A Malibu Elopement and St. Louis Micro Wedding Within the Same Week
When Grace Kim boarded a plane from Los Angeles to London in December 2018, she didn’t anticipate that she’d met her husband on her vacation. But, when a friend encouraged her to activate her Bumble account, she matched with Travis Junge, who was stationed in the United Kingdom with the Air Force. The twosome shared mulled wine at a Christmas market, danced the night away at a concrete disco box, and have been together ever since. “Grace left the country the next day, but we talked every day after and dated long-distance from London to Los Angeles,” Travis shares. “The rest is history as they say.”
Though their entire relationship has been long distance, they’ve always known that they wanted to spend forever together. (Turns out, distance really does make the heart grow fonder.) So, when Travis proposed to Grace during a weekend getaway to Joshua Tree in National Park in 2021, the couple wasted no time to make it official. Problem was, the global pandemic threw a major wrench into the wedding planning process.
“We really weren’t sure if or when we would be able to have our families together for one ceremony since Grace’s family was in Los Angeles and Travis’ family in St. Louis,” the couple explains. “We also didn’t want to wait to see when Covid-19 would allow us to have the ‘normal’ wedding.”
The solution? Grace and Travis eloped in Malibu on April 26, 2021 and threw a micro wedding in St. Louis on May 1, 2021. Not only did the dual nuptials make it possible to have their dream wedding—all within the confines of Covid-19, of course—but it was also a poetic nod to their long-distance relationship. Since the bride found herself planning a St. Louis party from Los Angeles, the couple tapped Kate Turner of local event company Kate + Company to make the multi-day affair magical. Read on for an intimate look at these dual nuptials, as photographed by Clary Pfeiffer Photography.
On April 26, the couple eloped to the Malibu Rocky Oaks. “We loved the beauty of the place,” they explain. “It was up in the mountains where we felt close to God. We got married on the villa’s helipad! The villa reminded us of Italy.”
Unlike their St. Louis ceremony—which had approximately 30 of their family members and closest friends in attendance—Grace and Travis kept their elopement’s guest list curated to the photographer and their pastor, who was a friend and performed the wedding.
For Grace and Travis, their Malibu elopement offered plenty of autonomy. “We knew at least with an elopement, we would have more control over the most meaningful part of the ceremony: our vows,” the groom explains.
“We really wanted this to be our own personal moment where we could share our most vulnerable thoughts with one another,” the bride says. “There is something truly special about sharing your personal vows on top of a cliff with no one but your spouse really by your side.” Though the couple estimates their vows were 30 minutes long, it remains one of the nuptials’ most intimate and unforgettable moments.
After Grace and Travis swapped vows, the couple sealed their lasting love with a kiss.
“We wanted it to feel intimate and classy without much fuss,” the bride says of both celebrations. For the elopement, Travis sported a traditional tuxedo from Brooks Brothers. Meanwhile, the bride looked radiant in a floral embroidered gown from Élysée Bridal. “With an amazing venue like Rocky Oaks in Malibu, we thought getting dressed up in our finest would look awesome next to the backdrop of this beautiful venue,” she shares.
As the sun set on their elopement, Grace and Travis posed for a few breathtaking pictures with photographer Clary Pfeiffer. In fact, one of the couple’s most prized moments was climbing a rocky mountain for an idyllic sunset photo.
Less than a week later, Grace and Travis headed to St. Louis to celebrate their marriage with their inner circle. Since the couple met and spent a lot of time in Europe, they wanted to bring a global touch to their Midwest nuptials. With a rustic design, muted shades of green and pink, and gilded touches, the invitation suite got the vibe just right.
It was so nice to have a relatively small, intimate wedding.
The newlyweds kept their guest list to minimum, inviting 22 friends and family members as well as six of their nieces and nephews. “It was so nice to have a relatively small, intimate wedding,” the bride shares. “It really allowed both of our families to talk more and get to know each other.”
For the St. Louis nuptials, the bride stunned in another embroidered gown from Élysée Bridal, complete with sequins, chantilly lace, and tulle. “They both just made me feel so incredibly beautiful and they both actually didn’t really [require] alterations,” Grace shares. “I was fortunate that I got to wear two wedding dresses both which fit the different venues so perfectly.” She completed the look with a simple veil—her very own “something borrowed.”
As for the groom? He sported a classic navy suit from Brooks Brothers. “I wanted something simple, classic, and approachable,” he shares. “I think the suit as opposed to a tuxedo contributed to a more relaxed and intimate environment for us and our family.”
When it came to finding the perfect venue for their micro wedding, there was no better spot than the Solarium at The Ritz Carlton St. Louis. “The Solarium had both a nature and European vibe, which is our style,” the bride shares. “We met, lived, and traveled in Europe so it’s a special place for us. We love nature and greenery.” With the help of ghost chairs and pastel blooms that lined the aisle, the foliage-filled locale turned into an idyllic reception area.
To help streamline the day’s festivities, Grace and Travis stuck with traditional vows for their St. Louis-based wedding. Thanks to the musical stylings of Dan Hoerle, a classical guitarist who played during the processional and recessional, the ceremony had a romantic touch.
Grace’s bridesmaids stunned in lush green dresses from Anthropologie, which paired nicely with the Solarium’s ambiance. Meanwhile, the groomsmen sported navy suits from Brooks Brothers. “I also wanted something simple and classic for the groomsmen,” Travis shares. “It was also important to me that they could use the suit for other occasions. My gift to the groomsmen was basically the suit they wore.”
After the ceremony, guests moseyed to the reception area for an intimate celebration. “We also really liked that we were able to fit everyone around one large table,” Grace notes. “It really felt like two families truly coming together.”
Of course, the Italian influence would not stop there. “Travis had wine shipped in from Italy from a villa we stayed at during an amazing trip,” Grace shares. “We stayed friends with the sommelier there and Travis worked with him to have it shipped.” Cheers!
The festivities also included a Korean wedding ceremony called paebaek. Here, the couple’s mothers donned traditional Korean dress called hanbok. Later, Grace and Travis kicked off the party with a first dance to Sade’s “By Your Side.”
Admittedly, planning a wedding—let alone an elopement and destination ceremony—is by no means easy. When looking back on their special day, the couple stresses the importance of finding a trustworthy planner. “Since I was planning from afar, I had to really trust my wedding planner to put together a wedding in St. Louis that we envisioned,” the bride shares. Just like Grace and Travis’ relationship proves, having the right person on your side can make distance a small feat.