The Wedding at 501 Union Street

The building at 501 Union Street, Brooklyn, New York dates back to 1916 and once served as a classic car restoration shop. It was transformed into a private events venue in 2013 and now provides a unique backdrop for stylish weddings, corporate events, and photo shoots. Guests can enjoy three distinct spaces within the venue: an open-air courtyard, an elegant cocktail lounge, and a light-filled reception hall. Locally-sourced design elements include Modo chandeliers by Jason Miller, customized Flavor Paper wallpaper, and a vaulted skylight that runs the length of the main gathering space that reflects the best of old and new; Brooklyn; industrial chic with a touch of modern glamour.

This was the setting for the July wedding and reception of David Yim and his lovely partner, Deb Oh. The two young people were typical country kids; Deb grew up in Alaska and David in Massachusetts. They met at NYU and together have embraced all of New York. Brooklyn is the place they love, love, love to call home. They are creative souls and have engaged in all their artistic, music, movie and photographic passions and pursuits in their borough and throughout the city.

Coney Island Rail Station Debbie Curtin

We were here for several days to take part in what was destined to be an epic wedding extravaganza. We got here early enough the day before and had time to venture off to a place none of us had ever been; Coney Island. Figuring out the rail system and where to get off was the challenge but in the scheme of things it really was easy-peasy. Along with calm beaches the other part of Coney Island proved to be a crazy assortment of the most upside down, spinning, wild flipping types of amusements rides in one place. The ONLY one I chose to go on, but still panicked a little in that decision, was the roller coaster. It has the second tallest vertical drop of any wooden roller coaster in the world! How did I not know this before stepping into it?

Coney Island Cyclone Debbie Curtin
Debbie Curtin at Coney Island Cyclone

The Coney Island Cyclone (better known as simply the Cyclone) is a historic wooden roller coaster that opened on June 26, 1927, in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, New York City. On June 18, 1975, Dewey and Jerome Albert – owners of Astroland Park – entered into an agreement with New York City to operate the ride. Despite original plans by the city to scrap the ride in the early 1970s, the roller coaster was refurbished in the 1974 off-season and reopened on July 3, 1975. Astroland Park continued to invest millions over the years in the upkeep of the Cyclone. After Astroland closed in 2008, Carol Hill Albert, president of Cyclone Coasters, continued to operate it under a lease agreement with the city. In 2011, Luna Park took over operation of the Cyclone. It was declared a New York City landmark on July 12, 1988, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 26, 1991.

Debbie Curtin Korean Wedding Coney 1

It  took all of two minutes and 14 seconds but that was enough for me. Every turn was yelled in panic, “Is it almost over?” Being a wooden roller coaster you heard every clickety clack as it went over the wooden tracks. Of course as you exited there was a novelty booth that showed a large snapshot taken during the ride which you could have printed on a t-shirt! My sister and I were cringing like fools in the shot so I opted not for this little treasure. But I should have because it would have been a fun ‘remember when’ item.

Our lunch was Nathan’s on the boardwalk because it was the best chili hot dog/corn dog treat and more of our Coney Island day. When in Rome…

Debbie Curtin Korean Wedding 2 - 501 Union Street

The other unexpected treat in the amusement park was an outside gallery of Coney Art Walls about 12 ft. x 30 ft. each painted by one or several artists and part of the 2016 group showing an outstanding level of talented people. You could walk through and around each one. The thought process that went into each one is beyond first impressions. The stories they painted were amazing!

Deb and Dave’s apartment, located close to the venue, was where the pre-wedding get-together for family and a few friends was that evening. We met Deb’s Korean family and parents of Wasilla, Alaska along with close friends of the young couple. It was destined to be a young person’s event and wedding with a few of us old folks around adding to the festivities.

The day of the wedding was here and it was just a convenient walk from our hotel to 501 Union Street. Thirty minutes before we were to leave, though, Tristen decided she needed to find the music and words on her phone to “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. It was a tutorial she needed for the tiny 4 string ukulele she brought with her that she’s never played but she did know how to play a 5 string guitar. What?! Well, what the heck, she just went with it, and it was great. She wasn’t rehearsing for the wedding although she could have been the surprise music artist from California. We dressed and were out the door in record time.

