A Southeast Asian-Inspired Wedding in a Former Brooklyn Warehouse
This couple created a tropical oasis in an industrial setting.
Angel and Ryan met through a mutual friend in February of 2012, when Angel was starting her career and Ryan was beginning graduate school. Both new to New York City, the duo shared one of their first dates taking in the sights at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Seven years later, in May 2019, Ryan brought Angel back to the same park under the guise that they were attending a friend's birthday picnic. But when they arrived, Ryan popped the question—and the couple's friends and family joined them to celebrate the moment with an outdoor lunch.
The couple initially planned on inviting 120 guests to their September wedding in New York, but in June, they realized the risk was too great, with COVID-19 on the rise. So, they talked with their planner, Melissa Lee of Bespoke Only, about what a smaller event with social distancing guidelines could look like. They went back and forth, but in the end, the couple decided to follow through with their main plan for 2020—to get married. "It felt a bit like ad-libbing or improvising," Angel says. "The ground beneath us was shifting constantly and we needed to be okay with the unknown and learn to take things one decision at a time." When a concrete plan emerged, they sent virtual invitations to 17 of their closest local friends and family, asking them to safely celebrate their nuptials with them on September 28, 2020, at a refurbished warehouse in Brooklyn.
On the big day, melding their cultures was a main priority. Angel grew up in Indonesia and is of Thai and Singaporean descent, while Ryan is Indonesian, but grew up in the States and the Philippines. "We wanted something that blended together that heritage, as well as our current life here in Brooklyn," Angel says. "99Scott in Bushwick was a great choice—the whole space captured that authentic Brooklyn feel, yet it was a blank enough canvas that allowed us to run with our own Southeast Asian-inspired theme." The result was an oasis-inspired loft ceremony with tropical vegetation and an intimate dinner reception with musical performances in lieu of dancing.
The Handsome Couple
Angel wore an elegant lace wedding dress with geometric detailing from Floravere. "My original plan was to wear a traditional Thai outfit for the ceremony, but that changed quickly due to COVID, with the inability to travel and source materials," Angel says. "When I found my gown, it was only my second dress appointment ever—but it just felt like the right choice for me when I tried it on, and I ended up buying it right then and there at the store." The bride paired her ensemble with shoes from Bella Belle and simple earrings from Aurate. Ryan went with earth tones for his look, playing off of the natural plants seen throughout the day's décor; his custom three-piece charcoal suit from Loro Piana worked well with a tie in a deep shade of gold.
The couple had their first look inside the main room of their venue, where the reception later took place. "This was probably the only part of the day that felt 'unnatural' to us," the couple says. "We both don't appear in front of the camera often, so unsurprisingly, we were both awkward. Our photographer, Ryan from Forged in the North, and our videographer, Matt Koza, were amazing and helped us feel more at ease in front of the cameras."
The bride held a loose, hand-tied bouquet that included double hellebores, seasonal foliage like dill, oatgrass, and bunny tails, and organic jasmine vine, finished with a muted orange ribbon. "The bouquet also carried a beautiful scent from the jasmine—it was a lovely reminder of a warm summer night somewhere in Southeast Asia," says Melissa Lee of Bespoke Only, their planner. "Together, it was an ode representing the couple's past and present."
Guests wore black-and-white masks as they transitioned between rooms in the venue. As attendees entered the ceremony space, the couple's friend welcomed them with an instrumental version of Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek," played on the guitar.
Mini Wedding Party
Unfortunately, many of the couple's loved ones weren't able to travel to New York, including their parents, who live in Southeast Asia. Because of this, they weren't able to have a full wedding party—something their flower girl and ring bearer made up for in droves. They took on the service together, walking back up and down the aisle hand-in-hand.
Ready to Wed
The ceremony took place in the loft room of 99Scott, a former warehouse; a textured cement wall served as the backdrop. Overhead, an oversized skylight brought plenty of natural light into the space, which bounced off of the leaves of the tropical plants their planner had brought in for the occasion. Glass hurricanes holding pillar candles were placed on the floor for the finishing touch.
Ryan and Angel wrote their own vows, which they shared at the apex of the service. "Angel spoke about how we've grown together and how being together is what gives 'home' its meaning," the groom shares. The ceremony, they say, was one of the most special parts of their day. "It was such an intimate moment, and we enjoyed reading our vows to each other and making a commitment to each other with our friends and family present," the bride reflects.
Courtyard Cocktail Hour
Everyone gathered in the courtyard for the cocktail hour, where more tropical vegetation filled the space; bistro lights were hung from above. The newlyweds were thankful for the weather, which allowed this section of the event to be held outdoors—despite an otherwise sunny forecast on the days prior and after the wedding, they woke up on the big day expecting rain! "By the time of our ceremony and cocktail hour, there wasn't a single cloud in the sky. We both remember this moment perfectly," says Angel.
Bites and Sips
Guests enjoyed a market table of appetizers. "We wanted a Southeast Asian theme for our décor and food, since we are both from that region of the world," Angel shares. As for drinks? They served a "South Oxford Gimlet" and a "Morningside Spicy Margarita" as an homage to places where they used to live.
A Socially Distanced Reception
Their reception space was filled with plants brought in from the courtyard and strategically-placed lounge seating and tables to meet social distancing guidelines. The décor spoke to the day's color scheme of ecru, flax, fuchsia, and various shades of green, accented by antique brass and pops of black.
The couple's planner was able to borrow two bamboo chairs from the caterer's own backyard—this was a surprise for the couple. Potted foliage served as the backdrop and separated the lounges from the rest of the space.
Tables were dressed in olive linens and topped with vintage Dorothy Thorpe lucite candlesticks in varying shapes; they held tall white tapers. The settings and details were kept minimal, enhanced only by natural materials like the linen napkins. Dinner menus were printed on white cardstock and situated on gray plates that were paired with antique brass cutlery.
A Homestyle Dinner
The couple's caterer, Wayla, served traditional Thai dishes during dinner. The homestyle meal included a chicken curry with Thai eggplant and bamboo and a strip steak dish in a tamarind sauce.
Table for Two
Angel and Ryan sat at a table for two that gave them a view of all their guests and a front row seat to the speeches that followed the meal.
A Few Words
A few of their closest friends and family shared thoughtful words during the reception. "If we could, the whole evening would have just been speeches," the couple says. "It was just heartwarming to listen to each of them. We're so grateful for the friends and family we have around us."
On the Guitar
Their friends also provided the evening's entertainment—one performed a cover of "The Bones" by Hozier and Maren Morris, while the sang their rendition of "Take Me Home" by Us the Duo. "The latter has special significance to us, especially having done long distance for a total of almost four years. We concluded the evening with that song," Angel says.
The couple admits that there were a lot of unknowns on the road to their big day, but that they are grateful to have had the support of their planner. "We never truly felt stressed about putting an event together in the middle of a pandemic (even though we had to change plans multiple times) when we only focused on the essence of what our day was about," the bride says. "It made us more flexible to adapt and it made all the imperfections seem natural and beautiful."
Photography, Forged In The North
Videography, Matt Koza
Event Design and Flowers, Melissa Lee of Bespoke Only
Bride's Gown, Floravere
Bride's Shoes, Bella Belle
Bride's Accessories, Aurate; Vale Jewelry
Hair and Makeup, VickyC5
Groom's Attire, Loro Piana; Alan David
Lighting, Universal Light & Sound
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