A Glamorous, Old-Hollywood-Inspired Wedding at Ellis Island in New York City

After an unforgettable trip through France, where David Carasso (32 and a project manager) asked Lauren Applebaum (32 and a media specialist) to marry

After an unforgettable trip through France, where David Carasso (32 and a project manager) asked Lauren Applebaum (32 and a media specialist) to marry him against a breathtaking backdrop of calm Mediterranean waters and the rolling hills of the Cote d’Azur, the pair returned home to plan a glamorous affair at home: New York City. While they had different ideas in terms of their ideal venue, Lauren wanting unconventional and David thinking traditional, they agreed that a location with undeniable New York flair and a bit of wow factor was a must. With the help of Zak Events, they came up with an original idea: hosting the wedding on Ellis Island. “Not only did it check all the boxes for both of us in terms of what we wanted in a venue, but each of our families has a rich history there,” Lauren says. “It’s where our grandparents and great-grandparents came to start a new chapter in their lives. We loved the idea of honoring their history, while celebrating our own.” After choosing the venue, they enlisted Zak Events and Roey Mizrahi Events to help plan the day’s many details. The iconic Registry Room hosted both the ceremony and reception. Zak Events transformed the historic space into the picture of old-world elegance, with a palette of ivory, cream, gold and blush tones and striking skyward-reaching arrangements of orchids, roses, and hydrangeas. Ostrich feathers, crystal accents and gilded dinnerware injected an element of grandeur to the space, while dozens of ivory pillar candles created an intimate, romantic atmosphere for the evening’s festivities. Foremost Caterers knocked dinner out of the park with dishes like grilled branzino and bluefin tuna tartare. “We went to town on dessert,” Lauren says. “Everyone received a plate with raspberry terrine and flourless chocolate cake. This was in addition to bite-size desserts like bananas Foster and Key lime pie, which were being passed around on the dance floor.” Bobby Attiko Band kept the dance floor packed all night with a mix of high-energy songs, ranging from Michael Jackson to Bruno Mars, from Marvin Gaye to Beyonce. A tip from Lauren: “Accept help from others. It’s okay to let go of control with a few things. The last thing you want is to be worried about the execution of your event while it’s happening. Let others do the worrying for you so you can enjoy every moment.”

“I wanted all my girls to shine,” Lauren says of the bridesmaid attire. “Every member of my bridal party has made such a huge impact on my life and made me the woman I am today, which is the same woman David fell in love with. So it was important to me that they stood out on our wedding day.” Instead of having the women purchase their gowns, Lauren took all nine bridesmaids to Rent the Runway, where they came across Badgley Mischka’s shimmery, sequin-studded gowns, a shoo-in for the glam Ellis Island affair. “Each style fit differently on each girl, so instead of deciding on one dress for the entire bridal party to wear, I told everyone to pick the dress that made them feel the most beautiful,” Lauren says.
“Since my wedding dress didn’t have a lot of sparkle to it, I wanted to jazz things up a bit with my accessories and bouquet,” Lauren says. Zak Events didn’t disappoint, delivering a stunning cascading arrangement of white calla lilies, garden roses, ranunculus, orchids, freesia and stephanotis wrapped in white silk ribbon and accented with pearl and crystal embellishments. “It was different from anything I’d seen before and also extremely heavy,” Lauren says.
With a bit of luck, the weather was beautiful, allowing the couple to make the most of the setting. After saying “I do” in a traditional Jewish ceremony inside Ellis Island’s Registry Room, the newlyweds and their guests headed outdoors for cocktail hour. While guests sipped on signature cocktails, like the French 75 (Lauren’s favorite), they took in breathtaking views of the sun setting over the New York City skyline.
While elegant and romantic, the ceremony decor was relatively traditional and understated, so it wouldn't overwhelm the beauty and grandeur of the historic space. Zak Events designed several lush, textured arrangements of white hydrangeas, peach roses and pink stock to sit atop tall crystal stands, which were placed at the entrance to and along the sides of the ceremony space. The floral arrangements played up the height of the room, while subtly adding to its striking features. “All the beautiful architectural aesthetics aside, it was really all the history and stories living inside that room that made every moment of our wedding feel so extraordinary,” Lauren says.
The day kicked off with a ceremony in the iconic Registry Room at Ellis Island in New York City. The high ceilings and stately arches set a grand, elegant tone for the evening, with soft candlelight and lush arrangements of hydrangeas and garden roses displayed atop tall, silvery stands only adding to the effect. “We walked down the aisle, which was lined with candles, just as the sun was setting and the pink and purple sky painted the windows like stained glass,” Lauren says. “The setting looked so magical, it was almost haunting.”
Since Lauren and David are both Jewish, the couple opted for a traditional ceremony. The couple exchanged vows under a crystal-draped chuppah and paid tribute to David’s family's heritage by incorporating a number of Sephardic customs into the proceedings. “The date of our ceremony was also special because it was my grandparents’ anniversary,” Lauren says. My grandfather passed away just a few months before I met David, so he never had the chance to watch me walk down the aisle, but by sharing the same wedding date and knowing that he and my grandmother experienced the same rituals we did, I was able to feel connected to him.”
The reception’s standout feature was, without a doubt, Zak Events's glam centerpieces. The tall, cascading arrangements featured an abundance of fresh blooms in soft ivory, peach and pink hues, soft, oversize ostrich feathers and an ornate candelabra base that set alight each of the reception tables with its multitude of brightly lit ivory pillar candles.
As guests made their way into the Registry Room for the reception at Ellis Island in New York City, they were immediately blown away by the transformation. Warm uplighting and skyward-reaching arrangements of full blooms introduced an element of drama to the historic room, while soft candlelight created a feel of undeniable romantic ambiance. Gilded dinnerware, crystal accents and rose-tufted cream linens had a luxe vibe that achieved the glamorous, old-Hollywood feel the couple were after.
For their first dance, Lauren and David wanted a song that was both upbeat and unexpected. They pair chose Amos Lee’s “Sweet Pea,” which included a line that rang true to their relationship. The lyrics, “You’re the only reason I keep on coming home,” eluded to the couple’s long-distance relationship while David lived across the globe and traveled back to be with Lauren.
Bobby Attiko Band kept the party going with a set list of upbeat hits from across the decades; passed desserts allowed guests to satisfy their sweet tooth while letting loose on the dance floor; and hand-rolled celebratory cigars were made available throughout the evening.