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COLORFUL SUMMER WEDDING AT RAY’S BOATHOUSE SEATTLE

a bride and groom smile as they walk down the aisle at Ray's Boathouse in Seattle

I chose the above photo of Audrey and Chris’ wedding for the main image of their blog post, because I absolutely love how genuinely happy they look. This is one of the most joyful photos that I have ever received in my career as a wedding florist. Cameron Zegers did a lovely job of capturing the feeling of this moment. Chris’ expression automatically makes me smile alongside him and I can feel the tingle of Audrey’s excitement. I wasn’t at their wedding for this part of the day, but the emotion in this image transports me to the dock at Ray’s Boathouse, experiencing the elation of their first steps together as wife and husband.

Rebecca of New Creations Weddings helped Audrey and Chris create a clean and elegant look with vibrant pops of jewel-toned colors, including cyan blue, pink, peach, and purple. For their wedding flowers we targeted some of their favorite varieties, including stargazer lilies, hydrangeas, and roses. While I always give special attention to the bridal bouquet and the ceremony decor, which both turned out beautifully (I mean look at that fabulous bouquet Audrey is holding!), the star floral arrangement was inside the northwest room above the fireplace – the mantle floral installation. What makes this piece even more phenomenal is that there is no physical mantle above the fireplace at Ray’s Boathouse. So I had to build one. As a Floral Architect, though, challenge accepted!

Colorful Mantle Florals at Ray’s Boathouse and the Mechanics Behind the Mantle

The fireplace at Ray’s Boathouse has beautiful stone face with an indented niche on either side. Above the fireplace the wall is essentially vertically flat, meaning there is nothing to attach any flowers to. To create a floral statement piece over the fireplace, I had to build structural platform. Using a jigsaw, I cut two pieces of particle board 16 inches wide and 14 inches deep. I nailed these to either end of an 8 foot 2×4 piece of wood. Using a drill, I then made a series of holes along the 2×4. Chicken wire pillows were fastened to the 2×4 using zip ties. I like to double layer my chicken wire pillows (a pillow inside a pillow), so that the stems of the flowers have more than one contact point to hold in place. Chicken wire in floristry has been around for decades. With collective movement towards sustainability, many more florists are using checking wire in their mechanics, rather than floral foam.

floral mechanics of a 2x4 and chicken wire for a floral mantlepiece installationchicken wire and 2x4 plank on a mantle fireplace

My mantle piece was placed above the fireplace, with the plywood ends resting on the light indentations. With front facing floral arrangements, you have to always consider the force of gravity, which wants to pull down your designs. To counter the earth’s gravitational force, I placed a stack of bricks on top of either plywood end. This mantle structure was rock solid. Even with the incredible amount of flowers that were added the mantle stayed securely in place. Success!

lush and colorful floral mantles at rays boathouse

Getting Ready at Hotel Ballard for a Colorful Summer Wedding at Ray’s Boathouse

Hotel Ballard was the venue chosen for getting ready, as well as the location for the first look, and the Ballard area of Seattle for many of  the pre-ceremony photos. This boutique vintage hotel was a lovely location for the start of the day. And the charm of Ballard was the perfect urban backdrop for a photoshoot.

a groom's jacket and bride getting her make-up donea bride and groom separately reading their love letters to each othera bride holding her colorful summer bouquet with dahlias and liliesa bride waiting in another room to see her bridesmaidsbride showing herself in her wedding dress to her bridesmaids and flower girlsbride and groom first look in hallway at Hotel Ballard Seattlebride and groom at Hotel Ballard Seattlebride and groom walking in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle holding a colorful bridal bouquetartsy photos of a bride and groom walking in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattlecolorful summer bridal bouquet with turquoise ribbonwedding party with plum bridesmaids dressesbridesmaids wearing plum dresses holding rich jewel-tones bouquets

Colorful Summer Wedding at Ray’s Boathouse Ceremony

Audrey and Chris tied the knot with a heart-felt ceremony on the boardwalk south of Ray’s Boathouse, overlooking the Puget Sound. They chose a simple backdrop of a rectangular wooden arch with flowers along the top. To add the pop of cyan blue, I wove a satin ribbon through the flowers. Candles in cylindrical vases lines the aisle. It was one of those majestic sunny Seattle day’s – not a cloud in sight, with the sunlight glittering on the water’s surface.

