Four years after meeting as summer associates at a law firm in 2008, Manoj brought Aileen to one of her favorite places in New York City: The New York Public Library. They'd planned to go on a hike the day before, but Aileen had gotten stuck at work, so thankfully the black-tie benefit they were heading to that evening at the Museum of Modern Art gave the pair an excuse to get dressed to the nines — and grab dinner at McDonald's. "It's what we always do when we're dressed up!" Aileen laughs. After finishing their dinner in front of the library, Manoj asked Aileen to take a picture of him on the steps. When she stepped back to ready the camera, he got down on one knee and held up a piece of paper that read "Will You Marry Me?". "He was so nervous, the sign was upside down! Lucky for him, I could still read it," Aileen remembers.
The pair spent 18 months planning a wedding in two boroughs, with a Hindu ceremony at the Ganesh Temple in Flushing, Queens followed by a Christian ceremony and an evening reception at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn. On May 25, 2014, Daughter of Design and Amy Merrick Flowers & Styling transformed the hotel with a stunning overhead display of cherry blossoms and votive candles that had a magical effect on the space. Get a peek at this elegant, wild, and ever-so-slightly industrial garden party for 112 guests in the heart of Brooklyn, photographed by Belathée Photography.
After the morning's Hindu ceremony in Queens, Aileen added a dose of modern elegance with a chic updo, bold red lips, and swirling gold Christian Louboutin pumps beneath a soft Vera Wang ball gown. "When I tried this gown on for the first time, my father, who never had any interest in fashion, or ever got emotional over such things, said this was the dress he saw me getting married in. My favorite detail was the row of buttons down the back of the lace bodice," says Aileen.
Manoj set the reputation for choosing great formalwear during the proposal, and lived up to the hype on his wedding day when he donned a custom blue tuxedo. He completed his look with a boutonniere of jasmine and a white garden rose.
Aileen's bouquet had an overgrown, wild feel, combining peonies, garden roses, poppies, and anemones in shades of blush and ivory. Instead of carrying traditional nosegays, her bridesmaids wore blush peony corsages.
The groomsmen wore suits in charcoal and dark blue, all with brown shoes. Even the couple's dog got in on the fun, wearing a soft blue floral print tie.
Aileen asked her bridesmaids to pick long dresses in a palette of soft pink, peach, and metallics.
The flower girls wore ivory dresses and crowns of jasmine and garden roses. "Led by the ring bearer, the flower girls were supposed to enter the ceremony, then turn right to walk down the aisle. Instead, they missed their turn and kept walking! They almost passed the entire crowd before someone guided them in the direction of the aisle," Aileen laughs.
Before sending out their invitations, the bride and groom gave guests a hint of what was in store with a custom Viewmaster save-the-date. For the invitations and ceremony programs, Julie Song Ink created a blush watercolor floral pattern, which was combined with modern calligraphy.
The industrial space, with exposed brick walls and wooden planks on the ceiling, was the perfect complement for the soft florals that Aileen envisioned. For the ceremony, the couple chose two dramatic arrangements of garden roses, foxglove, and cherry blossoms were surrounded by pillar candles.
"Because we were already having the morning ceremony at a separate location, we wanted to keep the evening ceremony and reception in the same venue instead of shuttling guests to yet a third place. We fell in love with the ambiance of the Wythe Hotel, and it was the perfect place to have our evening celebration all in one," says Aileen.
Julie Song Ink also created the blush escort cards with gray calligraphy. The Wythe's patio, complete with exposed beams and strings of café lights, turned out to be the perfect place for the party to enjoy cocktails while the venue was switched over for dinner. Guests sipped Dark and Stormy's and Old Fashioneds while eating jalapeno johnny cakes with cured ham and aged cheddar and grilled chicken skewers with spiced yogurt.
Inside the hotel, rows of chairs were replaced with long tables covered in ivory linens, low arrangements of peonies in blush and burgundy, and tall taper candles. The centerpieces were kept simple in order to have the focus remain on the cherry blossoms hanging from above.
Dinner was served family-style and included artichokes with chèvre and black currants, baby leek panzanella, pork loin with smashed Yukon potatoes, collard greens with ramp and bacon vinaigrette, and chicken with red rice and cumin. "We loved how the chefs were able to incorporate Indian and Chinese elements into the menu," says Aileen.
For dessert, the newlyweds cut into a naked Momofuku Milk Bar wedding cake, with layers of cake with rainbow sprinkles, vanilla frosting, and cake crumble. As dancing got underway, Aileen changed into a more fitted dress with an embroidered cape.
A few days after the wedding, the couple took a trip of a lifetime, heading on a Serengeti safari in Tanzania, spending time on the beach in Zanzibar, and then taking on the city in Istanbul. "As we started planning, we had no idea what we wanted. But we were able to pare things down to what best represents both of us," says Aileen. "It's impossible to please everyone, so focus on the things that are true to the two of you."
Morning Ceremony Venue: Ganesh Temple || Evening Ceremony & Reception Venue: Wythe Hotel || Wedding Planner: Daughter of Design || Bride's Wedding Dress: Vera Wang || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Hair: Liam Carey New York || Makeup: Virginia Bradley Linzee || Groom's Attire: Requisite Clothing || Wedding Bands: Greenwich Jewelers || Floral Design: Amy Merrick Flowers & Styling || Invitations & Paper Goods: Julie Song Ink || Ceremony Music: Venus Ensembles || Reception Music: Generation Events || Catering: Reynard || Cake: Momofuku Milk Bar || Rentals: Party Rental Ltd. || Videography: Kiss the Bride Films || Photography: Belathée Photography
Can't get enough of this wedding? Then we bet you'll love watching another couple's sweet Brooklyn nuptials in the video below.