Alison Leventhal and Shariq Khan dated for over six years before Shariq proposed to Ali at their favorite restaurant in New York City, which made planning their July 9, 2016, wedding easy. "We've felt like one big family forever," says Ali. "Our wedding was a big love fest." The bride's from New York, and the groom has called the city home since his family moved from India, so they knew there was no better place to bring the two families together officially. "Our criteria for finding a venue was simple: We wanted a place that was timeless, as gorgeous 100 years ago as it is today, we wanted to be married outside and surrounded by nature, and we wanted to be able to take our kids to the place where we exchanged vows," Ali describes. The second they visited the New York Botanical Garden, they were sold. "The ceremony space feels so intimate, which set the tone for our family-oriented event."
The design and planning for the wedding was easy, too. Rebekkah Rosado of Your Runway Event led the charge, but when it came to décor, there was no one better to turn to than Shariq's father, couture designer and bridal favorite Naeem Khan. Says Ali, "Naeem was heavily involved, and we worked with the florist who designs all of his shows. He and I came up with a few ideas, and it evolved from there." The celebration they created was the perfect combination of classic New York elements and rich, vibrant colors that popped against the natural and organic setting. From trees towering over the reception tables to the intricate beading on Ali's custom gown, no detail was overlooked—and the couple's 230 guests took notice. So did photographers The Hons, who captured all the inspiration a classic bride could ever need!
Laser-cut invitations by Fancy That included clean and modern fonts, while the envelopes were addressed with beautiful, classic calligraphy.
Ali and her bridesmaids spent the morning getting ready at the Ritz-Carlton, celebrating with champagne, of course!
The bride's gown was a modern take on Grace Kelly's totally timeless silhouette. "Naeem and I have known each other for seven years, and he's really been like a father to me," says Ali of the famed designer. "Designing my wedding gown with him was a dream." They settled on a silhouette, then Khan got to work creating something truly one-of-a-kind for his daughter-in-law. "The process was so amazing, I couldn't help but cry the first time I put the dress on," says the bride. "The muslin mock-ups were beautiful, but putting on my actual gown and feeling the weight of the embroidery was unbelievable." Scalloped and swirling embroidery covered the ball gown, with a high neck and sheer back reminiscent of Grace Kelly's iconic gown. Of course, this New York City bride paired the design with strappy silver Christian Louboutin sandals!
We're loving the perfectly undone look of Ali's half-up hairstyle, with soft waves beneath an intricate, twisted style. Shariq went formal to match his bride, donning a Ralph Lauren tuxedo.
Ali's bouquet mixed white orchids and full roses, while Shariq's boutonniere was a single structural bloom.
The bride wasn't the only one in a custom Naeem Khan design: Her 'maids donned the designer's wares, too! "They were the chicest bridesmaids' dresses I've ever seen," says Ali. "We were hyper-focused on color and weren't afraid of bold tons. Naeem was the one who came up with their flowing capes, which were so dramatic as they entered the ceremony." Shariq's groomsmen all wore traditional tuxedos, down to the classic bow ties.
While working with Naeem Khan on a custom design would be special no matter what, we can only imagine how meaningful it was for Ali to share the process with her father-in-law!
The ceremony took place outdoors, beneath a white pergola draped in lush bougainvillea.
Shariq's mother's goddaughter served as flower girl, wearing a Naeem Khan dress embroidered in colorful flowers.
Shariq and Ali tapped two very special people to officiate their ceremony: Ali's dad's brother and Shariq's mom's brother. "The four of us had Google Hangouts across the country every month leading up to the wedding as they wrote our ceremony," Ali describes. "We introduced them years ago and they've become really close, so it felt so natural to have them marry us."
She and Shariq wrote their own vows, and really focused on the words they said. "What you say at the altar is more important than all the little details you plan. It's your time to share your promises to one another, and the one detail you really should get caught up in," Ali says.
Though the reception was indoors, Ali and Shariq made a point of bringing the garden inside with them. Each table was topped with a tree of lush greenery, lit with hanging votive candles. "The entire space smelled like a garden," remembers the bride. The flowers on the tables were lush and vibrant, from anemones and peonies to orchids and roses. "We used fire tones—pinks, reds, oranges, and—to add warmth to the space," Ali describes.
Each guest's place setting was finished with a pink-edged napkin and a printed menu outlining the evening's meal. Dinner began with Atlantic salmon tartar, followed by a choice of grilled branzino with artichoke puree and filet mignon with summer vegetable ratatouille.
For dessert, the couple cut into a four-tiered wedding cake, intricately covered in fresh flowers. If that confection wasn't enough, guests were also treated to passed cookies and milk, spiced chocolate truffles, and key lime tartlets.
For the reception, Ali donned elbow-length gloves finished with embroidery that matched her gown. She and Shariq shared their first dance to "At Last" by Etta James, then New York City Swing played a mix of classic rock and current hits.
"It was hard to change out of my ball gown, but Naeem created a dramatic and sexy reception dress for me," says Ali of the silver fringe creation she wore until the party ended at 2:30 a.m. Late that evening, an Indian food truck arrived with late-night bites for the guests, a nod to Shariq's heritage. "We cook Indian food quite a lot at home, and our friends expect all that delicious flavor."
A few days later, the pair headed to Oahu for their honeymoon. Looking back, Ali has great insight for other brides: "No matter what happens while you're engaged, at the end of it all, you'll be married to the person you love, so don't let those details overwhelm you. Your reception is just a party, so make it fun and make it yours. Shift your focus instead to the things that matter: Your vows, your relationship, and your future together."
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Ceremony & Reception Venue: The New York Botanical Garden || Wedding Planner: Rebekkah Rosado of Your Runway Event || Bride's Wedding Dress: Naeem Khan || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Hair: Naomi Porto || Makeup: Jill Oscar-Sales || Engagement Ring: Carelle Luxury Jewelry || Groom's Attire: Ralph Lauren Purple Label Tux and Tom Ford Tie || Bridesmaid Dresses: Naeem Khan || Flower Girl Dress: Naeem Khan || Invitations & Escort Cards: Fancy That || Flowers: Jenevieve Peralta || Ceremony & Reception Music: New York City Swing || Caterer: STARR Events || Photography: The Hons || Videography: The Hons