Gena Kim and John Delbridge met through mutual friends in New York City. After a first date of sushi followed by drinks at a nearby lounge, the pair was well on their way to a blossoming relationship. "We became best friends over the next two years, and it became clear to us that we were meant to be each other's partner in life," recalls Gena.
To set the stage for a romantic proposal, John decided to recreate the couple's first date by bringing Gena back to the same restaurant for sushi and to the same lounge where the drinks they had shared that first night were already awaiting them. "After the most beautiful love declaration, he proposed. It was the alternate fairytale ending to our first date," says the bride.
And the couple did not need to wait too long for happily ever after to begin. In just eleven weeks, Gena and John planned their dream wedding at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. "We met in New York City, fell in love in New York City, and were married in grand New York City style," says Gena. It was a celebration made up of many events, and the couple incorporated several prominent aspects of their lives and personalities into the overall design. By adhering to an overall theme of "With Love," Gena and John created a special experience for their guests that suggested a much longer planning process.
The couple chose this idea of "With Love" to pay tribute to the commitment they share, as well as the love they have for God and their families and the blessings such love has provided them in return. One way they communicated this to their guests was to give each one a hardcover version of their wedding program that was filled with the couple's favorite Bible verses, prayers of gratitude, and personal messages of devotion.
Gena and John also wanted their wedding to play up a juxtaposition of "grand and intimate." Our vision for the wedding was a sweeping, formal celebration filled with intimate, relaxed moments and personal meaning," asserts the bride. By breaking the celebration down into smaller, incremental events (pre-ceremony reception, ceremony, cocktail reception, Korean tea ceremony, dinner and dancing, and an after party), the couple treated their 130 guests to a highly unique and approachable experience. A wonderful exercise in this idea of grand intimacy was the setting in which Gena and John first laid eyes on one another the day of the wedding. Their photographer staged their encounter in the middle of Grand Central Station's main lobby -- the most intimate of wedding day moments in one of the most public of venues. "It set the tone for the rest of the day," she recalls.
A focus on music and food -- two of the couple's shared passions -- rounded out the personal touches that the couple incorporated into their multi-faceted event. The ceremony featured classical songs by the bride's favorite composer, Bach, as well as a performance of "Amazing Grace" by her brother. The cocktail reception showcased a male a capella group from Harvard University (Gena's alma mater) singing standards for the gathering, and during the reception, the bride's brother stepped up to the microphone yet again to perform the couple's first dance song backed by an eleven-piece orchestra. The finale was a special performance by Gena herself, as she serenaded her groom in front of the crowd. It was then onto the after party, where a DJ urged everyone to continue dancing into the night.
The food for the entire celebration was similarly fine-tuned, with cuisine that appropriately complemented each phase of the night. From Tuscan and sushi stations at the cocktail hour to a dinner featuring lobster and butternut squash risotto and herb-crusted rack of lamb, the cuisine hovered around the upscale. Even the wedding cake was a picture of elegance, its design borrowing from the centerpiece flowers and the finishing details of Gena's gown. However, once the after party lounge was unveiled and the bride changed into a less formal frock, "junk food" became the fare of choice. Cheeseburger sliders, NY pizza, and ice cream cups were just a few of the options that kept the revelers fueled. Many guests even filled take-away bags (complete with tags that read "With Love") with Asian candies for later.
It was a night that Gena and John felt truly expressed who they are as a couple. "We love celebrating in formal, grand style but equally enjoy letting loose," says the bride. "We love our lives and know how blessed we are to have each other."