Tell us a little about yourselves!
Emily works in design ops at a tech company and Frank is a serial tech entrepreneur. Working in tech and our love for food are probably the two key things we have in common – otherwise, we are complete opposites! We live between Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Los Angeles with our dog, Pat (short for Patience).
Why did you decide to get married where you did?
We knew we wanted something close to NYC which is where we both met and have lived for the past decade or so. We had taken a few memorable trips upstate together when we were dating so the general region was special to us. We also wanted something outdoors to make everyone feel comfortable and safe given the changing climate of the pandemic in 2021. For some reason, there are so many barn venues in the US and we just are not barn people! So that ruled out a lot of venues. Our dream venue was something that was modern and structural juxtaposed with nature.
Emily loves contemporary architecture and art while Frank is a bit more traditional and classic. We found this venue through one of our friends’ Instagram stories when she went upstate and her AirBNB host told her about a garden nearby.
We later learned it was an American garden established in the 1930’s by a young couple that wanted to escape the city and it is heavily inspired by Chinese paintings and garden elements. We are both Chinese-Americans so it felt almost serendipitous that we stumbled upon this garden. We were still in Los Angeles at the time but when we got back to NYC, we visited the garden the first weekend we were back and it was even more stunning in person than all the pictures online. We knew that was it after the first visit.
Our wedding was 100% a garden wedding, with no plan B for inclement weather, which was nerve wracking since Hurricane Henri (one of the big storms over the summer) was heading up the coast the weekend of our wedding. It ended up being one of the record-setting rain storms in NYC
the same day of our wedding. However, about 100 miles north in the garden, there wasn’t a drop-in the sky where we danced until the early morning (albeit, it was very, very muggy). We attributed this all to “Frank Luck” since he tends to run lucky in exactly these types of situations. It really set the tone for us and the rest of our lives together.
How many guests did you have?
We had 99 guests and our wedding was captured by our photographer Freda Banks.
Tell us about your outfits.
Emily wore a linen Jacquemus dress for the ceremony and reception. Linen turned out to be perfect for the humid and muggy summer day. Emily also studied architecture in college and her style tends to gravitate towards architectural but feminine and minimalist, which is exactly what this dress was. It also was from Jacquemus’ line called L’Amour (love in French) so it was also symbolic as well. After dinner, she changed into white rubber Birkenstocks (her go-to choice of shoe during the pandemic) and a silk dress by Anine Bing for late night dancing. Frank wore a custom tailored tuxedo from Enzo Custom, a custom suiting store in NYC, owned by one of Frank’s friends.
What was the most important aspect for you, in terms of planning your wedding?
We wanted our wedding to feel truly like us in every regard so we incorporated that in every single detail – everything from the ceremony procession to the food. If you ask any of our friends and family, of course, it would show in the food. Food was both our families’ love language growing up and it is also our shared love language.
We are both Chinese American and love a good high-low food spread. We used to host Superbowl parties with a charcuterie board, a tub of cheese balls, pizza, and caviar. We wanted to honor our Chinese heritage but also our nouveau taste. Frank’s family comes from a seaside region in China so they are a huge seafood family and Emily was born and raised in Boston – so during cocktail hour, there was a full raw bar, lobster rolls, and dimsum served by Jing Fong – an institutional Chinese restaurant in NYC’s Chinatown, that actually shuttered during the pandemic.
We also served our favorite spirits. Frank was an early adopter of Japanese whiskey so we ordered a few cases of Yamazaki (which ended up being a huge hit) and Emily has been really into natural wines so had one of her college friends, who is a restauranteur, select some funky bottles to serve. For place settings at dinner, we also had special tie-dyed fortune cookies with custom fortunes (made by LA culinary artist, Sandy Ho) inside for each of our guests, which was another ode to our Chinese American heritage. The fortunes had different versions of funny quotes by Frank and the dates of our wedding as the lucky numbers inscribed on them.
Were there any elements that were important for you to incorporate?
We got married on a mini island surrounded by our friends and family! One of Innisfree Garden’s most iconic landscape elements is called the Yurmizu (oxbow) and it’s this small oxbow shaped island surrounded by running water. My brother officiated our wedding so we stood on the island while everyone surrounded us on the other side.
We really wanted everyone to be comfortable and enjoy the garden as much as we did. The ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception sites were scattered throughout the garden so we wanted to make the walk as enjoyable and meaningful as possible. We planted champagne and water stations along the path to surprise (and fuel) guests as they entered to the ceremony site. Our guests joked that we made them go “champagne hiking” on our wedding day.
The longest walk was back to the reception tent from the cocktail hour site and we wanted to maintain everyone’s buzz and keep the momentum going, so we hired a brass band to lead us through the garden back to the tent in kind of a New Orleans celebratory parade style. It was one of the many highlights of the night to see all our friends and family in their bright garden dresses and suits marching behind us. The band was absolutely amazing and had lungs of steel to be playing as well as hiking!
We are both 90’s children so Emily walked down the aisle to a classical version of the Donna Lewis ballad, “I Love You Always Forever” and Frank walked down to Lion King’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” When we were pronounced husband and wife, Donna Lewis’ original version blasted as we walked off our moat.
Any tips for couples getting married, particularly during the pandemic?
Plan for the wedding you want and not for what is “traditionally” done at weddings. We cut out our bridal party from the ceremony since we know that our best friends know who they are without having to wear matching dresses or suits. The only tricky thing was gathering specific friends to take photos with since it’s like herding cats, especially when people are drinking!
We saw our wedding as a union of our families as well so we had our parents walk down together and both families exchanged hugs with the bride and groom before we walked onto our moated island to make our commitments to each other. Emily walked down the aisle on her own since the act of “giving her away” seemed so old-school to her.
We cut out parent dances since we never have slow danced with our parents in our lives and didn’t need the first time to be in front of everyone.
Are there any vendors that you would like to tell us a little more about?
Jing Fong was a huge hit at our wedding. Serving insanely delicious dim sum during cocktail hour and supporting such an iconic Chinese institution especially during a trying time for Asian-Americans was extra special. They even made congee (a rice porridge that’s great for hangovers) and soy sauce noodles (symbolic of a long life) for the recovery brunch the next morning.
At our reception on the dance floor, we had a bright pink neon sign made by an NYC artist, Juno Shen, (graciously lended to us by some friends) that showed the “double happiness” Chinese characters, which are traditionally hung in red and gold paper at Chinese weddings. It was yet another modern and fun take on our Chinese heritage that we wanted to celebrate.
Photographer : Freda Banks @fredabankswed | Videographer : Stephen Huh @stephenhuh | Ceremony + Reception Location : Innisfree Garden @innisfreegarden | Celebrant : James Chen (brother of the Bride) | Entertainment : Total DJ Entertainment @totaldjentertainmentgroup + Saints of Swing (Brass Band) | Planner : Every Little Details @every_little_details | Flora : Dearest Rachel @dearestrachelnyc | Hair : Styled with Love Bridal @styledwithlovebridal | Makeup : By the Bride | Catering + Beverages : Bridgecreek Catering @bridgecreekcatering + Jing Fong NY @jingfongny | Cake : Red Gate Bakery @redgatebakery | Stationery : By the Bride Emco Cards @emcocards | Bride's Ceremony Dress : Jacquemus @jacquemus | Bride's Reception Dress : Anine Bing @aninebing | Groom's Suit : Enzo Custom @enzocustom | Neon Sign : Juno Shen 'Double Happiness' @juno.shen, loaned from friends