Location: Saddlerock Ranch, Malibu, CA; Cake: Rosebud Cakes, Beverly Hills, CA; Caterer: Wolfgang Puck for Spago, Beverly Hills, CA; Event Planner: Cheryl Cecchetto, Sequoia Productions, Los Angeles, CA; Florist: Mark's Garden, Sherman Oaks, CA; Tuxedo: Giorgio Armani; Wedding Gown: Melissa Sweet; Photography: Zen Todd Photography & Films, Los Angeles, CA
“You direct your movie; I'll direct this,” Crystal Kung reassured her fiancé. Rob Minkoff was admittedly unable to focus on wedding preparations while filming “The Forbidden Kingdom” in China, but when they returned to California two weeks before their celebration, “suddenly, director Rob” emerged, injecting some unanticipated drama, he recalls.
Their relationship's opening scene had unfolded effortlessly. They met in 2003 at a party in Rob's office. She arrived late; he returned just as things were winding down. “That's the director of ‘Lion King’ … maybe he'll hire you,” a girlfriend revealed, nudging Crystal to join Rob at the baby grand piano. For two hours, they sang Sinatra and discussed “everything from our dream places to travel to family life,” Crystal says. She accepted Rob's invitation to the “Finding Nemo” premiere. As credits rolled, they crooned “Beyond the Sea,” hand-in-hand. “It was so intimate, yet it was our first date,” says Crystal. “By the end of the night, I was hooked.”
In a fine bit of foreshadowing, Crystal repeatedly implored Rob never to propose “on Valentine's Day, in a restaurant, or in public.” Rob sheepishly confesses: “Maybe I wasn't paying attention.” When a platter of roses arrived as they finished dinner—at an elevated table in the middle of a Beverly Hills restaurant on Valentine's Day 2006—Crystal didn't suspect the blossoms concealed a ring. Rob professed his love; diners applauded wildly. “I was really shocked; that's what made it great,” Crystal says.
The element of surprise would figure heavily in their wedding's plot, too. Although Rob's last-minute inspirations required some scurrying, Crystal was confident he'd be happy with everything she and event planner, Cheryl Cecchetto, had arranged. When Rob suggested a dragon cake, Crystal just smiled; she'd already thought of that detail.
Crystal wanted their three-hundred guests “to be part of the whole adventure” staged at Malibu's Saddlerock Ranch. Rob's brother, Kevin, officiated as they exchanged vows beneath the lavishly flowered chuppah. Crystal is a 76th-generation descendent of Confucius. To honor her heritage, the couple knelt to serve their parents during an emotional tea ceremony.
Dinner was served beneath chandelier-adorned oaks, and as Crystal's brother, Chinese pop star—Jeffrey Kung—sang with the band, there was little hint the party wouldn't conclude in this glamorous, old Hollywood setting. Messages tucked inside fortune cookies revealed otherwise, and soon, guests were dancing in a 1930s Shanghai-themed nightclub, created with suspended lanterns and props from Rob's movie. Black and white Fred Astaire clips looped on plasma screens: the director's finishing touch.
Expectations were high, but Crystal says, “the most important thing was having our family and friends feel included.” Their marriage has united their large, eclectic circles of family and friends. “I feel like we've become this little nucleus that everyone has surrounded,” she says.
Rob may not have been holding auditions, but he found a leading lady to accompany him to the continent he brought to vivid, animated life. That night at the piano, they discovered one dream destination topped both their lists: Africa. They departed on a safari honeymoon just after “The Forbidden Kingdom” wrapped.
> Written by Kim Knox Beckius
Copyright 2014 Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine