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The Classic NYC Engagement Session

When these two Southerners began dreaming up their engagement session, they called on their love of travel to inspire photos set in NYC. From Washington Square Park to the pretty streets of Soho, they let the city set the scene and James A. of Judy Pak Photography did the rest. Head this way for every last bit of the fun.

From the bride-to-be… Our engagement photo session in New York City was a fun and joyful experience that I will cherish for years to come. Both born and raised in Mississippi, Brian and I are Southerners through and through, but we love traveling and we LOVE New York City. When it came time to decide on a location for our engagement photos, we wanted to go somewhere unique and memorable. It just had to be New York.

Brian is a photographer himself, and I had tagged along with him a little over year prior when he was shooting an engagement session in New York. I carried the bags, suggested some shots, and just took in the enchanting experience of walking around the city. It was so special to go back to this wonderful city for our own engagement session. We had a blast being on the other side of the camera!

We took the photos early on a Sunday morning so there were very few people around. We started off in Washington Square Park getting some lovely photos around the fountain, then we changed into more casual outfits and headed to SoHo. Our engagement photos are special, a testament to our love for each other and “the greatest city in the world”! We can’t wait to go back!

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Photography: James A. of Judy Pak Photography

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Glam Manhattan Wedding Planned in 3 Months

I have to give MAJOR props to this gorgeous duo for planning their wedding in three months. Yes, you read correctly: three months. I planned mine in 16 and can’t imagine crafting a day as beautiful as this one in less than 20% of that time. But they sure did and the results captured by Julie Bulanov are incredible. Thanks to Rachel Cho Floral Design, the day was sprinkled with the dreamiest blooms and city backdrops like this elevate the whole scene. There’s more right this way in The Vault!

From the Bride (Pinsi Lei)… Our backgrounds couldn’t be more different, yet we knew from the first time we met that we could not complement each other more perfectly. I was born in China and raised in Guam. Richard (Lorenzen) was born and raised in Long Island, New York. When we met online in 2014, we were both living in NYC and things just clicked. We talked about books we’ve read like “Outliers” and “Tuesdays with Morrie,” and what it meant to be an entrepreneur.

On December 22, 2015, Richard made reservations for us at the Pool Room in the Four Seasons. As our food was about to be served, he asked the waiters to move the table so he could stand up. I was so confused, but as I looked up, I saw a photographer standing in the doorway and knew what was about to happen. The entire restaurant went silent as he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. The night ended with a huge champagne toast between us and the one hundred other diners in the Pool Room.

Since we were both running our own businesses, his in public relations and mine in digital marketing, I told him that the wedding had to be in 2018 so we would have enough time to plan. Well, things didn’t quite fall into that timeline.

In the summer of 2016, as I started brainstorming wedding venues, I remembered seeing a gorgeously manicured rooftop garden in the middle of New York City in a White Collar TV episode. It overlooked St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Fifth Avenue and even had a huge indoor space with large windows that overlooked Rockefeller Center. NYC perfection! After some serious online digging, I found 620 Loft and Garden! We toured the venue in July 2016 and loved it so much that we booked it on the spot… for October 2016… two years ahead of schedule.

Ladies, it is definitely possible to plan a wedding in three months, so don’t fret if you’re in a similar position. It was helpful for me to confirm the three major pieces first: venue, caterer and florist. The next was the: photographer, cake artist and wedding planner. These were difficult decisions, but I ultimately chose my vendors because I loved them as individuals and knew they understood my vision for the wedding.

One of my favorite parts of the planning process was designing our wedding cake with Madison Lee. We spent over two hours sketching, painting and coloring my dream cake. The four-tiered cake was painted in a blush and silver metallic ombre with a large sugar flower tiara in the center. The flavor was as unique as the design, and I can still taste the spiced fig filling and vanilla buttercream frosting.

The wedding dress was a little difficult to find, but I finally found it in Ohio of all places! I was there for a business trip and happened to reconnect with an old friend from study abroad. An impromptu decision to go wedding dress shopping led to us finding THE dress at the first store! It came back to NYC in the carry-on compartment of the airplane. Everyone in the airport was wishing me congratulations because the garment bag was so massive and very obviously a wedding dress.

Our wedding was on October 22, 2016. Guests arrived at 5PM to 620 Loft and Garden, and they sipped hibiscus guava iced tea while a string quartet played familiar classical and contemporary music, from Mozart to Taylor Swift. After the wedding party was seated on the rooftop, Perry, our King Charles Cavalier puppy, made his grand entrance in a tuxedo led by Kaitlyn, Richard’s sister. Richard’s hometown pastor officiated the ceremony. He had the crowd laughing, crying and pondering life’s greatest questions in the 30 minute ceremony. We exited to the quartet playing I’m Yours by Jason Mraz while bubbles flew all around us.

