Real Weddings: Danny Yin and Kate Zelenova
A fairytale wedding at The Garrison mixes Russian and Chinese cultures
September 17, 2011
In Russian folklore, the firebird represents inspiration and light. In Chinese mythology, the dragon embodies power and good luck. Together, they are the perfect symbol for the five-year courtship of Kate Zelenova and Danny Yin.
Despite being born roughly 4,000 miles apart in Moscow and southern China, respectively, Kate and Danny met on a tiny Manhattan dance floor in November 2004. They each felt a spark and exchanged numbers—but Kate instructed him not to call for two weeks. “I needed to focus on my upcoming GREs,” she says. “He actually called the following day anyway just to see if the number was real.”
Danny proposed on the beach in Puerto Rico on Christmas Day 2009, “It was a complete surprise,” Kate says. As far as their wedding, one thing was certain: They wanted their heritage to play a key role. “We wanted to highlight who we are, and the beauty of that joining together,” Kate says. She designed the invitations, illustrating their union with a Russian firebird and a Chinese dragon. Guests were treated to jasmine truffles, miniature matryoshka dolls, and Russian chocolates. A vodka bar was stocked with special libations brought over from Kate’s homeland. Her bouquet contained a keepsake pin from her grandmother, who couldn’t make the trip from Moscow.
“I always thought I would have a more modern wedding,” says Kate. “But, once we ruled out the shiny Manhattan wedding, we thought we’d try to lean more rustic or more vintage. We picked The Garrison before they even started their renovation, and by the time the wedding rolled around, it was even more beautiful.” Kate’s mom helped extend that rustic feel by crafting wooden signs with fairytale references, decorating a birch tree with matryoshka key chains, and assembling a collection of vintage costume props so the bridal party could decide at the last minute to enter wearing pirate, clown, and gangster gear.
Still, Kate and Danny didn’t completely let go of all modern touches. When it came time to say their vows, each whipped out a cellphone on which they’d stored their most heartfelt thoughts. “Hearing what we wrote for each other," Kate says, “made the wedding day more than just a big party.”
Photography: Daniel Stockfield (DSP Gallery, Inc.), 16 Mount Ebo Rd S #8, Brewster (845) 207-3045; danstockfield.com. Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Garrison, 2015 Rte 9, Garrison (845) 424-3604; thegarrison.com. Wedding planner: Ann Marie Rozycki at The Garrison. Cake: The Pastry Garden, 2600 South Rd, Poughkeepsie (845) 473-5220; thepastrygarden.com. Custom Cake Flowers from Sugar Flower Cake Shop, 336 W 37th St, Ste 950, New York, NY (212) 993-6441; sugarflowercakeshop.com. Florist: Alice Norwick of Petals by Alice, 29 Marble Ave, Pleasantville (914) 788-1081; petalsbyalice.com. Bridal Dress: “Sara” by LaRichi Couture gown purchased at Fontana Bridal Salon, 678 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale (914) 472-1441; fontanabridalsalon.com. Bridal Accessories: Hairpiece from Fontana Bridal Salon; shoes from Badgley Mischka (badgleymischka.com); jewelry from Expressions, 549 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson (914) 478-7278; shopatexpressions.com. Bridal Hair/Makeup: Salon Maffei, 151 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (914) 428-3555; salonmaffei.com. Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Lord & Taylor, 750 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale (914) 723-7700; lordandtaylor.com. Groom’s Attire: Custom suit made at San Marko, 718 Central Ave, Yonkers (914) 964-8982; sanmarko.info. Groomsmen’s Attire: Tuxedo by Giovanni, 2164 Central Park Ave, Yonkers (914) 779-8897; tuxonline.com. Music & Entertainment: DJ Bri Swatek, 30 Robinson La, Poughkeepsie (845) 235-0080; djbriswatek.com. Invitations: Designed by the bride and printed at EnvelopMe.com.