When people ask editorial consultant and former executive digital director of W magazine Sarah Leon how she and her now-husband, photographer Teddy Wolff, met, she replies: “Do you want the long version or the short version?” Leon’s short version is something straight out of a rom com. In one of those perfect meet-cute moments, Leon and Wolff were sat next to each other on a flight to Israel on Leon’s 25th birthday. “Even though we would both definitively say we are not the type of people to talk to strangers on planes, we struck up a conversation and immediately clicked,” Leon remembers. They were both on their way to experience Birthright, the sponsored ten-day trip to Israel for Jewish young adults, and ended up spending two weeks traveling together. But their lives back home were very different at that time: Leon was based in New York and Wolff lived in Washington D.C. So a long distance relationship began and, after about nine months of bus rides to and from each city, the couple wound up moving in and settling together in NYC.
Leon and Wolff were together for six-and-a-half years before they started to talk about getting married. They knew they wanted to tie the knot, but a full-fledged white wedding with all the trappings and long guest list was not in the cards for either of them. Knowing they wanted something small and easy, the pair were waiting until the right moment to plan their celebration. That moment happened to arrive amid a pandemic, a family loss, and just before the holidays in 2020. As Leon explains, “after my grandfather passed away in September, we felt a new sense of time moving quickly and the world changing.” They made their decision to wed on December 12, “on a cozy Saturday morning at home” in Chinatown. They started Googling wedding checklists and how to procure a marriage license. Later that day, Wolff went to photograph their close friend, head chef at Cosme Daniela Soto-Innes, during her second-to-last night in the kitchen. “Teddy conspired with the chefs to write ‘Let’s Get Married’ on two tortillas that accompanied the restaurant’s famous duck carnitas, and surprised me with the message—and with dinner,” she remembers. “Neither of us have ever been fans of elaborate proposals, or proposals in general, but this surprise was just perfect.”
Next up, they FaceTimed their parents to tell them the great news. Leon and Wolff also told them that, not only were they getting married, but they were getting married in two weeks, the day after Christmas. The family, along with the bride and groom, all jumped into action. Following New York’s COVID-19 guidelines, the couple made a guest list of exactly 25 people, including themselves, their officiant, a close friend and writer named Zachary Mack (who also owns ABC Beer Co in New York, which provided some of the libations), and their photographer, also a friend, Eric Schleicher. “Every single person had a job to do,” Leon explains. “We hired a friend to bus the tables, another friend to be the photographer. We not only knew every single person on the premises that day, but they were all close friends that we wanted there, and could trust to be careful regarding COVID-19 precautions.” The entire wedding was planned in exactly two weeks, from engagement to ceremony. They chose the backyard patio of their friend James O’Brian’s restaurant and wine bar Popina in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, and asked Soto-Innes to be their ring bearer. Sisters Estefania and Valentina Brito, Cosme’s former sous chefs, would serve as the flower girls.
As for the wedding day fashion, Leon and Wolff decided to go with a chic wardrobe sourced entirely from secondhand and vintage shops. “We had to act fast,” Leon says of the process. “We also weren’t really comfortable going to stores and trying things on because of the pandemic, so a lot of what we wore were pieces we already had, in addition to what we purchased online.” For the ceremony, Leon chose a silk dahlia-print coat from the Rochas pre-fall 2016 collection, which she’d purchase last spring from eBay. Underneath she wore a white silk-cotton blend A-line Marni dress, purchased the week of the wedding from The RealReal. She’d ordered a pair of white Manolo Blahnik slingbacks from eBay for the occasion but they didn’t arrive on time, so she swapped in a black pair of Manolo slingbacks that she already owned. Leon accessorized with a pair of Sophie Buhai silver drop earrings gifted to her by Wolff for her 30th birthday, as well as a gold Charlotte Chesnais hair clip from her own collection. Her “something old” was a pearl necklace that had been her grandmother’s, then her mother’s. As for a “something new,” Leon wore a pearl bracelet lent to her by Wolff’s mother.
Wolff’s entire wedding day look was entirely second-hand as well, save for a new white shirt and a tie from Hermès. His Dries Van Noten suit was procured at the East Village consignment shop Tokio 7, which he wore with a pair of Balenciaga boots from The RealReal. Both the bride and groom chose vintage gold Cartier rings from eBay and 1stDibs. And their dress code for the ceremony? “Dress warm!” Leon says, since it was outdoors in late December. Leon and Wolff and their family and friends gathered in the back patio of Popina around 1:30 p.m. on December 26th. They stationed a tripod and iPhone in the center of the space so that their Zoom guests (which topped over 100) could watch the wedding from afar. It was all sweet and simple and short. The officiant told their story, and Leon and Wolff shared their own written vows to one another after a short speech from Soto-Innes. Their parents shared remarks as well, and Leon’s father put his own special, heartwarming twist on the Jewish tradition of breaking the glass before the newlyweds said “I do.” After a kiss, Wolff’s dad played “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis on the guitar. Then, of course, they popped a bottle of champagne.
Leon and Wolff didn’t have a bridal party, but they did name their brothers “Best Brothers” and asked them to make toasts just as lunch began post-ceremony. They ate grilled bluepoint oysters and crab (a nod to Wolff’s hometown of Annapolis, Maryland), along with grilled fluke and Berkshire pork chops, as well as honeynut squash topped with stracciatella. Everything was planned and prepared by Luis “Pav” Lares and Josue A. Sanchez, both chefs at Cosme. Wolff’s dad played the guitar again during lunch, while Leon’s dad curated a playlist for after, which included songs from David Bowie and The Spice Girls. Dessert included four different varieties of pie from Four & Twenty Blackbirds.
Despite the cold weather and the circumstances, Leon says that she and Wolff “felt very loved by everyone who was there in person, virtually, and spiritually.” And even though it was quite a feat to pull off a wedding, even a small one, in exactly ten days, it was important to them that the ceremony took place on 12/26. As Leon explains: “We liked the symmetry of the wedding date, because my parents and both sets of grandparents’ wedding anniversaries followed. My dad’s parents, Jack and Maureen (aka Mo) Leon were married on December 28, 1949; my mom’s parents, Abe and Rita Denowitz, were married on December 31, 1957; and my parents Bobby Dacron and Debbie Leon were married on December 30, 1982. That way, every year to come Teddy and I will celebrate not only our love, but the love that came before us, that made us who we are.”