Although 29-year-old Olga Pantelyat, a financial consultant at American Express, and 31-year-old Gil Bar-Nahum, an investment banker at UBS, are both practical people, the Manhattan couple shares a romantic sensibility and a taste for the finer things in life, including exotic travel and fine cuisine. So when it came time to plan their wedding, both struggled to reconcile their “caviar dreams” with daunting logistics.
“We had initially thought we’d have a destination wedding in the Caribbean,” Olga explains. “We found that idea of a hippie, toes-in-the-sand wedding very appealing. But since we had ninety guests and relatives coming from Chicago, Israel, the Ukraine, Princeton, and Philadelphia, we decided that a wedding in the New York area would be far easier for everyone concerned.” Keeping the wedding local also made it easier for Olga to plan her big day.
“This became a big creative project for me,” she says. And she threw herself into the planning. Olga set the date for May 6 and used the season to inspire many of the choices that followed. “Gil and I are both Geminis and we love spring,” she says. “We wanted the wedding to be a celebration of nature, rebirth, and new beginnings.”
(Above) Her search for the perfect location for an outdoor wedding led her to The Castle on the Hudson at Tarrytown. “We love the Catskills and this felt a little like upstate New York, but it was close enough to Manhattan for our out-of-town guests to spend the night in the city.” Aside from the breathtaking view of the Hudson and the gardens, Olga was intrigued by the castle itself.
“Gil and I have a sense of humor and we decided to play with the theme of a royal wedding,” Olga says. She had custom-made letterpressed invitations designed to look like parchment scrolls that beckoned guests to “Dine, Drink, and Dance with Lord Gil and Lady Olga.” The invitations were wrapped with two-tone satin ribbons, closed with Gil and Olga’s wax seal monogram, nestled in freeze-dried hydrangea and lavender flowers, and delivered in boxes lined with purple paper. In order not to clutter her presentation with response cards, printed directions, or other correspondence, Olga built a website on www.weddingwindows.com that provided all the pertinent details.
On the day of their wedding, nature smiled on the couple. “We’d taken a risk in planning for an outdoor ceremony,” Olga recalls. “We had a backup plan to use the Castle’s Great Hall, but we were really hoping for a sunset as a backdrop to our wedding.”
They were not disappointed. (Above) Olga wore a gown designed and sewn by her mother and grandmother, and the couple wed under a floral chuppa of Olga’s favorite colors: apple green, lilac, and deep purple. Later, at the reception, guests picked up custom-made place cards of the same design as the invitations. These were tied to old skeleton keys that Olga purchased on Ebay. Everyone was given a royal title for the evening and seated at tables named for different castles of the world. Olga’s Russian family sat at the “Kremlin,” while Gil’s family, originally from Israel, sat at “Masada.” Other guests enjoyed their stay at Versailles and Windsor. (Younger guests were seated, appropriately enough, at “White Castle.”)
During dinner, a vodka-martini bar offered five flavored vodkas, mixers, and an ice sculpture to hold the bottles at a perfectly chilly temperature. Olga’s grandmother made a toast in Russian, a jazz band played, a friend sang an operatic aria, and everyone danced. (Below)
At the end of the evening, guests went home with a special treat: homemade, individually wrapped portions of rugalach baked by Gil’s mother. (“She’s so famous for it that Gil’s friends beg her to make it,” Olga attests.) Olga says she had such a wonderful time that she’d like to do it all over again—maybe. “It was a lot of work,” she admits, “but it was also a lot of fun!”
(Above) Olga’s cousin, an accomplished violinist, plays Vivaldi selections while guests are seated. For the bride’s walk down the aisle, he played Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusic.”
(Above) The flower girl, Arbel, age 4.
(Above) A rabbinical blessing under the chuppa. At their ceremony, Gil and Olga circled each other seven times to signify that they are the center of each other’s world. Olga’s mother and sister, to the right of the chuppa, wear dresses of their own design incorporating the bride’s favorite color, apple green. â€¢ The setting sun adds a magical touch to the outdoor wedding at Tarrytown’s Castle on the Hudson.
(Above) Centerpieces by Diana Gould of Elmsford featured green hydrangeas, roses, and Olga’s favorite flower, purple anemones. The scale of the arrangements echoes the height of the room’s soaring ceiling. â€¢ Gil and his new bride lead the way to the celebration. Olga designed her own dress with the help of her talented mother and grandmother. â€¢ The couple take their first dance as husband and wife.
Olga and Gil’s Wedding Resources:
Invitations: Ceci New York, (212) 989-0695, www.cecinewyork.com. Location and Catering: The Castle on the Hudson, Tarrytown, (914) 524-6366, www.castleonthehudson.com. Florist: Diana Gould Ltd, Elmsford, (914) 347-7134, www.dianagouldltd.com. Photography: Andre Maier Photography, (212) 388-2272, www.andremaier.com