Eugenia Kim, the CEO and creative director of her eponymous women’s accessories line—which creates hats worn by celebrities like Beyoncé—and designer Christopher Lee’s meet-cute could be the makings of a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks rom-com. The two met on a tennis partner matching website. “I was always looking for new tennis partners,” Eugenia remembers. “In an interview with WWD, they once asked, ‘What is your most coveted accessory for the season?’ and I said, ‘A tennis partner.’ On my Match.com profile, I even specified that you must have a USTA ranking of 4.0 or higher, and be 6 feet tall or taller. My friend Sarah Brown told me that my profile wasn’t that inviting—I wonder why?”
Eugenia firmly believes a person’s tennis etiquette is a direct reflection of their personality, so she often scheduled dates at the courts. “If he tried to smash the ball at me, I know he’s not a gentleman,” she says with a laugh. “If he wears jean shorts on the court, no way, date over! And also, if the date doesn’t go well, at least I got a workout in!”
In June of 2012, Christopher messaged Eugenia via the tennis website, which displays each player’s photo, and she immediately thought he looked handsome. “We set up a date and time to play,” she says. “I knew he was interested in me when I asked: ‘Do you want to play Saturday morning or Saturday evening?’ and he said ‘Evening.’ His friends thought he was insane because they were throwing a party that night, and he left his own party to play tennis with me.” They went on to play tennis together for several months, and eventually started dating.
The couple turned a corner in their relationship when Eugenia found herself short-staffed at the exact moment when Christopher was at a career crossroads. “I asked him if he wanted to help me temporarily until he found a job he liked,” she remembers. “Friday, March 18th, was Christopher’s first day of work at Eugenia Kim Inc., and we were both pretty nervous about working together. It turned out to be an incredible day for both of us, though. We loved working together, and he designed an amazing shoe that we called the ‘Chris’ that day.”
That night, they went out to dinner with Christopher’s mother, Sarah. After the meal, Eugenia went home to bed, but Christopher stuck around for a nightcap with his mom. Sarah eventually turned in as well, but Christopher, feeling contemplative, stayed out. “I woke up around 3:00 a.m. and called him to find out where he was,” Eugenia remembers. “He was at a bar nearby, so I met up with him. He then proposed that night at around 4:00 a.m., and I said ‘Yes!’ I texted a bunch of my friends immediately.”
The next morning, they discussed the idea that maybe they weren’t ready. Work had been hectic for Eugenia, and she was too stressed to even begin thinking about planning a wedding. “But since I’d already told everybody, and they’d texted back congratulations, we were at a bit of a standstill,” she admits. They met up with Sarah for brunch later that day, and Christopher dropped the bomb that they’d gotten engaged. “Sarah nearly fell off her chair!” Eugenia reveals. “At dinner the next night, once she finally recovered, I asked her why people get married, especially people who don’t plan on having kids, and she said, ‘To commit to one another.’ That kind of sealed the deal for me. We have been working and living together happily ever since!”
Tennis played another integral role when it came time to choose a wedding venue. Eugenia and Christopher often spend downtime at Total Tennis, a tennis camp for adults in Saugerties, New York. “By the end of camp on Sunday afternoon, we are physically spent after 10 hours of tennis over two days,” Eugenia says. “We started staying at the Rhinecliff Hotel, which is right on the Hudson River. It’s a beautiful location, and as creative people, we both get energized, relaxed, and inspired by being near water—so we chose the Rhinecliff Hotel as the venue for our ceremony and reception.”
Aesthetically, Eugenia and Christopher are both minimalists, and they wanted to remove all color from their decor in order to focus on the natural beauty of the Hudson River. “Christopher’s mother loves sports, and she called the black-and-white color scheme for our wedding ‘team colors,’” Eugenia says, laughing. “Because we are both designers, we were very happy that our exacting aesthetic translated throughout our wedding.” After all, putting on a wedding is not unlike producing a runway show: There’s music, hair and makeup, and models (also known as bridesmaids). The couple relied on Claudia Hanlin at The Wedding Library to help them plan all of it.?Eugenia has the same unwavering, exacting vision when it comes to her personal style, and after looking at hundreds of dresses online one night, she only found one that she kind of sort of liked. “This lack of options for women like me, who are not standard-issue brides, was the reason I recently launched the Eugenia Kim Bridal Collection of hats, hair accessories, fascinators, veils, and handbags,” she says. The dress in question was a short A-line look covered with embroidered three-dimensional butterflies by the German brand Kaviar Gauche. To Eugenia, the shape of the dress was a modern nod to the traditional hanbok that Korean women wear on their wedding day. But after a measuring mix-up, the dress arrived way too big—“I was swimming in it!”—and she had to return it.
Frustrated, she set out for a trunk show with Christopher in tow. “I tried on a ton of dresses that morning, and although there were many gorgeous options, none of them were really me,” she says. “After Christopher saw me in all of these dresses, he realized that he could design the perfect dress for me.”
And that’s just what he did. He sketched the design and hired Paula Varsalona to execute the strapless, asymmetrical silk organza and tulle dress with an enormous back bow. “It was gorgeous and so thoroughly me,” Eugenia says. “It had many layers of organza and tulle—all with raw-cut edges—and the length was just short enough in the front to show off my legs.”
In the meantime, Eugenia still couldn’t stop thinking about the butterfly dress, so Christopher suggested she wear it as a reception look. Luckily, they were going to Paris and Florence for work, so they popped by Berlin on the way back home to pick up the correct size.
Eugenia paired her ceremony dress with Prada silver metallic sandals and a short asymmetrical veil called the “Dauphine,” made of the same silk tulle as her dress. With her reception dress, she wore Rejina Pyo silver metallic mules that she found on Net-a-Porter and a feather butterfly fascinator called the “Mariah” from her bridal collection.
Marco Santini of Ion Studio, who’s been Eugenia’s stylist for years, did her entire bridal party’s hair. “I love the movie Evita, and Marco came up with an avant-garde version of Madonna’s Evita bun using a small hairnet and Davines products. I even reenacted the opening scene of ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ to guests a few floors below during cocktail hour.” He did versions of the Evita bun for the bridesmaids as well. When Eugenia switched looks, he transformed her bun into an abstract butterfly to complement her reception dress.?Alice Lane did the bride’s makeup. For the ceremony, a red lip was in order, further transforming Eugenia into Madonna’s Evita. “I cry easily, so Alice used Kush waterproof mascara by Milk Makeup,” Eugenia says. “The classic black eyeliner was done using Nars Eye Paint in Black Valley, only on the top of my eyelid due to the crying issue.”
The bridesmaids were all in Eugenia Kim, of course. “I actually had a trunk show at the Rhinecliff for all female guests the morning of the wedding, in order to lend them all hats, hair accessories, and fascinators,” the bride says. She and Christopher also designed custom feather and silk flower fascinators for their mothers, black satin headbands with veils and ostrich poms for their bridesmaids and sisters, and a black silk flower crown for the flower girl that felt very kid-Coachella.?The morning of the wedding, the weather was gorgeous—and then things took a turn right before the ceremony, with a sudden threat of rain. “The new weather development created a slightly dark mood that added to the setting and our aesthetic,” Eugenia says. “We both dislike traditional wedding music—if I have to hear ‘Pachelbel’s Canon in D’ at one more wedding!—however, we’re both very specific about our music. We were lucky to find the Joyce Hammann String Quartet, which specializes in nontraditional string music, and they wore all black including matching black leather Eugenia Kim ‘Carter’ berets—the same one I originally designed for Beyoncé to wear to the Grammys.” The bridal party processional was?“Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, and the bride walked down the aisle to “George’s Waltz II,” composed by Shigeru Umebayashi from Tom Ford’s?A Single Man, a song that Christopher believes embodies his love for Eugenia. There was a reading from a love letter Zelda Fitzgerald wrote to F. Scott Fitzgerald, an excerpt from a letter written from him to her on the eve of their wedding, and a passage from The Beautiful and Damned, as well as Frank O’Hara’s “Having a Coke with You.”
The couple constructed their vows in the form of a tennis rally, where they took turns roasting each other, with some niceties slipped in. “I’m Korean-American and my family and I show our love by making fun of each other,” Eugenia says. “It’s rare that we say versus do nice things for one another, so this was the vibe I was comfortable with.” This verbal volley almost brought almost everyone—not just Eugenia—to tears.
“The reason I met you to begin with is that I needed a tennis partner,” Chris said toward the end of the recitation. “And even though you have your own interesting interpretation of tennis etiquette, playing tennis with you has been the honor of my life. I therefore promise to always enjoy the unique and beautiful energy that you bring to the court and that won my heart. So despite all of your hilarious quirks and my glaring flaws, the one thing that I can guarantee you is that you will get the very best of me from now until the day I die.”
Eugenia ended the vows by triumphantly singing one line of Jon Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There for You,” thrusting her arm optimistically in the air afterward—just like in an ’80s movie.
Afterwards, guests convened for cocktails on the patio of the Rhinecliff, where the string quartet played Parisian street jazz. As guests were called upstairs for the dinner and dancing portion of the evening, Eugenia changed into her second look. The newlyweds made their grand entrance into the reception to “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves, then did their first dance to “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes. “Christopher, who is a true old-school romantic, always thinks of me when he hears this song, and we love the retro glamour of it!” Eugenia says. They took private dance lessons with Marianne Hettinger from New York Health & Racquet Club for weeks before the wedding. Marianne choreographed moves, and then Christopher re-choreographed a lot of them to work around their height difference (she’s five feet two and he’s six feet four), her butterfly fascinator, the limiting wingspan of her butterfly dress, and the fact that she suffered from a broken back once and doesn’t rotate well as a result.
“The music selection that we picked for DJ Joel of Jarrell Entertainment to play was, according to many guests,?‘the best wedding music ever,’” Eugenia says. It was a combination of eras, but absolutely no music past 2000 (with the exception of?“Tearin’ Up My Heart” by *NSYNC).?“This made for everyone, even people who I never see on the dance floor, tearing it up all night, including everyone Vogue-ing to?‘Vogue’ by Madonna,” she adds.
Christopher designed the wedding cake, inspired by a combination of Margiela surrealism and French interior door moldings. “It was basically a cube, and it so convincingly looked like a piece of furniture that my mother put her hat and?iPhone?on it, which was hilarious,” Eugenia says. “Because it was a cube, it was difficult for me to figure out how?to cut, but as in fashion, when in doubt, go bias or go home!”
After dinner and dancing, there was a karaoke after-party that went until 3:00 a.m. “I have a smoky voice in that Stevie Nicks way, and I did a dead-on?rendition?of?‘Landslide,’” Eugenia says. “Christopher is an incredible singer and with his retro tux and a martini in his hand, he looked and sounded like a bigger Frank Sinatra when he crooned?‘Fly Me to the Moon’—his forever favorite.”