This wedding, m’dears, it’s full of a love that bloomed from a friendship, an al fresco beauty graced with navy blues and blush pinks and it’s a style story that’ll steal your heart. Platinum Weddings By Kerrie tied every detail together perfectly, while Sarah K Chen Photography and Elysium Productions left no moment un-captured. Head to the gallery for more and don’t miss the film!
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From the beautiful Bride…People are always surprised to hear that though we’re high school sweethearts, we didn’t actually go to the same high school! We first met at Irvine Chinese School, where we emceed the annual Chinese New Year Festival together. We spent several months practicing nearly every day for this event. At first, we were a little shy, and consciously avoided eye contact with each other. A few practices in, though, we decided that if we were going to be spending so much time over the next few months that we might as well get to know each other! That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Before we knew it, Jenn graduated from high school and went off to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). We still talked to each other every day (and at one point, got in trouble over a massive phone bill!). Michael graduated from high school two years later, and went to Dartmouth for his degree in Economics. In the two years that Jenn was in Boston and Michael was in Hanover, we made a huge effort to see each other as often as possible, busing up and down nearly every long weekend, exploring the cities, making dinner together, and playing board games with our friends late into the night.
In 2008, Jenn graduated from MIT with a degree in Neuroscience, and moved to Baltimore to get her Masters in health policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. A year later, she moved again to Washington, D.C. for an internship at the Kaiser Family Foundation, that would later become her first full-time job.
Michael graduated from Dartmouth in 2010, and was searching for a job–nearly taking an offer in Seattle, but ultimately getting his dream job at the JBG Companies in D.C. After six years long-distance, we were finally together again! We spent the next three years in a almost “Friends”-like situation–Jenn living with her two roommates, and Michael with his two roommates just one floor down. Those three years were filled with barbecues, hosting dinner parties, exploring DC together, and sharing laughter with our friends.
At the end of 2012, we purchased a 5-story townhome in the Dupont Circle area of Washington D.C. After much persuasion, Michael managed to convince Jennifer to help him with the renovations, even though neither of us knew the first thing about renovating! This would be our first MAJOR project together, and became a very labor-intensive and long-term project. We finished renovations on the first unit at the end of April 2013, and decided to move in to the finished unit to better facilitate the renovations on the other units.
On April 28th, with the help of a friend/roommate, we moved all of our belongings from our apartment in Arlington, VA, and up four flights of stairs to our new home. By the end of the move, we were both sweaty and exhausted, but relieved and excited to be starting this new chapter! Michael suggested going up to the roof to get some air, and Jenn happily obliged.
We sat near the edge, with a wonderful view of our street. Michael started talking about our nine year journey together, and Jenn was joking around with him (because she was totally oblivious about what was happening). Very early on in our relationship, Jenn asked Michael “who she was to him”—and during his “speech,” Michael described how she came to be the supportive, warm, and loving person that he loved. Jenn only started catching on when he started describing who he hoped she would be in the future—and just as she began to suspect something was happening, Michael was on one knee, asking her to marry him! Jenn said something like “of COURSE I’ll marry you!”—and would later wish she had said something more elegant!
We were hoping for something intimate, though we knew that our guest list would end up being much bigger. So, our vision for the wedding was something less formal, not in the typical ballroom, and could feel casual, intimate, yet momentous all at the same time. We had hoped for at least part of the wedding to be outdoors—and ended up choosing to do the ceremony at Crossline Community Church, and the reception outdoors at Shady Canyon Golf Club. We had toyed with the idea of using tents…but ultimately, decided on string lighting. Jenn’s friend showed her a picture of some lanterns, and given that we both loved the idea and the look, that was immediately incorporated into our plans.
As for colors, our immediate thought was blue and green, our two favorite colors. After much Pinterest boarding, though, Jenn suggested something truly out of character—switching to navy blue and blush. Michael, surprisingly, liked this idea better, so that was that!
There were 260 guests at our wedding. Both of our families live in Shady Canyon, so there was very little question that we would be holding a part of our wedding at Shady Canyon Golf Club. The question then became, which parts do we hold at Shady Canyon? Our families felt strongly that we should get married in a church, and the food at Shady Canyon was simply amazing, and it had the casual but elegant outdoor feel that we were looking for–so, we decided to hold cocktail hour and the reception at Shady Canyon!
Our parents visited a few churches for us (since we were in DC), and decided on Crossline Community Church because of the great light and high ceilings, beautiful decor, and the nearby lake. We went to visit the church when we were home for the holidays, and absolutely loved it too!
Michael chose the recessional song for the ceremony—“Married Life” and the End Credits from Pixar’s “Up”. We also chose the ceremony songs together—an assortment of piano versions of Joe Hisaishi’s music from various Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki films.
The string lighting with lanterns were just amazing! Food was incredible (Osso Bucco and Sea Bass with Lobster medallions). Lots of guest and bridal party speeches—all of which were incredibly touching, and (amazingly!) stayed within their time limits. Michael’s brother’s girlfriend made a video compilation for the couple—including cameos from each of the groomsmen and bridesmaids, and several other friends.
We had instagram coasters for our guests! We had taken several pictures around Shady Canyon, and had instagrammed them over the years; we picked four of our favorites, headed over to Zazzle, and made them into a set of coasters!
We were initially going to go to Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand for our honeymoon…though the military coup forced us to swap out Thailand for Vietnam instead. Then, there were protests going on Vietnam…so we ended up just doing two weeks in Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka) and Taiwan (Taipei and Taitung). We are also going on a second trip to Paris and India (New Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur)—though the India portion is for a friend’s wedding!
When you feel overwhelmed by the overwhelming number of details that need your attention, all of the guests who haven’t RSVPed yet, your favorite flower having the gall to not be in season on the day of your wedding—just remember, it’s only one day. Most importantly, you make the most out of that day by enjoying it—not by stressing out each minute over another new drama that has arisen. Be tough, prioritize, and keep everything in perspective. It’s an important day, only because it’s the start of your marriage and the rest of your life…with the love of your life by your side!
Jenn knows that she is not very decisive, and that her opinion of how things look is sometimes too easily swayed by price. So, she took someone whose taste she trusted unequivocally—her future husband! Jenn thought it was as much her dress as his, and honestly wanted his input. We went to several shops, in California and in DC, and found “the dress”–the Augusta Jones Juno. Unfortunately, it was a bit over budget—so Jenn (ever-resourceful) found a never-worn one online at a third of the price, and had it altered in DC.
Shoes are by Coloriffic, bought on Zappos (the only one of three pairs that Jenn could walk in). Hair accessories were two orchid blooms. Veil was bought on Etsy, by LoveJessicaCatherine. Jewelry was a simple pearl necklace, a gift from my uncle.
Towards the end of the reception, Jenn changed into her qipao—the same one she wore ten years earlier, when she emceed the 2004 Irvine Chinese School New Years Festival with Michael!
Photography: Sarah K Chen Photography | Videography: Elysium Productions | Wedding Planner: Platinum Weddings By Kerrie | Floral Design: Nisie's Enchanted Florist | Bakery: JJ Bakery | Ceremony Venue: Crossline Community Church | Reception Venue: Shady Canyon Country Club | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bill Levkoff | Lighting: AKJohnston Group | DJ: Honored Occasions | Beauty: Theresa Huang Makeup & Hair Design | Bridal Designer: Augusta Jones | Cocktail Musicians: OC Chamber Music | Invitations And Paper Details: Paper Plane Paperie | Linens: Wildflower Linen | Photo Booth: So Cal Shutterbooth | Rehearsal Dinner: Wildfish Seafood Grille | Rentals: Signature Party Rentals