The first step toward planning a fantasy wedding is to choose the perfect groom, or so advises bride Hayden Lasher. She met her beloved in 2005 during a freshman welcome dance at the University of Southern California where both she and David McGuiness were students. “I informed my sister later that night that I thought David and I would be friends forever,” she recalls. What began as a friendship slowly evolved into much more, and several years later on the anniversary of their first date, the pair exchanged vows during a lavish affair in Manhattan.

Planning the nuptials turned out to be a pleasurable experience for the bride. “I was surprised by how much fun it was,” she explains. “I had dreamed about my wedding for as long as I could remember, and it was wonderful to see it all come together.” A luxurious hotel where she stayed as a child was selected as the venue, located in the city where both she and the groom reside. “We have begun to build our lives in New York so we thought it would be the perfect way to kick off our marriage,” she said.

The ceremony was held in an elegant ballroom. A towering arch of blush and vanilla roses served as the grand entrance to the space, while three additional floral arcs stood as the backdrop for the service. The aisle was swathed in an ivory runner dappled with rose petals. Crystal chandeliers glistened overhead.

Hayden was a vision in a formal gown that showcased sheer sleeves of Chantilly lace and an organza skirt with flange detail. Her hair was gathered in an elegant bun and she carried a snow-white bouquet of peonies, lilies of the valley, and French garden roses with stems wrapped in her grandmother’s handkerchief. Hidden in her attire was a special “something blue”: a fraternity pin David gave to her during their senior year.

The groom, fully clad in white tie and tails, showcased a delicate boutonniere on his lapel. Bridesmaids wore floor-length gowns in rose pink, save the maid of honor who wore a strapless frock in cerise to designate her status. 

The ceremony was a particularly meaningful occasion for David. As per family tradition, his mother and father officiated the service. “It was important to me that my parents performed the ceremony because they had been married by my grandfather 30 years earlier,” explains the groom.

Soon it was time to celebrate, and the joyful reception that followed provided the perfect opportunity to do so. Place cards were displayed on a table draped in filigree fabric surrounding an enormous arrangement of blooming peonies, hydrangeas, orchids, and quicksand roses. The same assortment of flowers comprised the centerpieces that decorated dinner tables inside the reception hall. To add a personal touch, each table was named after a street that was significant in the lives of the bride and groom, such as the avenues on which they grew up and where they enjoyed their first date. Exquisite cherry blossom trees throughout the room provided additional embellishment.

The couple’s first dance as husband and wife turned out to be one of the most memorable moments of the night for the groom. “It felt as if we were the only people in the room,” he said. “Seven weeks of dance lessons were put to use as we set the tone for a reception I will never forget.”

A magnificent, multi-tiered wedding cake featured sugar flowers that echoed the reception décor as well as a Chantilly-lace pattern that matched the bride’s dress. Charms were hidden throughout the confectionery that members of the “house party” – honorees designated by the bride – were invited to remove, as per Southern tradition. The groom’s cake was designed in the shape of a Trojan helmet, which represented the couple’s alma mater. Guests departed with miniature jars of chocolate sauce manufactured by the bride’s family company, each of which featured an Old Irish blessing affixed to the lid.

Indeed, it was the bride and groom who felt most blessed during the night. “David pulled me aside in the middle of the reception and we took a moment to look out at all of our close friends and family,” says the bride. “It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people whom we love and who wish us well.” Consequently, the newlyweds say they wouldn’t change a thing about their wedding day. As for what advice David would give to future grooms regarding their own nuptials, his answer is simple: “Take dance lessons, especially if you need them as much as I did.” After all, even the perfect groom may need a little extra help on the dance floor.