As much as I love this time of year, it’s such a treat to be transported to lush green gardens and warm May weather with this lovely wedding. Though they live in California, Angela and Kenny chose to hold their wedding in Virginia so that Angela’s 97-year-old grandmother could attend. Despite the challenges of planning a wedding from afar, with the help of friends, family, and adept professionals, the day was beautiful and fun and full of love. And donuts!
Photography by Marissa Joy.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? As cliché as it sounds, but don’t sweat the small stuff. You might be obsessed over something during the planning time, but the wedding day truly goes by like a blur. My advice would be to do your homework early on, and maybe do 3 selections for each categories max. Once you make a decision, trust your gut and don’t second guess yourself. There will always be other options out there, but at the end of the day, it’s the love, laughter and the twinkle in your husband’s eye that you will remember.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? If your budget allows, don’t hesitate to hire a month-of coordinator. It allows you to be involved while giving you the freedom to tackle other important issues on your big day. For us it lessened the stress significantly and it was like being in both California and Virginia at the same time. Especially if you’re planning a wedding remotely like we were. I definitely would not do without. Also don’t forget to get your fiancé involved. I thought I could do it all by myself in the beginning, but as the task list grew, so did the burden of responsibility.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I thought it would be romantic to have the guests toss lavender at us while we exited the ceremony procession, but I didn’t consider the material of my dress, so all day long I had lavender buds stuck underneath my tulle dress. Not a big deal, but it was very messy.
“Kenny and I met and reside in the San Francisco Bay Area, so we knew from the beginning we wanted a venue that would allow for a non-traditional and outdoor ceremony. Due to my Grandma’s age, health, and limited travel mobility, we ended up needing to have the wedding in my hometown of Virginia. We were originally a little disappointed, but our worries quickly dissipated when we visited Riverside on the Potomac. It has the rustic chic California vibe we were looking for – you could say it was love at first sight for the both of us.”
Your ceremony in three words. Magical, intimate and romantic.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? One of Kenny’s friends is a wedding officiant aside from her day job. She drafted the majority of the ceremony script after a lengthy chat with us. She left a few parts blank for my uncle (our actual officiant on the East Coast) to personalize. We knew we wanted an “unplugged” wedding ceremony after a discussion with our photographer, so we made sure that was announced at the very beginning of our ceremony.
Who officiated your ceremony? My uncle was our officiant. He watched me grow up and is well respected within our family. He is fluent in both English and Mandarin Chinese, so it was helpful when he needed to translate certain phrases for our out of town guests from Taiwan and China.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We didn’t include any particular Chinese traditions on the day of the wedding, but we did have a tea ceremony the day prior. It is a ceremony where we served tea to the parents and the elders in the family to show respect and thanks.
Prelude: “We Bought a Zoo” by Jonsi
Processional: “I’m Yours” by Vitamin String Quartet
Bridal Entrance Song: “A Thousand Years” (Instrumental) by Piano Guys
Recessional: “Best Day of My Life” by American Author
What were your ceremony readings? “Love is a Friendship that has Caught Fire” by Ann Landers.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? The long walk from the main house to the waterfall patio where we held the ceremony. It gives you time to reflect on the many fond memories of your relationship to that very moment.
“Our reception was fun, dreamy, and enchanting. We wanted to create an atmosphere with a good balance of refined and rustic elements, so our guests can feel special but still feel relaxed and very much at ease. This is reflected throughout the reception, from the décor down to our menu selection (dressed up adult comfort food).”
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Once I picked my bridesmaid dresses, many of the design decisions derived from that. I knew I wanted a soft and muted color palette with mixed metallic colors. Our home was also a source of inspiration. We love neutral color in architectural details, but always added interests and pops of colors by introducing textural fabrics, fresh arrangement and metallic accessories. The Barn was a perfect backdrop for us to execute our vision.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? During our cocktail hour, we had our guests sign a silk embroidered art work with the Chinese character of “double happiness.” This character is commonly used as a decoration and a symbol of union for two. In modern Chinese weddings, many couples opt for a large silk cloth with embroidery design for the guests to sign their names and well wishes, we decided to have this artwork instead, so we could actually frame the piece after the wedding.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? Wanting lots of DIY details for a destination wedding is a crazy idea, but we were able to make it happen with the help our loved ones. A few months prior to the wedding, my bridesmaids from Virginia were busy collecting empty wine and beer bottles. A few weekends leading up to the wedding, they helped spray paint the bottles in various shades of gold and copper. I was so ecstatic when they texted me the finished product. The bottles were used to hold the small chalkboard table number signs, which turned out amazing and were definitely well worth upcycling.
Menu: Mac and Cheese Bar: Lobster Mac and Cheese / Three Cheese Mac with Various Toppings // Summer Grill Station: Lamb Lollipops with Mint Yogurt Sauce / Grilled Vegetables // Country Station: Country Fried Chicken & Waffles / Crispy Baked Brussel Sprouts
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a small 2-tier buttercream cake for cutting, and my talented cousin is an amazing baker – she created four custom flavors of French macarons that complimented our reception: Black Sesame, Passion Fruit, Lemonade Curd and Vietnamese Coffee. They were a hit at the dessert table, and no one believed that they were homemade. The true star of the night was the donut truck parked outside the barn. Funny thing was, we didn’t even get to sample the donuts prior to booking them due to our busy schedule! We sent my brother out for a tasting in Virginia and retained their services upon his approval. I tasted them for the first time on the day of the wedding and, needless to say… they were little soft pillows of happiness and amazingly good!
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? My favorite thing had to be being surrounded by our loved ones and seeing the smiles on my friends’ faces.
First Dance: “A Wink and a Smile” by Harry Connick Jr.
Father/Daughter and Mother/Son: “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. Two of our dear friends were married on the same day 7 years ago, so we had our DJ make a special announcement and had invited them up to re-live their first dance to their special song. Joining them on this memorable occasion was their 2.5 year old daughter who was also our flower girl for the day.
Is there anything else that helps tell the story of your wedding? We took on the daunting task of planning a destination wedding. At first it was overwhelming, I’m not going to lie. But it was a true test of how our married life would be. Right away we got better at organizing, communicating, budgeting, time-management, and patience. It gave us an insight on how we could work well together under a time table with monetary constraint and highly induced stress. But it also showed us how much we’re both willing to sacrifice everything and anything for each other.