These Rooftop Wedding Photos Are Maybe the Most Joy-Filled Images Ever

updated Oct 15, 2020
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Kevin Murphy and Tushar Cheke married on their Harlem rooftop on June 20.

Newlyweds Kevin Murphy and Tushar Cheke spotted each other for the first time when they swiped right on Hinge in 2017—but then they came close to never meeting in person. 

“I was really busy with work at the time, so I almost turned down the date,” says Kevin, a voice teacher in New York City. “Luckily, Tushar suggested a place in my neighborhood, so I really couldn’t say no.” 

In fact, Tushar had strategically picked cozy Indian restaurant Chai Wali: “[Kevin had] mentioned living in the neighborhood, so I was determined to choose a spot close by and make it so easy on him that he’d be unable to say no,” explains Tushar, a market strategist at a software company. 

What was initially meant to be a casual glass of wine turned into a whole bottle, which turned into three happy years and countless adventures. “I think we both knew pretty early on that this was different,” Tushar says. “We connected on multiple levels—not just physical attraction, but our thoughts and principles, too.” 

When Tushar decided to pop the question in October 2019, he could only think of one place to do so: the very same spot where the two first clinked glasses. “Chai Wali was closed for renovations, but I reached out to the owner, who agreed to open up for us,” Tushar says. He led a slightly confused Kevin through the empty restaurant and into its backyard, where he got down on one knee to propose—at least, that’s what Kevin thinks took place. “I totally blacked out,” he laughs. “I just remember starting to cry and asking Tushar what was happening, but that’s about it. I didn’t remember that he even got on one knee.” 

Once their new reality as fiancés sunk in, the pair got to work planning two celebrations, one in NYC and one in India, to accommodate their global network of friends and family. “We had this whole West Village wedding planned out,” Kevin says. “On June 20, we were going to exchange vows under the Washington Square Park arch, followed by a reception at NYU’s Torch Club.” Then, in January 2021, they intended to take a smaller group of friends and family to a beach town on the western coast of India for a traditional Hindu celebration. 

What they couldn’t know then was just how different 2020 would end up looking. When COVID-19 hit early in the year, Kevin and Tushar were at first cautiously optimistic that the pandemic wouldn’t impact their summer wedding. It wasn’t until the Torch Club called to cancel their event at the beginning of March that the two realized they were going to need to pivot. 

“To be honest, we were kind of lost,” Tushar says. “The world was changing so much, and we didn’t know what to do. Ultimately, we decided we wanted to keep our date and switch to a virtual wedding.” 

While the pair may have found love on the internet, getting married on the internet was completely new territory. “We started with a very simple Zoom ceremony, but the more we planned, the more complex it got,” Kevin says. “We figured we could spend the entire wedding being sad about how we wished we could be in-person, or we could use the medium to our advantage and get creative.” 

On the advice of a friend who had recently swapped virtual vows, Kevin and Tushar hired technical director Michael Venzor to helm the digital aspects of the day, ensuring that their friends and family could seamlessly tune into their celebration from across five continents. 

To kick things off, the couple sent out virtual invites (with a dress code that stated, in true Zoom fashion, that pants were optional), along with a playful welcome video that Tushar describes as “a little bit Western, a little bit Bollywood camp.” 

From there, they split the day into two acts: During the first, nearly 300 loved ones watched as close family members and friends shared poems, prayers, Broadway songs, and readings in honor of the pair, including an emotional prerecorded rendition of the Supreme Court majority opinion on gay marriage. In the second act, a socially distanced group of 18 close friends and family looked on (the other guests stuck around on Zoom) as Kevin and Tushar exchanged vows in a Western-meets-Hindu ceremony led by a friend on their Harlem rooftop. 

Kevin and Tushar worked hard to include personal elements into the day. They paired Pride-inspired face masks from The Sippi with their Suit Supply suits, snapped photos on their neighborhood streets with photographer Marilyn Lamanna, and served a dinner of their favorite local pizza, New York Pizza Suprema, to their small group of guests. They also incorporated Tushar’s Indian culture: They flew in traditional floral garlands from India, used a hand-drawn Saptapadi chart during the traditional seven steps Hindu ritual, served cake and cupcakes (both made by friends) decorated in peacocks as a nod to India’s national bird, and wore henna designs on both of their hands, which Tushar painted.

The pair capped off their night with champagne on the roof alongside their loved ones as they watched fireworks take over the skyline, lit off by someone, somewhere in New York City.

It was a picture-perfect ending to a celebration that the two literally couldn’t imagine just three months earlier. “We didn’t know what to expect, but we were blown away by the whole thing,” Kevin says. “I think everyone was really craving connection and a joyous moment during this crazy time. The response to our celebration has been quite overwhelming.” Seems like the internet has a habit of doing favors for this couple.