In June of 2009, Shirley Liu and Geoffrey Lawson were both interning in Washington, D.C., and living in adjacent apartments. “We spent the summer exploring D.C. together and going to as many indie concerts as we could get tickets to,” Shirley recalls. “There were definitely sparks by the end of the summer, but we parted ways.” They kept in touch for the next three years, and finally started dating when Geoff moved to D.C. for a job. Shirley moved to New York shortly thereafter, but they made the distance work until Geoff moved to the New York area a few years later. “We spent weekends exploring the city, camping in the Catskills, and traveling all over the world,” says Shirley.
In January of 2017, during a hike in the Catskills they’d done many times before, Shirley noticed that Geoff was a little more dressed up than she’d expected for a hike to a frozen waterfall. “I knew something was up, and when we got to the top, he gave me an album commemorating our relationship, then got down on one knee to propose!” Though the trip was supposed to be for hiking, Geoff was ready for a celebratory rehearsal dinner, with one of Shirley’s favorite outfits tucked away in his suitcase.
Instead of choosing between a beautiful garden, an historic estate, and New York City views, Geoff and Shirley found all three at Wave Hill Gardens in the Riverdale neighborhood in the Bronx. “I loved that it almost feels like a secret garden, and Geoff pas partial to the fact that it had been home to his favorite president, Teddy Roosevelt,” says Shirley. They worked with All Who Wander Events to add a personal touch to a classic garden wedding, mixing shades of green and ivory with brass accents to complement the venue’s vintage feel. Take a peek at this May 26th, 2018 wedding, photographed by Carmen Santorelli!
The invitation suite featured vintage-inspired botanical drawings, softened by a deckled edge.
Before the ceremony, Geoff and Shirley honored their parents with a Chinese Tea Ceremony. “We loved the idea of taking a moment to thank our parents in a more intimate setting,” says Shirley, who donned her mother’s qipao from her own wedding 38 years ago.
After the tea ceremony, Shirley changed into an ornate Vera Wang gown with a high neck and long sleeves over a sleek silhouette. The dahlia pattern of the lace was accented with hand-sewn pearls. “I loved that the neckline had a romantic, Victorian feel. It was bridal enough to please my parents, but modern enough to fit my personal style,” says the bride. Shirley’s “something blue” was a pair of cobalt Paul Andrew sling-backs, while her flowing veil was her own design. “My mom and I own bridal accessories company Shirley & Audrey, so of course wore one of our custom veils and a set of silk hair flowers!”
The bridesmaids each chose a Halston Heritage gown, picking a silhouette that fit her personality. All three women carried white bouquets that combined peonies and garden roses.
“After so much commotion all morning, my nerves were at a high before the ceremony,” says Shirley. “I realized I needed a few moments alone with Geoff, so our planner whisked us away. I’m so glad we had that peaceful time together, because all my nerves faded away.”
The ceremony took place in front of a vine-covered pergola that framed views of the Hudson River. Wild arrangements of white flowers and greenery accented the cement structure. “We actually shared our personal vows privately before the ceremony, then exchanged traditional vows in front of our guests,” says Shirley.
The garden’s succulent-filled greenhouse was the perfect private space where Geoff and Shirley could take it all in after tying the knot.
The first gift Geoff gave Shirley was a necklace with a laurel wreath charm, and the couple have embraced the symbol ever since. Instead of asking guests to toss flower petals after the first kiss, everyone waved pennants with a laurel wreath in celebration!
A mix of high and low arrangements added height to the reception space. Branches of greenery poured out of tall glass vases, surrounded by bud vases of ranunculus. Nearby tables featured lower combinations of roses and peonies, with small blooms creating a wild and flowing look.
An amazing cake was Geoff and Shirley’s priority, and they loved working with Nine Cakes for this simple masterpiece. Tiers of orange blossom cake with orange buttercream and candied pistachios were layered over cardamom cake with raspberry buttercream and fresh raspberries. “We had a gold deckled edge on each layer to mimic our wedding invitations,” Shirley describes.
Shirley and Geoff first bonded over their shared love of indie music, so their wedding playlist was the most personal part of their celebration. “The wedding party processional was to ‘Lisztomania’ by Phoenix, and I entered to ‘Sweet Disposition’ by Temper Trap, all played by a quartet,” says Shirley. “We kicked off cocktail hour with ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ by LCD Soundsystem, which really set the tone!”
The newlyweds made sure to take every chance they could to thank their family and friends for all of their support. “Everyone who was there with us has had a meaningful impact on us both as individuals and as a couple,” says Shirley. “Saying ‘thank you’ was so important to us.”
Wedding Planner: All Who Wander Events
Venue: Wave Hill Gardens
Officiant: Dr. Richard Sheffield
Bride's Dress: Vera Wang
Bride's Veil: Shirley & Audrey
Bride's Shoes: Paul Andrew
Hair: FaceTime Beauty
Makeup: Laura King
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Halston Heritage
Groom's Attire: Dunhill
Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux
Engagement Ring: Erica Weiner
Floral Design: Days of May Florals
Catering: Great Performances
Cake: Nine Cakes
Music: Beat Train Productions
Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.
Accommodations: The New York Edition
Photography: Carmen Santorelli