A Rooftop Garden Wedding in Midtown Manhattan
Jialin and Howard met in December of 2015 when a mutual friend visited New York and invited them both to dinner. The pair quickly realized that they worked for the same company but had never crossed paths. That chance encounter led to more, and on September 1, 2018, on a trip to Clearwater, Florida, Howard surprised Jialin with a proposal on the beach.
The couple began planning their wedding in New York City, which took place a year after their engagement, on September 1, 2019. They teamed up with Elizabeth Gopal from East Made Co., and described their wish for an "intimate, delicate, and contemporary" event. "We knew our guest size would be no more than 50, so we wanted to keep it simple yet memorable," Jialin says. The couple put together a vision board and let Elizabeth take the lead on the design aesthetic; they did, however, put their mark on their nuptials. Both Jialin and Howard are Chinese, so they made sure to also incorporate a few cultural elements throughout the big day, including a tea ceremony ahead of the service.
With Howard on top of logistics and vendor communications, they pulled together a city-meets-garden wedding for 47 guests at 620 Loft & Garden in New York City. "Overall, they wanted their wedding day to be vibrant, fun, and not too stuffy," their planner shares. "A mix of formality and whimsy played into everything we dreamed up for them." The duo went with a palette of cream, mustard, burnt orange, terra-cotta, blush, dusty rose, gold, and bronze; the dress code was color-coded, as well (they sent out a suggested roster of hues with their customized digital invitations).
Jialin envisioned a dreamy wedding dress and found exactly what she was looking for in her Mira Zwillinger off-the-shoulder gown, complete with floral appliqué detailing.
Pop of Color
Jialin carried a petite hand-tied bouquet with copper, peach, and pink ranunculus, dahlias, and sweet peas down the aisle. The arrangement was tied with a long naturally-dyed silk ribbon.
Howard stepped into a black tuxedo from Ermenegildo Zegna for the ceremony.
The bride and groom shared their first look on the rooftop garden of NoMad hotel, about a mile south of their venue. Having left Jilian in their hotel room that morning to get ready for the wedding, Howard was excited to be back with his bride-to-be. "It was a moment full of joy and happiness," he says. After the first look, they snapped a few portraits around Midtown.
Jialin wrote her vows that morning, and got so emotional during the process, that she had to ask her makeup artist, Lynn from Lynn Makeup Studio, to retouch her makeup before she headed down the aisle.
On Top of the World
The couple chose to host their intimate wedding at 620 Loft & Garden because they enjoyed the way the outdoor rooftop garden is nested between tall urban skyscrapers. "We both loved the serenity of the venue surrounded by magnificent New York architecture," the couple shares.
Bursting with Color
As guests entered the venue, they were greeted by a display with a pink hand-painted backdrop via JD Artshop and a framed welcome sign from Papel & Co positioned on top of a velvet chair from Patina Rentals. Elizabeth Gopal, the couple's planner from East Made Co., added tropical fruits and an organic, on-palette flower arrangement to the setup. "Jialin wanted this display to feel like a vignette in an art museum, so as a last-minute addition, I placed her artful reception shoes on one of the tables," Elizabeth says. "Seeing Jialin's excited reaction to this when she stepped off the elevator was one of my favorite moments of the day!" The display was later transformed into a selfie station during the cocktail hour.
On the rooftop lawn, where the ceremony took place, ghost chairs were set up in rows; they didn't draw attention away from the city scenery. Two "growing" arrangements, created by Flwr Studio, were placed in bowls and situated at the entrance to the aisle (these were later re-used at the base of the reception tables). Jialin and Howard also took a nontraditional approach to their flower arch: Flwr Studio designed an upside-down iteration, which incorporated tons of greenery, and pink, cream, and peach florals. "The entire ceremony felt organic and whimsical—a touch of playfulness in midtown Manhattan," the couple's planner notes.
Jialin was accompanied by her father as she walked down the aisle to "Miles Apart" by Nick Wilson; then, the ceremony, delivered in both English and Chinese, began. The pair exchanged vows and, as the bride was reading her own, the bell at St. Patrick's Cathedral started to ring, marking the five o'clock hour. "It was such a sacred moment," Howard says. "Oasis" by Kygo played as they made their way back down the aisle as a married couple.
The couple attended their cocktail hour briefly to take some group photos and greet their guests. When they went off to change, guests mingled and enjoyed passed appetizers including truffle risotto tots, chicken satay, and peking duck quesadillas. A geometric wooden bar was decorated with scattered fruit and an asymmetrical flower arrangement.
Howard and Jialin worked with their caterer, Krisp Events, to dream up two signature cocktails; the tequila-based "Gu Specialty" and rum-based "Wang Specialty."
The couple's reception took place outside on the rooftop, where two long tables were set up for guests, along with a sweetheart station for the newlyweds.
Ghost chairs framed each table, allowing the bright, colorful décor to pop. Neutral tablecloths were covered with candles in tall glass votives, bold coral-and-peach centerpieces, and fruits like berries, peaches, and grapes for an artistic, still life feel.
Ikebana-style centerpieces were scattered down each table; anthuriums popped out of each for height. "Jialin was very inspired by minimal brands and their marketing, so we wanted all of the florals and vignettes to feel as if they'd come straight from an art gallery—very intentional and playful," Elizabeth says.
Place settings included rose gold flatware, cheesecloth napkins in a dusty rose shade, and menus and name tags in both Chinese and English.
Jialin changed into a gold dress by Leanne Marshall for the reception. "The delightful color and dynamic style perfectly reflected our wedding's overall aesthetics," she shares of the garment. She also changed into her second pair of shoes by Jacquemus, which featured fun geometric shapes at the heel. Howard also changed; he donned a charcoal suit from Thom Browne, paired with a skinny black tie and white sneakers.
Dinner Under the Cathedral
During the seated dinner, the celebrants were served salmon tartar to start, followed by a main course of filet mignon. Although the couple didn't have a traditional wedding party, Howard's cousin, mentor, and Jialin's best friend gave toasts during the meal.
The First Dance
Jialin and Howard chose "Love" by Lana Del Rey for their first dance. "We love the grand feeling of the instruments," they say. Guests then joined them on the dance floor as a DJ got the party started.
Their planning team set up a dessert station that mimicked the reception tables outdoors. Lady M's Mille Crepe cakes, decorated with fresh florals, were the focal points.
Each guest received a favor package that included a thank-you card from the couple, a small handmade pineapple cake made in Jialin's hometown, and an Aesop hand balm. Jialian and Howard had a little help putting them together: "Parents from both sides gathered the night before the wedding to prepare all 50 packs together. It was such a touching moment!" the couple shares.
Photography, Stetten Wilson
Venue, 620 Loft & Garden
Event Planning and Design, East Made Co
Videography, Joyce Films
Paper Products, Papel & Co
Catering, Krisp Events
Flowers, Flwr Studio
Bride's Gown, Mira Zwillinger via Mark Ingram Atelier (ceremony); Leanne Marshall (reception dress and veil)
Bride's Earrings, Shashi
Bride's Hairpiece, Twigs & Honey
Bride's Shoes, Jimmy Choo (ceremony); Jacquemus (reception)
Hair and Makeup, Lynn Makeup Studio
Groom's Attire, Ermenegildo Zegna (ceremony); Thom Browne (reception)
Music, TCM DJ Events
Cake, Lady M
Rentals, Patina Rentals; BBJ Linen; Please B Seated
Welcome Backdrop, JRD Artshop