It’s always a wedding winner in my book when the bride and groom blend families AND cultures on their big day! Tim Sohn Studios photographed this Cali couple who brought in the bride’s Chinese heritage with a traditional tea ceremony (and a not-so-traditional dress change) and ended the evening with American mainstays like the bouquet toss and cake cutting! There are so many more thoughtful touches + beautiful details (all designed by the bride’s company, Honey & Twine Weddings and Events) in the full gallery!

From the Bride… Jon and I met while studying at the University of Washington in Seattle and relocated to the Bay Area together in 2009. Even though our guest  list would span seven countries, including Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, France and the UK, we wanted to have our wedding in the Bay Area, our first home together as a married couple. We wanted our wedding would be a multicultural affair that would pay homage to my Chinese/Australian roots and Jon’s midwestern upbringing, a wonderful Northern California experience for our guests, and elegant but casual with a touch of whimsy (Who wants to fly 16 hours just to be buttoned up all day?). The true challenge was bringing all of these elements together in a stylish and cohesive event.

It’s Chinese tradition for the parents of the bride and groom to gift the bride with gold bangles on her wedding day as a sign of prosperity and good fortune. To combine this with the “something old” tradition, I wore the white gold bangles my dad’s parents gave to my mom on her wedding day. Instead of wearing one of each wrist in the traditional manner, I wore both on one arm to modernize the look. For my “something borrowed” I wore my mother’s pearl and diamond pendant. For the reception and tea ceremony, I changed into a custom-made, gold Chinese “cheong sam.” Traditionally, a bridal cheong sam is red, but I designed it in gold and cream to modernize the look and keep with the overall feel of the wedding. The dress was tailor made by Lingling Chinese Dress in SF, but I purchased the gold lace overlay and silk in Hong Kong a few months earlier.  Before shipping it to California, my auntie and uncle brought the fabric to their factory in China and hand-sewed delicate pearls onto the petals of the lace flowers – it was heavy! I also changed into the solid yellow gold bangles my mother’s parents gave to her on her wedding day. It was an honor to be able to wear both pairs.

We greeted our guests with iced tea and lemonade as they arrived for the ceremony. Instead of a guest book, we asked our guests to sign next to their home cities on a large world map. The map is now framed in our living room and reminds us of everyone who came to celebrate from around the world! Church Street Flowers created an “altar” with two gorgeous arrangements and floated peonies in the fountain. My mom created five beautiful flower pomanders that we hung prominently from the trellis so we would pass underneath them on the way to the altar. It was important that our wedding ceremony symbolize the coming together of two life partners and include our dads AND moms who raised us equally. Both Jon and I – first he then I – were escorted down the aisle by both our parents to Journey’s “Faithfully.” We met at the end of the aisle as two equals ready to enter into a new life stage.

The Chinese wedding tea ceremony is when the bride and groom pour tea for their parents and elders as a sign of respect. Customarily, it takes place in private the morning of the wedding at the groom’s parents’ and bride’s parents’ homes. However, we wanted to incorporate it into the reception so our guests could also experience this amazing tradition. We used the very same tea set my parents used on their wedding day – my mom hand-carried it over from Australia. She was able to keep it intact all these years after moving from country to country, and I hope I’ll be able to give it to my daughter one day! We poured tea for my family and Jon’s family as a way to blend our cultures. As gifts, they gave us words of advice, as well “red packets” of money and jewelry. After the tea ceremony, we commenced with western traditions, including the bouquet toss and dancing. We also had an amazing and fun photo booth provided by our photographer, Tim Sohn, which our guests really enjoyed! Our wedding was personal, meaningful, blended our cultures and gave our guests a taste of our new Northern California home.

Wedding Photography: Tim Sohn Studios / Wedding Venue: Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, California / Event Design: Hannah (The Bride), Co-Founder of Honey & Twine Weddings and Events / Floral Design: Church Street Flowers / Catering: Cafe Primavera / Wedding Cake + Cupcakes: Cakes by Maggie (650-924-2253) / Wedding Stationery: Honey & Twine Weddings and Events (formerly Tandem Wedding) / Musicians: Two Faithful / Wedding Dress: Pronovias / Bride’s Shoes: Aldo / Bride’s Cheong Sam: LingLing Chinese Dress / Bride’s Engagement Ring: Stone from Single Stone + Setting by Leon Mege / Bride’s Wedding Band: Beverly K via 23rd Street Jewelers / Groom’s Suit: Ralph Lauren / Bridesmaid’s Dress: Amsale / Bridesmaid’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik / Mother of the Bride’s Dress: Ralph Lauren / Groom’s Wedding Band: Tiffany & Co.