For Sarah Elizabeth Williams Gelfand and Scott David Schilson Jr., the intense atmosphere and demanding coursework of the N.Y.U. masters of laws in taxation program — intended for lawyers who wish to deepen their knowledge in that particularly abstruse area of jurisprudence — weren’t impediments to falling in love. “It’s maybe not the most romantic place,” said Ms. Gelfand, 31, of the yearlong program. “But I realized I really liked spending time with Scott because he would make even this very dry subject matter really lighthearted and funny.”
Despite their heavy workload, being students afforded Ms. Gelfand and Mr. Schilson uncommon flexibility when they began dating during the winter of 2017. “We were able to compartmentalize the school stuff and then take advantage of a lot of the city,” said Mr. Schilson, 30. They spent much of their free time that spring sampling New York’s restaurants and bakeries. “I think we were like 50 percent study, 50 percent food,” he said.
Ms. Gelfand and Mr. Schilson broke up marathon study sessions with trips to Absolute Bagels on the Upper West Side, Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn and the now-closed at Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse on Chrystie Street in the Lower East Side. One of their ongoing projects that semester was finding the most delicious black and white cookie the city has to offer. “We believe William Greenberg is the best, though we’re also partial to Amy’s Bread,” Ms. Gelfand said.
After graduating from N.Y.U. in 2017, the couple endured almost a year and a half of geographical separation while Ms. Gelfand served as a law clerk for Judge Juan F. Vasquez of the United States Tax Court in Washington D.C. To offset the difficulties of being apart, they spent full weekends together and commuted, on Monday mornings, back to their home city on the earliest train Amtrak had to offer, often with their French bulldog, Emma, in tow. “Even when we were exhausted and cranky, I don’t think we ever thought maybe we should skip a week and not see each other,” said Ms. Gelfand. “That just wasn’t an option.”
After her clerkship ended, Ms. Gelfand, an associate at the law firm Day Pitney, returned to New York to live with Mr. Schilson and one of his brothers in their tiny East Village apartment, where they often hosted local friends. “It felt like a classic New York-y situation, where you’re piled in but making the best of it, having a great time,” Mr. Schilson, an associate at the law firm White & Case said.
For his proposal, Mr. Schilson enlisted two members of this tight-knit community, his younger brother and then-roommate Nick Schilson and Ms. Gelfand’s cousin Catie Case, to get their parents to New York without Ms. Gelfand realizing. The group, which also included Mr. Schilson’s two other brothers, was waiting for the couple at the restaurant Loring Place after Mr. Schilson asked Ms. Gelfand to marry him in Washington Square Park, the site of their first lunch together.
The couple was married outdoors on Jan. 16 under a canopy of trees on Banyan Street in Boca Grande, Fla., before 11 guests. Ms. Case, who became a Universal Life minister for the wedding, officiated. She and Nick Schilson led a Jewish-Episcopal ceremony, which was preceded by a virtual ketubah signing presided over by Rabbi Greg Marx. A reception attended by 10 family members followed the ceremony at the Gasparilla Inn.
In true lawyer fashion, Ms. Gelfand and Mr. Schilson drew up a list of protocols their guests had to abide by to keep everyone safe.
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