Wedding On The
For two on-air television reporters, the wedding planning started with a secret signal—and ended in an elegant riverfront event at Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown.
By Andrea Barbalich
Photography by Fred Marcus
Diana Perez and Ducis Rodgers may work in the very public profession of television broadcasting—she’s a morning reporter and anchor at News 12 The Bronx; he’s the sports director at WCBS in Manhattan—but sometimes their communication is very private.
When the couple, who became engaged in Paris in December 2005 after a five-month courtship, began looking for a place to get married, they established a code. If she liked the reception venue, she would squeeze his hand. In visits to more than 20 locations, though, not much squeezing took place.
He was thrilled when they checked out Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. “That was the one for him,” Diana, 27, says. “I wanted it to be the one for me too, but I had to admit that, no, I didn’t like the industrial look.” Ducis, 34, favors modern design, while Diana is more traditional. They kept looking—and looking.
But when they visited Tappan Hill Mansion in Tarrytown, Diana squeezed Ducis’s hand so hard she almost broke it. “As soon as we walked in, we knew,” she says. “It was sleek enough for him but antique enough for me.”
At that point, in the fall of 2006, the planning for their July 28, 2007, event kicked off in earnest. Diana hadn’t grown up dreaming of her wedding and had no pre-ordained ideas, nor did Ducis, so they were starting from scratch. All they knew was that they wanted a daytime wedding and an outdoor ceremony. A landmark estate once owned by Mark Twain, Tappan Hill had a beautiful outdoor space overlooking the Hudson River that could accommodate their desire, along with an “exquisite”—as Diana described it—indoor space for dinner and dancing.
Decisions on the photographer, videographer, menu, and Diana’s gown, made with the help of their wedding planner, Debra Thompson of New Rochelle, were relatively easy. The bridesmaids’ dresses proved to be trickier; Diana couldn’t find anything she liked. “I wanted everyone to be happy,” she says. She wound up selecting an orange and green gown that led to the choice of bright colors for the flowers. “We went with shades of mango, papaya, fuchsia, and green,” Diana says. “They were beautiful and completely lit up the area.”
She selected her mother as matron of honor, plus four bridesmaids; Ducis chose his brother as best man, plus four groomsmen. But then their wedding party started to expand. The couple had decided on a no-kids event but felt they couldn’t exclude the nieces, nephews, and cousins they were very close to. Suddenly they had two junior bridesmaids, two ring bearers, and a flower girl, in addition to the 10 people already chosen.
On July 28, 150 guests attended their wedding, and as Diana says, “There was not one thing wrong with the day—not one glitch whatsoever.” (They had one near-miss: Her father thought he was late and ran, frantic, into Tappan Hill and started dressing in the room with the bridal party. But even that turned out to be a false alarm—he had plenty of time.)
There were plenty of special moments: Diana loved getting ready with her mom, her niece, and her cousin. She was touched and honored when her mother presented her with a diamond pendant she’d been given when she was Diana’s age (Diana wore it that day). And she treasured the anticipation as she prepared to walk into the ceremony, knowing Ducis was waiting for her.
Their on-air background came in handy when it was time to recite their vows. They each wrote their own, which the other didn’t read or hear before the ceremony. “Our profession enabled us to feel comfortable enough to do them ourselves,” she says. Nevertheless, she was a bit nervous: “On TV, it’s a machine watching you. But at our wedding, it was all the people we cared about.” They both did well.
Their first dance went equally well. They’d taken dance lessons beforehand, and Ducis dipped her expertly at the end. “That was a highlight,” she says. The DJ playing a mix of seventies, eighties, and nineties music at the reception kept people dancing. And afterward, the couple and their guests moved the party to the Sheraton Tarrytown, where out-of-town guests were staying. There, Diana presented Ducis with a groom’s cake she’d had made for him in the shape of a poker table (in honor of a pastime he enjoys). “I loved seeing the look on his face,” she says, “because he didn’t know I was doing that.”