wedding ceremony set up at Ray's Boathouse in Seattlea drawing of colorful flowers on a wedding archwedding arch with pink and red flowers and turquoise ribbonbride and father walking down aisle to groomwedding ceremony at Ray's Boathouse in Seattlebride and groom standing at the altar at Ray's Boathousebride and groom walking down the aisle at Ray's Boathouse in Seattle

Colorful Summer Wedding at Ray’s Boathouse Reception

In addition to the mantle statement piece in the reception room at Ray’s Boathouse which was the star of the show (after Audrey and Chris, of course), pops of color could be seen in the lush footed compote centerpieces on the dinner tables. Guest drank water from blue crystal glasses. The wedding cake was also adorned with colorful summer florals.

pink, plum, and purple floral centerpiecesbride and groom enter the reception room at Ray's Boathouse with colorful mantle floralsa bride walking into the reception room colorful floral arrangements for a wedding at Ray's Boathousea bride and groom and their guests listen to a wedding toasta father give a speech at a wedding in front of the bride and grooma bride and groom kiss outside of Ray's Boathouse

The colorful mantle floral installation was the perfect backdrop for Audrey and Chris’ spicy dance they performed for their guests!

a woman in a red dress dances with a man in front of colorful mantle floralsa man dips a woman in a red dress in front of a mantle floral installationa man lifts and twirls a woman in a red dress during a weddinga woman and man finish a dance in front of a colorful floral installation on the fireplace mantle

 

Vendors:

Planning: New Creations Weddings

Wedding Venue: Ray’s Boathouse

Photographer: Cameron Zegers Photography

Cake: Seatown Sweets

DJ/Emcee: Bugsie Productions

Rentals: CORT Party Rental

Hair and Make-up: Salon Maison

Getting Ready Venue: Ballard Hotel

 

If you want to see beautiful florals from another colorful summer wedding planned by New Creations Weddings, check out Heather and David’s wedding:

AN ENCHANTED WEDDING AT CHATEAU LILL

 

AN ENCHANTED FOREST BACKYARD WEDDING IN CARNATION, WA

bride kissing groom in vintage truck

To say I LOVE backyard weddings is an understatement. I attribute this to the fact that for the longest time, whenever I envisioned my own wedding, it was a backyard wedding. Early in high school I threw summer parties at the house I grew up in. The nostalgia of those celebrations combined with magical feeling of summer fueled the vision for my someday wedding. In my head, it was an even grander, more vibrant version of those end of school year parties – including a live band, bistro AND globe lights, and dancing into the wee, wee hours of the morning. When I finally did get married 20 years post high school, while my husband and I didn’t have a backyard wedding at our house, we did, however, tie the knot in the yard of a house we rented on VRBO. While technically it was a “front yard” wedding, our venue had warm and hospitable vibes that can only come from the intimacy of a backyard setting. It was absolutely amazing.

So when Amanda and Anthony reached out about flowers for the backyard wedding they were planning on Joy Lake in Carnation, WA, I knew it was going to be magical. And it was. The day of their wedding was slightly overcast and the wind was incredibly still, so the lake reflected the sky like a mirror. A circle arch stood on a wooden platform next to the lake, which my team and I adorned with a lush, asymmetric covering of muted pink flowers, white flowers, and PNW greens. After the ceremony, guests were transported by shuttle to a secondary private residence just a few blocks down the road for the reception. The enchanted forest feeling was created with beautiful cloche centerpieces filled with moss, ferns, flowers and fairy lights and glass globe terrariums with fairy lights hanging from the trees. It truly was the perfect setting for a Pacific Northwest backyard wedding. I told my husband that if we were to ever have a second wedding, it would be the wedding that Amanda and Anthony had. Pure magic.

