The Wedding of…
Rachel Ames & Mike Lazar
Ceremony & Reception: Crystal Plaza
Gown: Martina Liana at Kleinfeld Bridal, NYC
Photographer & Cinematographer: Majestic Creative
Band: Hank Lane, Frank Simmons Band
Makeup: Lorena Ferreira
Hair: Kristen Okaly
Florist: Dalsimer Spitz & Peck Florist
Cake: Calandra’s Italian Bakery
After-Party DJ: SCE Entertainment,
DJ: Jason Cohen
Hotel: Westminster Hotel
“Everything Was Perfect”
We met at Camp Lakota, a sleepaway camp. We were camp friends for several years before my family moved to West Orange NJ in 2004. When I was going into high school, Mike was a familiar face around the halls. We quickly realized we had more than a friendship and went on our first date in 2007, to a movie.
Two years later, I was going into my senior year of high school, Mike was going off to college, and we broke up. Throughout our college years and first years out of school in NYC, we stayed in touch as we had similar groups of friends. Now we’re both in advertising.
We went back to Camp Lakota in 2016 for an alumni event. We realized our connection never dulled and started dating again. I left for work one morning in the fall of 2019 and Mike decorated the apartment with a timeline of our love story. When I arrived home, he took me through our love story and asked me to spend forever with him.
We toured many North Jersey wedding venues, but Mike’s family knew the Janoff’s at Crystal Plaza for many years and from our first meeting with Max Janoff and the staff at Crystal Plaza, we felt we were among family. The venue is beautiful and recent renovations to the bridal suite, ceremony room, and groom’s suite exceeded all our expectations.
Our families had been to previous events there and raved about the food. The grounds are also spectacular, which was very important to us as we did not want to go to another location for photos.
We started planning our wedding, but then Covid hit in March 2020. Max was extremely responsive when it came to rescheduling and working with him and the Crystal Plaza staff was the easiest part of planning. While all the weddings were being postponed, Crystal Plaza had amazing renovations.
We had our wedding in January 2022 and were able to use the amazing new ceremony space as well as the unreal bride and groom’s suites. Everything was perfect! Our final meeting with our day-of coordinator, Mikheil, eased all our nerves as everything was taken care of. We truly felt like royalty and were cared for the entire day.
We had a traditional Jewish ceremony performed by my uncle. The bridal party walked in to “Meant to Be,” a nod to my obsession with Florida Georgia Line and I walked down the aisle with my parents to U2’s “With or Without You.” After our vows, Mike stepped on the glass as in a traditional Jewish wedding and all our guests cheered and clapped as we walked back up the aisle.
We had seven cocktail hour stations, including a sushi bar, quesadillas and guacamole, cacio e pepe and penne vodka, and a carving station with short ribs and ribeye. We also had passed appetizers like truffle risotto cake, a cone of tuna tartare, a pesto shrimp sword, and lamb chops — a must at Crystal Plaza! We had signature cocktails too. Mike’s was the “Keto Guido” and mine was “The Meghan Markle.”
For the ballroom area behind the sweetheart table, Dalsimer Spitz & Peck recreated part of our chuppah and hung our neon sign from it. Our centerpieces were a mix of high and low arrangements of calla lilies and white hydrangeas. The room was elegantly uplit with amber lighting and we kept our speeches to a minimum while our guests ate dinner to maximize the dancing and the fun! The Frank Simmons Band from Hank Lane outdid themselves and kept the party going throughout the entire reception.
Dinner started with a delicious winter salad. Guests then chose chateaubriand, red snapper, balsamic chicken, or vegetable lasagna. There were also gluten-free options. For dessert, we served our three-tier wedding cake and what Crystal Plaza calls traveling desserts, with trays of favorites like milkshakes, cannoli, ice cream cones, and cookies, all passed on the dance floor.
Our after-party had late-night snacks passed around as well as additional food stations. Jello shots were served from syringes by bartenders dressed in lab coats. SCE Entertainment DJ, Jason Cohen, played a set of late night bangers. On their way home, our guests were greeted with a donut wall and to-go bags with freshly baked donuts.
Our wedding was the best day of our lives and could not have been possible without our amazing vendors, the staff at Crystal Plaza, our parents, friends, and family. We felt so lucky to be embraced by all the love in the room and after 828 days of wedding planning and rescheduling due to the pandemic, it was truly a dream come true. We are so appreciative of everyone who made this day possible and for all our loved ones for staying safe and celebrating with us. We will be forever grateful for the memories of our special day.
Livingston, NJ, 973.992.8100, crystalplazagroup.com