Amy Ackerman was living in Manhattan while doing business in Atlanta when she met future husband Dr. Michael Randell. “There aren’t any Jewish guys in New York, so I had to fall in love with one in Atlanta,” Amy said, jokingly.
Michael, originally from Miami, popped the question on a sunny afternoon in September 2019 while the couple was walking along Fort Lauderdale Beach. They then set out to arrange a large wedding for 300 guests before COVID-19 upset their plans.
Amy, owner of JDV Occasions event planning in Brookhaven, continued, “We pivoted to a micro-wedding, but that didn’t stop me from desiring the big details I’ve always dreamed of. COVID interfered with a lot of things, but I wasn’t going to let it disrupt my wedding vision.”
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Michael, an OB-GYN in Sandy Springs, was concerned about the “what ifs” with COVID and examined data daily from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine a safe number of guests. The couple settled on 30 guests in a space for 400 at Summerour Studio Aug. 15.
They hired Jim White to design a romantic wedding with inviting warmth and exquisite sophistication. “The décor needed to soften the space and make it feel intimate while keeping things spread out because of COVID,” Amy said. White added sheer floor-to-ceiling drapery and mirrored pedestals between the tables, which contained bouquets of flowers along with votives and multi-level candles.
The drapery served to create private dining areas for the guests to feel comfortable. Dramatic floral chandeliers were suspended over the dining tables. The couple sat at a glass sweetheart table containing a border of flowers and candles. “Even though we were at a table for two, the design made us connected with our guests. It was so uniquely special while also adding safety,” Michael said.
Guests staying at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta hotel were greeted with large wooden trays with monogrammed hand sanitizer, custom masks and delicious treats. Guests’ names were printed on cards with an individual welcome message and a weekend schedule.
For the rehearsal dinner, Michael produced a montage of the couple’s courtship, edited into a music video and containing a personalized congratulatory message from Grammy Award winning artist Ne-Yo. Michael had delivered the singer’s first two children.
Before the wedding ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails along with an elaborate sushi station, passed hors d’oeuvres in individual boxes printed with the couple’s logo, and an acoustic guitarist.
Espeute Productions operated a Zoom station. “Our virtual guests told us they felt like they were there in person,” Amy said. Viewers were able to watch the couple’s choreographed dance and other special moments.
Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple officiated the ceremony, personalizing his messages to the couple and recognizing family and friends who were unable to travel to Atlanta because of the pandemic.
The chuppah featured flowers that tied into the rest of the wedding, including Amy’s bouquet containing garden roses, peonies, ranunculus and eucalyptus.
Added Touch Catering crafted a unique seven-course menu featuring burrata salad with peaches, English pea ravioli and Chilean sea bass. “Having traveled a lot and eaten at unique restaurants around the world, we wanted this to be a one-of-a-kind dining experience to share with our guests,” Amy said.
To remain COVID safe, individual wedding cakes were created for each guest echoing the style and elegance of the featured cake. Each was meticulously decorated with fresh floral and set atop a crystal pedestal. “Michael and I love cake and we were excited about this surprise addition for our guests. This was one of my favorite touches of the night,” Amy said.
The couple offered their advice for others planning a wedding during a pandemic:
1. While taking appropriate precautions, don’t let COVID distract from the joy of the day. You are marrying the love of your life, and that is what truly matters.
2. Hire a professional team of vendors that you trust and who understand who you are. They are instrumental in bringing your wedding day dreams to life in a safe manner.
3. Your wedding day should feel like you. You should walk into the room and say, “This is so me.”
4. Small touches everywhere make a big difference in not only the look of your wedding, but the overall guest experience.
5. A wedding is a very special time in every couple’s life and goes by quickly. Enjoy your time being engaged and planning your wedding.