Had George Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania not had spring break at the same time, Katelynn McGrath and Benjamin Lushing may have never met. Thankfully, their respective universities had the same schedule and they each chose to visit Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. “At some point during the week, I came across the most beautiful girl I had ever seen,” remembers Ben. 

His close friend, who went to middle school and high school with Katie, made an introduction. “Ben was super sweet from the start, and we had an instant connection. About a year later, after we both moved to New York City after graduation, we went on our first date – it was magnetic,” she shares. 

After six years together, a proposal had been on Ben’s mind for quite some time. Though he planned to surprise Katie with a private engagement followed by a party with their friends and family, Covid forced an alternative plan. “I did not want to delay the proposal any further, and thus I crafted something I knew she would like that was more intimate and personal,” Ben says. “Katie is such a family person, and I knew the most important thing for a proposal would be making sure her family could share in the occasion.” 

As Katie arrived to her childhood home to celebrate her mom’s birthday, she found the entire house decorated with roses and Ben on one knee with a stunning engagement ring featuring an Asscher-cut diamond that had been in his family for two generations. Katie and Ben started planning their wedding right away. “We always wanted to have a destination wedding, and because my family is in New York and Ben’s family is in Los Angeles, we thought Miami would be the perfect halfway point for everyone,” Katie explains of their desired locale. 

“We also spend every year in Miami for the Christmas holiday and have so many great memories there,” she adds of the sentimental site. Two weeks after their engagement, the betrothed took a trip to look at venues and soon hired Heather Lowenthal of Posh Parties to orchestrate their dream celebration. 

As all of their loved ones were traveling to Miami, a full wedding weekend was planned. In addition to their wedding at the Pérez Art Museum, the festivities included a beach day on Friday, followed by a lively welcome party at the Vizcaya Gardens

After a cocktail hour in the gardens, a South of France-themed dinner party was filled with fun speeches and dancing under the stars. “It ended up almost feeling like a second wedding due to the 100% out-of-towner rate and incredible energy the venue setting exhibited… It was an incredible way to start the weekend!” smiles the groom. 

“It felt very Miami but also coincided with the vibe of the museum.”

For the nuptials themselves, “I wanted the ceremony to feel romantic and elegant,” confirms the bride of the white-and-green color palette, which played off the beauty of the venue. The open-air ceremony featured an aisle lined with lush, garden-inspired foliage and ivory blossoms that led to a stunning chuppah with an asymmetrical design. 

String musicians performed renditions of the couple’s favorite songs, including "Beautiful Day" by U2 as the groom processed. At last, the bride walked down the aisle in a classic gown from Mark Ingram Atelier clutching a bouquet of lilies of the valley and stephanotis blossoms to meet her groom for the interfaith service. To honor their respective Jewish and Catholic religions, a rabbi and a priest coordinated the ceremony together. 

During cocktail hour, guests were invited to peruse the museum’s artwork while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and libations, including the pair’s signature cocktails: a spicy margarita and a lychee martini. When it came time for the sit-down dinner, friends and family were escorted outside to find their seats atop gilt chairs with crisp white cushions surrounding tables covered in vanilla-toned linens. 

Centerpieces showcased hydrangeas, orchids, roses, and peonies in creamy hues accented with lush greenery including ferns alongside calathea and monstera leaves, and place settings were adorned with bullion-toned flatware, china in a bold palm print, and a single calla lily. “It felt very Miami but also coincided with the vibe of the museum,” Katie affirms of the décor. 

Following memorable speeches from loved ones in the impressive space boasting impeccable views of Biscayne Bay, the newlyweds and their guests headed to the lower level of the venue for more dancing. “Our band was incredible, and dancing all night long with our friends and families was simply the best!” notes the bride. 

In addition to slices of a naked-style wedding cake decorated with fresh fruit, the couple arranged for a gelato cart to serve up a beloved treat they both adore. “We spend the summer in Southampton, New York, and after dinner, we enjoy going for gelato at Sant Ambroeus, our absolute favorite!” declares the bride of the special addition. After guests received a midnight espresso martini surprise, the festivities continued back at the Faena Theater where an after-party went into the late hours of the night. 

While both Katie and Ben agree they would not change a thing about their dream wedding weekend, they do encourage other couples to remember that not everything will go perfectly – and that’s okay. “No matter how much you plan or how much you stress over a few specific details, parts of the night will not go accordingly or will deviate from what you envisioned,” shares the bride. “It is important to just enjoy the moment. It really goes by in the blink of an eye!”

This real wedding was originally published in the Winter 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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