Just when you thought poetic romance was a thing of the past…
When Maximilian Clark crafted his profile on OkCupid back in 2012, he issued a challenge: Anyone who responded in iambic pentameter would receive automatic bonus points. Carla Lerner took him up on it and sent him a sonnet. They met at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City for their first date and have been together ever since.
Around the time Clark planned to propose, he and Lerner, who both work in film, were cowriting a TV spec pilot. Once it was complete, they scheduled a public read-through with Lerner slated to perform the main part.
“What she didn’t know was that 37 pages into it, Max had changed a monologue into a marriage proposal so, as she’s reading along, she suddenly finds herself talking to him about their relationship and, after some pretty beautiful paragraphs, asks him to marry her,” they explain. “He said yes.”
When the time came for them to plan their ceremony, both Clark and Lerner knew they wanted anything but a cookie-cutter wedding. After scouting Wedding Wire for the top 40 venues in their price range that were close to Manhattan and accessible to their friends, they began organizing visits and tastings. FEAST at Round Hill in Washingtonville was sixth on their list, and it stole their hearts from the start.
“[FEAST] had a tray of mushroom beggar’s purses ready when we arrived at their door and they were so mind-blowingly good that we cancelled the rest of our appointments,” they say. “We do most of our thinking with our stomachs and we’ve never been let down.”
Not only did they love the food at FEAST, but they also appreciated the fact that the venue gave them the entire day and allowed them the flexibility to weave in their own creative touches. Clark and Lerner wanted to skip the boring bits of the ceremony, such as the processional, and jazz it up with theatrics (in the case of the processional, the groomsmen rode in on hobby horses to the tune of Verdi’s Requiem).
On June 20, along the fairytale grounds at FEAST at Round Hill, Clark and Lerner exchanged “I dos.” A storybook occasion from start to finish, – the couple themed the wedding around folklore and mythology – it began with gilded getting-ready parties and wore into the wee hours of the evening with sword-wielding cake ceremonies. Although rain forced them to move indoors, the wedding went off without a hitch.
To walk down the aisle, Lerner looked like a veritable faerie queen in a dress that was tailor-made for her by an Etsy artisan based in Hong Kong. Lerner, meanwhile, donned custom 17th-century-esque formal wear that looked more than a little princely.
“We only get the one wedding and our advice to guests was to dress as epic as hell and we wanted to lead by example,” they say.
Along with a short, sweet reading in the form of a Pablo Neruda poem, the duo recited vows that were, in their words, “emotionally devasting.” Of course, they managed to loop in a theatrical interlude, too.
“We thought it would be fun to have someone object and have to settle it with a sword fight, so we did it,” they recall. “We just got into a mode where if we could find a way to make something work, we’d just do it.”
Keeping with the theme, they wove entertaining touches – hello, wedding piñata – into the reception as well. During the cake-cutting ceremony, they took a pass on the traditional knife and went all out with a giant sword instead. For the reception, they MC’d it themselves and closed out an evening of dancing with a group sing-along to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again.”
“[FEAST] brought up the lights a little and we all got in a massive hundred-person circle and we got everyone to sing along,” they say. “Having a hundred of our favorite people with arms wrapped over each other’s shoulders singing that song was a really magical moment capping a night of magical moments.”
At the end of it all, Clark and Lerner look back on their day with nothing but glowing memories. When they say that their wedding was 100-percent them, it’s true.
“The idea that a wedding has to look or be a certain way is nonsense,” they explain. “We added a lot of unusual stuff to our wedding and our vendors actually gave us discounts just because they wanted to be a part of it. In the end, we had a wedding that looked, sounded, and felt like everything we wanted and it wasn’t any more expensive than any other wedding (it was actually cheaper than most), and it was all because we figured out what we wanted and we just did it.”