When Detroit-based photographer Brad Ziegler and Fox 2 Detroit news producer Rebecca Abramson planned their July 2022 wedding, they didn’t intend for it to be so idiosyncratic or for it to be the kind of thing that friends would later tell them they wished they could come to a second time. They just wanted it to be… them.
In fact, they were determined.
Rebecca jokingly shares how, at 42, she was the last of her close friends to get married. When the pandemic hit, she said she was going to wait it out.
“We decided to wait to get engaged because I’m like, I’m going to be a 40-something-year-old bride. I waited a long time for this,” Rebecca says, laughing. “When lockdown happened, I was just like, our engagement plans are on hold. I’m going to get the wedding like other people got like. We’re not in any rush.”
It was worth the wait. From the venue to the dress — and the car and the cake and the suit to, oh, pretty much everything — their wedding simply encapsulated who they were as a couple.
One part of that was that it was very, very Detroit — even though it wasn’t supposed to be, at least not at first.
The two had taken several trips while dating to the Windsor wine country and wanted to show their friends the area they thought of as an undiscovered gem across the river for most Michiganders. But in 2022, there were still some pandemic restrictions that made crossing the border into Canada tough. It was time for plan B, a venue in downtown Detroit.
When Rebecca suggested the Roostertail, the site of her senior prom, Brad said, “‘You want to get married where you had your senior prom?’” Rebecca recounts. “And I said yeah, that’s fine with me.’”
“And from where I sat,” Brad says, “it was this historic place where massive artists would come and perform in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s. There was some legacy there.”
From there, the Detroit-ness just continued to build.
There was also the car, a 1956 Oldsmobile Super 88 Rebecca found for rent in Clarkston, and the post-wedding photos. The owner of the car (the father of a friend, it serendipitously turned out) offered to chauffer them around while they took pictures in places all over the city that Brad, a Boston native, had seen “evolve” during his 20 years photographing the city.
“We always found a way to be a little different,” Brad says. “Lots of people rent classic cars, but not like that.”
There was also the dress Rebecca had had her eye on since she and Brad started dating (“all girls do it,” she says) which she bought in a shop in Birmingham, miraculously still on sale after waiting through the pandemic. She was able to get the floor sample at half price, and while it wasn’t the perfect fit, it allowed her to have alterations done that made the dress uniquely hers. It has an almost undetectable geometric design woven into the lace, and she made her own modifications as well, adding a rose gold belt to match her jewelry.
Then there was the guest list. They kept it fairly small — about 115 — mostly close friends and family. But there was one special guest they thought they’d give a try —Motown star Martha Reeves, whom Brad had connected with when photographing her Hour Detroit’s July 2021 cover.
At the reception, also at the Roostertail, “they played ‘Dancing in the Street’ to get the party started,” Rebecca says. “When they announced Martha…she comes out, gives Brad a little kiss, and all of a sudden there’s a conga line forming around us on the dance floor, and everyone comes out to dance with Martha. And I’m like, I feel like I’m in a romantic comedy right now!”
The wedding was so full and fun, the couple said they didn’t see much of each other while it was all going on. But it doesn’t seem to bother them.
“Well,” Brad says, “We have our whole lives.”
By Scott Atkinson | Photographs by Daphne Doerr Photography