Amanda and Anthony, you are the kind of clients that remind me why I love being a wedding florist. Thank you for being wonderful to work with. I wish you both the very best! And thank you to my two flower friends who helped me set up, Cathy of Lamb & Twig and Sandy of Verbena Floral. And thank you to Gaby, the on-site wedding coordinator, who made me feel seen and heard, and provided immeasurable support while we problem-solved the stability of the arch. Your kindness was felt and will always be remembered.

large cabin house in Carnation, WAa circle wedding arch next to a lake with pink and white flowersa circle arch with pink and white flowersa backyard where people are gathering for a weddingflower girls walking down an aislebride and groom in front of a circle arch with flowersbridesmaids in dusty pink dresses holding pink and green bouquetsbride and groom in front of lush floral circle archbridal party with men in grey suits and ladies in dusty pink dressesbride and bridesmaids with lush pink bouquetsa husband and wife signing a marriage licensecloche floral centerpiecespizza oven and a heart shaped pizzaa groom and bride enter the reception in a back yardpeople toasting champagne at a wedding receptiona bride and groom dancing bride and groom under a floral arbora bride kisses a groom next to lush dusty pink and green floralshanging fairy lights

Venue: Private Residence in Carnation, WA

Coordinator: Gaby, a family friend

Photographer: Sound Originals

Caterer: Gusto Pizza Truck

 

 

 

AN AUTUMN GARDEN WEDDING AT PARSONS GARDEN AND CANLIS

bride and groom holding fall bridal bouquet

Caroline and Peter were married at Parsons Garden in the Queen Anne neighborhood in Seattle, followed by an intimate dinner reception in the penthouse at one of Seattle’s oldest fine-dining restaurants, Canlis. It was one of those pre-rain autumn days in Washington. The leaves had started to turn yellow and the sky was slightly overcast with the threat of rain, but the Seattle drizzle had not yet descended for the winter and sun was trying to make herself known, creating a gorgeous day for Caroline and Peter to get married.

Focusing on a color palette of white, peach, burgundy, and green, we incorporated dahlias, ranunculus, garden roses, and ferns into Caroline and Peter’s floral arrangements. And I got the opportunity to incorporate one of my favorite dahlia varieties, the Hollyhill Black Beauty. Its large, spiky petals lend a unique texture and the color of this variety is a deep red, burgundy; it’s so rich that it almost looks like velvet.

Victoria, their fabulous wedding planner of Soon to Be Events, created jazz-inspired table numbers for Caroline and Peter, bringing in their obsession for that genre of music. David Cho Photography captured the warmth and beauty of their day and all the love shown by Caroline, Peter, and their friends and family in attendance.

a red boutonniere on a groomgroomsmen and a groomslady walking across the streeta burgundy, white, and peach fall bridal bouquetbridesmaids wearing dusty blue dressesdahlia aisle arrangementswedding arch with fall flowrersgroom watching bride walk down the aisleparsons garden Seattle wedding ceremonybride and groom say their vowsIndian wedding shawl hindubride and groom just married at Parsons Garden Seattlewedding party at parsons garden seattleCanlis restaurant Seattlea wedding dinner reception at Canliswedding cake at Canlisbride and groom in traditional Indian wedding attireHindu wedding at Canlis restaurant in Seattle

Planner: Soon to Be Events

Venues: Parsons Garden & Canlis

Photographer: David Cho Photography

Cake: The Sweetside

Hair: ZO and CO

Make-Up: I.M Artistry

A CLASSIC WEDDING AT THE OLYMPIA COUNTRY CLUB

bride and groom holding a bouquet

I am going to start this blog about Rakayla and Evan’s wedding with the end first. As a general business practice, I do floral debriefs after a wedding is over to get my couples’ thoughts on their flowers and the overall floral experience. This enables me to improve my business moving forward,  but it also allows me to connect with my couples one last time and to express a proper thank you and congratulations. During the floral debrief with Rakayla and Evan I told them that working with them on their wedding was not just a business transaction for me – and I truly meant it. While I was technically their florist and they were technically my client, the warmth I felt towards Rakayla and Evan, how much I appreciated them as people, and how important it was to me to make their wedding beautiful, felt not like I was collaborating with clients, but with friends.

Rakayla and Evan were married on a beautiful summer day at the Olympia Country Club. They chose a classic and sophisticated color palette of white, green, and black. For their flowers we focused on lilies, hydrangeas, and roses, with a few fragrantly sweet gardenias tucked in. Around the perimeter oof the tent where the ceremony was held, we hung glass crystals and orchids, reminding me of a gentle summer rain.

I am so grateful for Valen Lee Photography for beautifully capturing Rakayla and Evan’s timeless wedding at the Olympia Country Club. And a big thank you to my assistant for the day, Lilly of Colibri Blooms, for helping me get everything set up. You are truly my flower sister.

