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Marisa LaScala and Jesse Hassenger Wedding



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Photography by Chris Ware

Marisa LaScala and Jesse Hassenger met through mutual friends at college and dated eight years to the day before getting engaged. The proposal certainly was worth the wait. “We went out to dinner on our anniversary,” Marisa, Westchester Magazine’s articles editor, says. “He said he’d brought dessert, and that we should take a walk in a park after dinner and have a picnic. When we got to a cozy spot, he gave me some cookies that had M&Ms—my favorite—baked into them. They had a custom message printed: ‘Marry Me (Pls?).’ The writing was small and hard to read, but I figured it out when he got down on one knee and had a ring in his hand.”

The couple chose to have their wedding at Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown; being writers, they liked the idea of getting married in a writer’s house. “We’ve been to a lot of weddings, and we were looking for something unusual—not a typical windowless ballroom or banquet hall,” Marisa says. “The location, grounds, and cottage are beautiful, right alongside the Hudson, and we liked that our site fee went to a not-for-profit organization, not a wedding factory. Plus, guides in period costumes gave tours of the house during the cocktail hour—you don’t have that at every wedding!”

The fun factor for guests was a top priority. Marisa and Jesse loaded up their iPod playlist with songs like “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News, “Dance Magic” from Labyrinth, and other songs that they knew their friends would dance to. In keeping with a summer picnic motif, the couple replaced everything that’s usually formal bridal white satin with red cotton gingham; centerpieces were picnic baskets filled with candy and cherry soda. Not wanting “stuffy wedding food,” they hired The Great American Barbecue Company as caterers (the pulled pork was a huge hit). Hors d’oeuvres were fun, comfort foods like macaroni-and-cheese bites and mini PB&Js.

Instead of buying a cake, they had a handful of friends bake a couple dozen cupcakes each. “It turned into a little bit of a bake-off,” Marisa recalls. “Our bakers really got competitive.” Guests had choices of red velvet, pumpkin spice, pineapple “inside-out” cake (since you can’t turn a cupcake upside-down), tres leches, gingerbread, and vanilla and chocolate. “After the wedding was over,” Marisa recalls, “one of my favorite things was checking Twitter to see people Tweeting about which ones they liked best.”

What was the most memorable part of the wedding? “All week, there was talk of Hurricane Earl, and our wedding was completely outdoors with no rain back-up plan. That made us a little—okay, very—nervous,” Marisa says. “But our wedding day was beautiful, and it barely rained that weekend. Phew!”

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