On the day Michael Geller proposed to his then-fiancé Rachel Donovan, the two were strolling through Peru.
Geller, who works in software and is part-owner of Peruvian brewery Cervecería del Valle, had roped Donovan into a trip to visit friends in Lima. During the excursion, the pair took a walk along the ocean through Le Parque del Amor (The Park of Love), at the center of which sits a statue called El Beso, or The Kiss.
“We were admiring the statue when Michael got on one knee and proposed with the most beautiful words and beautiful ring that Qasimah (the couple’s friend) traveled with in her backpack!” Donovan, a creative director who grew up in Cornwall-on-Hudson, recalls. After she said yes in front of a sizeable crowd, the couple and their friends went to celebrate at Central, the sixth best restaurant in the world, at which Geller had cleverly made a reservation in advance. As part of the dream day, the eatery’s chef’s table was waiting for them.
“We ate and drank 14 perfectly paired courses, took a tour of the kitchen, and got so lost in the moment that we missed our flight to Cusco!” she says.
The engagement was quite the whirlwind for the New York City couple, who first met on OKCupid and had a 96-percent match from the start. On their first date, they lingered at a restaurant in Soho for five hours until the spot shut down for the night. When they finally walked away, they both knew they had met “the one.”
“It was absolute love at first sight,” Donovan declares. A year and a half after that first unforgettable date, the two were engaged.
Although the left brain-right brain duo live in New York City, they chose to have a weekend destination wedding in the Hudson Valley to prioritize quality time with their guests. Of course, since many of their friends and family were coming from the city, the location needed to be within close proximity to the train station and have everything that everyone could need onsite. With these considerations in mind, the pair quickly homed in on Beacon and, more specifically, The Roundhouse as an ideal venue for their wedding.
“The Roundhouse was the first and only venue we considered and the only place we wanted,” Donovan explains. “The design and aesthetic matched our personal taste and style so perfectly, and nothing makes us happier than running water, so to be surrounded by the breathtaking view of Beacon Falls made this venue a no-brainer for us. Most importantly, it had already held so much sentimental value as it was the place where Michael asked my father’s permission to marry me.”
Originally, the pair wanted to tie the knot on May 11, the anniversary of their first date. At the time, however, the Beacon venue was completely booked through fall. The couple settled on March, the only available date, and got straight to work to plan their wedding, which would happen four months later.
In a fairytale experience, the wedding came together just in time. Even though a blizzard hit the Hudson Valley the day prior, the ceremony still went off without a hitch. On the morning of the big day, Donovan woke up and savored coffee with her mom and sisters, then got ready alongside her girlfriends and family. For her walk down the aisle, she donned a stunning MUSE by Berta dress that she stumbled across online and purchased on a visit to Berta’s Soho showroom, which fortuitously had a single copy of her dream dress in stock.
From a crack in The Roundhouse’s barn doors, Donovan watched as the wedding party waltzed down the aisle to “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.”
“I could see Michael waiting and all of our loved ones together and I felt so overwhelmed with love and gratitude — enough to last me a lifetime,” Donovan says. When the time came, she made her own stroll through the barn door with her father, a surprise entrance which left everyone breathless.
“The room literally gasped,” Geller recalls. “The tears started for me when my dad and sister walked down the aisle, and then I completely lost it when Rach came through those doors and then walked down the aisle with her dad.”
Next to the panoramic windows inside The Roundhouse, Donovan and Geller said “I do” under a custom-built teepee chuppah, an ode to their shared childhood daydreams and their longstanding love.
“Like a teepee, our love is durable, withstands all weather, can travel anywhere, and provides safety and protection,” Donovan explains. Once decorated with flowers and candles, it was also the perfect photo backdrop after the ceremony concluded.
At the reception, the newlyweds melted over heartfelt speeches and meaningful traditions, like making the blessing over bread with Donovan’s grandfathers and father. Of course, they also made sure to let loose, too. In their debut dance as a couple, they spent the first minute spinning together, then grabbed his mom and her dad for the second minute, and ended the song surrounded by all their family and friends. The dancing continued throughout the night, and Geller even busted out the worm at one point.
For soon-to-be brides in the Hudson Valley, the couple have one secret to success.
“Enjoy the process and have fun!” says Donovan, adding that the key is to divide and conquer with wedding tasks and to not get stressed out by outside opinions. “This is your love, your day, your story. Do what you want, and don’t try to please everyone else.”