Jennifer Gates and Nayel Nassar met on the equestrian circuit and quickly became friends. Both Stanford graduates, they competed together internationally until Jenn started medical school in 2019. Their friendship eventually turned into something more, and they got engaged in January of 2020 when Nayel proposed to Jenn on her favorite ski run.
Jenn, the daughter of Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, is now a third year MD candidate at the Icahn School of Medicine Mount Sinai. Before pursuing her path in medicine, Jenn was an internationally ranked equestrian athlete. She is also the founder of Evergate Stables, which is now co-managed by the couple.
Nayel was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Kuwait by his Egyptian parents, Iman Harby and Fouad Nassar, founders and managers of Diwan Interiors International. He is currently ranked 44th in the world as a show jumping rider and competed in his first Olympic Games in Tokyo this past summer for Team Egypt. Nayel also recently developed and launched Jumpr, a new app for show jumping results and statistics.
The couple’s wedding took place this past weekend at their farm in Westchester County, New York. They worked with Marcy Blum Events to plan everything, while Rishi Patel of HMR Designs did all of the florals. They also relied on creative support and styling from Laura Lovett and Priscilla Poelmans. “Planning a wedding while I was in medical school rotations and Nayel was preparing for the Olympics was no small feat,” Jenn admits. “But it was so worth it to share such a special day with those closest to us. We feel so grateful for everyone involved who kept us on track and helped make our vision come to life. One piece of advice we were given [throughout the planning process] was to remember that this day is about us and our love. I think we really kept that at the center of our minds while planning, and we also tried to ensure that our families and friends were able to enjoy themselves.”
While the couple obviously wanted to be able to celebrate with their close friends and family, they wanted to ensure the event would be safe. “Which is why we made the decision that all guests must be fully vaccinated and receive a negative test result prior to the wedding,” Jenn says. “We also made masks available. We feel incredibly fortunate to be able to gather with our loved ones safely. We know others aren’t as lucky, especially as the pandemic continues to devastate communities in the United States and around the world.”
The wedding weekend began with a Katb el Kitab, or the Islamic marriage ceremony, on Friday with just Jenn and Nayel’s immediate families present. “Our main ceremony took place on Saturday,” Jenn says. “It was a beautiful fall day, and we had just finished taking photos when the rain started. The ceremony was facilitated by a longtime family friend, and we both wrote our own vows. It was a really special and intimate moment.”
The bride wore a custom ivory long-sleeve A-line Vera Wang Haute gown with hand appliqué French macrame lace on the bodice, sleeves, and flowing onto a light ivory and champagne Italian tulle skirt to walk down the aisle—which was lined with white hybrid Dutch delphinium flowers—for the outdoor ceremony on Saturday. A light ivory Italian tulle chapel length veil trimmed in hand-appliqué French macrame lace complemented the dress. “Vera and her whole team were so wonderful to work with, and made my dream dress come true,” Jenn says. “She is an icon in the fashion industry and a trailblazer as a woman who changed careers late and followed her passions. From our first meeting, I knew that I was in such good hands.” The groom looked dapper in a classic Armani tux with a Lily of the Valley boutonniere—to match the bride’s bouquet—pinned to his lapel.
After the service, guests moved into the tent for the reception. For this portion of the evening, Jenn changed into a second gown by Vera Wang Haute, this one with a square neckline, lined in nude tulle and embellished with hand appliqué French macrame lace on the skirt and straps.
The newlyweds kicked off the festivities with a first dance to “Yellow Lights,” which was written and performed by their friend and artist Harry Hudson. “After such a meaningful ceremony, we wanted our friends and family to enjoy great food and entertainment,” Jenn says. “It was a beautiful evening and a dream come true for both of us!” Dinner was by Jean Georges and Creative Edge Catering and the six layer floral-adorned cake was a Sylvia Weinstock for Ladurée creation.
“It’s been a challenging year, both collectively with the pandemic and for our families going through transitions,” Jenn says. “But our love for one another has been a constant. Being able to celebrate our wedding with our closest friends and family was a dream come true.”