Theme parties have played a central role since the beginning of advertising between Ellie Monahan and Mark Dobrosky. The two first met at Yale when she was a freshman and he was sophomore. “I saw him at a cheesy prom party that fall, but I didn’t officially meet him until January 2010,” recalls Ellie, who is now a screenwriter. It was founded by her friends who were together at the time. “They shouldn’t be, but somehow we got together,” jokes Ellie. And finally, during this year’s vacation on July 4th, the circle came full circle when Ellie and Mark hosted an 80s party to kick off their wedding weekend at Cedar Lake Estates in Port Jervis, New York – a two-year celebration of the Year of manufacture.
Back in February 2019, Mark, who works at Imperial Capital in Los Angeles, took Ellie on a weekend trip to Ojai, about a two-hour drive from her home in LA. “He picked me up from work on Friday with wine and all these fancy, smelly cheeses from Eataly,” says Ellie. “He clearly knows the way to a girl’s heart!” They went hiking and saw live music at a winery before stopping for dinner at the Ojai Valley Inn. “Before making our reservation, we made a detour on the golf course to a hole called Pink Moment, named after the supposedly spectacular pink sunset that you can watch from his point of view. Unfortunately – and much to Mark’s annoyance – it was a fairly cloudy evening, so there wasn’t much of a pink moment. Cold and slightly annoyed, I went up to the restaurant when Mark called me, and I turned to find him on one knee, holding the ring box upside down. It was perfect.”
The couple’s wedding was originally scheduled for July 4, 2020 at the Cedar Lakes Estate, but Ellie saw the writing on the wall and made the decision to postpone it due to the pandemic in early to mid-April last year when everyone was wiping their shopping and cross the street to avoid interactions with others. “There was no way we could host an event with 200 people, where most of the guests were accommodated in cabins with bunk beds,” admits Ellie. “Even though there was so much uncertainty, we knew we still wanted a big celebration with all of our family and friends and decided that it would be best to wait. If you’ve been together for 10 years, what else is one? “
Fortunately, Cedar Lakes Estate had an opening on July 4, 2021 so they pulled the trigger and closed that date ahead of schedule. The venue referred the bride to Amanda Savory of Amanda Savory Events, who previously planned and performed over 30 weddings in Cedar Lakes. Hiring them was a breeze for the couple, especially since Ellie was on the set in Toronto from February to May producing two episodes of the Amazon Prime Video series The Boys. “She knew the venue really well and was honest about what worked and what didn’t,” says Ellie. “She and her incredibly talented team really listened to my crazy ideas and found a way to make them all happen.”
Ellie’s mom, former host of the Today show Katie Couric who now runs multimedia news and production company Katie Couric Media, also knows a thing or two about throwing a good party. The weekend started with a field day and an 80s themed BBQ, both of which served as fun icebreakers. “My mother had so many great ideas, like having the cool 80s cover band Rubix Kube play at our welcome BBQ, buying pop rocks on the tables and a donut truck. She knew how to put them all together like a true news producer, ”says Ellie. “Our good friend Cherie Neve is the lead singer on Rubix Kube, and they absolutely killed it, sang and danced for hours.”
Ellie was appropriately dressed as Madonna – with lace, pearls, and fingerless gloves – and Mark was David Byrne. “My mother was Cyndi Lauper and my stepfather was George Michael,” Ellie adds. “There were also a number of Richard Simmonses, Andre Agassis and Princess Dianas. Everyone looked so goofy and amazing, and we were impressed with the commitment! It was the perfect start to the wedding weekend. “
On Saturday the weather forecast was bad after two days of rain. Fortunately it was 75 degrees and sunny with zero humidity. In the four months leading up to the wedding, Ellie had visited eight bridal salons in search of the dress with her mother and sister in tow. “I’ve tried on so many beautiful clothes – I couldn’t decide what to wear,” she says. “But when I put on the Josephine dress at Monique Lhuillier’s, it just felt right. I loved the lace on the bodice, the silk-screened bouquets of flowers on the organza skirt, and of course the insane train. ”The dress originally had a sweetheart neckline with off-the-shoulder straps, but Ellie worked with Monique Lhuillier’s team to come up with a tailored bodice, both straight and without To create carriers.
The jewelry was simple, with diamonds Ellie had given from her mother, who had once belonged to the bride’s late aunt, Emily. “That was very special,” says Ellie. “[Additionally,] I was wearing a pearl bracelet that my late father had given my mother. My mother also tucked a little blue brooch that belonged to my great-grandmother under my skirt for something blue and something old. We’re a very sentimental family: Mark wore his grandfather’s Army pin on his lapel. ”Ellie also hired her mother’s long-time hair and make-up team for the beauty. “Dana Fiore and Josie Torres have known me since I was a child,” she says. “We did a test in January 2020, but really just for fun as we are old friends and they have done my hair and make-up countless times.”
