A Blend of Cultures
At a beautiful outdoor wedding in
By Andrea Barbalich
Photography by Mira Mamon
Above: Gabrina and Malik Pearson share a special moment after their wedding at the
Gabrina Schneider and Malik Pearson logged a lot of frequent-flyer miles in their search for a place to get married. They flew to
Above: They “jump the broom” to bless their marriage.
Feeling the pressure (they’d gotten engaged in November 2005, this was September of 2006, and they wanted to marry in the summer of 2007), Gabrina looked online for venues near their home in
Above: Their 125 guests enjoy music from a violin and cello during the outdoor ceremony.
The couple—she’s a 35-year-old counselor at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx, he’s a 34-year-old real estate attorney in Manhattan—booked the Hammond for June 16, then began the search for all their other vendors. 121 Restaurant at the
Above: The happy bride relaxes at the reception.
And with the dress, a red theme began to take shape. Gabrina’s Allure Bridals gown came with a cream sash. But she wanted a red accent instead, so she swapped the cream sash for a dark red one. She decided on red and purple for the flowers (red roses, dark purple orchids, and dark red calla lilies), and event coordinator Kris Beal suggested scattering red rose petals amid the white chairs and on the tables at the reception.
Above: Vows were exchanged on the island in the garden’s pond. Right: Gabrina beams in her ivory lace gown by Allure Bridals.
With the other major decisions made, the couple turned their attention to what mattered most to them: the ceremony. They wanted Gabrina’s stepbrother and Malik’s sister, Nicole Pearson, to perform it, but they were concerned about the legality of that. (The two could’ve become ordained ministers online, a popular option for couples who want to be married by close friends or relatives who are not judges or clergy members, but they still had concerns.) So they decided to wed a few days before their wedding day at City Hall in a small ceremony performed by a justice of the peace. And then, on their wedding day, Nicole and Doug would “marry” them at the
Above: Gabrina beams in her ivory lace gown by Allure Bridals.
They wrote the ceremony themselves, incorporating aspects of Malik’s heritage (he’s African-American) with Nicole’s (her father is Jewish). They decided to do the jumping of the broom, an African-American tradition, as well as the blessing of the wine and the stepping on the glass, both Jewish traditions. In addition, they included a Chinese tea ceremony that would involve their parents. They also wrote vows to each other, without sharing them in advance. (They turned out to be almost identical.)
Above: 121 at the
The ceremony, which took place on a tiny island in the garden’s pond, began at 6 pm. “I thought I was going to be so nervous, but I wasn’t,” Gabrina says. “I loved it and enjoyed myself so much.”
Above: White linens and red candles graced the dinner tables.
The cocktail hour, featuring mini crab cakes, porcini mushroom croquettes, and tuna tartare, was held outdoors in the garden area. Guests enjoyed dinner—a “seated salad” followed by a buffet—under a tent on the museum grounds. For favors, the couple gave their 125 guests chopsticks engraved with their names and the date—a perfect choice for a wedding at a Japanese garden.
Above: The parents of the bride and groom took part in a Chinese tea ceremony during the wedding.
“The evening just went by so fast,” Gabrina says. Afterward, at the Sheraton in
Above: Gabrina and Malik savor the moment.
“We couldn’t believe it was on the jukebox,” she says. “And I will never forget how they played it and lifted us up. It was very touching and very nice”—one of many touching moments during a very meaningful, very personal celebration.
Above: Seating cards in the wedding’s signature red color hang from branches. This page:
Gabrina & Malik’s Wedding Sources
, (914) 669-5033, hammondmuseum.org. Caterer: 121 at the