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The Father of the Bride Serenaded This Couple’s First Dance

By Patricia Garcia | Photography by 

Brian Dorsey Studios

When Alexander Vizard, a current Columbia business school student, decided to propose to his girlfriend Saiyo Aiba, an associate manager of global marketing at Nars Cosmetics, there was no better place to do it than where they first met: Burlington, Vermont, where they went to school together. “We checked into Hotel Vermont and all of a sudden Alex just left the room and I was alone,” Saiyo remembers of that day. “I get a text from him telling me to check under the pillow and there was a letter; almost like a little haiku that hinted that I should go to one of my favorite coffee shops I studied at as a student.” Once she arrived there, a mutual friend handed her another letter that directed her to her favorite ice cream shop, where another close friend was waiting with one last letter. “That final letter directed to a path along Lake Champlain. As I walked, I saw Alex standing with a bouquet of flowers, and when I got to him he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”

The couple wanted to tie the knot somewhere that was surrounded by greenery and nature. “I had always been obsessed with homes that are inspired by the English countryside, but we also wanted to find something close to the city as many of our guests were traveling from pretty far,” the bride explains. They settled on Wave Hill, a 28-acre estate built in 1843 that was once the home of Mark Twain and Theodore Roosevelt and located less than an hour from Manhattan. The couple hired Annie Lee of Daughter of Design to help with the planning and set the date for September 30.

Even though Saiyo had a very specific style and fabric in mind when she started looking for her wedding dress, once she tried those ideas on she realized they weren’t a right fit. During a visit to Carolina Herrera she fell in love with a gown, but since she had been dreaming of something else entirely decided to keep looking—just in case. After trying on the same Carolina Herrera dress at Mark Ingram, she finally knew it was hers. “What I loved the most was the structure and minimalism of the dress which was a beautiful ode to my father and my Japanese side,” she says.

For her jewelry, Saiyo also wanted something very minimalist. “I chose a pair of Mikimoto pearl drop earrings with diamonds as the base; it was the perfect balance to my dress, hair, and makeup,” she says. For her something borrowed, the bride wore a Buccelati ring that belong to her mother. “The ring was simple and most importantly, meaningful and symbolic.” As far as beauty, like most brides, Saiyo kept things classic and chose makeup in nude and pink hues and wore a mid-bun created by stylist Megan Robinson from White Rose Collective.

Alex, meanwhile, wore a custom tuxedo from Alton Lane and a pair of cuff links from Angela Cummings that were a gift from the bride’s parents. Bridesmaids all chose deep navy dresses from Amsale, while Saiyo’s sister and maid of honor wore a navy dress from Reformation.

The day of the ceremony, guests gathered at the lower lawn of Wave Hill, overlooking the Hudson River. The couple’s families’s two dogs, Mika and Riley, served as flower girls and were walked down the aisle by two of the groomsmen. “My niece Maile, who at the time was only a few months old, was our ring bearer, and was held down the aisle by my brother and my mom,” Saiyo says. “It’s really such a unique and overwhelming moment when you get ready to walk down the aisle. I remember my dad taking my hand with both of his hands and we stayed that way until he gave me away to Alex.”

A dinner reception inside Wave Hill followed, and the decor, handled by florist Lewis Miller, took the bride’s breath away. The tables were adorned in velvet soft gray with hurricanes and flowers in deep purples, pastel pinks, and white, while menus designed by Stephanie Fishwick also served as place cards. Dinner, cocktail hors d’oeuvres, and late night bites were all catered by Great Performances and guests enjoyed either lemongrass branzino or grilled petit filet with truffled potato gratin as their main dishes. As for the wedding cake, it was done by Ron-Ben Israel and had alternating layers of chocolate and vanilla cake and black cherry and chocolate chip fillings. Speeches by friends and family were delivered throughout the meal.

When it was time for the first dance, Alex and Saiyo had initially chosen “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran, but as they began to dance, a familiar voice and song started to play. “I started crying, as we realized that my dad was singing “Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Elvis Presley,” she says. “It is my dad’s favorite song, one which we had sung together in the past while he played the guitar. It was such an incredibly special and unforgettable moment for us.” After that, everyone hit the dance floor for hours. “When you get all of your college friends back together, it gets crazy!” Saiyo adds. “We had a band, The Elements, who we found through Elan Artists. They were incredible!”

While the dancing was fun, Saiyo admits the best part of the entire day was simply being surrounded by all of their loved ones on this special occasion. “To officially become each other’s family with family and friends present is incredible and a moment you never forget,” she says. After the reception was over, they all took buses back to the city and continued celebrating at the roof of the Viceroy. A mini-moon in Mexico followed, and a few months later, the newlyweds jetted off to Italy and ended their romantic sojourn with a stay in Paris.