After the couple’s first look and family photos, Mark set off for the mountaintop with his brother and best man Dave while Ellie grabbed a trolley. “I wasn’t nervous all day, but when we got on the trolley it finally hit me and I felt like my heart was falling out of my chest. My nerves were made worse by the fact that on the night of the 80s I left most of my voice on the dance floor and was afraid that if I took my vows I wouldn’t be able to project my voice, ”Ellie adds. In preparation for the big moment, she spent the whole day pouring hot water with honey on it.
When the newlyweds reached the mountain top, Ellie was hidden from the view of the guests and the procession began. Ellie’s mother Katie and stepfather John followed Mark’s parents Dennis and Loretta down the aisle. Then the ring bearer, Mark’s six-year-old nephew August, followed by her flower girl, Mark’s three-year-old niece Merritt, and finally her sister and maid of honor, Carrie.
“When [the family band consisting of] Jay Ungar, Molly Mason and their daughter Ruth and son-in-law Mike started playing the song ‘Ashokan Farewell’, I just got lost in the wings, “says Ellie. “It is such a beautiful, moving and haunting song that has so much meaning to our family [as it was played at my father’s funeral]. It was just so overwhelming to hear it live. As they began their final crescendo, I went out and down the hall. It was important to me that I go alone – I lost my father when I was six – but going downhill in heels and a dress isn’t easy, so I understand how convenient it is to go with someone ! “
“I was stunned when I saw the beautiful surroundings, the bright flower creations by Ingrid Carozzi and Ashley Peraino at Tin Can Studios, all my friends looked at me and of course Mark who was waiting at the end of the hall,” she continues. “I cried when I went downstairs, but luckily our photographer Brian Dorsey smiled a few times between sobs. It was a totally surreal moment and I just tried to drink it all up without falling on my face. “
When Ellie reached the end, she kissed her mother and the ceremony, presided over by family friend Dan Matthews, Rector Emeritus of Trinity Church Wall Street, began. “I could feel married couples in the audience remembering their own wedding anniversaries, and it felt like we were all part of this longstanding tradition,” says Ellie. “My sister sang Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird with Jay Ungar and Molly Mason’s band who were accompanied with such power and grace. I laughed and cried. “During his vows, Mark referred to the long history of successful relationships in both his and Ellie’s families.” I read my vows and somehow I could croak them! “Elli says. Then they exchanged rings and became Husband and wife explained, “We kissed and deepened over the speakers to Bruce Springsteen’s Prove It All Night.”
After the ceremony, the newlyweds went back to their cabin, where a sample of signature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres awaited them. There, stylist Beth Chapman rushed the bride’s procession – “That wasn’t a small thing!” Ellie jokes – before the couple went to the barn. “When I entered, I was speechless. There were so many beautiful flowers, long tapered candles and brass chandeliers, lots of greenery and twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling. There were also two show-stop arrangements at the bar, and flowers from the ceremonial aisle were repurposed in front of the stage, ”says Ellie. “Everything looked out of this world.”
The band – Big Swing and the Ballroom Blasters, who had traveled from Atlanta, Georgia for the occasion – began playing Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” and Ellie and Mark headed out the dance floor for their first dance. “Mark is a real Jersey boy, and the band killed it with Motown hits, played Jackson 5, The Supremes, The Temptations, Jackie Wilson … anything you can think of!” For the reception, Ellie pulled a white sequin -Mini dress by Markarian and finally a silver Versace dress she found on sale for the after-party at Net-a-Porter. “I’m just trying to channel Dua Lipa as I can!” she teases.
After dinner and the speeches, everyone gathered outside to watch the fireworks. “Of course, Mark was in the bathroom and our photographer Celeste was running around like a chicken with her head cut off looking for him,” recalls Ellie. “But luckily he made it outside with a lot of time.”
And now that it is all over, the bride can handle that all-too-frequent post-wedding comedown. “It was better than I could ever have imagined,” she says. “I’m proud of all the hard work our salespeople, families and friends put into the weekend. From the speeches and toasts to the atmosphere on field day to the costumes on the night of the 80s, everyone brought it with them and was there to celebrate. But I’d be lying if I didn’t mention how gutted and sad I am that it’s all over. “
“After planning an event for over two years, it’s hard not to feel a big slump when it happens,” continues Ellie. “If only we could have stopped time – but I think this is how every bride should feel after the wedding. And since we can’t do it all over again – well, not that fast – we just have to relive the whole thing through photos. I will also have to put myself on a waiting list for a puppy. I need something to live for! “