Southern Charm for Rachel and Craig
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STYLE MagazineWedding

Southern Charm for Rachel and Craig

Postponed no longer, Leighton and Schackner tied the knot amid elegant hydrangeas and columned arches.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Rachel and Craig promenade down the aisle following the ceremony.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Rachel and Craig promenade down the aisle following the ceremony.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //  Bride and groom enjoy the hydrangeas on the grounds of the Piedmont Driving Club.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Bride and groom enjoy the hydrangeas on the grounds of the Piedmont Driving Club.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //  Craig breaks the traditional glass to much applause.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Craig breaks the traditional glass to much applause.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Rachel is accompanied by her parents, Les and Debbie Perl Leighton.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Rachel is accompanied by her parents, Les and Debbie Perl Leighton.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The bride and groom pose in front of the chuppah.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The bride and groom pose in front of the chuppah.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //  Rachel and Craig pose with their attendants ahead of the ceremony.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Rachel and Craig pose with their attendants ahead of the ceremony.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Signing the ketubah with Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal looking on.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Signing the ketubah with Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal looking on.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The groom hits the dancefloor.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The groom hits the dancefloor.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //  Rachel celebrates with her bridesmaids.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Rachel celebrates with her bridesmaids.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Craig kisses his bride as 135 guests look on.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Craig kisses his bride as 135 guests look on.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The bride and groom share a moment on the dance floor.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The bride and groom share a moment on the dance floor.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //  A perfect father-daughter dance.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // A perfect father-daughter dance.
  • Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //  The bride’s father delivers a toast.
    Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The bride’s father delivers a toast.

On May 30, under crystal blue skies, the Piedmont Driving Club courtyard was the backdrop for the marriage ceremony of Atlanta native Rachel Leighton and Craig Schackner of Dix Hills, New Jersey. The groom kissed his bride as 135 guests looked on at the lush private club. Cabbage-sized hydrangeas and white azaleas set the theme for Rachel’s array of peach and white florals and Craig’s matching peach boutonnière. Exactly one week later, Rachel, originally an occupational therapist, started nursing school at Columbia University. The groom, a New York City mathematics teacher and soccer coach, gushed, “I loved getting to marry Rachel where she grew up. Everyone in Atlanta was so welcoming, and all of our vendors made the process so easy.”

Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // The bride and groom pose in front of the chuppah.

As with many recent nuptials, details changed along the way to leave room for flexibility. The ceremony was delayed for almost a year because of COVID-19. The couple also changed their late August honeymoon from Greece (forest fires) to Hawaii. Rachel recalled, “At times the process became stressful with planning during COVID and having to monitor everything day by day. Our planner, Sara Divine, made the process smooth and took away a lot of stress. We started planning almost two years before because we were supposed to get married Labor Day 2020!”

Details included choosing nontraditional white for the attendants. Rachel remarked, “I picked ivory for the bridesmaids because it made for a very elegant wedding party. My dress was one of my favorite small details! It was simple, elegant and extremely comfortable. I had an amazing tailor in New York City who made it look like it was made for me. My bouquet was exactly what I wanted. James Hurley Designs made the flowers a ‘dream come true.’ I told him only, ‘peach, white, and greenery,’ and he delivered on my vision.”

As a historical venue, the Piedmont Driving Club is a private social association that began in 1887 as a gentlemen’s club where horses and carriages were driven on club grounds. In 1904, the club sold the adjacent acreage to the city to create what is now Piedmont Park. Minorities were admitted for the first time only in the 1990s. Even today, to hold an event there, one must be a club member or be sponsored by one.

Father of the bride, physician Les Leighton, said, “I have been to the PDC numerous times — multiple Piedmont Hospital balls and several weddings.

Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // A perfect father-daughter dance.

It’s a beautiful place. The facilities and food are outstanding. Very classic and old Atlanta in elegance. We have friends who are members and they sponsored us. The catering director knew about Jewish weddings and told me they have held several. The club could not have been better for Rachel and Craig’s special day and made a real impression on our out-of-town guests who knew little about Atlanta.”

Experienced mom Debbie Perl Leighton had some advice for mothers of the bride: “Don’t forget that this day is about the bride and the groom. What is important to them might not be important to you. Remember this is not about you, it’s their day!”

Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography // Signing the ketubah with Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal looking on.

Ahavath Achim Senior Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal conducted the ketubah signing and chuppah service. Rachel recalled, “The rabbi was incredible throughout the entire year that we were meeting with him. He made the process enjoyable and made our ceremony so meaningful. He gave us great advice for starting out our journey as a married couple.”

Rabbi Rosenthal reflected, “Rachel and Craig truly complement each other and hold up the characteristics that are still emerging in the other. They have a mature love for one another looking towards the future with realistic optimism and hope. They are not only connected to each other but committed to the spiritual journey they are on together.”

Rachel summed up her advice for other brides-to-be: “Stay organized and on top of things. Don’t be so picky. Just give your ideas to the professionals and let them make the vision come true. They know what they’re doing. I would not change a single thing. And my dad and I practiced the dance beforehand, and it came out just as we envisioned!”

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