How they met:
Tae Kim was Samantha Giordano’s very first high school boyfriend. The relationship lasted a few years, but by the time Samantha left for college, the couple decided to part ways. Nearly 10 years later, Samantha reconnected with Tae when she met up with him while visiting her parents in Washington, D.C. To her surprise, Tae had moved to the area years prior. After meeting again, they dated long distance for four and a half years.
Will you marry me?:
On a trip to London, Tae, 34, of Seoul, South Korea, and Samantha, 32, of Staten Island, walked through the Christmas markets near Tower Bridge. Unbeknownst to Samantha, Tae had hired a professional photographer to snap a few images of the moment he popped the question. When Tae suggested taking a “selfie,” Samantha found it strange that he insisted she take off her hat first—it was so cold, after all—but this signaled the photographer that the “big moment” was about to happen. After the proposal, Tae and Samantha posed for an impromptu engagement photoshoot.
“I wanted something I could dance in and not fuss over all night—but I also wanted drama and impact for the ceremony,” says Samantha. After a few sketches, Joy Cioci, a long-time friend and designer, created a stunning custom gown featuring an 18-foot train and cape.
Details of the day:
For inspiration, Samantha and Tae drew upon three major themes for their wedding at Eagle Oaks Golf and Country Club, where her father is the chief operating officer: Edgar Allan Poe, Beauty and the Beast, and vintage Dolce & Gabbana ad campaigns.
Though an unlikely grouping, each vision—a mix of darkened tones, candle-lit opulence, and romantic florals and lace—came together to create a truly glamorous ambiance. Collectives by Diana and Ivie Joy Flowers used actual fruit—pomegranates, persimmons, purple artichokes, grapes and figs—throughout the table décor and bridal bouquets to create a dazzling mix of Old-World elegance and earthy pops of color.
Honoring each other’s culture:
The couple celebrated each of their cultures—Italian and Korean—throughout the wedding. Following a Catholic ceremony at St. Peter’s Church in Point Pleasant Beach, the couple wore custom hanboks—traditional Korean formal attire—to greet guests at cocktail hour. After the reception, the pair hosted a Korean barbecue–themed after-party, complete with japchae cups (stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables), galbi (marinated beef grilled in front of guests) and fresh kimchi (salted and fermented vegetables), alongside grilled cheese, French fries and hot pretzels.
A mashup of “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and “(I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You,” by UB40, courtesy of Denny Testa of Off Beet Productions.
After three weeks touring South Korea, Maldives and London, the couple is at home in Washington, D.C.