• Photography By:

    The Big Affair


    October 6, 2020 in Pacific Palisades, California

    A Romantic West Coast Wedding at Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades, California

    Judy Choi and Howard Zhang were both attending NYU for their master’s degrees when they met. It was Howard who first said hello, after spotting Judy sitting in the back row of their game-theory class.


    “We bonded over a mutual love for music,” he says. “She was (and is) gorgeous and intelligent, but most of all I sensed her deep capacity for love. After our class concluded, I took her out to a concert at The Bowery and that’s how our relationship started. I wish I could say everything was smooth sailing, but we had our share of turbulence in the beginning. However, with each trial, our love grew stronger – I bought her engagement ring at Cartier after only one-and-a-half years.”

    Howard’s first attempt at a proposal was supposed to take place during a trip to Japan, but his plans fell through. After months of planning for a second try, he decided to pop the question in the middle of November. The couple went to dinner at the Mandarin Hotel to celebrate Judy’s new job offer from Sony Music, followed by a stroll over to Lincoln Center. Howard ended up proposing right in front of the Robertson Plaza fountain, where a photographer was strategically stationed to capture the moment. Later on, those photos made for the perfect save-the-date cards.

    “Wedding planning was hectic,” shares Howard. “We knew the location had to be on the west coast because we had multiple families who were traveling from China and Korea, and LA felt like the perfect midpoint – although, planning a wedding 3,000 miles away was not going to be easy. Luckily, Judy found an amazing wedding planner who helped us design, plan, manage vendors, and direct the event. 

    Among all the wedding activities from venue scouting to cake tasting to choosing color palettes, our favorite – by far – was the photoshoot with Thomas [from The Big Affair]. He flew all the way to NYC, and in a single day, we shot at five locations that truly encapsulated how our relationship blossomed. It was the most fun we had all year.”

    The bride and groom-to-be arrived in Los Angeles a week in advance to prepare for their romantic west coast wedding at the beautiful Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades. Although stress comes with the territory when planning a destination wedding from afar, the couple was simultaneously filled with happiness and excitement.

    “I remember giving my toast during rehearsal dinner and the wine glass was shaking in my hands,” says Howard. “As anxious as I was, I can’t imagine how it must have been for my wife. For months, Judy poured herself into the planning process, coordinating with family, managing the guest list, arranging accommodations – but we wouldn’t be in this magazine if all that hard work didn’t pay off, right? On the day of, the Bel-Air Bay Club was decorated perfectly. I could hear the soothing, ambient music of the quartet from the groom’s suite. When we made it to the altar, I saw all 120 seats filled with our loving family and friends. Even though I had practiced my vows, in that moment, the words felt so natural.”

    The rest of the evening unfolded seamlessly as the newlyweds performed their first dance without a single misstep. Family and friends shared incredible toasts, and all the guests – young and old – joined the bride and groom in dancing the night away.


    Location & Catering: Bel-Air Bay Club, Pacific Palisades, CA; Wedding Dress: Pronovias

    Engagement Ring: Cartier