The Founder of LoveShackFancy Didn't Let the Pandemic Ruin Her Vow Renewal—See the Dreamy Celebration
Rebecca Hessel Cohen's ten-year anniversary party, hosted at the very same spot where she and her husband Todd first tied the knot, is proof that you don't need to sacrifice style for safety when planning a celebration during the coronavirus pandemic.
When the coronavirus pandemic swept across the nation this spring, so many important events—particularly weddings—were postponed or canceled entirely. Rebecca Hessel Cohen, founder of LoveShackFancy, wasn't going to let that happen to the celebration she and her husband Todd had been dreaming of to mark their ten-year wedding anniversary. The couple, who usually spends their anniversary in the French countryside following a busy market season for Cohen, had rented a beautiful home in Provence and invited 50 guests to join them for the occasion. But as the COVID-19 crisis grew worse, the couple knew traveling would be impossible. Instead, they set their sights on an equally meaningful destination that was much closer to home: Cohen's mother's home in Water Mill, New York, where they were first married. "We talked about hosting a huge party at my Mom's and celebrating my best friends' wedding in close proximity," Cohen explains. "Of course, all those plans shifted so dramatically but I fell in love with the idea of doing something super small and intimate at my Mom's as we hadn't been here on our anniversary since the day we were married, 10 years ago. "
But this celebration would look decidedly different than the one the couple planned a decade earlier. Instead of the 190 guests who attended their wedding, the duo would celebrate with just 12 of their nearest and dearest, including their two daughters, Scarlett and Stella. Still, some things felt familiar. In terms of décor, Cohen went with a "pared-down version" of their original wedding design. "We let the beautiful wild, bohemian backdrop of the gardens guide us," she says. "I worked with Missi Flowers on the flowers, keeping it harmonious with the garden in greens and whites. We added an exquisite 18th century pergola to the rose garden and wove these beautiful ivy roses throughout. Falling ivy also intertwined with antique iron chandeliers that looked like they had been there forever, an homage to the house in Great Expectations. I found the old vintage peacock fans from our wedding day and scattered those on the tables. We placed pots of lavender on the farm tables. It was laid back, more understated than my wedding, very seasonal and natural."
There were also some familiar faces in the crowd. In addition to their parents, John Dolan, the couple's original wedding photographer, was back on hand to capture every moment of the day, as was Dean Isidro, a photographer and Cohen's best friend, who officiated the vow renewal in addition to snapping photos. And there was one very important similarity between the two events: Cohen donned the very same Monique Lhuillier wedding dress she wore ten years early for her walk back down the aisle. But LoveShackFancy wasn't left out of the fun, either. Cohen changed into two different gowns from her brand's new bridal collection throughout the evening.
Though the coronavirus pandemic changed their plans, Cohen says she wouldn't have had it any other way in the end. "It was the most magical, scaling it down to the most special people in our world," she explains. "Now more than ever being close to the ones you love is so important and made the day and night more poignant for us. You get to experience it in a more emotional way, really talking to people and sharing it with them, rather than catching snatched moments with 200 people." Ahead, a look at the incredible day, as well as Cohen's top tips for couples trying to navigate the process of planning an intimate wedding or vow renewal in light of the pandemic.
Back in the Gown
"I wore my original dress by Monique Lhullier," explains Cohen. "It was a touch on the small side, so one of our girls from the studio hand-sewed in a beautiful piece of lace. It was a wonderful experience for my girls to help me into my dress this time."
A Family Affair
The couple's two daughters, dressed in LoveShackFancy, played an important role in the celebration. Their older daughter, Scarlett, was especially involved in the ceremony. "Scarlett said, 'Daddy will you make Mommy your lawfully wedded wife,'" Cohen explains. "She was so involved with the vows it was just perfect."
One Inspiring Mom
Cohen's mother wore her original wedding dress—"a beautiful Victorian lace dress," Cohen explains—for the vow renewal. Her big-day look is actually what helped influence the LoveShackFancy aesthetic, especially as they launched their first bridal collection this year. Cohen says her mom's gown exemplifies "the timeless, romantic aesthetic I have loved forever and has always been part of our DNA and vision."
A Meaningful Entrance
Cohen's mother and father escorted her down the aisle for her vow renewal, just as they had done on her wedding day a decade earlier.
Throughout the day, the couple emphasized the importance of ensuring their parents—and all of their guests, for that matter—felt safe and comfortable, something that's so crucial when planning events during the pandemic.
In order to practice safe social distancing, the couple set up several different reception vignettes, which meant that families who had been quarantining together would be able to dine as their own group—close enough to still feel connected to the party, but far enough apart to feel comfortable forgoing masks during dinner.
And multiple setups meant that Cohen had more opportunities to flex her creative muscles. This setup, on the deck, included textured linens, comfortable seating, and plenty of loose, neutral flower arrangements.
A Second Setting
The couple also set up a dining area in the aptly named dining shed, an adorable coastal-inspired structure in the lawn. Pots of lavender surrounded the entrance; inside, a long table awaited some guests for dinner.
The third and final seating area was set in the garden. There, six guests were able to dine beneath an antique iron chandelier wrapped with ivy.
The couple worked with Bernard Maisner to create their vintage-inspired, hand-calligraphed dinner menus. To make things easy on themselves, the couple brought in all of their local favorites for dinner. Guests enjoyed paella from a local seafood shop and fried chicken from nearby Loaves and Fishes.
As an extra-special touch, prints of the couple's original wedding photos were scattered throughout the space, including on dinner tables.
A Moment Alone, and a Second Look
The couple soaked up all of the emotions of the day with a little alone time in the dining shed. Lush floral arrangements and candlelight added to the intimate vibe.
Cohen also took this time as an opportunity to change into her second look of the night—LoveShackFancy's "Viviana" dress from their new bridal collection. "I changed into my favorite dress from the bridal collection with an exaggerated train, which is just the most elegant," she says. "[The dress also] has the most divine shirred sheer puff sleeves." Later, Cohen changed into the collection's "Norma" dress.
All About Bridal
"I'm literally obsessed with weddings and parties. If it was up to me, I would just design for them forever," says Cohen when asked what her favorite part about creating a bridal collection is. "I love the romance, femininity and dreaminess of lace and white dresses. I love thinking about all types of brides and what their version of romance and timeless keepsakes would be. Something that would be treasured for generations to come. I also love to source vintage Victorian and Edwardian dresses that were bridal or garden dresses. Those have become our heritage collection and now seeped into our bridal collection."
A Complete Collection
"It was so sweet to see Stella in our LoveShackFancy little flower girl dress," Cohen says of her youngest daughter's attire.
Save Room for Dessert
One of Cohen's favorite parts of the day was when it came time for dessert. The couple served a two-tiered cake topped with fresh flowers and sparklers.
Be Sure to Celebrate
Cohen didn't let the pandemic stop her from celebrating this momentous occasion, and she doesn't want you to, either. "Don't postpone! Nothing should be postponed, especially love," she says. "Love is not cancelled and you can find a meaningful—often more powerful—way to celebrate intimately with just family and a handful of friends, who are like family. The best parties are about the guests, they bring the energy and magic and then focus on a few small details to create memories that will last forever."
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