Love: Weddings: Elisabeth McPeak and Arthur Sato
Hello there They first caught a glimpse of each other through the large glass panes that separate teaching spaces on Calhoun School's music floor.
They first caught a glimpse of each other through the large glass panes that separate teaching spaces on Calhoun School's music floor.
It was January 2013, and it was Liz's first day teaching at Calhoun through her Columbia Teacher's College master's program. She was introducing herself to some of her colleagues when she saw Arthur in the band room and made a mental note to introduce herself to him later.
Working in a school full of kids, any new adult is instantly noticed, but Arthur may have taken a little extra notice of Liz. "I remember telling the band instructor that I thought she was cute," he said.
They always said hi in passing, but it wasn't until the stress of the semester was nearly over that Liz, who grew up in Mickleton, N.J., really noticed Arthur. "I saw him at the school concert where we were both performing, and I thought I should really talk to him." She left Calhoun without an opportunity.
In late May, Liz posted a graduation photo on Facebook. This, Arthur thought, was something he could work with. "I sent her a message congratulating her on a job well done," he said.
They began learning more about each other.
This master's in music and music education was Liz's second. She also has a master's from Temple University in violin performance. Arthur, a freelance oboist who in addition to teaching at Calhoun plays a wide variety of gigs in and around New York City, grew up in Portland, Ore. He moved to New York to earn his master's in oboe performance from Juilliard and did a postgraduate program at Carnegie Hall.
A problem with the trains on the day of their first date meant Liz had to take a cab from her part-time job at a Harlem bakery to the Upper West Side bar where she was to meet Arthur.
"He had been there for a good 20 minutes waiting for me," she remembered. "I was freaked out and frantic. He was calm, cool, and collected."
Her delay was no big deal, he said. Then they talked for a very long time, about music and all the people in common their music had introduced them to, about their families and upbringing on opposite coasts. Two days later, halfway through Date Two, they planned Date Three.
"I have never, in the time I've been on this planet, found someone that I just get along with so easily, who seems to understand me and knows how to deal with me," said Arthur, who is now 36. He and Liz both work hard at ambitious goals, Arthur said, but they also know the value of a balanced life and make time for friends, family, fun, and really good food.
Liz was drawn from the start to Arthur's sense of calm. "He's good about making me see that I don't need to worry so much," she said. She also can't believe her luck at falling in love with another musician. "It is so nice to talk to him about what my ideas are, about what I want to accomplish in music education, and he gets it."
Liz, who is now 29, is the orchestra director at Metuchen High School.
How does forever sound?
Liz spent Christmas 2014 with her parents, John and Jeanne, in Mickleton, and Arthur flew home to Portland to be with his mom, Noriko. "I was telling my mom that I wanted to marry Liz, and after getting really excited and saying how awesome that was, she said there was a ring that my father wanted me to have when I proposed."
Arthur's dad, Sidney, died when Arthur was 7. Noriko showed him the three-stone, yellow gold engagement ring Sidney had given to her.
Back at the couple's home in Metuchen, Arthur showed Liz a photo of the ring to see whether she liked it. It was the exact style she'd been eyeing on Pinterest, made much better by its provenance.
In January 2015, the couple were in the kitchen, discussing their imminent engagement. The next weekend, Arthur and Liz planned to travel to Mickleton for a visit, and he would seek her father's blessing then. "You don't need to do that," Liz assured him. She tells her family everything, and they already knew an engagement was coming and were delighted. "Let's just have this happen," she urged.
Arthur disappeared to his secret ring-stashing spot, then met her in the living room. "I stopped her where she was, and got down on one knee and asked her to marry me," he said. "She started jumping up and down and saying, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' "
It was so them
Catholicism is a thread woven throughout Liz's life, so marrying in the church was important. "I was adopted from Korea. I came here when I was three months old," Liz said. "My biological mother, before I was put up for adoption, requested that I be placed with a Catholic family."
A string quartet of the couple's friends performed the prelude and recessional, and also the Ave Maria. Another friend played the piano, and yet another was cantor. The bride walked in to "First Love" by Utada Hikaru, and the couple recessed to a special instrumental arrangement of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now."
Liz loves a good DIY wedding, and she did much herself for the reception for 175. "I spent the whole year of our engagement going to craft stores to buy things on sale," she said. And thrift and dollar stores, too. She collected vases of various colors, shapes, and sizes, and filled them the night before the wedding with flowers ordered in bulk from Wegmans.
Her mom's coworker in the children's department of the West Deptford Library made wooden dolls that looked like Liz and Arthur for the top of their cake. A caricaturist roamed the reception. Instead of a guest book, guests colored one of the monsters on a giant print and signed the little sign each monster held. This now hangs in the couple's living room.
When the church doors opened, "my heart was thumping really hard. I was holding my dad's hand tight because I was shaking so much," Liz said. "Then I saw Arthur, and he was just beaming. I felt better as soon as I saw him. The music was going, and I thought, 'Everything I ever dreamed of happening at my wedding is happening.' "
When those doors opened, everyone stood for the bride. "The entire congregation took simultaneous notice and it was almost rhythmic how it happened, with that sound made by the shuffling of feet," Arthur said. "I felt this rush throughout my body, starting in my heart. I was almost overwhelmed with feelings of overjoy and anticipation. It was an electric kind of feeling of happiness and thankfulness."
The budget crunch
A bargain: Those DIY centerpieces.
The splurge: The couple so loved DJ Don Timlin's artistic vision that they hired the man himself, even though one of his associates would have cost significantly less.
In a nod to his heritage and hers, the couple traveled in Japan and Korea for 13 days. "I had never been to Korea before, and Liz had never been to either country since she was adopted," Arthur said. Also adopted were two of Liz's four siblings - she and her younger brother through Holt International. In Seoul, the couple visited Holt and Liz reviewed her adoption file. "It was very emotional," she said. "I couldn't imagine sharing something like that with anyone else other than Arthur."
Love: BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: The Rev. Joseph Pham, the Catholic Community of the Holy Spirit, Mullica Hill.
Ceremony Venue: St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Woodstown, N.J.
Reception venue: Carriage House at Rockwood Park, Wilmington.
Food: Patti and Craig Trostle, the Greenery Caterers, Wilmington.
Photography: Everyday Eros Studios, Maria Teicher and Ashley Capozzi, Philadelphia.
Flowers: Michael Bruce Florist, Pennsauken.
Dress: Angel Bridal, Haddonfield.
Music: Ceremony, friends of the couple; reception: DJ Don Timlin, Bear, Del.
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