Real Weddings: Rosa and Shawn

Inside a ceremony at Kurtz Orchards in Niagara-on-the-Lake

Rosa Youn, a product designer, and Shawn Kim, a customer success manager, met as students at Ryerson in November of 2016. Five years later, they married at Gracewood Estates in Niagara. Here’s how it all came together.

Shawn: In my fourth year at Ryerson, I met Rosa in passing. A few months later, I had dinner plans with a friend to work on a project. She mentioned that a friend of hers was also going to join, and it turned out to be Rosa.

Rosa: We ended up getting quite close after that dinner. For about two months, we would see each other almost every day in the student library. Shawn always kept me company while I finished my school projects or studied for finals. He would finish his assignments early so he could hang out with me while I did mine—it was sweet. We spent a ton of time together, but I wanted to go out on a real date.

Shawn: On our first date in December of 2016, we went restaurant-hopping in Kensington. We ate tacos, jerk chicken and french fries, and then we ended the night at the Distillery District Christmas market. We’ve been together ever since. Rosa and I balance each other out so well—she’s my support system. I love how quirky and authentic she is. It’s refreshing.

Rosa: Shawn has always valued and appreciated me. Throughout our relationship, whenever he talks about the future, he always made sure I knew that I was a part of it. I can be silly around him without ever worrying about what he thinks—I’ve never had that before.

Shawn: By 2020, I was ready to propose. I had a plan laid out, but I wanted to make sure my career was steady and the timing was right. Rosa was getting a bit impatient.

Rosa: That August, Shawn’s parents flew in from Korea, and we planned a day of golfing with them and two of our close friends. Tee-off schedules are really strict—you can’t be a minute late—so I didn’t think Shawn would propose on the green. But when we were at the last hole, I saw a group of people walking down a hill towards our group, and I recognized my mom, who lives in Toronto, in a bright pink hat.

Shawn: I’m pretty emotional, so when I got down on one knee to propose, I felt a little dizzy and short for words. The nerves had kicked in, but I found my way.

Rosa: I honestly couldn’t believe it was happening. I was speechless. But I slowly calmed down and took it all in. I was so excited. Plus, the ring was beautiful—a round-cut diamond with a halo.

Shawn: After I proposed, we had a surprise party back at her place for our friends and family. It was a really beautiful day. Then we started planning the wedding for August of 2021. We initially started with 250 guests, but because of the restrictions, we got it down to around 75. Rosa suggested we plan an outdoor wedding to be safe. She found a venue, Gracewood Estates located in an orchard in Niagara-on-the-Lake, on Instagram. I immediately reached out and we started the planning process. The uncertainties definitely made me nervous.

Rosa: Finding my perfect dress was a pretty long process. I went to six boutiques, but I didn’t really know what I wanted. At the seventh store, which I visited with Shawn’s sisters, I finally felt a spark with a dress. I went back with a few of my friends and tried it on again, and the owner made suggestions on how she could adjust it and make it more me. After months of alterations, the final product was a slim-fit gown with a detachable tool skirt. Best of both worlds.

Shawn: I got my suit custom designed at Garrison Bespoke. It was a really phenomenal experience. Over the summer we had to get it re-tailored a couple of times because I was getting in shape and kept losing weight, so it was finally ready one week before the wedding—close call.

Rosa: The ceremony location at Gracewood Estates was really beautiful. We planned to hold our ceremony on the right side of a house on the property and set up a beautiful reception area on the left.

Shawn: It’s on 15 acres of land with a gorgeous view of the orchard. Our aisle was set up between two rows of oak trees in an open field beside the peach orchard. On the day of the wedding, I was happy that we could go with the flow and enjoy it without stressing over details. Rosa and I got ready at Airbnbs in Niagara and met at the venue. Rosa walked down the aisle to Kina Grannis’s version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” sung by two of the bridesmaids. The ceremony was short and sweet and both our vows were very touching—I got quite teary.

Rosa: After a cocktail hour in front of the house, we moved over to the reception area. Because it all felt so natural, I wanted our flowers to also be simple and organic. My bouquet had baby orchids and white roses, and the rest of the flowers were airy and white. We reused the flowers during the reception. We also decorated our tables with candles and vases that I sourced on Kijiji. We did a lot of driving across the city to pick up different pieces that I liked.

Shawn: For dinner, we used Gracewood Estates’ in-house catering, and everything was so delicious—especially the short ribs.

Rosa: One of my friends made the wedding cake. It was my absolute favourite—strawberry shortcake, but only when it’s hers. Everything about the wedding felt so authentically us.

Shawn: I was very emotional—the whole day was like such a big relief, and it made us excited for the next chapter. Everything came together so beautifully. We were able to let go of our to-do list on the day of and just enjoy it all. My only regret is not being able to go back and relive it all.

Rosa, Shawn and their wedding parties performed hip-hop dance routines at the reception

Rosa: Everyone warned me that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my wedding day because it all passes by so fast, so I made it a mission to actively be present and take in every moment. It was our day. We didn’t want the good times to end, so it would have been lovely to go on a honeymoon immediately following the ceremony. That wasn’t possible due to Covid, but we’re still really looking forward to our getaway.

Shawn: We’re going to Peru in December. Rosa and I don’t like to spend our days lounging on a beach, so we’re both excited about this adventure—lots of hikes and exploring Machu Picchu.

Cheat Sheet

Date: 21 August 2021
Venue: Gracewood Estates at Kurtz Orchards
Planner: LMW Events
Photography: Tom Powell Photography
Catering: Gracewood Estates
Bride’s outfit: Kenneth Winston, Amina Muaddi
Groom’s outfit: Garrison Bespoke, Ferragamo
Hair and makeup: Ford Beauty
Guests: 75

Here are some more photos from the day
These royal blue slingbacks are by Paris-based designer Amina Muaddi

Rosa secretly repaired Shawn’s watch, which belonged to his grandfather, and surprised him with it before the ceremony

Rosa designed all the table settings for the dinner. She sourced most of the items from Kijiji