Just Wait Until You See the Loaded Pie Table at This Modern, Cultural Wedding in Brooklyn
A pair of college-buddies-turned-soulmates wanted a party that gave their shared history and family heritages as many shout-outs as possible. At their effortlessly cool Brooklyn celebration, every little detail, from the ikebana-style centerpieces to the fried-chicken feast, was totally them.
When Judy Chang and Chris Gayomali first met at the University of California, Irvine, in 2004, there was nary a hint they'd wind up together. The Southern California natives were part of the same social circle, but their interactions involved so much playful antagonism that one pal assumed they didn't like each other at all. It wasn't until they both landed in New York City—Judy for grad school at Columbia University (she's now a city planner), Chris for the adventure of it (he's an editor at GQ)—that they met up for a friendly drink and realized, as they later wrote on their wedding website, that they didn't just like each other, "they ADORED each other." That was in June 2012. The summer brought more nights out, Google Chat messaging, and a memorable rendezvous at a Brooklyn park bench: Chris delivered homemade chicken soup and green juice to Judy, who was recovering from a cold. They moved in together a year later.
By 2017, the two were talking about marriage with the same relaxed attitude they take toward most endeavors. "It was like, 'We want a wedding,'" says Judy. "Our friends deserve to be fed and full of alcohol." That August, Chris lured her back to their special bench with a fake reservation for dinner at a hot new restaurant nearby. They arrived to find a man on his phone fighting with his girlfriend, but that didn't stop Chris from dropping to one knee. When he and Judy embraced, the stranger shouted, "Yes! Yes! That's love!" and ended up snapping a picture of the couple—an ad hoc, only-in-New-York proposal photo.
From the start, they knew they wanted to wed in Brooklyn, and keep the affair "low-key and easy," Chris says. They also wanted to celebrate their heritages; his family is Filipino-American, hers Chinese-American. So for their nuptials, on March 23, 2019, they mined their history for details and chose traditions that really resonated. They commissioned watercolor paintings of mandarin ducks, a Chinese symbol of love and fidelity, and reproduced the design on their invites, then framed and displayed the originals at their industrial-chic venue. Judy mingled with guests pre-ceremony, wearing a white Joseph coat over her gown. "It relaxed me tremendously," she says. In another modern twist, the friend who'd been ordained for the occasion paused mid-vows to take a selfie with the couple and the crowd. But they did stick to some conventions, including first-look photos. "I thought it was goofy," says Chris. "But when I turned around and saw how perfect Judy looked in her dress, all the cheesiness melted away. I was like, Oh, okay. I get it. I remember cupping my hand over my mouth and thinking, Damn, girl!"
Judy and Chris shared a laugh right after their first look. It took place outside their venue, which was located a mere 10-minute drive from the Brooklyn apartment building they've lived in since 2013.
Lucky in Love
Judy's parents walked her down the aisle. She changed into a qipao like her mother's after dinner.
The sculptural, ikebana-inspired flowers—this one has 'Red Hearts' anthurium, white Dutch tulips, and cherry branches—echoed her bouquet.
A red neon Chinese symbol for "double happiness" glowed over the family-style meal from Pies 'n' Thighs, a restaurant the pair love. They couldn't find a caterer to cook the Chinese banquet they originally wanted for the big day (because their venue had no industrial wok), so they held the rehearsal dinner at a Brooklyn dim-sum hall.
Loaded Dessert Table
Sour cherry-pear and bourbon-pecan pies filled out the dessert buffet. The caterers packed a "treasure-chest-size" to-go box for Chris and Judy. "We ate as much as we could before our honeymoon, and froze the rest," he says.
Photography, Katie Osgood Photography
Venue, 501 Union
Rehearsal Dinner Venue, Bamboo Garden
Event Design, Styling, Production, and Florals, FDK Florals
Catering, Pies 'n' Thighs
Custom Watercolor Paintings (on Stationery), A Chinese Watercolor by Xu
Bride's Gown, Rime Arodaky
Bride's Flats, Tabitha Simmons
Hair and Makeup, Princess Ayaton
Groom's Suit and Shirt, Our Legacy
Music, Jon Leachman
Photo Booth, Andrew Goble
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