Maria Lailina Porter and Frank Scarpulla were first introduced in NYC through mutual friends who were also work colleagues. For the first couple of years, the two developed a friendship that “felt familiar – as if we had a connection; one where you feel someone just naturally gets you.” Conversation was easy, likes and dislikes were almost unanimous, and laughter came naturally.
That laughter, however, was difficult to come by when Frank dealt with the passing of his mother, who happened to be his best friend. His father was also deteriorating quickly from his battle with dementia. It was a tough time for him, and in Lailina he found someone who could help him get through it, as she was dealing with a lot of personal trauma as well.
“We love everything about the city as we live, work and play here.”
“We helped each other through difficult times in our lives, and in that formed a bond that, looking back now, has seemed as if it was meant to be,” says the couple. “We both began to seek comfort in supporting each other through our friendship. And then one afternoon, we found ourselves in a typical New York style traffic jam in the heart of Time Square, sharing a cab home. It was like a moment in the movies, where time stopped, and we shared our first kiss.”
After that cab ride, Lailina and Frank’s friendship naturally evolved into a relationship that allowed them to discover how well they truly complemented each other. Frank grew up in New York, in which he came to know things as being a certain way, and there’s no question that he’s proud of being a New Yorker. Lailina was always someone Frank admired, as she’s independent, determined, focused and driven. In many ways, she reminded him of his own mother who as an immigrant came to this country and became a successful businesswoman. Lailina, in essence, was this same woman immigrating to New York from Canada. Lailina embodied that free-spirited nature that Frank came to love. For them, there is no “why”, rather it’s “why not.”
Frank is also a big wine connoisseur, while Lailina is a travel enthusiast who has traveled to more than 60 countries. Since discovering they were both foodies in their own right, the couple has spent the last five years traveling to 22 countries together and exploring 88 different cities. Of course, when it came time to propose, Frank initially planned to pop the question during one of their adventures. First, the engagement was going to take place in Madrid in 2020 – a trip that was soon cancelled due to the pandemic. His contingency plan was to go to Paris after the travel bans lifted; but after the lockdown continued, he decided to propose in New York, where their love story started. It turned out to be even more special, as Lailina’s son was able to be part of the proposal.
After a day of running around doing errands clothed in a baseball cap and joggers, Lailina opened the door to the home they both created together to find it transformed with hundreds of rose petals adorning the floor and bouquets of roses everywhere. There was a big “Marry Me” floating above in Metallic balloons greeting her, along with a smorgasbord of all of her favorite things including champagne, crab legs, caviar, Kumamoto oysters, and foie gras. She was in utter shock and in awe of what was about to happen.
Frank pulled her 7-year-old son, Duchanan, into him tight and presented him with a present, an engraved bracelet, and asked him if it’s okay if he married mommy. At that moment, Duchanan threw his arms around Frank and said, “Mommy you’re gonna say yes right?” Lailina was still standing frozen at the door and bawling her eyes out when Frank walked over, dropped to one knee, and officially proposed with a beautiful oval solitaire diamond ring. Her heart couldn't feel more complete, sharing that moment with the two people she loved most in the world.
With Frank being an Italian New Yorker and both coming from big families, the couple’s original concept was a big Italian wedding with 300-plus guests. When Covid kept delaying their plans, they decided to keep it small and intimate instead, and brought
the guest list down to 100. Part of this was due to their love for 620 Loft and Garden – a venue that touched their hearts like none other.
“We love everything about the city as we live, work and play here,” they share. “So the experience of the day had to encompass everything near and dear to our hearts. That's what led us to choose 620 Loft and Garden, given that it has the most spectacular backdrop of St Patrick's Cathedral and view of some of the most iconic landmarks in New York City perched on the rooftop garden of Rockefeller Center.”
At the two-month mark before the wedding day, the couple brought Björn VW on board as their wedding planner, who they emphasize “was a lifesaver at a time when we were in need of saving.” Before they knew it, the bride and groom were spending the night apart in separate suites at the St. Regis, awaiting their rooftop wedding in NYC.
“The one thing we wish is that we could have our wedding all over again, but be there as guests,” the couple reflects. “We truly feel our wedding was the absolute perfect representation of us as a couple. Our black-tie affair started with the ceremony on a beautiful garden rooftop overlooking St Patrick’s Cathedral, with the chimes of the Cathedral seemingly playing on cue as we said our vows – a perfect setting for two people that truly love and embrace New York City.”
Lailina’s mother sang Ava Maria during the processional, which was a beautiful reminder of Frank’s mother, Maria, who was with them in spirit. There was also a live harpist, and their son kicked things off with a reading and recited a beautiful prayer.
Cocktail hour was impeccable, as champagne corks were popped while overlooking the golden hour of sunset peeking through the Manhattan skyscrapers. The personalized ice sculpture displayed a bounty of lobster tails, oysters, and jumbo prawns as a live jazz band welcomed out-of-town guests to the quintessential NYC experience. To represent their heritage, several traditional dishes and passed hors d’oeuvres were served to represent Frank’s Italian and Lailina’s half-Filipino backgrounds.
“It was the perfect union and could not have been replicated by any other caterer other
than Thomas Preti,” the couple adds, “who was able to put it all together in a few short weeks. Our four-course seated dinner was flawless as well, and we had the wine flown in by one of our favorite small wineries in Napa that we are tremendous fans of. Food and wine is so important to us, and we wanted that properly represented at the reception.”
A night filled with dancing and celebrations followed, along with a spectacular cake cutting moment when the couple’s six-foot wedding cake was rolled out onto the dance floor. It blended in so well with the illuminated skyscrapers of Rockefeller peering through the surrounding windows and added an additional layer to their guests’ quintessential New York experience.
Prior to the wedding, the bride and groom were told many times that “you never have fun at your own wedding.” However, they proved that limiting belief to be wrong, saying:
“It was without a doubt one of the most fun, and most memorable nights of our lives.”
Location: 620 Loft and Garden, New York, NY; Planning & Event Design: Bjorn The Event Planner, New York, NY; Floral Design: Ivie Joy Florals, New York, NY; Rentals: Party Rental ltd, Westside Party Rentals and RSVP Event Rentals, New York, NY; Linens: BBJ La Tavola, New York, NY; Caterer: Thomas Preti Events, New York, NY; Cake: City Sweets & Confections, New York, NY; Champagne Tower: The Cup Bearer; Photography & Videography: LH Photography & Film, New York, NY