As a Friday night in September 2004 was about to become Saturday morning, Leigh left the Midtown Manhattan rooftop where she had just helped throw a birthday party for her friend Anna.
On her way down the stairs, she met Aaron and the-friend-of-a-friend-of-Anna's who had invited him to the party, on their way up.
"You're going the wrong way," Aaron said.
Leigh shot the friend she was leaving with a 'Should I?' look. He nodded yes. She followed Aaron back to the party.
Leigh, who grew up in Wyncote, had recently graduated from Marymount Manhattan College with a theater degree. She was producing a political theater festival coinciding with the Republican National Convention. Aaron, a native of Athens, Ohio, was about to graduate from Columbia University, where he studied computer science.
They talked until sunup.
Aaron called the next day. Leigh, wanting to play it cool, ignored her phone - until she listened to Aaron's message asking how her show, which closed that day, had gone.
She called back, and invited him to another birthday party.
How does forever sound?
After they dated a few months, Aaron, who is now 29, moved into Leigh's Queens apartment. But when they made a list of goals, it was clear they should move to Philadelphia.
For one, they could afford to buy in Philly. But also, Leigh, now 28, thought she could make more of her theater career here. All the brick in the city reminded Aaron of his Ohio hometown, plus, he said, the proximity of Leigh's parents, Kathy and Paul, meant they'd be treated to a home-cooked meal now and again. They would also be an hour closer to his parents - mother, Gail, father, Gary, and stepmother Tammy.
They bought a place in Passyunk Square in 2007. As Christmas 2008 approached, Aaron was ready to propose. He worked with a family friend who is a jeweler to create the perfect ring, a process that took months.
In early April 2009, Leigh, who is now the manager of marketing and public relations at the Arden Theatre, had a very bad day at her previous job. She called Aaron on her way home and asked him to have a pair of sweatpants and a glass of his home-brewed beer ready for her.
Aaron, a web developer for Message Agency, had already planned on having a beer for her - and then some. He used some black fabric from one of Leigh's previous productions to cover up all the "garage stuff" in their garage. Then he added 100 votive candles and rose petals, a bouquet of flowers, and a bucket of champagne on ice. He put on the same red-and-white antitobacco T-shirt he wore the night they met - even though Aaron was a smoker back in 2004.
Aaron took the garage door opener from its usual hiding place so that Leigh couldn't ride her bike right in. When she got home, he told her he left it out back, and he'd meet her in the garage. When the door opened, she found him in the middle of his setup, on bended knee.
"A big gust of wind came and blew out most of the candles, and blew the rose petals away," Aaron said. "She started laughing uncontrollably, and I totally panicked and forgot what I was going to say."
Aaron showed her the ring box. "Marry me," he said. "Oh wait! That's not a question. Leigh Goldenberg, will you marry me?"
She said yes, then together they stamped out the small fire the candles had started.
It was so them
Aaron and Leigh used a self-uniting license so the ceremony could be performed by their friend Anna - the woman at whose rooftop birthday party they had met.
They chose the John Audubon Center's new pavilion because "it felt like it was outside without the risk of it being outside," Leigh said.
They resolved not to spend money on anything that could be made by them or their friends.
Aaron brewed 45 gallons of beer in what he jokes is the Franklin Heights Brewing Company. His mother and aunt made 600 buckeyes - sweet peanut butter and chocolate treats that are an Ohio tradition.
One crafty friend designed their wedding logo. Another, who is a costume designer, made Leigh's dress in exchange for Leigh's labor - she will help her friend with the marketing and business-plan portion of opening a vintage-inspired dressmaking business.
After attending a free concert at a park in their neighborhood, the couple chose the West Philadelphia Orchestra. During the processional, Leigh's friend Ben sang Beirut's "Postcards From Italy" while the band played and guests chimed in with international percussion instruments - Leigh's mother's set from her preschool classroom.
The ceremony was a mix of Jewish traditions and personal touches. Four friends held the chuppah. Instead of the seven blessings, the couple went for seven readings by friends and family.
Leigh and Aaron figured, why have one wedding cake when you can have many yummy homemade cakes? Ten friends baked a cake buffet.
Leigh and Aaron are proud owners of a bicycle built for two. A replica made of wire graced one of the cakes. They rode the real one into their reception, much to the screaming delight of their 150 guests.
This didn't happen at rehearsal
Aaron's mother, Gail, got tangled up in the highways near her King of Prussia Hotel and wound up in Downingtown. Leigh's father, Paul, rescued her with directions, but she still arrived in Audubon about an hour and a half late for pre-wedding photographs. No big whoop: She made it in time for the ceremony, and there was time afterward to take photos with Gail and her family.
Leigh was blown away by the music. For the couple's first dance, another Ben in her life - musician Ben Cassorla of the band Cassorla - worked with the West Philadelphia Orchestra on a special arrangement of Warren Zevon's "Don't Let Us Get Sick." The hora was also awesome, Leigh said. Everyone really got into it, and the orchestra provided just the right klezmer feel. "We were exhausted from that!" she said.
Aaron will never forget seeing Leigh and her parents starting their walk down the aisle toward him.
A bargain: Everything that was made by the couple or their family and friends. "We figured we were surrounded by such creative people, we had to take advantage of it," Leigh said.
The splurge: The catering. There was no way to barter for that, Aaron said, because they didn't want to put their friends to work when they should be enjoying the wedding.
Twelve days in Greece.
Behind the Scenes
Anna Shapiro, the friend at whose party the couple met
John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove, Audubon
Jeffrey A. Miller Catering, Philadelphia
Love Me Do Photography, Philadelphia
West Philadelphia Orchestra, Philadelphia; and DJ Evan Kushin, Philadelphia, who provided his services as a gift to the couple
Plaza Flowers, Norristown
Belle Couture Designs by Millie Hiibel, Philadelphia. The bride is providing marketing assistance in exchange for the dress.
Logo and text design by Carly Hall of Design. Bottled., San Rafael, Calif., a gift to the couple; Stationery from Tara H. Gupta, Stampin' Up, a gift to the couple, assembled by friends and family.
The bride and groom had served as day-of planners for friends who married in 2008; they returned the favor.StartText
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