Even in the most beautiful of beautiful weddings, there is usually one or two things that completely catch my attention and force me to devour every inch of the affair. And in the case of this next wedding…it was ALL about the flowers. And the gorgeous, adorable, totally charming wedding cake. The bride and groom really approached their wedding 2 ways, with a Western foundation and a heavy infusion of the groom’s Chinese culture. And the result, was absolutely lovely. Click here to see lots more.
We took inspiration for our wedding from city where we met and fell in love – San Francisco, with a subtle nod to our current home, New York City. Wilson and I met while playing on a kickball team and became best friends before we started dating. Four years later he proposed a few weeks before we moved to the Big Apple, so we did all of our wedding planning from afar. I actually had a floral design business when we lived out West, and having seen and been to a lot of lovely but somewhat ‘expected’ weddings, I wanted to make sure ours felt totally personal.
We were engaged for almost 2 years, and therefore had a lot of time to think about and plan the big day. Wilson wanted the traditional sit-down wedding with all the anticipation and pomp. I wanted to elope, like, yesterday and throw a big cocktail party when we finally settled down somewhere a year or two down the road. So it was a challenge to balance both of our ideas to put together a day that was as much about each of us individually as it was about our lives together and our friends and families who are so much a part of who we are.
Our ceremony was all about where we’ve come from and the new family and traditions that we were creating together. Wilson is first generation Chinese American, so we incorporated a few cultural elements to honor his heritage – we served tea to our parents and his grandmother, and his cousin read a few Chinese proverbs that his dad had written in traditional calligraphy on red scrolls. I walked down the aisle with both of my parents to a bagpiper as homage to my Celtic roots. My brother-in-law read a passage by Kahlil Gibran that both he and my sister and my parents each read at their respective weddings, and our officiant was my youth pastor and an old family friend. We kept the décor minimal for the ceremony, and set it right in front of a bright window looking out onto a small chapel just up the hill.
The rest of the wedding was all about having a great time celebrating and not taking anything too seriously. Wilson and I are casual people with busy schedules – we eat a lot of take-out, we rarely get dressed up, and our favorite nights out are spent with close friends. It was important to me that the reception reflected these things and felt more like an intimate dinner party than a grand wedding fete. We served what I called ‘fresh California comfort food’ – appetizers included fried chicken bites with a dollop of homemade buttermilk ranch, and dinner was mac n’ cheese, mini sliders, heirloom tomato salad, and grilled salmon with fresh corn salsa. Yum!
We took color inspiration from the view outside the picture window of the venue – the vibrant blue of the bay and the warm red of the Golden Gate Bridge. (Red is also good luck for a Chinese wedding; we figured we’d take all the help we could get!). The gray accent in the palette hinted at the ever-present risk of fog in this beautiful city. The color and design of the ceremony and bridal party was a little more subdued than the reception – I wanted to keep things simple and modern and infuse some color that would hint at what was to come later in the evening. The reception design was simple and crisp, but still warm and intimate. Flowers, mostly dahlias and orchids, were dramatic in color but minimal in quantity. I scrimped on flowers so I could splurge on lighting – that large space sort of begs for it, and I felt like we were bathed in a warm sunset glow all night.
I am thrilled with the way everything came together and it was a very heartfelt representation of who we are as a couple. We had an incredible day, and I wholeheartedly agree with all those other people who warned me it would go by way too quickly. The day of a lifetime, indeed – and it was totally worth it.
Photography: Jillian Kay, Greater Bay Area / Dress: The White Gown, Brooklyn/ Catering: Left Coast Catering, San Francisco / Lighting: Impact Lighting, San Francisco / Cake: Butter Sugar Bliss, coming soon to the Bay Area! / Invitations: Frisson, New York / Flowers: myself; and Leighsa Montrose, San Francisco / Venue: Presidio Golden Gate Club, San Francisco