This editor bride wore a quilted set by Cecilie Bahnsen for her Brooklyn wedding

By Elise Taylor

Photo: Harper Cowan

For the wedding day of colour and whimsy, “like a midsummer garden party in the middle of Brooklyn”, the bride opted for a sweet set by the Danish designer

Ella Riley-Adams and Gates McCallister first met on Hinge in the spring of 2019. Initially, they struck up a conversation about Sour Patch Kids, and days later, met up at a dive bar in Prospect Heights to rank the flavours. During a debate over the merits of lemon versus raspberry, they found they had much more in common than just candy.


Three years later, the couple got engaged in Todos Santos, Mexico. Ella, an avid surfer, wanted to spend their vacation searching for waves – which is why she felt surprised when Gates was adamant about going for a hike on their second day of vacation. “The whole way up, as the day got hotter, I wondered if Ella was annoyed we weren’t surfing like she wanted. But it seemed safer to propose on solid ground,” Gates recalls, laughing. “I kept looking for the perfect place and eventually we stopped at an outlook where we could see the sea lions. The rest is a bit of a blur, but I know that I asked her to spend the rest of our lives together, and she said yes.”

Ella, who previously edited the living section of Vogue (including weddings) before becoming the social media editor for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, wanted to plan the nuptials herself. “I had never exactly imagined my wedding, but after years of editing Vogue weddings, I got a better sense of what I wanted: lush nature and whimsical, colourful details. I was thinking organic and romantic,” she said. “I wanted the day to be full of colour and whimsy, like a midsummer garden party in the middle of Brooklyn.” To them, there was one venue that perfectly matched that description: The Prospect Park Boathouse.

In August 2023, after a civil ceremony at City Hall, the two wed in quintessential New York fashion at the Beaux-Arts landmark. Ella walked down the aisle to Frank Ocean’s version of 'Moon River' as Gates waited for her on the edge of the lake. She wore a quilted set by Danish cool-girl designer Cecilie Bahnsen, which she paired with Rochas heels. “I love the way she combines elegance and whimsy,” Ella says of Bahnsen, who also designed her City Hall ceremony dress. “They were comfortable while still feeling special. And I knew I’d wear them again – I didn’t want to buy a dress that I’d then store away for years.” Gates, meanwhile, opted for a classic black tux and Doc Martens oxfords.

Ella’s cousin Archie officiated the wedding. He led the ceremony to an emotional pinnacle when he had the couple’s friend, Maria Geyman, recite the poem 'A Birthday' by Christina Rossetti. “Archie had read ‘A Birthday’ at my parents’ wedding 33 years ago, and I recited it at Archie’s wedding when I was 14 – I loved that we could continue the tradition,” Ella says.

Photo: Harper Cowan

After exchanging their vows, the two walked back down the aisle arm and arm to 'Friday I’m in Love' by The Cure. During cocktail hour, the two sought reflective solace on the porch of the Boathouse. “We were kind of dazed; we kept looking at each other and laughing, saying, ‘We did it,’” Ella recalls.

Guests found their table numbers on marzipan fruits made by Fortunato Brothers in Williamsburg. A midsummer garden party awaited them inside: Ella, a floral aficionado, spent months thoughtfully planning the bloomscapes with Jennifer Huynh from Future Flowers. “I told her we wanted organic-feeling arrangements focused on local wildflowers. I also wanted some kind of floral nod to Oregon, where I grew up,” Ella says. “I sent her my parents’ old garden as a reference point.” Fittingly, the tables were covered with white cosmos, Queen Anne’s lace, and hops vines native to the Pacific Northwest state.

After speeches from Ella’s parents as well as the couple’s maid of honor and best man, the two descended the Boathouse’s grand staircase for their first dance to Lake Street Dive’s cover of 'Can’t Help Falling in Love'. Then, it was time for the croquembouche. Francophile Ella fell in love with traditional French wedding pastry after writing a story for T about its history and current popularity. “It felt like a fitting, festive choice. The profiteroles were filled with vanilla or matcha cream, and the exterior was decorated with purple pansy petals,” she says.

The rest of the night was a blur of dessert and dancing. “We distributed disposable cameras to everyone and they were particularly effective in capturing the sweatier, more raucous part of the night,” Ella says.

Months later, the couple still just feels so grateful. “I feel a swell of gratitude every time I think about that day, for everyone who traveled to be with us and offered to help. It was surreal to see my friends from different phases of life all in one place; I love that they know each other now,” Ella says. “I think that’s the double pleasure of a wedding: it’s a chance to celebrate a partnership and knit a community closer.”

