An Elegant, Romantic Wedding at the Lotte New York Palace in New York, New York

For their summer wedding in New York City, Wanchen Li (27 and a beauty product retail entrepreneur) and Erik Kaiser (45 and a start-up entrepreneur) planned an elegant, opulent affair with subtle touches that paid tribute to Wanchen’s Chinese roots. The day kicked off with a traditional ceremony at St. Bart’s Church. The church's high ceilings and awe-inspiring stonework and mosaics offered a striking backdrop for the couple’s “I dos.” “St. Bart’s doesn’t allow too much decoration, but we didn’t really need it. We let the church do the work,” Erik says. Heightening the occasion’s sense of drama, Wanchen and Erik accompanied their vows with the sounds of a nine-piece mini orchestra. After the ceremony, the newlyweds and their guests then strolled over to the iconic New York Palace Hotel for an extravagant evening of dinner and dancing. Good music was a top priority for Erik and Wanchen, and the couple enlisted the help of the Karen Lloyd Band to keep the party going late into the night. “We converted the first floor of the Villard Mansion into a dance club by giving the band a stage at one end of the room and a bar at the other,” Erik says. “We dedicated that room to the band. People are still talking about them. We agreed that we would not play any Motown or familiar songs for the older crowd. Wedding music is so predictable, so we had a night of contemporary music from R&B, rap, pop and Top 40.” At the end of the evening, Wanchen and Erik treated their guests to an assortment of teas from China housed in custom containers hand-painted by a notable art authenticator of Chinese art. “The most interesting favor was a piece of art designed to educate the guests about our experiences in China,” Erik says. “It was an envelope that, when opened, revealed a piece of original art by a Chinese artist, incense to burn to elicit the smells of China and a QR code to access original music for the experience.” A tip from Wanchen and Erik: “Don’t spend money on reception lighting, excessive flowers and extra stuff you think you need. Focus on the venue, and let the room do all the work. If you have to park people in one room for the night, add activities. Our idea was to keep people moving so they would be interested and stay to enjoy themselves. The church was one block from the venue. Cocktail hour was 50 minutes at the bar, dinner was upstairs for 90 minutes, and the reception was downstairs with the bar open for quieter talk.” —Libby MacCarthy