Many couples were forced to rethink—and replan—their weddings in 2020, but for Toby Milstein and Judah Schulman, their fall celebration wasn’t a pandemic-enforced Plan B. “We actually had no plans to get married in 2020,” Toby says. “But after 12 years of knowing each other and an especially formative period of quarantine together, we felt we needed to get married and start our lives.”
Covid-19 also helped reevaluate priorities. The couple (Toby is a currently getting her MBA at Columbia Business School; Judah is a senior vice president at financial services company CAIS) had once dreamt of a wedding in Italy but now felt it more important to appreciate loved ones and not take them for granted. “Putting our lives on hold indefinitely for one party wasn’t how we wanted to begin this new chapter,” Toby says. But they still managed to recreate a little Italian magic stateside at Glenmere Mansion, a Tuscan villa-like hotel in Chester, New York. See below for all the details of Toby and Judah’s October 2020 wedding (planned by Maria Seremetis) in the Hudson Valley.
The couple’s love story goes back more than a decade: Toby and Judah first met as high school students at the 2008 JCC Maccabi Games, an annual Jewish Olympics-style sporting competition. After years of dating on and off, the couple got back together for good in the summer of 2017. Judah proposed in May 2020, though the pandemic made it quite a difficult thing to pull off (he had to scrap four proposal plans before finally succeeding on the fifth try). After a walk to the end of Scott Cameron Beach in Bridgehampton, Toby was surprised with a huge heart in the sand made of rose petals, with black pebbles spelling out, “Marry Me?”
The couple’s dream Italy wedding was realized by way of Glenmere Mansion in the Hudson Valley. The 150-acre estate was originally built in 1911 for a prominent industrialist who wanted an Italianate mansion modeled after the villas of Tuscany. Today the property is an 18-room Relais & Chateaux hotel. “It was the most beautiful, charming European setting in New York,” Toby says. And best of all, just an hour away from Manhattan.
“Growing up, I had always dreamed of wearing my mother’s wedding dress at my own wedding, but it had been misplaced for years,” Toby says. She had given up all hope of finding the heirloom and started working with Mark Ingram Atelier on a custom Mira Zwillinger gown. Then, a bridal miracle: her mother’s dress was finally found tucked away in a closet in the attic. The 40-year-old dress, which had also been worn by the bride’s aunts, was “in need of pretty serious restoration,” so Toby and her mother Cheryl enlisted Jonathan Scheer, of J. Scheer & Co, to bring it back to its former glory. “Given the broader circumstances in which we were being married, wearing “something borrowed” that stood as a symbol of intergenerational connection and resilience was particularly meaningful,” Toby says. For her reception, she changed into the Mira Zwillinger gown.
A diamond tennis necklace Toby’s parents had bought when she was young (but which they were saving for her wedding day) became the bride’s “something new,” while her new wedding band, made of diamonds and sapphires, became her “something blue.”
Judah wore a midnight blue Tom Ford tuxedo with a shawl collar. His cufflinks were his “something borrowed,” courtesy of his father-in-law Philip, who also gave his new son-in-law a Patek Philippe watch as a wedding gift.
The groomsmen received monogrammed catchall trays and dopp kits from Mark & Graham, while the bridesmaids were gifted monogrammed silk pajamas from Le Rose. The night before, Toby’s bridal party threw a mini bachelorette at the hotel that included a virtual wine tasting, a dance party in the pub, and a meditation in the bridal suite.
“We planned for our rich ancestral and Jewish customs to be the centerpiece of our wedding,” Toby says. They included a Ketubah (the signing of the marriage contract), which is written in Aramaic and is a wedding tradition that goes back more than 2,000 years. The wedding party also partook in a Covid-friendly, intimate Badeken, in which the groom places the veil over his bride. During the ceremony, their families read the Seven Blessings.
Forty-seven guests served as witnesses as the bride and groom exchange their I Do‘s under a floral chuppah designed by flower flash maestro Lewis Miller. “Judah’s vows may have been my favorite part of the day,” Toby says. “He absolutely floored me.”
With Covid-19 safety in mind, cocktail hour hors d’oeuvres—fish tacos with mini Patrón, fried chicken with mini Rum and Coke bottles, vegetable dumplings and custom fortune cookies—were served in individual, self-serve jewel boxes. Dinner, catered by Peter Callahan, began with a show-stopping amuse bouche of eggplant over white bean purée served under mini glass domes filled with smoke. More season-appropriate dishes filled out the rest of the menu: butternut squash soup, mushroom risotto, branzini, and beef short ribs. Even the specialty cocktails followed an autumnal theme: a fall Paloma and a Bourbon Smash with blueberries, lemon, and a cinnamon stick.
The newlyweds’ three-tiered wedding cake was a cookies and cream-flavored traditional yellow cake covered in buttercream frosting.
The First Dance
Toby and Judah did their first dance to “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. “We learned our dance in an hour on the Sunday before the wedding but somehow seemed to do pretty well on the big day,” Toby says. Later on in the night, the fountain in the middle of the reception hall turned into a perfect, socially-distanced dance floor. “We all just got up there and had the time of our lives.”
After the wedding, the couple went off to Twin Farms in Vermont for a mini-moon. Then in December, they went to Aspen for a month-long honeymoon-slash-staycation. As for a second post-Covid wedding? “We are not writing off any celebrations or parties,” Toby says. “We’d love nothing more than to celebrate with our friends at some point but we’ll have to see!”
Leena Kim is an associate editor at Town & Country, where she writes about travel, weddings, arts, and culture.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io