Outside the Manhattan Marriage Bureau on a summer Monday. Harper, our photographer, surprised us with a bag of Sour Patch Kids. Photo: Harper Cowan

I bought this ’70s Jaeger-LeCoultre watch from the wonderful Secret Watch Shop. It has a cabochon sapphire on the crown that matches my engagement ring so I told myself it was meant to be. Photo: Harper Cowan

We asked my sister and maid of honor, Grace, to be our witness. She did a lot more than that, including bag-carrying, flower-buying and veil-arranging!. Photo: Harper Cowan

In the room where we said “I do,” they had books of wedding registries from the early 1900s. I loved feeling connected to the city while making our own history. Photo: Harper Cowan

The Marriage Bureau is clerical and kitschy, governmental and grand all at once. It was sweet to have this more private moment before our friends and family came into town. Photo: Harper Cowan

A quick trip to Tribeca’s famous Balloon Saloon. Photo: Harper Cowan

A happy go lucky pig with loving eyes—a mascot for the day. Photo: Harper Cowan

I forgot how fun it is to walk around holding the string of a balloon. Photo: Harper Cowan

Late lunch at The Odeon ended with an ice cream sundae. Photo: Harper Cowan

Silvia Cincotta proves it’s possible to be an easy-going perfectionist. She did my hair for the civil ceremony as well as Friday at the Boathouse. Photo: Harper Cowan

Gates and I designed our save the date and invitations. The invitation was hand-written by me, letterpressed by Czar Press. The bracelet is the gift my dad gave my mom when I was born; she let me borrow it for the day as my something blue. Photo: Harper Cowan

My mom, Renée, helping me into my Cecilie Bahnsen skirt. She’s wearing a dress and shoes by Ulla Johnson. Photo: Harper Cowan

A group effort for the delicate ties on the back of my top. I love that one of my mom’s tattoos is centered here: it says Wild Resilience and Wonder, and she embodies it. Photo: Harper Cowan

Gates, doing the only prep a groom really needs. Photo: Harper Cowan

Marzipan from Fortunato Brothers in Brooklyn, which we used to anchor our escort cards. We knew they’d be good because Gates got me some for Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago. I found my Rochas slingbacks on The RealReal—the clasps are little Rs (for Riley, of course). Photo: Harper Cowan

My MUA Lucy Feldman. We’ve been friends since we were 15. It was an incredible gift to have someone I know and trust take care of my makeup for the day. Photo: Harper Cowan

A pit stop in the Ace’s photo booth. We’ll have to come back here for our anniversaries. Photo: Harper Cowan

On the way to the Boathouse. My tattoo rarely sees the light of day and I like that my wedding ensemble revealed it. Photo: Harper Cowan

We chose the Boathouse for its beauty and because it gave us the flexibility to be inside and outdoors. And not just outside, but in Prospect Park, where we watched the swans in the spring when we first met and walked in the mornings during the pandemic.

The bridge across from the Boathouse, where anyone could stop to watch our ceremony. Like so many other aspects of New York, the lines between private and public were blurred.

Just a normal day in the park.

My One Of veil getting its moment in the sun and grass. I love that my bouquet—with peppergrass, jasmine vine, Queen Anne’s lace, and white cosmos—fit in with our surroundings.

A table arrangement by Future Flowers. We had a great time dreaming about these with Jenn. Each table had its own color and personality. This one had Oregon hops in a nod to my home state.

The marzipan in its final form. Guests stopped by this table on their way in. Photo: Harper Cowan

The marzipan in its final form. Guests stopped by this table on their way in. Photo: Harper Cowan

I remember feeling elated as soon as we began walking down the aisle. I’m totally myself with my parents, and I feel the same with Gates.

My cousin Archie officiated the ceremony. We wanted it to be short and sweet, and he made it everything we hoped. Photo: Harper Cowan

Lovestruck and thrilled.

A maid of honour is always on duty.

Dinner tables set with summer flowers, beeswax candles and disposable cameras.

I’d recently written a story for T about the resurgence of the croquembouche and was excited to have it here. Nikki Pensabene filled the puffs with matcha and vanilla pastry cream, and dotted the tower with purple pansies.

We snuck outside to catch the light during dinner. The Boathouse’s lamp posts make me think of “Singin’ in the Rain”.

I changed into Cecilie Bahnsen beaded neoprene flats for dancing. Photo: Harper Cowan

This might have been during Cascada’s “Everytime We Touch.” I ended the night in Cecilie Bahnsen’s Uma dress, the same one I wore for the courthouse. Photo: Harper Cowan