When Joe and Rachel met at the beginning of their freshman year at Haverford College outside Philly, it didn’t take long for the two to become a couple. After a fake fight as to who was from the better place, he from Vermont and she from New York City, they began dating and after nine years – including three that were long-distance – Joe proposed.
The couple bought an apartment in Brooklyn a few months after Joe moved to the city and made regular trips across the river to one of Rachel’s favorite spots: Russ & Daughters.
“It’s such a New York institution,” explains Rachel, an Assistant Commissioner at the City’s Department of Small Business Services. “I’ve been going to it since I was a kid and it’s one of the last places like it in the city.”
Joe, a college guidance advisor at a private high school, knew he was going to propose, it was just a matter of where and when. He went to Piccadilly Jewelry Shop on the Lower East Side, where Rachel’s father has been shopping for his wife and daughter for over two decades, and bought a brilliant-cut diamond with side baguettes set in platinum.
The ‘engagement babka’ is now a tradition among our friends. —Rachel
For the proposal, he decided to take Rachel on a date to Russ & Daughters one Saturday in March. “He was very insistent that I change out of my pajamas and take a cab to get there,” remembers Rachel. “That should have indicated that something was going on.”
After they placed their order, sturgeon with cream cheese on a bialy for her and Gaspe Nova lox with scallion cream cheese on a bagel for him, he asked her if she knew what he loved most in the world. “She said salmon, and I said no, you, and took the ring from my pocket, got down on one knee and asked her to marry me,” Joe said with a smile. “All the tourists around us gasped and after a second or two I said, ‘Now is when you say yes,’ which she did, and everyone started cheering and taking photos.” Niki Russ Federman, one of the fourth generation owners, came out to congratulate the couple, take photos with them, and gifted them a chocolate babka. “The ‘engagement babka’ is now a tradition among our friends,” Rachel tells Twirl New York.
The wedding is set for September 2016 at the Prospect Park Boathouse in Brooklyn.
After seeing a Russ & Daughters’ tweet (of course we follow @LoxPopuli) Twirl New York reached out to the bride- and groom-to-be to learn more about their quintessential New York proposal, and when Joe explained that he hadn’t asked someone to capture it we offered to take their engagement portraits at the store.
Working with the team at Russ & Daughters – a big shout out to Jen Snow for all of her help – we partnered with Ara Farnam-Levison, Creative Director of the event design and styling firm Rock Paper Scissors Events, and Charlie Juliet photographer, CJ, to capture Joe and Rachel at both the 101 year old store on Houston and the new Russ & Daughters Café a few blocks away on Orchard Street.