Adriana Xhakli and Perry Petra-Wong met, fittingly, at the airport. It was the summer of 2012, and Adriana happened to be hanging out with a friend of Perry’s when they decided to head to the airport to pick him up. “I remember pulling up to the curb and seeing Perry standing outside with his baggage,” Adriana says. “He had the biggest smile on his face—not because he was meeting with his future wife but because he was relieved to be saved from paying for a cab or having to figure out the trains.”
They ended up spending the entire week together, and from that point on they became inseparable. A little over two months later, Perry brought the rest of his baggage to New York and moved in with Adriana. “Always pick your friends up from the airport!” Adriana advises. “You never know what or who they might bring!”
Adriana, who is a property manager, and Perry, a data scientist in the media products department at Apple, went on to date for seven years. “Our wedding actually fell on our seventh anniversary,” Adriana reveals. “I like to joke that it’s hysterical that we celebrated our seventh year of marriage with a wedding.”
In the lead-up to the proposal, Adriana told Perry that she hoped to ask him. “I wanted to know if he’d be comfortable with the idea,” she says. “He basically ended up confiding in me that he didn’t want me to propose to him because he wanted to propose to me. We did a bit of sarcastic bickering where we argued about who should get to propose and why, but in the end we figured it would be best to have it be a mutual decision. We do everything together, so why not propose marriage together as well?”
To celebrate, they planned a trip to Bodrum, Turkey, where they stayed at the Amanruya hotel. “Growing up, I spent many summers vacationing on the Turkish coast, so it felt very personal going back there with him,” Adriana says. One morning, they woke up at 5:00 a.m. and hiked down to a private pebble beach, where they sat on a small dock watching the sun come up. “We had a very open and honest conversation about our relationship and our future together,” she says. “At the end, we exchanged rings and then went and got waffles for breakfast. It was very low-key, but it was still a very special way of becoming engaged.”
After their stay at Amanruya, they flew back from Istanbul through JFK. “We piled our things into a cab, and as we were driving off we actually passed the new TWA terminal,” Adriana remembers. “We immediately thought it would make for the perfect venue, but we were also convinced it wouldn’t work out—the building was still under construction so it felt like a total pipe dream.” When they got home, they found the website for the TWA Hotel and signed up for the newsletter. Exactly one day later, they received an email announcing that the TWA Hotel was now open for events. “We signed our contract about a week after that,” Adriana says. “It was nothing short of fate!”
They didn’t get to visit the space until a year after that, but from the moment they set foot inside the terminal, they were thrilled. “We fell head over heels in love with the futuristic design,” Adriana says. “Perry’s family on his dad’s side is full of architects; both his grandfather and his great-uncle worked as lifelong partners of I.M. Pei. His great-uncle, coincidentally, helped design the Sundrome building just next door at JFK Terminal 6, which was initially used by National Airlines but later became the TWA domestic terminal. We felt that choosing this architectural site would serve as a subtle nod to their legacy.”
Once they’d landed the venue, the aesthetic of their event came fairly easily. They stuck with the red-and-white palette found in the interior and decided to keep florals structural and modern. Marisa Competello of Metaflora had the idea of using large cut palms in their ceremony space to mimic the staircases surrounding it. Wedding coordinators Lauren Schaefer and Justine Salata from Your Wedding by Lauren were instrumental when it came to the logistics. “We honestly couldn’t have done it without them,” Adriana says. “Everyone told us that we were pretty bold in choosing to hold our wedding at a brand-new venue with a completely new staff. I know we were among the first weddings held at the venue and definitely the first wedding to use all the different areas of the original building, so it was very challenging for everyone involved. Having Lauren and Justine in our corner made it possible for us to relax and enjoy the evening, and not worry about whether each space was prepped and ready.”
For her own wedding-day look, Adriana wanted something whimsical and playful in design to complement the space that is also utilitarian in fit and wear. “My wedding dress had to be modern, short, and comfortable,” she says. “I knew I wouldn’t be able to tolerate a gown since I’m way too much of a tomboy.” She was in Tokyo with her friend Kento when she came across a stunning Noir Kei Ninomiya dress at Dover Street. “It was eye-catching and kind of punk but also very ethereal and romantic in its own way,” she says. “I put the dress on hold and came back every day for about a week to try it on. It seems a bit neurotic looking back on it now, but since I was shopping by myself it took me a long time to decide. I was completely in love with the dress, but I had a lot of doubts about whether or not it would be appropriate for a wedding. It was hard not having a whole group of family and friends there to bounce my thoughts off of them. In retrospect, this turned out to be a blessing because I ended up with a super unconventional wedding dress that I absolutely loved without having to weigh other people’s opinions.”
After she had the dress, it took a long time for her to find the perfect pair of flats to go with it. She bought three different pairs of shoes before settling on a pair by Goya. “I love how the shoe is both feminine and not,” she says. “The oversized velvet bow is pared down with a chunky rubber boot sole.” To accessorize the look, she just bought a bunch of small gold hoops from Mejuri that were simple and elegant.
Perry’s goal was to look mod-inspired but still classic and timeless, so he went to Brooklyn Tailors for a custom suit. “It ended up fitting him like a glove and being exactly what he wanted,” Adriana says. “He wore it with a custom-made shirt and pocket square from Ascot Chang.”
The ceremony was secular, egalitarian—and also hilarious. Adriana had the genius idea of dressing up their chow mix dog, Rocco, in a coordinating outfit. “It was so ridiculous, but once I had that vision I knew I needed to find a way to make it happen,” she says. “I maniacally messaged a million different vendors and tailors photos of my dress, asking everyone if they could make a miniature version for me. Only one vendor was brave enough to accept the challenge. They went out and bought a ton of white mesh and got down to business. When they sent me a photo of the finished product, I literally dropped to the ground I was laughing so hard. The doggie dress arrived the day before the wedding and no one, not even my fiancé, knew about it. Everyone went nuts when we walked out together during the processional.”
For the actual service, Adriana and Perry shared their own written vows. “We were quite emotional by the end of it because we both wrote vows that were very candid,” the bride admits. “We had a lot of laughs and a lot of tears in equal measure, and because we were in a public space, we had a bunch of random travelers connecting through JFK that just decided to sit in on the entire thing. They were all crying with us and rooting for us by the end.”
Cocktail hour was in the Ambassador’s Club followed by a reception in the 1962 Ballroom, so that the entire wedding stayed within the original structure of the TWA terminal. During dinner, the maid of honor, best man, and groom’s father all gave toasts. When they were done, Adriana made a speech at the very end honoring her father, who fled to the United States for political asylum as a Muslim refugee. “It was an honor for me to be able to share his story and give visibility to the challenges experienced by displaced persons today,” she says.
When the meal and the speeches were over, the dance floor opened up. “We were all itching to get up and dance,” Adriana says. “The DJ played songs by Kiki Gyan, Steve Monite, and Marvin Gaye—it’s simply impossible to stay in your seat when those songs come on.”
After the reception, everyone headed outside, where they walked under the iconic flight tubes and across a tarmac to get to the after-party, which was hosted onboard an original Lockheed Constellation aircraft from the ’60s. The “Connie” is a vintage airplane that’s been retrofitted as a cocktail bar. “We turned the plane into a miniature disco and danced on the tarmac until morning,” Adriana says. “Apparently, one of our guests got so drunk that she thought we were actually flying everyone out to some surprise destination—that was easily one of the funniest moments of the night!”