A Botanical and Whimsical DIY Manhattan Soiree
Lisa and Eric
Pre-ceremony, Eric Adolfsen and Lisa Tobias strolled New York City’s Fifth Avenue with balloons in tow. Lisa bypassed the bridal department and went straight to Oscar de la Renta’s evening collection for her light-as-air gown. “The seamstress reconstructed the dress to fit me,” she says. “It was unbelievable!” The groom wore Dior Homme.
How They Met
Some suitors give flowers. Others, chocolates. When Eric met Lisa for their first date, he brought her Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes. The two creative types—he’s an artist, a designer, and the co-owner of The Wooly, an event space in New York’s Woolworth Building; she’s a fashion designer and stylist—met through friends at a Manhattan karaoke bar in 2005 while Eric was on holiday break from his MFA program at Yale. The pair talked all night, bonding over their off-kilter tastes: Both have a fascination with macabre and fantastical storytellers like Dahl, Tim Burton, and Edward Gorey. They also found they shared a mutual friend from college at Brown (though they attended four years apart). The next morning, Lisa asked the pal to give her number to Eric.
Six years later, after countless late-night phone calls and dates (including one that involved building a fort at Eric’s parents’ home) he proposed on a surprise trip to Paris. As Lisa napped at the hotel, Eric slipped out and collected an armful of Parisian spoils, including a bottle of rosé Champagne, a bouquet of flowers, and a box of treats from famed patisserie Ladurée. “I found an engraved dark wood box among the pastel macarons,” Lisa recalls. “Inside was the most beautiful ring. It reminded me of something from a fairy tale, perfectly suited to our magical surroundings.”
The Outdoor Ceremony
The couple’s city wedding likewise fit their dreamy aesthetic. Although at first the bride wanted a country venue (“I’m a wood nymph at heart,” Lisa says), she realized they could better accommodate their 265 guests closer to home. They ended up getting their forest-y fix with a Jewish ceremony at Central Park’s Conservatory Garden, where the pansies were peaking.
Cousins of the bride and groom carried the huppa.
A Musical Parade
Following the vows, a musical procession streamed two blocks south to their reception in the library of the landmark New York Academy of Medicine, which had been transformed with what Lisa calls “an enchanted garden’s worth”of flowers.“We imagined the space as an urban institution overgrown with nature,” she says, “and a dusty library overtaken by raucous children.” Roald Dahl couldn’t have described it better himself.
Lisa’s Oscar de la Renta gown featured a slinky Lurex column lining that allowed her shape to be seen under all the volume of tulle. “I particularly loved the way it was subtly longer in the back, creating an ethereal train,” she says. “It reminded me of The Princess Bride.”
Saturday in the Park
The bride posed with her sister (left), and her new sister-in-law; both were attendants.
A Fun Surprise
Lisa’s dad surprised guests with an arsenal of handheld bubble machines.
Another Surprise from Dad
“The crest was a true labor of love,” says the bride. “We spent a lot of time creating and drawing it. So to have my dad blow it up and featured in the lobby made Eric and me very proud and made the seal feel more official.”
Thematic Escort Cards
Adding to the sense of place: old library cards that guided diners to their tables.
“I like visible stems in arrangements; it looks more organic and less orderly,” Lisa says.
Eric and Lisa crowned an old bust on a bookshelf with Viking horns they picked up at a Halloween shop. “We specifically wanted a set to represent Eric's Norwegian side,” she says.
To make the table numbers, Eric cut digits from the pages of vintage books and pasted them to the covers.
Food for Thought
Eric designed the menu cards, from which guests selected an entrée of Wood Grilled Veal Chops or Provençal Crusted Black Cod.
Locations: The Central Park Conservatory Garden (ceremony); The New York Academy of Medicine (reception)
Event Planning and Calligraphy: Judy Paulen Designs
Catering: Sterling Affair
Photography: Shannen Natasha
Officiant: Peter J. Rubinstein of Central Synagogue
Stationery: Eric Adolfsen of Reunion Goods & Services (design); Meg Hunt (save-the-date illustration); Aldine (printing)
Music: Pat Mangan (ceremony); Kevin Osborne Band (reception)
Bride’s Gown: Oscar de la Renta
Groom’s Tux: Dior Homme
Hair: Mitchell Rodrigues at Wonderland Beauty Parlor
Makeup: Sarah Bellagamba of Kimara Ahnert Salon
Groom’s hair: Fred Vandebunt
Bride's Accessories: [veil] Yestadt Millinery; [shoes] René Caovilla; [earrings and engagement ring] House of Waris; [headband] Jennifer Behr
Lighting: Power Posse Productions (212-489-5225)
Mixologists: The Wooly
Videographer: Sean Price Williams