Ocean-View Ceremony + Elegant Reception with Cherry Blossom Theme

Judy Choi and Howard Zhang

Photographed by: Tomas Skaringa of The Big Affair PhotographyLocation: Pacific Palisades, California, United States

From classmates to soul mates, Judy Choi and Howard Zhang found love at New York University. Thinking they were celebrating her accepted job offer one evening, it was to Judy’s surprise that the night was even more special than she thought. After dinner, Howard convinced her to take a short walk to Lincoln Center to admire the Christmas installations, despite her wearing a dress and it being 24 degrees outside. With not a single person in sight, Judy stood in front of the famous Revson Fountain as Howard proposed. “It was just the two of us at Lincoln Center… A rare moment in NYC,” she shares. “I was so shocked that I had forgotten all about how cold it was.” Of course, she said yes.

For the next year, the couple worked closely with Tessa Brand of Tessa Lyn Events to plan the West Coast wedding they desired. Though they reside in New York, the bride’s family lives in LA and the pair had always envisioned their nuptials taking place somewhere sunny and warm. “California was perfect for us,” affirms the bride. Since Judy is Korean and Howard is Chinese, the couple thought it best to not include any traditions in their wedding since their families have different Asian cultures and customs. Thus, they kept the celebration as neutral as possible and incorporated a theme of cherry blossoms with a color palette of pastel pinks, lavender, and ivory.

With a gorgeous view of the ocean surrounding the ceremony space, the bride and groom exchanged vows beneath a floral arch adorned with pink, lavender, and vanilla blooms paired with foliage to accent the grand, faux cherry blossoms that stood at the end of the aisle. “Of course, you can’t find cherry blossoms in October, so we had to get creative,” admits the bride. 

The reception continued the theme indoors. Centerpieces showcased either faux cherry blossom trees stemming from the center of tables with fresh roses at the base or tall arrangements of pastel roses, as well as ivory orchids and hydrangeas. Guests enjoyed a sit-down dinner, and for dessert, friends and family enjoyed slices of a three-tiered vanilla cake with a strawberry filling that was elegantly decorated with cherry blossom branches to honor the theme. 

The whirlwind of fun and revelry continued into the night as loved ones enjoyed dancing to songs played by a DJ that perfectly captured the essence of the couple. “Music is how we bonded when we first met, and it was so important to us,” confirms Judy. “We both love dance music and found a DJ that understood our vibe and executed the party the way we wanted.”

When reflecting on their favorite parts of the day, the bride shares: “My most memorable moment was during the ceremony when I looked over to see our families and friends. I felt so blessed to have these people in our lives and to be able to celebrate this moment with them.