It was an absolute honor and such a personally and professionally rewarding experience working with you, Rakayla and Evan. I hope married life brings you many gifts of joy, happiness, and lots and lot of fun!

tux and bridal dresschampagne bridesmaids dressesgroomsmen in black suitsa groom watching his bride walk down the aislea bride and groom at the altara bride reads her vowsa bride and groom exchanging vows in front of a floral backdropa groom places a ring on the bride's fingera wedding party cheersa bride and groom walk towards the Olympia Country Club

 

 

A WEDDING WITH POPS OF COLOR AT JM CELLARS

bride and groom kissing holding a red bouquet

The best thing about being a wedding florist in Seattle is all the wonderful people I get to work with. I make this statement meaning both the folks in the wedding industry and, especially, the couples I design for. Both architects and designers, I connected with Aireen and Greg on a shared understanding and appreciation of the process of design and how to communicate design. There is so much thought that goes into wedding flowers. As a designer you have to consider the colors, the textures, and the shapes of the flowers and foliage, and then decide which varieties of flowers will take precedent in a floral arrangement and which ones sit a step behind. You have to think about the shape of each piece, the movement, the positive and negative space, and non-floral accents, like ribbons, vessels, and pins. Finally, you have to think about how the floral arrangement will fit in with all the other decor. And then you have to translate all of that to the client. It’s a big job!

I also loved working with Aireen and Greg because they are just two incredibly down-to-earth, kind and engaging people, who enjoy riding bicycles (Greg did a US cross country bicycle trip in 2015), riding their motor cycles on the weekends, and hiking in the mountains. I don’t think two people can be any cooler.

Aireen and Greg decided to have their wedding at the beautiful Woodinville winery, JM Cellars. They fell in love with JM Cellars for the architecture and because of the canopy of trees with a hundred type of species. For their flowers Aireen and Greg wanted to include local greens with pops of rusty red, peachy pink, and coral colors using peonies, ranunculus, ferns, and pine cones. As a tribute to their late Uncle Gene, a family heirloom vintage cherry red Camaro automobile was featured at JM and it was the car that Aireen and Greg left the reception in formally as husband and wife.

groom waiting for bridebride and groom posing with colorful bouquetbride with bridesmaids and groom with groomsmena wedding party holding colorful bouquetsa father walks his daughter down the aislea bride walks down the aislebridesmaids and groomsmen stand at altargroom reading vows to bridebride and groom in cherry red Camarowedding reception at jm cellarsbubble wedding send offbride and groom in a red convertible

 

Planner: Pink Blossom Events

Photographer: Emilia Shevchenko Photography

Caterer: Kaspar’s Catering and Events

Venue: JM Cellars

ROMANTIC WEDDING AT TWIN WILLOW GARDENS

groom kissing bride

Jessica and Jose were married at one of my favorite weddings venues here in Washington state, Twin Willow Gardens. Everything about TWG is amazing – the gardens, the ceremony area, the tiny houses where couples get ready, and the shop with the antique firehouse doors. It’s just a beautiful wedding venue and a fantastic place to get married!

Jessica and Jose’s wedding was styled and coordinated by the lovely Megan of Sage Event Co., who helped put together a boho style event that incorporated dried and vintage elements, and lots of pink and white.

Ferns and eucalyptus were included to incorporate the feel of the Pacific Northwest that Jessica and Jose wanted to embody. Peonies were used in the personals, a variety of flower Jessica loved. Plus, it was prime peony season here in Washington. And to my delight, Jessica was open to including my favorite textural element to design with – explosion grass! I don’t think any botanic element can be more fun! 🙂

As a designer, it is so important that everything I create is something I consider to be beautiful before it goes out the door. When I was designing Jessica’s bridal bouquet the stars were aligned, I was in a state of flow, and it just came together P.E.R.F.E.C.T.L.Y. I knew I had knocked it out of the park when Jessica’s mom, Tracy, told me that seeing Jessica’s bridal bouquet literally gave her goosebumps. Such a profound compliment that will stay with me forever. Thank you Tracy!

