Grace Choi met Jonathan Koh while visiting a friend at Northwestern University. An initial spark was felt between them, but once Grace returned back to Los Angeles, their email conversations fizzled out. Six years later, however, Jon reconnected with Grace to let her know that he was moving to the West Coast. Soon they were spending hours on the phone with one another, and Grace finally agreed to visit Jon in Chicago before he made the move to San Francisco. The trip was a hit. "She was everything I'd ever wanted in a girl," says Jon.
Paranoid that something could happen to the ring, Jon carried it around in his pocket during the weeks leading up to his proposal to Grace. He planned to pop the question in Napa Valley during a trip they had planned for his birthday. Stashed away in his luggage were two of Grace's favorite things, candles and chocolate... well, at least, the candles. He brought 100 votive candles in her favorite scent, but the Godiva chocolate box he brought was empty, meant for disguising the ring. When the moment was right, Jon asked Grace if she wanted a piece of chocolate and gave her the box. Later, he presented her with a card that read "100 times more beautiful than 100 lit candles" as they were surrounded by the glowing votives.
Luckily for Grace and Jon, they had a wedding coordinator right in the family -- Grace's sister Joyce. Once the couple decided to hold the wedding at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Joyce took the reigns and planned the event as her gift to the lucky couple. Using the bride's love of chocolate as inspiration, Joyce established a color scheme for the wedding that paired brown with various shades of pink and green. Chocolate brown suede invitations adorned with pink and white orchids were sent to guests in brown boxes stamped with Grace and Jon's baby pictures.
The ceremony's garden setting was enhanced by a lush look that incorporated branchy canopies and bowls of floating orchids hung from shepherd hooks. Suede programs were distributed to the assembled and female guests were offered paper parasols to shade themselves from the sun. As Jon is a professional cellist, it was important to the couple that the celebration be filled with music from beginning to end. An eight-piece orchestra for the ceremony was comprised of the couple's friends, including musicians from the New York Philharmonic, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Cincinnati Orchestra. As the sounds of strings filled the air, the mothers of the bride and groom led the processional wearing traditional Korean hanboks. Grace carried a bouquet that was tied with a small, framed photo of her father who passed away only a few months before she and Jon became engaged. Although her grandfather had the honor of escorting Grace, the presence of her father's image allowed her to feel as though he, too, was walking her down the aisle. Once she reached her groom, Grace and Jon exchanged original vows with the groom's uncle presiding over the ceremony.
As everyone headed into the cocktail hour, they stopped for a moment to pen warm wishes to the couple and hang them from the limbs of a small tree. Another tree made of manzanilla branches also displayed the escort cards, which were suspended from tiny clothes hangers. Upon finding their table assignment, each person was surprised with a single $500 casino chip and a note that read, "Love is a gamble, and we won!" They were encouraged to put the chip to good use at the craps, blackjack, and roulette tables that filled the cocktail hour.
The focal point of the ballroom reception was definitely the glossy chocolate brown dance floor emblazoned with the couple's names. It hosted a long night of dancing to the meticulously planned musical entertainment, which included a jazz band, a DJ, and a special performance by the groom himself. Jon played Massenet's "Meditation" for his bride. "It was quite special because it was the first time he'd ever performed just for me," beams Grace.
Two thousand crystals decorated the room, hanging from the ceiling, the lavish centerpieces, and the potted trees arranged to give the reception the same garden feel as the ceremony. The crystals radiated soft candlelight throughout every inch of the space in honor of the "100 lit candles" that had defined the couple's engagement.
After enjoying a four-course dinner and wedding cake filled with hazelnut cream, guests were given small brown boxes (tagged with "sweets from the sweethearts") to fill with treats from the pink and chocolate candy bar. And several guests who had done well at the casino tables even left with expensive prizes thanks to a raffle. It seems that not a single detail was overlooked, due primarily to Joyce's supervision. "I was both shocked and thrilled by Joyce's wonderful talent and imagination, but most of all, by her love and her desire to create our dream wedding for us," says Grace.