Central Park Grooms
We met on JDate in 2010 shortly after we both graduated from college. Rex had recently moved to New York to begin graduate school, and Matt had just returned to Boston after working as a Summer Associate at MTV Networks in New York. Rex first messaged Matt on JDate on September 1, 2010 -- eight years and one day before our wedding date. We began an email exchange where we bonded over our shared interests in neuroscience and the performing arts. Later that fall, Matt moved to New York, and we began dating. Over the years, Rex has shared his love of music and history with Matt, while Matt shared his love of television and pop culture with Rex. After living in New York for six years, we moved to Los Angeles together in 2016.
What about the proposal?
In March of 2017, Matt threw a surprise party for Rex’s 30th birthday at a friend’s home in the Hollywood Hills. At the end of the evening, Matt introduced a surprise performance by The Yale Whiffenpoofs, the oldest collegiate a cappella group in the United States. As an undergraduate, Rex had been a member of The Whiffenpoofs in the group’s centennial year, performing for audiences around the world including then-President George W. Bush at the White House.
At Rex’s birthday party, the Whiffenpoofs ended their set with Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” the couple’s song. Rex then proposed to Matt surrounded by their friends and loved ones. Here’s what he said: “Before we close out the night, I do have one more surprise in store... Rex -- I hope tonight was the 30th birthday celebration you were hoping for. You told me this morning that since we met fresh out of college when we both first moved to NYC, that I have been your 20s. The same is true for me -- you have been my 20s as well. I have so enjoyed growing with you these past nearly 8 years. Seeing you tonight surrounded by all of our friends reminds me of all the things I love about you -- you are kind, smart, worldly, witty, charming, and extraordinarily talented, and you continue to broaden my world and teach me new things every day. Our tastes and sensibilities may often differ but I believe those differences enrich our lives -- if it weren't for you, I would likely never have set foot in an opera house, and if it weren't for me, you would never have understood the cultural significance of Britney Spears. We are well-matched -- the perfect union of high and low culture. And nothing would give me more joy than spending the rest of our lives continuing to share our passions with each other and experience all the world has to offer together. So...Rex David Isenberg, will you do me the honor of marrying me?
When did you know that you were meant to be with each other?
There was no specific moment we knew we were meant to be with each other, but a different collection of moments for each of us. For Matt, it was seeing how at-home Rex felt with his parents and siblings whenever we got together for Shabbat dinners or the Jewish holidays. Rex was so funny and smart and charming with them and was easily able to hold his own in any family conversation or debate. For Rex, it was discovering Matt’s curiosity and how much he stimulated Rex intellectually. Matt loves to discuss and debate topics of all kinds, and was always willing to challenge Rex on his viewpoints and keep him on his toes. Matt was always looking for new museums to explore, Broadway shows to see, or talks to attend to help them expand their minds together.
Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
We definitely wanted the wedding to be in New York City, even though it would mean having to plan it from across the country, as we live in Los Angeles now. We met in New York and spent most of our relationship there, so it had special significance to us as a couple. Our families are also both on the east coast (Rex’s in NJ, NY and DC, and Matt’s mostly in MA and NJ) so we felt it would be easier for them to travel to the wedding. We also knew that we definitely wanted to have a live band. With Rex being a musician himself, that was an absolute must, as he believes in supporting live music, and we knew that a live band would help enhance the joyous atmosphere of the party.
What surprised you during planning? What was easy, what was difficult?
We thought it would be challenging to plan a wedding from across the country, but it ended up being far easier than we expected because our vendors were so great and accommodating. We planned 2 trips back to New York before the wedding and that was all we needed, since our vendors were so wonderful in making themselves available during our visits, knowing we were only able to see them within a short window. For us, choosing the venue was easy. We looked at a few locations, but as soon as we visited the Yale Club, we realized immediately that it was the ideal location for the wedding. Their amazing wedding coordinator Lauren Hauser helped us during the final months leading up to the wedding and made the day run so smoothly. All in all, it felt like the Yale Club took such good care of us throughout the whole process, which made things a lot easier.
Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?
There isn’t anything we wish we knew when we were planning the wedding that we wish we knew now. BUT we will say that everyone told us how quickly the actual day of the wedding passes (which is absolutely true!), so we made the decision that we were going to stay present and savor every moment - which we did!
Any advice for couples planning weddings now? Anything you would have done differently or anything you’d like to add?
Decide as a couple the 2-3 things that matter to you most and prioritize those. For us, the music was really important - in part because Rex is a musician, but also because we felt that the music really set the tone for the party, and we wanted to have everyone up and dancing for as much of the night as possible. We searched far and wide for a band, spending hours listening to different groups’ videos online. When we found the Troy Curtis Band, their charming band leader Troy invited us to come hear them perform live at a restaurant in New York. We were so impressed by how fabulous they were that even though they were a bit above our budget, we splurged and hired them for the wedding, and it was absolutely worth it. Everyone was dripping with sweat from all the dancing and our friends were begging the band for another song at the end of the night (which they graciously obliged to do).
The other important thing for us was the photography, as it serves as the lasting record of the wedding. We spent months looking for NY-area wedding photographers and were so delighted when we finally discovered Bryan through TheKnot. His photos were unlike anyone else's we had seen in that he managed to capture the real warmth and humanity of every couple he photographed -- not to mention every single couple looked absolutely stunning. He did the same for our wedding. We were blown away by how beautifully he captured so many joyous and intimate moments and everything in between. The photos really bring us right back into the emotions of the day. We are so thrilled to have these photos grace the walls of our home and our Facebook/Instagram accounts for posterity.
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
Towards the end of dinner at the reception, the Yale Club staff rolled out their Steinway grand piano to the center of the ballroom, and Rex took to the stage and serenaded Matt with a medley of three songs, singing while accompanying himself on the piano: Nothing Can Ever Change this Love by Sam Cooke, Never My Love by The Association, and Can’t Help Falling in Love with You by Elvis. Given that Rex is a musician, Matt had a suspicion that he was going to do some kind of performance at the wedding, but Rex kept any details of his plans a secret.
Rex’s singing brought Matt to tears (and all the guests to their feet). For Rex, seeing the expression of joy and love on Matt’s face as Rex sang to him is something he’ll never forget (and is fortunately memorialized in a dozen stunning photos by our wonderful photographer, Bryan Sargent!)