Rain and Shine
Almost spoiled by a downpour, Grace and Dans Missouri Botanical Garden wedding blossomed into a picture-perfect day.
It’s one thing to fall in love with “Wicked: The Musical,” but it’s quite another to fall in love during it. Such was the case with Grace and Dan. The University of Chicago students were good friends as they took their seats, but after the encore, they walked out of the theater holding hands—and everything had changed. “Neither of us wanted to let go, so we ended up walking for a few hours until late in the night—and the rest is history,” says Grace.
The couple dated for six years, three of them spent between Chicago and NYC. Then, Grace moved to pursue a Ph.D. in psychology at Wash U. “Those were some tough three years,” Grace says. “But after a year in St. Louis, we knew we wanted to be together despite the distance.”
Despite careful planning, the proposal didn’t quite go off as planned: Dan had planned a beautiful moment on Chicago’s Navy Pier on New Year’s Eve with fireworks exploding in the background. But due to an unexpected injury, Grace pushed her trip north up by a week. Dan stuck with his plan, coming up with a “silly excuse” to set up a camera on the pier (despite an absence of fireworks) to pop the question as the camera filmed the couple. After laughing for a “full minute” in front of Dan—who was not only nervous but now very confused— Grace gave him her answer.
“Natural, romantic and classic” was the order of the day. Grace had always imagined a summer garden wedding, with plenty of green spaces where guests could bask in the evening’s glow. They found the perfect setting at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where a spot was open for Aug. 16. “The gardens are so classic and beautiful by themselves,” says Dan.
But rain poured down all morning, and the couple had no backup plan. As the bridal party dressed at Chase Park Plaza and the groom got ready at best man Tony’s place, both parties kept an eye on the Doppler radar and prayed.
Luckily, the sun came out just in time. The groom and his party, in their Hugo Boss and Vera Wang tuxes, respectively, looked picture-perfect in the classically elegant Gladney Rose Garden setting. Grace’s bridesmaid, Kei, led the bridal party in matching, pale pink BHLDN gowns, while Dan’s older sister, musician Angela Park, performed as part of a cello trio among the Gladney Rose Garden’s fragrant blooms—a wedding gift for the couple.
“I remember the walk being so long, and it felt like time stretched for hours until I was standing in front of Dan and knowing, ‘This is it,'” says Grace, who wore a belted Liancarlo sample-sale find from Fleur de Lis.
Grace’s younger brother did the first scripture reading, Colossians 3:12-4, in English, followed by Dan’s sister, Helen, who read in Korean to an audience including both mothers in their traditional hanboks in shimmering pastels. Dan’s roommate, also named Dan and, happily, a pastor, officiated the ceremony—even translating it into Korean for the couple’s families.
…And Wedding Flowers
After the ceremony, the couple’s almost 80 guests, most of whom had traveled from out of town, gathered at Spink Pavilion. Grace says that greeting all of them and taking photos was her favorite part of the big day. The naturally elegant interior of the LEED-certified space was enhanced by Les Bouquets’ floral arrangements: romantic garden and spray roses with soft eucalyptus and Queen Anne’s lace.
Everyone enjoyed the field greens and braised short ribs from Catering St. Louis, finished off by The Cakery Bakery’s chocolate cake topped with mocha icing. When the speeches commenced, “Tony really touched us with how I was finally where I belonged: next to Grace after all this time, and that she was where home would always be for me,” Dan says.
The couple’s first dance? An acoustic version of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” “Our parents thought it was a nice slow song, but a couple of our friends got the reference,” Grace says. “The lyrics are actually very romantic and nice: The whole point of the song is pledging to never give up on the other person—a perfect wedding song, we say! And we got a little shared joke in the end.”
Photo credit: Oldani Photography