How we became us (a quick overview from Emily):
Chris and I met through a mutual friend that worked with Chris at a local bike shop in San Luis Obispo, where we both attended school at Cal Poly. I joke that I knew I loved Chris after spending one day with him, but it’s true. We spent one evening dancing with friends, and after I went home that night, I had a crazy dream that we were in love. Love love – like, jump-in-front-of-a-speeding-train love. It’s ridiculous, but when I saw him the next day, I couldn’t shake the feeling from my dream. Cliché as it may be, it was as if I had known him, and had known how natural it felt to want to be with him, for years.
Chris’ story is a little different. He claims that he knew he loved me – and that he ultimately wanted to spend the rest of his life with me – when we were both home in Sacramento for Spring Break during his last year of college. I left when he was still sleeping one morning to attend a hair appointment and pick up some breakfast. I came home between the two errands to check in on him, and he says now that when he opened his eyes and saw me leaning over him to say hello, something just clicked. He says it was like he had an epiphany. (And then he went back to sleep.)
How we became us (as written by Chris, borrowed from our wedding website):
The little things matter and they matter in a big way. The simple gesture of buying a 20 oz. Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper or sharing in the love of Jamba Juice’s Orange Dream Machine doesn’t seem like a big deal. But then you realize all these little things are adding up to be great and the one common denominator is the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with.
Emily and I met at college, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, during her third year and my fifth. Although we shared similar social interests early in college, it wasn’t until the later half that our paths crossed and joined into one. In all honesty, it was a local bike shop, Foothill Cyclery, that brought us together.
My love for cycling brought me to that great local bike shop in my third year and I worked there pretty much till I graduated. In that time, Emily’s friends and roommates also went to work there, and as things tend to work out in ways we don’t understand, Emily and I met and a new chapter in our lives began.
I asked Emily to spend the rest of our lives together in 2009, a question that was four years in the making because I knew soon after we met that I loved her. I always wanted to save the words “I love you” for the one I truly love. And in doing so, I had created a barrier to attachment that for a long time could not be broken until I met Emily. My wall crumbled quickly after innocently spending time together. She made it so easy to love her.
The little things matter – finding out you’re from the same home town, being only children, one liberal, one conservative, both level-headed. It’s the things that make us similar and different that make us one, and those things matter in a big way.
When we first started considering our wedding, we knew we wanted something that was expressly “us” – a little romantic, a lot kitschy, with vintage details and homemade touches that would add playfulness and interest throughout the day. Since we come from such close families, we also wanted to make sure that we honored our parents and their cultural heritages. Together, my mom, aunts, cousins and friends helped us fold the 1,000 paper cranes that we used to embellish the walnut orchard in which we were married. When everything was said and done, we had more than 30 beaded strings of cranes. It was a lot of work (for both my family and the event staff that painstakingly hung each strand), but seeing the final effect, and knowing that every crane symbolized the love and support of our family, made it worth the effort.
To honor Chris’ cultural background, we also featured mariachis during our cocktail hour. I remember thinking that his mom had arranged for maybe three or four entertainers to perform – instead, there were nearly twice as many! The musicians were wonderful! They contributed such warmth and energy to the day, and it was great to see Chris’ family – especially the older generation – singing and laughing along. At the end of the night, Chris’ Grandma Inez said to me, “I couldn’t help myself when those mariachis started singing! I had to join in…it’s in my blood!” It was more than 90 degrees and sunny (read: HOT) during our cocktail hour, but thanks to the mariachis and their infectious energy, no one seemed to notice the heat. It was such a fun addition to our day.
Part of the reason why we chose Viaggio Winery & Estate was due to their impressive event menus. We’re foodies at heart, and it was important to us to serve simple, good food that everyone could appreciate. The duo of filet and scallops that they prepared for us was perfect, as was the impressive cous cous stuffed portabella with red pepper crema that they prepared for our vegetarian guests. We were told that the coconut prawns and the appetizer station of charcuterie meats, cheeses, pickled veggies and dipping oils were all delicious as well -- we only regret that we didn’t have the time to try them for ourselves!
As for our cake, the design was inspired by a cake that we saw in a wedding magazine, although it was originally decorated in fondant and gold foil. Even though we loved the look of fondant, we wanted the taste and the more homemade look of buttercream, so we asked M&W Bakery in Stockton (a contracted vendor with Viaggio) to reproduce the design in frosting, instead – and they did! They even color-matched the green of the cake to the green we used in our Save the Dates to keep with our (somewhat informal) color scheme of pale green, pale yellow and navy.
I had no idea what I wanted in a wedding dress when we were first engaged. The typical bride, I had cut out pictures from magazines and browsed some of the larger designer websites to get ideas – but I was that girl they hate on Say Yes to the Dress that liked a wide variety of styles and trends. The dress I ended up with was a phenomenal sample gown that I found at a tent sale at Bridal & Formal in Cincinnati, OH. Even though I tried on a number of full-priced designer gowns (probably a few too many, since my sales consultant kept having to reel me in), I always came back this ivory Alvina Valenta sample that had an old Hollywood silhouette, a strapless neckline with an avant-garde crumb-catcher and a scalloped hem. It was one of the few dresses I tried on that made me feel like a bride, and yet it didn’t look overtly bridal. Moreover, I still felt like “me” wearing it, and I knew that would be important to Chris and the rest of the loved ones I’d be sharing the day with. When the time came to finally step into the dress, it was better than I had remembered. Maybe it was because I was surrounded by family and friends or because I was minutes from seeing my husband-to-be, but it seemed like the dress injected an even greater dose of energy into the day.
