Exclusive: The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun and Joana Pak's California Wedding
"We wanted to host a party," says Joana Pak of her wedding to Steven Yeun. They'd seen plenty of "wedding" places—but at the Paramour, an elegant yet quirky Old Hollywood–style estate on a Los Angeles hilltop, they knew they'd found their perfect spot.
It was a celebration they'd been awaiting for a while. Steven and Joana's story began in 2009, in Chicago, where he was with the Second City comedy theater and she was studying at Columbia College. They'd met the year before, in passing. But then "she walked into the bar where I was a really shitty bartender, and it was kismet," says Steven. "After that I saw her every day for six months."
Their relationship went long-distance when Steven moved to Los Angeles and less than a year later was cast as everybody's favorite zombie slayer. "He was based in Atlanta for half the year," recalls Joana. "I was in Chicago. We were kind of everywhere." In spite of the distance, it worked—and in August 2015, Steven proposed.
The pair, now based in L.A., wanted a colorful fête that would incorporate elements of their shared heritage—they're both from Korean families and raised in America, she in Arkansas and he in Michigan—and reflect their life together. When their planner, Nancy Park of So Happi Together, suggested a butterfly plate for the tables, it brought everything together for Joana: "Butterfly was my first English word," she recalls.
On December 3, 2016, Steven and Joana dressed in classic Korean garb and said their vows in front of 220 guests—including, of course, some The Walking Dead cast mates. The short-and-sweet Protestant ceremony was Steven's favorite part of the day. They honored their parents, giving their mothers bouquets, but "we didn't make anything sacred," he says, which "made the ceremony very relaxed and focused on a greater message of love."
After the couple recessed down the aisle to the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," guests rolled to the cocktail reception. A DJ and a Motown band—a nod to Steven's Michigan roots—played for hours, and guests took breaks from dancing to share toasts and enjoy a Korean-American fusion meal. A late-night snack of celebration noodles was served as guests mingled, and eventually the evening wound down. "There was no harsh lights-up or ushering out," says Joana. "Just a natural end to a great day."
Postwedding, the couple chose to wait on the honeymoon. Steven has new projects in the works (he's set to star opposite Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal in Bong Joon-ho's upcoming lm, Okja, for Netflix), and for now, they've gone into nesting mode. They've got a life to start.
The Bridal Party
The couple chose good friends and their brothers (Brian Yeun, to the right of Steven; and Sam Pak, far right) as attendants; Joana and her 'maids (wearing Bhldn) carried bouquets by Studio Mondine of garden roses and locally foraged greenery and blooms.
Joana worked with designer MeeHee Kim on her
, a gown with a slim, ribbon-adorned bodice and full petticoat skirt: "I showed her a mood board, and we worked on a look for the dress that went with the color palette of the wedding." Steven decided to follow suit after exploring the style: "We typically only see the inner portion [of the men's
]. When we saw some photos of the outer pieces, I realized it was a Korean-style tuxedo," he recalls. "I said, ‘Let's roll with that.'"
Pretty Little Details
Ribbons are a classic hanbok
The bride wore pumps by Céline.
The Bridal Bouquet
The bride's bouquet included foraged caster, distant drums garden roses, koko loko garden roses, wild carrot, eucalyptus, and flannel flower. "We wanted the flowers to give a sense of time of place, so we foraged as much as we could from the surrounding hills," says floral designer Amanda Luu, of Studio Mondine, "and worked with local Ella Rose Farm, whose robust fields were still producing blooms into December!"
Boutonnieres featured eucalyptus, cypress, acacia, and birch.
The Outdoor Ceremony
Joana's cousin Elliot Chung, a Protestant pastor, officiated. "It was winter, so we had a short time before the sun went down," says Joana—so they kept the late-afternoon ceremony brief.
The grounds of the Paramour, set on a hillside in LA's Silver Lake district, offers an expansive view of the city—a dramatic backdrop for a wedding ceremony.
In addition to passed appetizers and cheeses and charcuterie by Urban Palate, the cocktail reception featured a dduk, or rice-cake, station.
Guests mingled around the pool, illuminated with twinkling lights, at cocktail hour.
Please Be Seated
Dinner was served family-style in an outdoor dining area.
Pretty Place Settings
The colors of the butterfly plates rented from Casa de Perrin were echoed in the centerpiece flowers and dried greenery. The team at Studio Mondine collected and dried oregano, nigella, wild carrot, and gomphrena in the months before the wedding, and arranged them with locally grown roses. It was just one of the ways the couple kept their wedding low-impact—along with forgoing paper invitations. The couple also opted to forgo a traditional registry, instead asking guests to consider donating to the FlintNow Foundation—a charitable cause close to Steven's heart, since he grew up just 40 minutes from the water-crisis-stricken town. "[The group] is providing not only clean water but also resources to combat the damage done—long-term care for the kids, developmental support," Steven says. "They're looking to the future."
A Sweet Starter
Dinner tables were pre-set with appetizers of traditional sweet hwajeon pancakes (a name that literally translates to "flower cake"), made with rice flour and the petals of edible blooms.
Centerpieces on the dining tables featured acacia, spirea, dried oregano, and calla lily.
A fireplace with gilded mirror is a focal point of the Paramour's jewel-toned ballroom. A sweeping flower arrangement on the mantel included branches of cypress along with quicksand, cafe latte, amnesia, and Julia roses.
A Moment With Mom
Steven and his mom, June, danced to the Beatles' "In My Life." (Joana and her dad, John, danced alongside them.)
Location, The Paramour
Event planning and design, So Happi Together
Catering, Urban Palate
Flowers, Studio Mondine
Photography, Sally Pinera
Videography, Daniel Chae
Calligraphy, Red Letter Day
Desserts, M Cakes Sweets
Hair and Makeup, Chiali Meng
Bridesmaids' dresses, Bhldn
Groom's boots, Alden
Sound, Design Sound
Valet, Premiere Valet Services
Photo booth, Hashtag Photobooth