Wooow… This stylish gay wedding is like *nothing* you’ve seen from me. Not only because it’s my first published LGBTQ wedding, but the location, fashion, and esthetics were kick-butt extraordinary. You better buckle up!
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As you walk into the guys’ hotel room, you’d see two dope jackets hanging on the window. Louis Vuitton is rubbing elbows with Mochee London. Then, something else steals your attention—the shoes! Both pairs sport the studded outsoles and distinct styles. It may tempt you to go Sherlock about deducting the owners’ characteristics: Christian Louboutin’s golden spikes with velvety rich for Tyler and Jimmy Choo’s silver stars with polish for Edward. I guess Edward’s daredevil persona wouldn’t be complete without the spare red Louboutin sneakers for the wedding dance floor!
Married in Pennsylvania!
Another piece that captured my heart was Tyler’s elephant cufflinks. So cuuuute! How could I not pose them lovingly? After some experimentation, I settled on a silhouette against Philadelphia City Hall’s hallmark bronze statue of William Penn, the founder and namesake of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
As Tyler and Edward were dressing up, we heard an emotional story of the nail-biting proposal where their luxury IWC watches played the key role. Let’s give Edward a word:
I then spotted Edward’s Gucci shirt collar and assumed it was custom-sewn. Nope, such was an incredibly lucky design find for him! That cool tie that Edward is donning is called bolo. It features an endless/forever knot, so I tried it with the Cartier rings. Didn’t nail the perfect focus in the rush, unfortunately. As the guys were fixing their ties, I spotted a cool reflection portrait of them.
Philly’s City Hall Wedding Portraits
The grooms intended their first look at the Ritz staircase. With them ultimately dressing in the same room, however, we dropped the idea, and went outside for portraits. Philadelphia’s City Hall was just across the street, so we stayed there to make the most out of limited time before getting to the venue. The wedding party later joined us for portraits.
Let our couple’s choice of their earlier engagement shoot with me—a laundromat—not fool you. (Yes, many couples go with something spectacular, but ours had a personal story behind it.) Their choice of the wedding venue was a level above the “beautiful”. It was a museum! The Penn Museum of Philadelphia story begins with an excavation of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nippur in 1887―the first American excavation in the Middle East. Their archaeological collections document the peoples around the world, including Asia. I guess the Chinese exhibits influenced Edward’s—who’s Chinese-American—choice of such a unique wedding venue.
This is not my first time shooting a wedding at a museum. They all have own ambiance and appeal. For example, I did another Philadelphia wedding in PAFA (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) several months ago.
(Do Not) Touch the History
When we arrived at the Penn Museum, it was still open to visitors unlike PAFA, so we worked around them. The centerpiece there is the Sphinx of Ramesses II, now the symbol of Penn Museum. Weighing close to 15 tons, this is the largest Egyptian sphinx in the Western hemisphere. Deeper inside the museum, I found this replica of the Margarita Panel. It was found by the museum’s team in the 1990s and carved around 450 AD to honor Copan’s first king.
What… a… Crowd!
And here comes the next major aesthetic part of this stylish gay wedding, as if the load of our grooms’ couture galore wasn’t enough for you—the guests. Not rarely, they are an extension of a wedding couple. They say, “Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are”. So by now, you wouldn’t be surprised to see even more of that refined flair around Edward and Tyler’s friends and family members.
The emotional ceremony was officiated by their friend from California, Corinne Rich, who’s one of two fierce ladies bringing adventure, diversity, and rediscovery to California wines at Bird Horse Wines. I loved the teapots used for the flower girls’ petals. The sleek lines of cherry blossoms decorate them, inspired by classic Japanese designs.
Some Asian-American Wedding Hall to Match!
A reception is often the pinnacle of any celebration. This stylish gay wedding’s high esthetics culminated in the majestic walls of the Chinese Rotunda gallery, 90 feet in both diameter and height. The finest collections of monumental Chinese art, including striking winged lions, foo dogs, stone carvings, and ceramic sculptures, fill the hall. Matching such a majestic chamber of ancient artifacts is one heck of a task, but the event design professionals did a phenomenal job! Hat’s off to Revolution Event Production, Glow Events, Indigo+Iris for floral design, IMS Technology Services for event staging and lighting, and BBJ La Tavola for table design and supplies.
The Empress Dowager
How would you like to see your wedding through the third-largest rock crystal ball in the world, weighing 49 pounds? The sphere might look like glass but is made from pure quartz crystal. It is shaped into a sphere through years of artisans’ turning it in a container filled with abrasive powders and water.
Tyler’s father greeted the guests and soon everyone moved from the cocktail hour into the grand reception hall. In between the meals, our guys made rounds trying to meet everyone. Not easy with a few hundred of people in presence!
Stuffed It? Let’s Shake It!
The event scale and venue floor plan called for sequential, not simultaneous, reception activities. All the exquisite meal courses by CxRA had to be served first, then people moved into the adjacent party room to dance with a bar and desserts. With a few traditional exceptions, the DJ Malachi was spinning really cool pieces and Hi-Fi sounds, far from your typical wedding choices.
In between the shenanigans, the ever-touching mother-son dances and tear-dropping speeches ensued.
Cake at Pharaoh’s
This Asian-American stylish gay wedding’s exhibit-worthy wedding cake was crafted by the Master’s Baker. It features the intricate figures of mythical creatures representing Edward and Tyler. And again, how is some 4,000-year-old statue of Pharaoh, Ramesses II (ca. 1897-1843 BC), for your wedding cake backdrop? Let’s cut it already, and do some more portraits!
By the way, here’s the guy who helped me with those portraits, Thomas Pearce. As often, I used my off-camera flash for a more dimensional and balanced ambiance-flash light. Coincidentally, Thomas’ height was quite helping with the elevated light source angles!
Thank you for the honor and delight of documenting such an extraordinary stylish gay wedding, guys!
P.S. I’ve been writing this blog for 9 days… Might be the longest! Glad I made it before the trip to Washington, DC as one of the Leaders of Meta’s (f. Facebook) 3-day small business owners convention in several days (Meta Boost Gather 2022). I’ll also shoot an Indian engagement session in between. Keeping myself busy and you—entertained, stick around!
Ed Hafizov is a creative director and lead photographer of Zorz Studios, Manhattan-based boutique photography studio, offering arousing and daring fashion, commercial, beauty, and wedding photography. Multiple Fearless Photographer™ award winner, named among the top 50 US wedding photographers, top 10 NY wedding photographers, winner of Adobe contests, featured by Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle et al, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week photographer, and a distinguished member of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style‘s Platinum List, he is eager to step out of his and willing clients' comfort zone to pursue original artwork with a lasting impression.