Early in Cassie LaMere and Andrew Knieberg’s courtship, the pair traveled to Paris to spend the New Year’s holiday. After an afternoon wandering the galleries of the Musée d’Orsay, the couple paused for a photo in front of the museum’s iconic clock, a remnant from the historic building’s origins as a railway station. “I’d realized by then Andrew was ‘the one,’ and I knew the image would eventually become the ‘Save the Date’ for our wedding—even if he may not have known it just yet,” Cassie remembers with a laugh. As they headed outside, they stopped to listen to a street musician play “La Vie en Rose” on the museum steps. “It was one of those magical days you envision roaming around Paris to be,” she says.
Cassie has become attuned to taking note of those kinds of details, tucking them away in her memory bank to retrieve again for exactly the right moment. It’s more than simply a way of life; it’s also her business. As a luxury event designer based in Austin, she’s renowned for creating custom experiences that highlight the client’s personality and sense of style, while also bringing her own discerning eye for design, gracious hospitality, and thoughtful service to the table.
Now, wind the clock forward several years to another New Year’s Eve. While the destination this time is Dallas rather than the City of Light, that Parisian spirit of joie de vivre fills the Texas air as family and friends gather for the couple’s New Year’s Eve wedding. “I’ve always dreamed of getting married on my favorite holiday, and I love that it’s one that has played an integral part in our story,” says Cassie. “Andrew and I wanted to host a fabulous party to celebrate becoming husband and wife—and to bring in the new year with those we love most.”
While Cassie considers every event she takes on to be equally important, this one would be, of course, particularly personal: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create what she calls her “magnum opus” by weaving in the many cultural and design references that inspire her while also bringing the couple’s shared history to life through visual elements. But as one who is usually running around behind the scenes to orchestrate every aspect of an event, Cassie knew that for her own celebration she needed a collaborator who could execute her vision. She enlisted Julian Leaver, a Dallas wedding planner, “who gave me the gift of allowing me to be the bride, in addition to a planner, and kept me grounded in the significance of the occasion,” she says.
The underlying thread throughout Cassie’s vision was to evoke the feeling that she and Andrew were entertaining at home; thus, they intentionally kept the guest list small and selected a venue that conveyed an intimate ambience as well. “Home” became The Mason, a historic lodge built in 1920 that had recently undergone a thoughtful restoration and retained the kind of character and timeless elegance Cassie instinctively gravitates toward. From the moment guests stepped through the front door, greeted with glasses of champagne served in vintage coupes, they crossed over the couple’s threshold, even if only theirs for the evening.
Although she describes her aesthetic as rooted in classic references—Chanel, old black-andwhite movies, and antiques among the things that speak her love language—Cassie doesn’t subscribe to any predictable formulas for how events should look or be. “We made some nontraditional choices and reinvented ideas for our wedding in ways that were personal to us,” she says. “For instance, I love flowers, but due to allergies, I can’t live with many of them in the same space, so I wanted to present them in a different way.” Cassie commissioned a wallpaper of hand-drawn renderings of her favorites such as ranunculus, hydrangeas, and anemones to use as a backdrop for the ceremony and had floral designer Antonio Bond create several statement-making arrangements of singular varieties in white for focal points such as the escort-card table, bar, and dining room mantel.
An essential tool in Cassie’s oeuvre is creating “wow moments” that unfold over the course of the evening, using entertainment as a key building block. As guests took their places for the ceremony, a gospel choir appeared and performed “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” before sending Andrew down the aisle to a rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Holy.” For the recessional, they treated guests to “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” Then the choir and a brass section led guests upstairs in a “second-line” parade to the cocktail reception in the salon, while the couple slipped away for a few photos and to prepare for the dinner portion of the evening.
Another surprise awaited when the event team pulled back the curtain to reveal the dining space, where Cassie and Andrew were standing beside a long table aglow in candlelight and laden with antique crystal—much from the couple’s own collection—and a mix of china patterns in platinum and gold. “We hadn’t been at the cocktail hour, so it was our first time seeing everyone after the ceremony,” says Cassie. “To convey a sense of hospitality, we felt it was important to greet guests as they walked in rather than make an entrance after everyone was seated. It was a really fun and special moment.” She adds that as she and Andrew looked down the table with everyone engaged in conversation and laughter during a four-course French menu presented with choreographed service, they realized their vision of entertaining at home had come to fruition in the most elegant way. “Andrew and I believe the best memories are made around a table over amazing food and wine,” says Cassie.
