Happy Halloween, witches and warlocks 🎃 Today we’re sharing a hauntingly creative wedding that’s sure to surprise at every turn! A lover of all things whimsical and out-of-the-box, the bride knew she wanted to do something unexpected when it came to her wedding design. After falling in love with Nestldown, the couple landed on a “woodland fairytale” wedding theme. Let’s just say Lord of The Rings fanatics are about to be obsessed – we’re talking bridesmaids dressed as elves, the officiant dressed as Gandalf, cocktails with a side of treasure hunting, an enchanting candlelit reception, and all sorts of magical treats along the way! We love a bride who has a vision and isn’t afraid to run with it. To see all the epic moments from their day, the full gallery by Stella Yang Photography awaits!
From the Bride… “Yifei, Before you, I never truly believed in ‘one true love.’ But I was so lucky to meet you at the age of 18 and marry you at the age of 28. Looking back, the most romantic thing I can think of is never the beautiful roses or precious gifts. But, still, your everlasting support and companionship.” – I said to my husband at the wedding ceremony.
My husband and I met and fell in love with each other in undergrad school in China. After graduating, we came to the United States together for grad school and finally settled in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although we had to deal with a long-distance relationship for over four years, our relationship has always been stable.
A comedian, Mike Vecchione, said, “The marriages (relationships) that last are a combination of two types of people: One person who is boring, another who is crazy.” We loved this joke and thought this was precisely the description of us! I must be the crazy one. My mind is always filled with exciting and whimsical ideas. I would be super excited about every design opportunity, and my wedding is definitely on the top list. So as you can imagine, I was the one that brought this fantastic idea of “holding a fairy wedding,” and my “boring” husband had “no objection.”
The Venue – Nestldown
Nestldown in our mind is “a wonderland hidden in the forest .” The venue was quite spacious and broad, with a solemn and stately redwood forest as the ceremony area, a lawn next to a Koi pond as the banquet area, a lane entangled by vines as the cocktail area, and a wooden house with a crystal chandelier as the dancing area.
What fascinated us was the magical garden in a medieval style. The wooden house, the sand sculptures of dragons and castles, the vintage chess boards, and the fairy lights around the trees all aligned perfectly with what we had in mind for a woodland fairy wedding. We immediately knew that this would be the place for our celebration after the first visit.
The Event Design
With no professional help, I planned and designed the wedding all by myself as a bride. I had a clear vision of the wedding – a woodland fairy-themed celebration with a combination of elegant and rustic touches. The idea is based on a fairytale I pictured in my head – a royal wedding for a princess elf who lives in the woods. To achieve this, I had the couple dressed as prince and princess, bridesmaids dressed as elves, the officiant dressed as a magician, and I also invited the guests to dress like woodland creatures.
The Floral Design
I imagined that the flower decorations in my wedding would be elegant, colorful, yet wild, and whimsical. All kinds of flowers would be scattered around mosses, creating a scene where woodland elves live. With this unique vision, I met Anna, a very talented floral designer. The floral she designed for me is just as beautiful as I pictured.
In Anna’s words – “The floral design and color inspiration comes from Alice in Wonderland fairytale’s wedding theme. Along with the magical redwood forest background, we incorporate contrast colors – vintage red, copper, peach, and almond paired with light blue, steel blue, and violet, to make each color pop. Various wildflowers, and greeneries with moss-covered centerpieces, paired with vintage candles, bring harmony to the forest background and create this magical fairytale atmosphere. For the flower selection, we chose garden roses, orchids, hydrangea, calla lily, and peony and tropical greeneries to give everyone a whimsical, romantic feeling.”
The Wedding Gown
I have been looking for a unique wedding dress, which must be studded with pearls and crystals without making people feel it is too tacky or luxurious. Also, that very dress must be elegant and vintage while maintaining a touch of cuteness and agility, which would make me feel like an elf and a princess at the same time. It took me a year to visit those bridal shops along the west coast, including regular dress rental shops and high-end customization brands. It was not until I randomly saw the picture online for this wedding gown that I decided that it would fulfill all my imagination.
The wedding dress is breathtakingly beautiful. It is in ivory color, which sets a great vintage tone. The laces on the shoulder girdles are just like twinkling wings. Thousands of shining crystals constitute the elegant patterns on the chest and extend to the long tails on the back. It is such a great combination of elegance and cuteness.
Magician and Elves
My lovely bridesmaids are dressed in the costume of elves. I tried quite a few dresses of different styles and finally set my heart on a single-shoulder emerald dress with long silk ribbons on the back, which, as I saw it, made me think of a retro-styled woodland elf immediately. As for their headwear, I chose emeralds entwined on vines that matched the color of their dresses and added to the overall forestry feel. With the elf ears, they all look like real elves coming from the woods!
To match the theme of the wedding ceremony, I prepared the Gandalf costume and wand for my wedding officiant. So he could deliver his “magical blessing” to us that day.
The Bride Entrance of the Ceremony
What particularly attracted me to Nestledown was the long and twisted steps to the ceremony area. Those rustic steps traversed across the redwoods from the high end. Walking down from the top of the steps, you could overlook the entire ceremony area, hear the beats of the music and smell the aroma of soil and vegetation. It is such a long walk that it could help you prepare before the big moment. I chose the orchestral version of Merry-go-round of Life as the background music for my entrance. It came from Howl’s Moving Castle, my favorite animation, which never fails to make my eyes fill with tears.
The Cocktail Hour Activity – Treasure Hunting
When the ceremony ended, there was a special cocktail reception, for which I designed a game called “Hunting for the Golden Feather.” Every guest was given a piece of old craft paper printed with a treasure map (I made a hand-drawn fantasy map for Nestldown). 5 places of treasures are marked on the map. Guests could follow the map to find the golden feathers. Those who found all the treasure would be rewarded with a special gift.
The Reception by Koi Pond
The evening party was held on the lawn near the koi pond. The guests could find wooden boards engraved with their names on vintage oak tables decorated with flowers and mosses.
I switched to a princess-styled off-the-shoulder blue dress when we entered for dinner. It is lighter than my wedding gown, so I can sit down and enjoy my dinner.
The food from Wylder space is terrific and tasty. My favorite one is the salad they brought rainbow beet napoleon layered with goat cheese, drizzled in the balsamic reduction sauce, and garnished with arugula microgreens. It brings a feeling of dining in the woods.
The Wedding Cake
After dinner, we moved on to the sweetest session of that day, cutting our wedding cake, which Trizia designed. The two-layer cake featured a fresh and elegant taste of earl gray tea. On top of the ivory cream surface were mosses, butterflies, and flowers made of sweets, creating an intoxicating atmosphere of forests and fairy tales while bringing the highlight for the ceremony.
The First Dance
The first dance was the most exciting session of the ceremony. We chose La Valse De L’Amour, the Waltz to which Cinderella and the prince danced when they first met. Neither of us knew anything about dancing, so it took us nearly three months to learn it. Every night after returning home from work, we watched the video and practiced once and once again. Constant discussions and explorations granted us tiny progress bit by bit. What an unforgettable memory!
The Grand Exit
For the grand exit, We prepared fairy-lights-decorated transparent balloons for each guest. Then, surrounded by lights and crowds, my husband and I walked onto a vintage car and bid farewell to my guests, bringing the wedding we had planned and expected for a year to a beautiful end.
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Photography: STELLA YANG PHOTOGRAPHY | Event Design: Lyric Liu | Floral Design: Ahles Fleurs | Cake: Trizia Cake Artistry | Catering: Wylder Space | Beauty: MK Lucy | Location: Nestldown