Real Weddings - - Celebrations -


t’s not ev­ery cou­ple that takes 28 years to get from first kiss to wed­ding day. But de­signer Randy Ha­gans and ball­room dancer Mayo Ala­nen aren’t just any cou­ple. In 1987, af­ter plant­ing one on Mayo in their kinder­garten class in El Paso, Texas, “I told my mom I was go­ing to marry him,” says Randy. At that point, no one was set­ting a date for any­thing other than snack time, and it seemed as if Randy’s pre­dic­tion had lit­tle chance of com­ing true, es­pe­cially af­ter she and her fam­ily moved to Aus­tralia.

Fast for­ward to 2008: Randy had moved back to El Paso, and the pair met again when Mayo, who now lived on the East Coast, was vis­it­ing fam­ily. She wasn’t in­ter­ested in a long-dis­tance re­la­tion­ship, but he changed her mind over the course of an all-night chat as they sat on park swings. Af­ter four years of fly­ing be­tween Texas and New York, the two moved in to­gether in Brook­lyn, where, Randy says, “we fell in love with New York City as much as with each other.” A year af­ter Randy ar­rived, Mayo gave her a hand­made book that told their life sto­ries, end­ing in a pro­posal.

Want­ing to show guests their beloved city, Randy and Mayo planned a day­long, mul­ti­stop party full of ur­ban ad­ven­tures. They sched­uled their big day for spring in the Brook­lyn Botanic Gar­den, en­vi­sion­ing a cer­e­mony be­neath flow­er­ing cherry blossom trees. “We knew it was a long shot, be­cause they only bloom two weeks a year,” says Mayo. But their tim­ing was im­pec­ca­ble—dur­ing their self-penned vows be­fore 68 loved ones, petals floated down in what the Ja­panese call hana­fubuki, or “flower snow­storm.” Then ev­ery­one boarded trol­leys to the No­Mad Ho­tel in Man­hat­tan for a rooftop brunch with views of the city, be­fore walk­ing across the street to a photo stu­dio–turned–1930s dance club with a five-piece jazz band. Af­ter cock­tails and plenty of swing danc­ing, par­ty­go­ers were back on the trol­leys, which took them down­town to Cien­fue­gos, a Hem­ing­way-style bar with a Cuba-meets-Texas vibe. The en­tire day was a nod to the cou­ple’s past and a cel­e­bra­tion of their fu­ture—and ab­so­lute proof that ev­ery­thing Randy needed to know, she learned in kinder­garten. — Jen­nifer Tze­ses

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