Justin Cooke and Erik Wallin couldn’t get married without showing their 194 guests around Brooklyn. It wasn’t a long trek, only about a mile along the Brooklyn Heights promenade from St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, the site of their wedding ceremony, to St. Ann’s Warehouse, the performing arts center in Dumbo. But it was crucial, the couple came to realize, that their Aug. 28 nuptials showcase the city where they met and are building a home, especially amid the pandemic.
After getting engaged in 2019 at Mr. Wallin’s parents’ house in Winnetka, Ill., on Christmas, they were initially “agnostic” about where to hold the event. Mr. Cooke’s home state, Kentucky, was a contender; Minnesota, where Mr. Wallin grew up, was another; and upstate New York was a third strong option. It didn’t take long, however, for Brooklyn to take pole position.
“The more we were looking at venues, the more I was like, ‘Ah, these are just places like they mean nothing to us,’” said Mr. Wallin, the general manager of St. Ann’s Warehouse. “Wanting to celebrate our life together and the beginning of a new chapter in our life together in places that felt important to us all of the sudden was at the center of it for me.” For the most part, those places were clustered in New York.
Mr. Wallin and Mr. Cooke, a partner in the New York office of the law firm Allen & Overy, met in May 2015 through mutual friends during a Saturday night out in Manhattan. Even though work commitments made getting together difficult at first, they persevered and by the end of the summer knew their connection was special and that they wanted to develop it further.
“One Sunday evening on Fire Island, when most of the folks we knew had packed up and gone back to the city, we hung out with rosé on the rooftop and, to my memory, more or less said: ‘Let’s give this a solid try and really focus on dating and making this exclusive,’” recalled Mr. Cooke, 44, who has a law degree from New York University School of Law.
From there, the relationship grew organically. A little more than a year later, Mr. Wallin, 40, a graduate of St. Olaf College in Minnesota, moved in with Mr. Cooke before they purchased an apartment together in Brooklyn in May 2017. Their rescue dog, Beau, followed in 2018. When they reflected on all they had experienced together over the course of almost five years, and all that they had already built in New York, they knew there was no place better for them to make their union permanent.
Introducing their large number of out-of-town visitors — some of whom hadn’t previously set foot in Brooklyn — to their community was another important consideration. For the couple, there are perhaps no better examples of New York’s charms than the areas they chose for their procession. “They happen to be some of the most cinematic and stunning places in the world — those beautiful streets in Brooklyn Heights, this gorgeous church, the walk, the promenade walk down into Brooklyn Bridge Park,” Mr. Wallin said.
Their decision to stroll was vindicated by the wonderful weather that day and during the wedding ceremony, which was officiated by the Rev. Canon John E. Denaro, an Episcopal priest. It was overcast and the temperature was in the mid 70s, a welcome surprise given how hot August had been up until that point. The oldest guest to make the ramble was 90 years old and the youngest, carted in a stroller, had not yet had their first birthday.