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This Couple Invited Their Wedding Guests to a Traditional Korean Pyebaek Ceremony in D.C.

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Olivia Rae James

|Planning by 

Bash Please

Stacy Cho, who works in menu strategy at McDonald’s, and John “Gus” Wigen-Toccalino met on Hinge. “It took him a whole day to strike up a conversation, so I didn’t think anything would come out of it,” Stacy says. “But once he did, we talked for a few days straight before finally planning our first date over pizza and beer.”

After two-and-a-half years together, he proposed in his apartment with streamers, rose petals, and candles. Along the entryway, he had framed photos of the two of them during their relationship, and when they reached the final image, he got down on one knee. “I told Gus many times before that I didn’t want a public proposal, so this was exactly what I wanted,” she says. 

Since Stacy was born and raised in the D.C. area, she always knew she wanted to get married close to home. With many of their guests coming from out of state, they wanted their venue to be a unique experience and chose the Meridian House—an 18th-century French mansion-style locale—for their September 2, 2021 wedding.

To help plan their big day, the couple partnered with Bash Please. “Growing up, I barely gave any thought to what my wedding would look like, so I knew I needed an experienced team that could help us plan every aspect of our wedding from a design and logistics standpoint,” Stacy says. Photographer Olivia Rae James was on hand with her second shooter Kate Thompson to capture every moment, and Aerialist Press also expertly set the tone of the day with a beautiful invitation suite.

At the rehearsal dinner and welcome party, the bride wore a Happy Isles dress from the ‘70s, Lizzie Fortunato heart earrings, and Manolo Blahnik heels.

Wedding dress shopping was actually the least stressful part of the planning process for the bride-to-be. “I am someone who is very confident in my fashion choices, and I knew I wanted something timeless and light,” Stacy explains. With her mother, the bride chose a Monique Lhuillier gown at the designer’s flagship boutique in Los Angeles. In the end, she added sleeves and floral appliqués to her off-white, A-line tulle dress and extended its train and her matching Monique Lhuillier veil. 

On the morning-of, Stacy got ready in a blue slip dress by Daphne Newman and a white silk robe from Fleur du Mal with makeup artist Anna Breeding and hairstylist Alex Brown. The maid of honor Lizzy wore the Bryce dress by Jenny Yoo in a citrine color, and Gus worked with Hall Madden on his custom black tuxedo and patent leather Magnanni shoes.

For the reception, Stacy changed into her ultimate party dress from Happy Isles. It was a vintage strapless minidress from the ‘80s with ruffles and embellishments throughout. “I’ve always said that if I could have grown up in another decade, it would be the ‘80s, so I knew this was the perfect dress for me,” she says. To complete the look, Stacy added disco ball Rebecca de Ravenel earrings and crystal-embellished Sophia Webster heels.

The ceremony was held in the garden, enhanced with a beautiful floral arch by Sophie Felts Floral Design. The couple’s good friend Ben officiated the short-but-sweet service. Gus and Stacy had a civil ceremony the year prior, but even so, the bride was “slightly uncomfortable and nervous seeing everyone staring” down the aisle. 

After exchanging vows and being announced as husband and wife, guests were invited to a second traditional Korean ceremony called “pyebaek,” designed by Rose Bedding & Interiors. Even though this ceremony is traditionally private, the couple really wanted their guests—many unfamiliar with Korean culture—to witness the special moment. “Being a Korean and Asian-American woman is such an important part of my identity,” Stacy states. “I was really glad I could introduce my culture to others through the pyebaek.”

Stacy and Gus sat across from their parents, each pair separately, and they imparted words of wisdom. “After a few ceremonial things like bowing and pouring rice wine, Gus and I then held the length of my skirt to catch jujubes—Korean dates—and chestnuts that our parents threw at us,” Stacy explains. The number of goodies caught are the number of children they’re supposed to have…they caught 11. “I like to joke that the type of children was not specified, so I could technically have 11 dogs instead.”

Cocktail hour was held in the Linden Grove, followed by dinner in the library and connecting reception room, caters by Occasions Caterers. For dessert, the couple cut their carrot and almond wedding cakes, created by Buttercream Bakeshop.

The newlyweds had their first dance to “Forever” by Ben Harper, and then everyone danced the night away with DJ Dan Goldman. “I saw my parents dance in ways I’ve never seen them dance before,” Stacy reveals. 

After the reception, the new mister and missus and their loved ones headed back to Gus’s family’s suite at The Line Hotel. They ended the night with a late-night McDonald’s run before falling asleep in their room with their pup Oscar.