride confirms, “He looked amazing.”

As the wedding party walked down the aisle on October 29, 2021, they were met with applause and cheers. Morgan and her father took their promenade, and  when they reached the altar, he joined Morgan and Philip at the altar as the officiant. Unsurprisingly, the boisterous audience loved this “plot twist” and hollered. Her father was a judge and knows the couple so well that it only made sense to let him do the honors of marrying them. “This was actually the second time he married us because we had a small wedding in Philip’s backyard the year before,” Morgan points out. This time, Morgan and Philip shared their own vows. “Philip has a way with words, and I’m pretty sure everyone was swooning after he said his.”

The reception featured mixed lounge and formal furniture to facilitate conversation and dancing. Neither Morgan nor Philip wanted a stiffy sit-down dinner, so there were food stations throughout the space with everything from Foccacia pizza and southern pulled pork sliders to risotto and prime rib. Morgan further explains the genius behind the layout, saying, “If people felt like dancing while eating a pulled pork sandwich and drinking a spicy margarita, they could easily do that!”

After dinner, it was time to let loose on the custom monogram dance floor designed by Bombshell Graphics. The musical experience of the wedding had to be memorable, so Morgan and Philip hired “the absolute best” in the business—Press Play from Element Music. The newlyweds shared their first dance to one of Philip’s favorites, “Just My Imagination” by The Temptations.

Later in the night, the after-party commenced with DJ Jony Rahat from Elegant Music Group. The entire event felt like a club, and zany accessories were passed out throughout the crowd. Morgan laughs, “I’m pretty sure my dad left the party with a light-up flower crown on.”