Destination St. Louis

An NYC-based bride and her fianc return to her St. Louis roots for an elegant, art-filled wedding.

 

Their Story

Minkie Lee grew up in Town and Country, but it took a move to the Big Apple to meet the man she’d marry.

For three years, they worked in the same office building in midtown Manhattan—she as a marketing manager at Grace Beauty, he as a senior associate at WFD Ventures—but they never met. Her now-husband, Stephen Liou, a New Jersey native, knew her then only as “the beautiful girl in the elevator.” But the Cardinals’ 2011 World Series hit a home run for the couple: Minkie and her friends were out celebrating the St. Louis victory when Stephen saw her from across the bar. “Immediately, we hit it off,” she says. “We even found out we only lived a few blocks away from each other in downtown Manhattan.”

After 18 months, Stephen began to conspire with Minkie’s sister, Jackie, to form an elaborate proposal plan. Jackie asked Minkie to stand in as a model for a (fake) princess-themed photo shoot for her boutique at Central Park’s Belvedere Castle. As Jackie led Minkie to the castle’s balcony overlooking Turtle Pond for the “photo shoot,” a string quartet started playing Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” When she saw her family, whom Stephen had flown in from St. Louis, Minkie knew what was happening. Stephen got down on one knee as their closest friends watched from across the water, and all together, they celebrated Minkie’s “Yes!” with a picnic and Champagne.

Meet us in St. Louis 

Even though NYC has no shortage of wedding venues, Minkie’s St. Louis roots run deep. She had dreamed of a ceremony in the Cathedral Basilica since she was a little girl. The couple also knew they wanted a September wedding, and when they called for available dates last year, Sept. 13, 2014, was the only one available—the same weekend in September that, 36 years ago, Minkie’s parents were married in Korea.

“It was special to her to have the wedding in St. Louis, and I was on board with it just because we both wanted to give our friends and family an out-of-town experience,” Stephen says. “It was great to have the city and give them a mini-vacation.”

Another St. Louis landmark, the Saint Louis Art Museum, was chosen for the reception. As a girl, Minkie’s Saturday afternoon trips there with her aunt had sparked a deep love for art, eventually leading to her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After a visit together, the couple knew it was exactly where the reception was meant to be.

Elegant & Timeless

The day of the wedding, true to tradition, the couple didn’t see each other until the ceremony. At the altar, the bridesmaids, dressed in long, blush-pink, silk-chiffon dresses by Amsale from Town & Country Bridal, and the groomsmen, clad in Black by Vera Wang tuxedos, waited as the chords of Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary” introduced the bride. Minkie walked down the aisle in a modern, strapless white Monique Lhuillier gown with a cascading floral overlay, long veil and Jimmy Choos.

“When I saw her walking down the aisle, it really took my breath away,” says Stephen, who opted for a traditional Hugo Boss tuxedo. “She looked beautiful and her dress was gorgeous. When she got closer, she was really tearing up and that made me even more emotional.”

The priest, Father Robert Suit of Sacred Heart in Valley Park, also had a surprise in store for the couple: During the reading of the vows, he quoted passages from letters he’d asked Stephen and Minkie to write to each other prior to the big day. The excerpts about their shared love and what they expected their marriage to grow into turned out to be one of the highlights of the ceremony.

A Reception to Remember

While the newlyweds and the bridal party took pictures in Forest Park, cocktail hour began in SLAM’s Taylor Hall, where guests were welcomed with a solo pianist, open bar and hors d’oeuvres. At 7pm, guests passed through the Grigg Gallery to arrive at the Sculpture Hall, where the reception dinner, catered by Bon Appetit Management Company, and dancing would take place. An enticing sweets table made an appearance before dinner, and dessert was served with other treats, including fruit tarts, chocolate-dipped strawberries and cookies shaped like the couple’s beloved French bulldog, Geoffrey (Minkie and Stephen had to include him somehow). Minkie also put her artistic skills to use by crafting Geoffrey-shaped cookie cutters for La Bonne Bouchée Bakery to use for baking; she also sculpted French bulldog cake toppers for the occasion. The hall was draped in ivory and blush pink, the wedding’s colors, with gold accents to ensure the look was timeless.

Stephen, who was in charge of music, brought the reception to life by bringing in Your Villain My Hero, a hip-hop and pop-oriented band from Chicago. DJ Pat Hawn, from Millennium Productions, also played alongside the band.

“Everything was exactly how we had envisioned,” Minkie says. “They say that a lot of brides and grooms don’t really get to enjoy the wedding day because it goes by too fast. But for us, we truly enjoyed every minute of the day. It didn’t go by fast at all. At the end of the day we were like, ‘That was the best party we’ve ever thrown!'”

 

5610_1776.jpgPhotos by A Day of Bliss Photography.

5611_1776.jpgPhotos by A Day of Bliss Photography.

5612_1776.jpgPhotos by A Day of Bliss Photography.

5613_1776.jpgPhotos by A Day of Bliss Photography.

5614_1776.jpgPhotos by A Day of Bliss Photography.

 

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