Samantha Leder had just moved to NYC from Dallas, where she went to college. Lewis Malivanek was living in Dubai and happened to be traveling to New York for work. It was his co-worker and a friend of Samantha’s that introduced the two.

“I met a group of her friends and co-workers for a few drinks at a sports bar downtown,” Samantha recalls. “It was game 3 of the NBA finals between the Heat and Spurs – we both immediately bonded over our love for sport whilst downing cafe Patron shots (which we haven’t drunk since).

“Neither of us remember speaking to anyone else that night.”

 Neither of us remember speaking to anyone else that night. After the game, we both discovered that although we had both been to NYC many times, neither of us had walked the Brooklyn Bridge. So around 11 o’clock that night we decided to walk it; about halfway across, we had our first kiss.”

From Dubai to New York

The day after their Brooklyn Bridge rendezvous, Lewis returned to Dubai, while Samantha continued to enjoy her first post-grad summer in New York City. After multiple interviews for jobs she wasn’t really interested in, she spent the day shadowing her friend who had initially introduced her to Lewis.

“I ended up loving the job and asked her boss to hire me, which he did,” she says. “However, it wasn’t until my first day at work, two and a half months after I first met Lewis, when we had a company-wide call and I heard his voice on speaker phone that I remembered he worked for the same company.

After a brief ‘Oh sh*t!’ moment, I thought I was in the clear because he was working at the Dubai office. A month later, I found out he was about to move permanently to New York.”

After spending two weeks or so in the New York office, Lewis had a week gap between his friend’s couch and moving into his new apartment. As he was under a lot of stress due to not having a place to live for a week, Samanta recalls him “snapping at everyone at the office.”

“At the time, I had a spare bedroom in my apartment,” she adds, “so for everyone’s benefit I offered for him to stay at my place for the week. The first night, he brought over a bottle of wine as a thank you, which we drank while talking late into the night. From then on, we never spent a night apart. He didn’t move into his apartment; and three weeks later, he told me he loved me.”

A December Proposal

Three years later, the proposal took place at Samantha’s family’s house in the Hamptons. It was the first week of December, and Lewis popped the question outside under a canopy of fairy lights. It was freezing and starting to snow as he got down on one knee. Not only was it set up beautifully, but Samantha’s younger sister – who she loves more than anyone – drove up from Philadelphia in the middle of her exams at University of Pennsylvania, to be with them.

A Destination Wedding in New Zealand

Samantha wanted the wedding to look and feel different. By hosting a destination wedding in New Zealand orchestrated by Colin Cowie and his team, the couple and their guests were treated to an unforgettable experience.

“At our ceremony, everyone had a front row seat,” the bride describes. “Lewis walked from one end of the mirrored aisle while I walked from the other. We met in the middle. Our recessional was a violin quartet rendition of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstuck.’

For cocktail hour, I thought it would be fun to have a martini bar (one of Lewis’ favorite drinks), where guests could experience a selection of martinis to choose from. Instead of a wedding cake, we had a pavlova.

Instead of a boring sit down dinner, we had a more interactive event with food stations being revealed, carts bringing food table side, and table side foraging for extra treats. We knew that we didn’t want the night to end, so we organized a glamping site for thirty of our closest friends a short walk from the reception.

The next morning, we were woken with bacon and eggs cooking on the BBQ, paired with barista coffee and a Bloody Mary bar.”


Photography: Jean Pierre Uys, New York, NY; Planner: Colin Cowie Lifestyle, New York, NY; Floral Design: Lile Botanica; Location: Dublin Bay Wanaka, Wanaka, New Zealand; Chef/Catering: Grant King, New Zealand; Wedding Dress: Reem Acra Custom Couture; Reception Dress: Saint Laurent; Groom's Attire: Charles Paige Atelier, New York, NY; Wedding Dinner Tent: Prestige Marquees, New Zealand; Glamping Tents: Explore Life, Wanaka, New Zealand; Transportation: LSQ Transportation, Franklin, New Zealand; Lighting: Grouse Lighting Aotearoa, Wellington, New Zealand; Hair and Makeup: Serena Wyllie Makeup, Australia