At 501 we went into the courtyard which was open to the sky and took a seat. Brother of the bride and sister of the groom were the attendees escorting their siblings in for the service. A young lady was the justice of the peace and provided one traditional part to the ceremony. When this part ended the second traditional part began; the Korean wedding ceremony. A few changes to the setting were made and then it began. The master of ceremonies provided the dialog so we could understand parts of the tradition; from the wedding attire to the elements of protocol that we were seeing. He made it fun and we were all made to feel a part of this wonderful cultural tradition.

Debbie Curtin The wedding at 501 - 4

Korean weddings are all about going back to one’s roots such as the traditional Korean attire to sharing the importance of family and unity. In turn each family member sat in front on cushions and gave some positive thoughts to the bride and groom. I don’t remember what I said off the cuff since I had no idea this was to happen. After we all said a few words it was on to the next part which engaged the guests to choose a particular outcome for either Deb or David. (Wink, wink) He lost the bet so now he had to give Deb a piggyback ride part of the Korean tradition. After that fun moment another ritual took place. Dates were tossed behind his back and David caught nine which symbolized how many children they could look forward to. Oh my!

Debbie Curtin The wedding at 501 - 5

During the paebek/pyebaek ceremony (a Korean wedding custom) the parents also share some stories of wisdom on marriage to the couple which tends to happen after the wedding ceremony. Deb’s dad sang a song to them in Korean which surprised many who didn’t know he could sing so well. David’s dad did a slide show which went way over the 10 minute mark. Oops. His mom (my sister Karen) had prepped for months so she could play on her guitar, “There is Love”, the wedding song by Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary. I give her a ton of credit for pulling it off. Dinner was served family style and the food was delicious Korean fare with traditional long noodles and short ribs, etc. Deb and Dave chose a rice cake for dessert along with an assortment of ice cream and fancy toppings.

The bar area had a guest book and an instamatic camera to take a picture, print it out and add comments to the page. Everyone took a good luck red tag as part of another Korean tradition.

Debbie Curtin The Wedding at 501 - 3

Rain was in the forecast but thankfully for the courtyard ceremonies the weather was bright and beautiful. After the dinner, the party really started with a DJ and some phenomenal music we all enjoyed if I do say so being one of the oldsters at the event. The sun had now set and it was then that the rain began. Because the courtyard was open (they opted not to go for the cover for an extra $1000!) the rain came in at a nice drizzle. Apparently it does happen (hey, it’s still a garage – beautifully adapted for events but still a garage!) and the room was emptied of most of the chairs after the ceremonies. It was still open and lit for the traffic flow of guests but with just this little unexpected extra from Mother Nature. Well, who do you think danced their way into this waterfall area? You guessed it – my sisters and I! We rocked the house! A few young people ventured in to get soaked along with us. It was so fun! There were huge balloons spelling LOVE tied to four chairs and we danced among them with the photographer taking pictures! Later on the O came loose and we tried to grab it but it sailed through the roof into the night sky over Brooklyn!

The next day before we were to leave and make the trek home, we had to visit a certain area of Brooklyn; Carroll Street. Fortunately it was an easy walk and we went down this long street of brownstones. Karen had found # 802 on a previous ‘must see’ mission and she wanted to take us there. It was the brownstone where our mom lived when she was just out of college and had her first job. How and why she became a stewardess for Colonial Airlines is beyond any of us knowing about this adventure in her life.

Leaving Brooklyn, our stop was to JFK airport to see Tristen and her ukulele off and back to San Diego. Going that way actually saved us in travel time and congestion heading back home.

Debbie Curtin The Wedding at 501

It was quite the adventure and a wonderful trip into Brooklyn, New York. We made the most of every second along with meeting and enjoying the company of many people and fun moments to always remember.