Finding the person that will stick with you through thick and thin is no easy feat: though Kathryn Mong and Derrick Su wouldn’t know anything about that. “We met over twelve years ago at a summer program before our senior year of high school,” Kathryn recalls. 17-year-old Derrick was a soft-spoken teenager – “He said his name so quietly I had to ask him twice to repeat it.  I still wasn’t sure what he said so I had to sneak a peek at his ID later to double check!” Kathryn laughs – and the 16-year-old was drawn to him. “Derrick is from the Bay Area and I am from New York City, so neither of us really expected our teenage summer romance to last. But, our connection was undeniable, and despite our decision to go to college in different states, we managed a long distance relationship for nearly ten years!” reveals Kathryn. 

After many years of living separately and pursuing their respective careers, the lovebirds were finally united in Southern California. When Derrick decided to propose, he knew that he wanted to do something incredibly heartfelt to connect the duo’s past and future. He told his girlfriend that he had to work one morning and departed quickly, while Kathryn had made plans to visit a popular garden with her cousin. Upon their arrival, she was intrigued by the sight of a rose-lined aisle – especially when she noticed her beau standing under a gazebo at the end of the trail. “When Derrick first asked me to be his girlfriend in high school, he arranged Hershey's kisses on the table in the shape of a heart with a card in the center. For the proposal, there were Hershey's kisses on the ground in the shape of a heart, and he was standing inside it,” she gushes. “I walked down the path past a growing crowd and stepped into the heart with Derrick, where he got down on one knee.”

With just over a year to organize their nuptials, the pair quickly hired a wedding planner and began drawing an outline for the special summer day. After selecting an oceanside event venue in Pacific Palisades for its privacy, the couple settled upon a 125-person, indoor-outdoor celebration. Kathryn elected to don three different ensembles for her day: a classic gown for her vow exchange, a more traditional Chinese dress she designed herself for the first half of her reception, and a sexy fitted gown for the end of the evening. Her bridesmaids sported soft blush frocks with sweetheart necklines and all of the women carried light-hued bouquets down the aisle as professional wedding photographer Laurie Bailey captured it all. “The number 8 is considered auspicious in Chinese because it sounds like the word for fortune, so we selected 8 of our closest friends to be in our bridal party,” the bride remarks. 

Guests watched the two join in matrimony in a gorgeous outdoor space featuring white lawn chairs, a simple aisle runner flanked by paper flowers, and a wooden ceremony arch accented with clusters of roses, hydrangea blossoms, orchids, and calla lilies in soft, feminine shades. Once the groom kissed his bride, attendees exited the alfresco setting and entered the interior ballroom for an array of culinary offerings, delicious signature cocktails, and a slice from their classic four-tier white wedding cake. “Our color scheme was blush and ivory and we wanted our wedding to be both elegant and modern, with a nod to tradition and our Chinese heritage,” explains the bride. Long and round tables showcased champagne-tone linens underneath a plethora of glass elements, including tall vases, which housed the same combination of cascading as from the ceremony.

In revealing her most memorable moment from her wedding, Kathryn doesn’t have to think for long. “I've always been a fan of country music, and have since converted Derrick as well. He surprised everyone, especially me, during the reception with a live performance of an original country song that he wrote and composed about us!” she muses. “He recruited his groomsmen to be his backup dancers and even broke out a violin halfway through to play a fiddle solo!”