Liam and Alison met just before their senior year of high school, but it took years of chasing and convincing for Liam to get Alison to agree to go out with him. Once he did, they spent a year and a half long-distance, but finally found their way to the same place. "The rest, as they say, is history," says Liam.
When it came time to propose, Liam wanted to give Alison a story they could tell for the rest of their lives. He bought tickets to a New York City Ballet production of The Nutcracker, made reservations for a fancy dinner, and planned to propose by candlelight in Central Park. However, he realized Alison wanted a surprise proposal more than she wanted an "event," so one evening, while they were sitting on the couch, he grabbed the ring out of his dresser and got down on one knee. "I explained what I'd planned, but told her that she was the story I wanted," says Liam. Just before he popped the question, she stopped him and asked if he wanted to go to the park after all. The couple threw on their coats and ran to Central Park, where they'd had their first date. Liam got back down on one knee, asked the question, and, of course, Alison said yes!
On their way out of the park, a police car pulled up in front of them and asked what they were doing. Alison explained that they'd just gotten engaged. The cop followed his deadpan congratulations with a warning that the park was closed. "Thankfully, he let us off with a warning," says Liam. Alison got her surprise proposal and a great story to tell!
On May 25th, 2013, the couple invited their family and friends back to New York for an elegant rooftop wedding at Gramercy Terrace.
"I was looking for something clean and modern, but that also felt special," Alison says of her dress search. After finding many that she felt were too princess-y or too plain, she discovered this strapless Anna Maier - Ulla-Maija gown with an ornate bodice and a dramatic, button-adorned train. Beneath the minimalist shape, she wore a pair of eye-catching Jimmy Choo peep-toe pumps.
The bridesmaids wore elegant floor-length black chiffon dresses with satin waistbands. Liam and his groomsmen wore charcoal suits and British racing green ties. "The color was hard to find," says Liam, "so as soon as I found it, I snapped the ties up. It was an homage to the old cars I loved as a kid."
Alison carried a white and green bouquet of sweet peas, Calla lilies, herbs, and leaves. A white Calla lily gave Liam's boutonniere a modern, architectural shape.
The ring bearer, Liam's cousin Kyle, carried a succulent to which the rings were attached. The three flower girls wore green dresses and carried white nosegays.
The couple loved the juxtaposition of the terrace's greenery and the sweeping city skyline. They kept the décor simple in order to give their vows the gravity they deserved. Bamboo chairs added to the natural feel of the ceremony space.
One of Alison's favorite moments occurred just as she and Liam arrived at the altar. "Before being seated, our parents committed to supporting us and encouraging us in our new lives together," she says.
After the ceremony guests made their way to the bar, where Alison and Liam were serving their favorite cocktail: a mojito.
"My late mother loved monarch butterflies, so I wanted to include vibrant orange in the décor in her memory," says the bride.
"When we opened the curtains between the ceremony and reception, we surprised our guests with pops of bright color," says Alison. Red, burgundy, orange, and white centerpieces overflowed from mercury glass vases.
Dinner was served at long tables that wrapped around the terrace, giving guests an uninterrupted view of the Manhattan skyline. "I loved being able to stand at one corner of the terrace and look down along the tables, seeing everyone who'd come to celebrate with us," the bride says.
Alison's maid of honor helped her create a silhouette of the New York skyline on stretched canvas. Guests marked the canvas with their thumbprints, and the piece now hangs in Liam and Alison's home.
The cake was clean and modern, with subtle fondant pleats. A cascade of sugar flowers brightened up the look, while two monarch butterflies—a tribute to Alison's late mother—hovered amongst the blooms.
Clusters of candles created a cozy atmosphere in Gramercy Terrace's light bulb room.
Liam and Alison shared their first dance to John McLaughlin's "My Girl, Tonight." "As the DJ called us out onto the dance floor," remembers Alison, "we realized we'd forgotten to take dance lessons!" The duo improvised, and laughed while they enjoyed the moment.
After the whirlwind of their wedding, the couple chose to honeymoon somewhere less exotic so they wouldn't feel obligated to explore or fill the day with activities. Instead, they relaxed and enjoyed some peace and quiet at a hotel in downtown Chicago.
Alison advises brides to keep their wedding day in perspective. "It's a wonderful day, but it's just a day," she says. "I doubt I'll ever have one with as much significance, but what matters much more are the days, months, and years that will follow."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Gramercy Terrace at the Gramercy Park Hotel || Wedding Planner: Michelle Condon of the Gramercy Park Hotel || Bride's Wedding Dress: Anna Maier - Ulla-Maija || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Jewelry: Family Heirlooms || Hair: Billy Dee Williams of Red Door Spa || Makeup: Luis Rodriguez || Bridesmaids' & Flower Girls' Dresses: David's Bridal || Groom's Suit: Hugo Boss || Wedding Bands: Dalia Diamonds || Florist: Denise Fasanello Flowers || Invitations & Paper Goods: Balsley Printing, The Left Handed Calligrapher || Music: Juilliard String Quartet, DJ Matty of Jarrell Entertainment || Catering: Gramercy Terrace || Cake: Cheryl Kleinman Cakes || Groom's Cake: Sylvia Weinstock Cakes || Photography: Tory Williams Photography