Combing the beautiful Bride’s Chinese heritage (she wore a qipao to the reception, and their wedding date was a Chinese lucky day!) with the Groom’s Catholic faith (they had a second church ceremony the morning after the reception), this colorful fete — perfectly captured in this gallery by Erin Hearts Court – is truly stunning and filled with so many sweet, personal details, we can’t get enough!
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From the Bride… Adam and I were set on a collision course in college, having gone to the same school, worked in Beijing at the same Chinese magazine, attended the same business school, and worked at the same company after graduation. When our paths finally crossed in our first year of grad school, we joked that we were destined to meet — or that we somehow thwarted destiny’s plan to keep us apart. Three years later, Adam proposed at one of our favorite wineries in Sonoma.
Wedding planning began with a list of activities we loved, design elements we were drawn to, and bits of our heritage and past that formed our identities and underpinned our relationship. On it, we had written “St. Louis (his hometown), New York (my hometown), travel and board games (our loves), reading and saving money (my loves), the outdoors and cookie dough (his loves)…” There were no themes that jumped out, and we tried to select a few to concentrate on, but eventually gave up. We decided: if it reflected us, it would be consistent.
So, we looked for outdoor venues with beautiful vistas that did not break the bank. We wanted something warm and intimate that could host both ceremony and reception on site. When Dan O’Connell of Vine Hill House told us that a date that fell on both a three-day weekend and a Chinese lucky date was available, we jumped at the opportunity and booked the first venue we saw.
We selected the incomparable Erin Hearts Court as our photographers, thinking we had no idea how our hodgepodge wedding would turn out and a good photographer can make anything look good! We supplemented with Andrew Hsu as videographer and a fun, high-quality photobooth from Night Owl, the photos from which I used to create a video that captures the progressive revelry of the night.
As the wedding took shape, I found myself gravitating to a little sparkle to complement the rusticity. I settled on a faint gray dress from BHLDN with an elegant sheer back and glittery front. The skirt was soft, flowy, and romantic. We sprinkled gold accents in the entryway and on the tables to complement the bright mandarin-colored bridesmaid dresses and orange flowers. The groomsmen wore navy suits with checkered bowties and pocket squares, while my two bridesmen wore gray suits with matching checkered skinny ties.
We incorporated both our cultures throughout. A Chinese tradition, my bridal party challenged the groomsmen to a series of games to prove the groom’s worth. In typical Chinese fashion, my aunt insisted at the last minute that we add an impromptu tea ceremony. We included a bilingual reading in the ceremony as well as a spiritual one reflecting Adam’s Catholic faith. We served a family-style dinner during the reception, after which I changed into a red qipao for dancing. The next day, we had a small Catholic ceremony in a church with family.
Our guest cards were homemade library cards that listed key dates of our relationship stuck into vintage card catalog holders. We created little Calvin and Hobbes cards for guests to write notes to us with memories, predictions, and advice. One of our favorite elements was a map we made showing where our guests were coming from around the world. Reflecting one of our favorite games, the table numbers were spelled out with Scrabble pieces. Our dessert station featured the “Evolution of a Cookie,” moving from cookie dough to soft baked to crunchy cookies, honoring his and my favorite desserts. We aged cocktails in mini-barrels and created a cigar-and-cocktail lounge in a small redwood grove off the dance floor.
We also tried to personalize the content as much as possible. We wrote our own vows, carefully selected passages from our favorite books and authors, and involved friends throughout the day. One of Adam’s best friends from business school served as our officiant, and family members and close friends delivered selected readings during the ceremony and gave an abundance of toasts at the reception. We were blown away by the thoughtfulness, humor, and insight of the speeches.
The day was clear and bright, and the night was warm for Sonoma. Everything, as disparate as it seemed initially, came together beautifully. Our favorite moment was at the end of the night, when everyone on the dance floor began spiraling inwards into a giant 80-person group hug with us at the center. It was an epic way to end an epic day, and one that very much reflected how we felt — enveloped by love and joy by our closest friends and family.
Photography: Erin Hearts Court | Videography: Andrew Hsu | Floral Design: Maria Philbin | Wedding Dress: BHLDN | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Watters | Catering: Trends Catering | Hair And Makeup: Susie Chhuor | Venue: Vine Hill House | Photo Booth: Night Owl Photobooth