The one thing I did know that I wanted for my wedding day attire was to change into a somewhat traditional Chinese dress at some point during the reception to once again pay homage to my mom’s culture – in particular, to honor her parents, my Paw Paw and Goong Goong, both of whom are no longer with us. My mom and my godmother took me shopping in San Francisco to find something that would be appropriately traditional but still functional for dancing and making my way through a room of people on a 90+ degree evening. The shorter style I chose ended up being perfect. It was cool, comfortable, and – paired with my grandparent’s traditional Chinese jewelry – it was the perfect nod to my Chinese heritage and the loved ones who weren’t able to join us on that day.
Since we planned most of our wedding from afar, it was a bit of challenge working with some of the more visual vendors, such as the florist, but Chris and my mom were able to schedule in-person meetings to ensure we would be comfortable with the end result. Armed with plenty of photos of designs we admired, Chris worked with Dennis at Cazale’s Flower Shop in Stockton, CA, to create a floral scheme that complemented our slightly vintage, romantic and kitschy theme. (Chris was even thoughtful enough to request a touch of blue in my bouquet, knowing that I hadn’t yet come up with a plan for my “something blue.”) On the day of the wedding, when we were given a peek at our reception room before the guests arrived, we couldn’t have been more pleased. The floral arrangements carried even more presence than we had anticipated, and, coupled with more than 200 candles that we were able to provide ourselves, they created a beautiful first impression. More than one person commented that the room felt very “Emily and Chris,” and we couldn’t have asked for anything more on the day of our wedding.
Brian Taylor with Swerve Entertainment provided music for both our ceremony and our reception and was an incredible asset throughout the planning process. Knowing that we were planning most of our CA wedding from OH, Brian worked with our on-site coordinator to ensure the wedding day timeline fit our specific needs. Along with our photographer, Brian was by far one of the easiest and most accommodating vendors to work with. Prior to the wedding, he was always
available via email and phone, and when July 10th rolled around, Brian made sure we knew the night was about us. Furthermore, all of our guests, young and old, commented on what a great variety of music he played to keep the dance floor alive well into the evening.
We met our photographer, Patrick Ang, at a friend’s wedding when I was a bridesmaid and he was a guest. Almost a year later, once Chris and I were engaged, Patrick was the first vendor we secured, and we had all the faith in the world that he would be the appropriate choice to document some of our lives’ most important memories. After working with Patrick on our engagement shoot in December, I think Chris and I both looked forward to reuniting with him in July almost as much as we anticipated marrying each other! He’s an absolute natural at what he does, which makes it easy to forget there’s a camera present. He’s also incredibly efficient! We had quite the assortment of family photos to get through, and he managed to snap them all before the ceremony so that we could spend more time with our guests during cocktail hour. We just received the proofs from the wedding, and Patrick has outdone himself. He’s covered every style of photo – including a few fun and edgy Vanity Fair-esque shots that have impressed the heck out of everyone that’s seen them. We’d recommend him ten times over if given the chance. He captured everything we’ll want to remember about our day.
I’m an anxious person – the kind that over-researches and over-plans just about everything. So it speaks volumes that, after months of manic, I woke up on the morning of July 10th feeling excited but calm and surprisingly normal. It finally felt like all the little unknowns, the pestering details I had yet to finalize and the DIY projects we hadn’t gotten around to completing, were out of my hands. And I knew that, despite all else, it would be a perfect day in that it would end with me calling Chris my husband. In fact, my nerves were the calmest they’d been in months, and they stayed that way as I approached Chris for The Reveal and when my parents walked me toward him at the altar. I was at such ease.
My favorite part of the day was, by far, hearing Chris’ vows. We had both decided to write our own promises in addition to reciting the traditional vows, and I knew that his heartfelt sincerity and good humor would come through in his words. His spoken promises brought the true meaning of our marriage into focus and reaffirmed everything I had never doubted about Chris. At the end of the day, we all commented on how beautiful the paper cranes turned out, and we marveled at the delicious dinner and the many comical stunts that ensued throughout the evening, but if all those items were stripped away and all that remained was Chris’ promise to bring me home and love me forever, it still would have been everything I could have asked for in our wedding.
Vendor Details:Venue: Viaggio Winery, Acampo, CA
Catering/Beverage: Viaggio Winery, Acampo, CA
Cake: M&W Dutch American Bakery, Stockton, CA
Floral: Cazale’s Flower Shop, Stockton, CA
DJ: Brian Taylor for Swerve Entertainment, Sacramento, CA
Mariachis: Mariachi Mi Terra, Sacramento, CA
Hair: Laura Harvey for AJF Salon, Sacramento, CA
Wedding Dress: Alvina Valenta, Bridal & Formal (Cincinnati, OH)
Chinese Dress: Chinatown, San Francisco
Wedding Dress Shoes: Poetic License, DSW
Chinese Dress Shoes: Badgley Mischka, Endless.com
Hair Fascinator: Selah Vie Designs, Etsy.com
Bridesmaid Dresses: Gap
Bridesmaid Belts: Forever XXI
Bridesmaid Shoes: Their own
Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss, Nordstrom
Groom’s Shirt: Ralph Lauren Blue Label, Ralph Lauren Store
Groom’s Tie: Nordstrom
Groomsmen Suits: Their own
Groom and Groomsmen Shoes: Puma, Zappos.com
Flower Girl Dress: Strasberg Children
Ring Bearer Suit: The Men’s Wearhouse
♥ Special Thanks to Emily + Chris for sharing their beautiful wedding day with us! ♥