I was surprised at how calm I was on my wedding day despite Murphy’s Law manifesting at every turn. Instead of a 70°F Saturday like it had been the weekend before, it was 38°F and rainy. I’m so glad I had my wedding planner Sophia there by my side because we had to move the ceremony off the lawn and into the tented area, which meant the cocktails setup had to change which meant… you know where this leads. I had been warned that things might not go as planned, but having someone you trust to handle surprises was key to keeping the CEO in me from not turning into bridezilla.

The moments right after the ceremony were so special. After Richard and I signed our wedding license, we had a chance to enjoy each other’s company and process what had just happened.
We sat down for the first time in what seemed like days and actually got to taste the amazing appetizers and cocktails we designed. This little bit of precious time was possible because we took all the group and family photos before the ceremony, another decision I highly recommend to brides. While we had our alone time, guests were entertained by an amazingly talented singer and guitarist. The live music created such a dynamic and energetic atmosphere and we couldn’t help but peep from behind the curtains to watch the show.

Our food was one of the most unique parts about our wedding. We incorporated our favorite cuisines: Asian, Island, and American comfort food. We had eight uniquely different bite-sized appetizers ranging from bbq short ribs on grit cakes to ceviche tuna tacos and duck banh-mi rolls. We designed signature cocktails too: the Guamanian Kiss (prosecco, elderflower liqueur, club soda and a strawberry slice) and the Fifth Avenue, a classic Manhattan. For the reception, I wanted guests to feel like they were at a large, overly-glamorous dinner party with two impeccably dressed hosts. Seated in two long tables, each guest had a place cards with a quirky fact about them like “modern art genius”, “island girl”, and “secret contortionist”. These were great conversation starters!

Our gift bags were quite spectacular because all the items were flown in internationally! My parents brought with them luggage full of gifts from Guam: hibiscus shaped candles in seashells; bojobo dolls made from coconut husk; Guam coconut chips; Hawaiian coffee; and Chinese red envelopes with brand new $2 bills for luck. We also included mini bottles of Schlumberger Sparkling Wine, which we discovered on a recent trip to Austria.

Our wedding was elegant and intimate. Guests described it as visually stunning and very Manhattan. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing! (Except, maybe the weather!)

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Photography: Julie Bulanov Photography | Videographer: NST Pictures | Wedding Planner: Spotted Elephant | Floral Design: Rachel Cho Floral Design | Wedding Dress: Alfred Angelo | Cake: Madison Lee’s Cakes | Stationery: Minted | Ceremony Venue: Rockefeller Center | Reception Venue: Rockefeller Center | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Azazie | Catering: Great Performances | DJ: That Perfect Pair | Groom's Attire: Book A Tailor | Groomsmen's Attire: Ralph Lauren | String Quartet: Maria Im Quartet | Bridal Hair/Makeup: Whitney Garcia | Bride & MOH Flats: Talaria Flats | Bridesmaids' Robes: Wedding Prep Gals | Furniture: Taylor Creative | Furniture: Party Rental LTD | Guitarist: Rob Baione | Wedding Party Makeup : Stephanie Dorr

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Dream of Saying I Do at the Central Park Boathouse? Don’t Miss This One.

There’s no denying that Central Park‘s scenery is magical in and of itself. But when you set a wedding in the Loeb Boathouse? That magic turns into the perfect backdrop for I do’s. Case in point—this soiree snapped up by Joshua Zuckerman Photography. Dream of your Big Day at this charmer venue? Peruse more in The Vault!

From Joshua Zuckerman PhotographyKristen and Paul’s dreamy wedding was at the Central Park Boat House, one of my favorite venues to photograph at because of the surrounding beauty of the park. The couple were very relaxed and I knew the bride’s family from having photographed her sister’s wedding at the Oheka Castle a couple of years earlier. I always love working with families as warm and friendly as both Kristen and Paul’s families. They had a few special details at their wedding that I hadn’t previously seen, which was the charming little wagon that the little flower girl came down in. I also loved the vintage trolley, which added a nice back drop for the bridal portraits. I really loved photographing in Central Park, which can be a little difficult with all the crowds, but we found a little area that was perfect. The bridal party and bride and groom were also great sports to climb up onto the large rock for the group shots—but it was worth it. Those are some of my favorite ‘formal’ portraits of that wedding season.

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Photography: Joshua Zuckerman Photography | Videography: Frank Ahn Films | Floral Design: In Full Bloom, Farmingdale, NY | Wedding Dress: KENNETH POOL | Wedding Cake: City Sweets Confections | Wedding Invitations: Lion in the Sun | Venue: The Central Park Boathouse | Hair Styling: Jiwon Yang, Prive Salon By Laurent D., NYC | Makeup Styling: Jennifer Margaret Makeup | Wedding Band: Hank Lane Music | Wedding Dress Boutique: Wedding Salon Of Manhasset

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