A Bold, Autumnal Wedding in NYC
The best romantic relationships are like works of art: They carry layers of meaning and are, for those lucky enough to witness them, things of beauty to behold.
This couple shares one such relationship. The pair first met as college freshmen, and their romance blossomed from friendship as they discovered how much they had in common: They both grew up in the New York City area and had lived abroad in Asia (he in Japan, she in Korea). They also found a mutual, and compelling, love of art. "I can see, looking back, why we connected so well," the bride says. "And I think that's what did it."
And so, five years after graduation, the San Francisco–based couple (she's a designer; he's an investor) set out to create a work of art all their own—a wedding that included modern takes on contemporary Chinese, Korean, and baroque arts. They added unexpected details, like a dazzling red gown, as focal points. On October 31, 2015, with 120 loved ones gathered in one of the couple's favorite modern-art-filled hotels in New York City, they became husband and wife, proclaiming their love in a setting every bit as visually stunning as they'd imagined.
The bride and her floral designer, Saipua, collaborated to give each of several spaces at the Gramercy Park Hotel its own color palette and mood, so that guests would experience an evolution throughout the celebration. "The goal was to imbue the setting with a certain richness using metals and a range of natural colors," she says of the overall palette. "It was more or less a custom art project, making it all the more meaningful." Attendees entered through the living room, where soft-pink florals and live jazz created a warm, welcoming atmosphere. They then moved to one of the terrace gardens, where lush greens, votive candles, and antique details set the scene for the ceremony, which featured a Chinese friendship poem and personal stories. The next op was the parlor, a luxuriant jungle with escort cards hanging from palms that later became the background for a photo booth. Then came the dining area, the decoration of which was inspired by the jewel tones and rich hues of the Dutch masters and the bounty often shown in their paintings.
The black-tie affair was a sensory delight across the board, with music filling the air and plum wine filling glasses. Dinner incorporated seasonal ingredients with an Asian touch, including aged sirloin with maitake mushrooms, herbed potatoes, and wasabi and apple purée. The final stage of the party evoked an energized night market, complete with hanging paper lanterns; guests indulged in steamed dumplings, ring rolls, and more, as well as sweets like sesame balls and pineapple buns.
In the end, the wedding was exactly what the couple had hoped for—an evening layered with memorable art and artful décor, nature and tradition, and an abundance of love.
An Autumn Affair
Fall was in full swing in the neighboring park.
The happy couple and the bride's parents and brother paused for a portrait. The canvas backdrop was brought in for a classic studio take on group photos.
The groom sported a Tom Ford tuxedo, the mother of the bride wore a Carolina Herrera gown, and the bride herself dazzled in an Alexander McQueen dress. The red dress was only one of many decisions made jointly by the bride and groom. She spotted the dress while on a trip to London but didn't make a move. Months later, when the real hunt began, she mentioned it to him; when they saw the gown together, he loved it immediately. "It felt ethereal and luxurious to be enveloped by them," she recalls of its layers of chiffon.
"A crown seemed like too much for my personality, but then we decided, I'm the bride, 'why not,' and just went for it," the bride says of her golden headpiece by Erickson Beamon. "We knew a veil wouldn't fit with the gown."
A Trailing Bouquet
The bride's cascading bouquet, inspired by a painting and trailing eight feet, featured peonies, orchids, amaranth, umbrella fern, chrysanthemums, eucalyptus, and euonymus. Floral designer Sarah Ryhanen from Saipua pitched the idea of a dramatic and unique bouquet, and included Romaine Brooks's Femme avec des fleurs oil painting (circa 1912) on the mood board. The subject, wearing nothing but a drape of black fabric on her back, is pictured holding a cascade of assorted flowers. And so the idea for the bouquet was hatched. "An ancient nude lady—who knew?" says the bride.
The Bridal Party
Bridesmaids wore champagne, pewter, and silver-colored gowns.
Flowers in their Hair
Bridesmaids accessorized their soft metallic gowns with floral headpieces made of blushing bride protea and petite blooms. They were worn on the back instead of the traditional crown placement for a unique spin on the look.
The Wedding Rings
A brass-trimmed glass box lined with moss held the wedding bands.
The Sounds of Celebrating
Live jazz welcomed everyone and got more upbeat as the night progressed.
Lighting the Scene
Prior to the ceremony, guests lit candles and made wishes for the couple. A total of 88 were lit, a significant number as it's the year the bride and groom were born, and the age of the groom's grandfather. Not to mention, it's a lucky Chinese number.
Father and Mother of the Groom
The groom's parents were all smiles as they entered the ceremony to the sounds of Pachelbel's "Canon in D."
The bride and her father entered to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."
Celebrant Saral Burdette customized the service to include an ancient Chinese friendship poem, a wine ceremony, and stories about the couple's beloved dog. During prewedding meetings, she interviewed each partner individually, sharing highlights of their responses on the big day. The bride and groom agree that for them, it was the most important part of the wedding.
The mantel was adorned with an asymmetrical arrangement.
The Place Settings
Sharing A Meal
Guests dined on fusion cuisine with modern Asian flair.
A Magical Night
The bride (in her white Tom Ford caped reception dress) and groom shared a kiss. Her formfitting silhouette and sheer cape provided a subtle nod to the costume-centric wedding date.
The Wedding Cake
Gilded fruit topped the vanilla cake.
Handmade masks at the photo booth were especially fitting on Halloween.
Late Night Fare
An Asian "night market" table offered treats like scallion pancakes and spring rolls to fuel dancers in the wee hours.
The late night market offered four savory options, and three sweet—including these sesame balls. They were a nod to the groom's Chinese-American roots.
The black-and-white floor and overhead light bulb installation at the location was already festive, but glowing, colorful paper lanterns added to the late night, party vibes.
Location, catering, and cake, Gramercy Park Hotel
Event planning, Firefly Events
Floral and event design, Saipua
Photography, Heather Waraksa
Officiant, Saral Burdette
Stationery, Bliss & Bone
Calligraphy, Anne Robin Calligraphy
Music, Carte Blanche; Jarrell Entertainment
Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen; Party Rental Ltd.
Bride's ceremony gown, Alexander McQueen
Bride's reception gown and groom’s tuxedo, shirt, and bow tie, Tom Ford
Bride's headpiece, Erickson Beamon
Hair, Tomoyasu Nakajima
Makeup, Kelvin X Dume
Groom's shoes, Ferragamo
Engagement ring and wedding band, JB Star
Mother of the bride's dress, Carolina Herrera