The couple's secret? Planning.
It started "last December," said Elli Jafari, general manager of the midtown restaurant Le Cirque. "We really kept the secret well. Even my best friends didn't know about it."
The ball got rolling "one night," said Jafari, when "Beth got up when they were leaving, and she stopped me and she said, 'Would you be my wedding planner?' And I gasped. … I've never done weddings." Even so, "I said, 'Sure, why not?' "
The bride- and groom-to-be ended up coming to the restaurant – which, in various locations, has been a Manhattan power spot since the Reagan Era – "once a month," says Jafari. "Beth is vegetarian. She eats fish, but not shellfish or meats. She's an animal activist, so she wanted the menu to be animal friendly."
After several tastings from chef Christophe Bellanca, the final menu was selected four months ago.
Stern Is Sweet"At first I had no idea what I was doing. But I wanted everything to be very romantic," says Jafari, who considers Stern, despite his shock-jock rep, "the sweetest person I've met in my life. He is so sensitive and sweet."
As such, "I needed this room to be romantic." With florist Floralies Inc., "We built a tree in the middle of the room, wrapped in 2000 weeping willows drooping down over the guests' heads [with] white orchids hanging down. We created a chandelier of two- to three-thousand white orchids and candles in small lanterns. The room looked like it was out of a fairy tale."
Jafari – before going to Le Cirque, she helped open Spago in San Francisco, the Bellagio in Las Vegas and Pearl and Nikki Beach in Miami – says when the bride saw the room on her wedding day she started "crying from excitement. She never saw anything like it before."
Jafari even picked her bouquet: a very tight bunch of 20 deep-purple calla lilies.
And the groom? "He was just very sweet. He was nervous. I know Howard by now. When he walked in, I've never seen him like that. They were really happy. Both glowing."
The MenuFor dinner, the first course was a tuna Tataki, followed by scrambled eggs with white truffles, as well as a pasta dish, tortelloni with Taleggio cheese, from northern Italy. The main course was striped bass with caviar. And, most important of all: 200-300 bottles of wine and champagne.
"It was one big party," says Jafari. "It was fantastic. A lot of energy. It wasn't your typical sit-down wedding. It was wild fun, high energy, high emotions. One big party – and a wedding on top of that."