After dinner, the celebration transformed into full-on New Year’s Eve revelry as guests took to the dance floor to the music of Jordan Kahn’s orchestra with lead singer Corry Pertile. When the midnight hour approached, bow-tied servers passed beads, party hats, and horns on antique silver trays, as well as mini-bottles of Möet & Chandon champagne. A boisterous countdown to the new year culminated in a festive shower of cold sparks and confetti. “Sharing our first kiss of 2023 as husband and wife and ringing in the year surrounded by people who mean so much to us was just pure joy,” says Cassie. And also a fitting crescendo, as time is a notion Cassie found herself contemplating often throughout the weddingplanning process, well beyond that snapshot taken in front of the Musée d’Orsay clock. “Andrew and I met at the right time; we’ve chosen to spend the rest of our lives together, and we both believe the best of times is yet to come.”
As a nod to counting down to a new year— and a new life as husband and wife—Cassie shares some of her New Year’s Eve wedding inspiration and details:
10 Study in Black and White:
My design influences included cultural references such as the New Year’s Eve party scene in An American in Paris and Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball. Both became points of inspiration for our palette starting with my Marchesa wedding gown and carried through to our black-tie-and-black-gowns dress code.
9 Love in Bloom:
I commissioned a custom wallpaper with hand-drawn renderings of my favorite flowers to be used as the backdrop for our ceremony and also as accents on programs, serving pieces, and cocktail linens. Guests actually got their first peek before the wedding when they received patterned boxes containing the invitations. The floral design for the ceremony and reception brought the blooms to life.
8 We’ll Always Have Paris:
Andrew and I spent our first New Year’s Eve together in Paris. And given that I’m a Francophile, I incorporated visual tributes throughout, from the Musée d’Orsay clock motif on our Monsieur and Madame escort cards to the lyrics to “La vie En Rose”— the song for our first dance— scripted on our petal-toss cones.
7 Pearls of Wisdom:
We have a little ritual where I tell Andrew, “The world is your oyster,” and he replies, “and you’re my pearl.” In tribute, I incorporated pearls throughout, from the parade on the train of my gown to the lapel pin Andrew wore in lieu of a boutonnière to even the cocktail picks.
6 Cheers to the Groom:
Andrew doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, so we decided to forgo a groom’s cake. He is, however, quite a whisky aficionado. I devised a bar cart in his honor styled with vintage decanters, monogrammed ice cubes, and his favorite scotches and bourbons.
5 Dinner by Candlelight:
I wanted the dining room to glow, with candlelight dancing and crystal shimmering down a long table. We used some of our own collection, as well as assorted vintage champagne coupes, cut-crystal vases, and stemware I sourced from antiques shops and flea markets. More than 600 pieces graced the table, not including the china!
4 Made to Order:
Andrew and I keep menus from memorable dining experiences we’ve shared. For our reception, I chose a booklet design, as it evoked one from a special dinner we enjoyed on our first NYE together. Engravings from my antique silver inspired the crest on the cover, and guests’ names embroidered on black velvet ribbons became place cards.
3 Le Menu:
As part of the four-course French menu, we served one of our favorite dishes, French onion soup, which can be daunting to eat when you’re dressed to the nines. Our caterer found individually sized Le Creuset cocottes for a deconstructed version I dreamed up—gruyère ravioli in consommé with a petite croissant on the side. The moment servers removed the lids in synchronized fashion made this hostess giddy with joy.
2 The Second Look:
Late in the evening, I changed into my party attire, a dress encrusted with sequins and designed by Tarik Ediz. It reminded me of the way the Eiffel Tower sparkles at night—another festive wink to the City of Light.
1 Baubles, Bubbles, and Burgers:
Shortly before midnight, servers passed antique silver trays with horns, beads, hats, and mini Möet bottles with gold sippers. Late-night snacks of smash burgers in “Resolutions Start Tomorrow” boxes and pommes frites in floral-paper cones kept the energy going on the dance floor.