Jessica and Jose, thank you for including me in your special day. It was an absolute delight. All the very best!

bride in a garden holding a bouquetbride holding peony bouquetbride and groom in gardengroom in light pink jacket with groomsmenbride with bridesmaids in pink dresseswedding partytwin willow gardens ceremonywedding arch with boho floralsbride waking down the aisle to groombridesmaids and groomsmentree planting wedding ceremonybride and groom kissingwedding reception tablesbride and groom wedding dancebubble send off at weddingbride and groom driving away in a vintage car

Planner: Sage Event Co.

Photographer: Megan Jo Photo

Venue: Twin Willow Gardens

Caterer: Moctezuma’s

Handmade Wood Dinner Tables: Seattle Farm Tables

Desserts: Grain Artisan Bakery

DJ: Blue Beatz Entertainment

Rentals: CORT Party Rentals

 

AN AUTUMN WEDDING AT NOVETY HILL JANUIK

bride and groom walking down aisle

My last wedding of 2022 was at Novelty-Hill Januik winery in Woodinville. Working at venues that are a hop and a skip away from my studio always bring an extra ease to the wedding day, and Sarah and Nick were one of my most easy-going, appreciative, and joyful couples. Plus, their florals were drop. dead. gorgeous. After a season of flower shortages, soaring flower prices, and a rose thorn stuck in my finger that took me to urgent care (where I learned that handling roses poses the risk of contracting an infection commonly referred to as “Rose Pickers Disease” that can lead to (although it’s rare) death), I was so grateful to end my wedding season with such a beautiful event and such a wonderful couple.

Sarah and Nick had been friends for over 22 years and were dating over 5 years when they got engaged. They wanted their wedding to be casual and intimate, with a warm fall color palette of pink, blush, peach, and orange and a hint of dried elements. They also loved greenery and were drawn to loose designs with natural movement. The selection of flowers in mid-September here in Washington is amazing – and dahlias galore! The combination of warm neutrals with warm fall colors that we chose for Sarah and Nick has become one of my favorite floral palettes. I always ask my husband if we can have another wedding, because our day was so much fun. I would do Sarah and Nick’s flowers over again in a heartbeat, because they brought me so much joy.

Grateful, also, to have worked with such an amazing vendor team, including Krista and the lovely ladies of Prive Events and Brian of Lightsmiths Seattle. Darryl Ann and Joe of Salt & Pine Photo captured Sarah and Nick’s wedding beautifully and one of their images of Sarah’s bouquet has become a favorite bouquet photo of mine. Darryl Ann and Joe are not only crazy talented, but they are so easy-going, lovely people. A post 2022 wedding season video coffee date with them was like a ray of sunshine.

Sarah and Nick, thank you for being so genuine, warm, and just plain marvelous. Sending you all the love for a long, happy life together.

bride holding a fall colored bouquetbride holding colorful fall bouquetgroom wearing a boutonniereblack and white image of a groom's boutonniereceremony space at Novelty Hill Januikcircle arch with colorful flowersMoon gate arch with colorful flowersbride walking down the aisle with her fathercolorful ceremony flowers at Novelty Hill Januika black and white photo of a bride and groom kissinga bride and groom at novelty hill januika groom holding a bride carrying a colorful bouquetflowers on a wedding welcome signflowers on a table and on a shelfa drawing of a flower wallflower wall with neon signbride and groom entering the wedding reception

 

A COLORFUL WEDDING AT WILLOWS LODGE

bride and groom in garden

I met with Syndie and Freddy right before the Holiday season to go through their floral proposal for their upcoming summer wedding at Willows Lodge. They arrived to my studio in matching bright red Christmas sweaters, as they were going out to dinner afterwards and wanted to dress for the occasion. I knew right away that they were my kind of clients – quirky, easygoing, and fun!

Syndie and Freddy’s vision for their wedding reflected their joyful nature and warm personalities. They wanted lots of summer colors represented in their flowers, which made my heart sing (can you infer tell that I love color?!?!), and they asked me to design a flower wall that could be used as a backdrop for photos during the reception. This was my first time creating a flower wall, but I was very familiar with them through the online world of wedding inspiration. But, never wanting to be one to follow trends, I presented Syndie and Freddy with a flower wall design that I hadn’t ever seen before – a flower wall that looked like an outdoor landscape scene. It included clouds, the sun, mountains, sky, and fields and fields of wild flowers. This wedding flower wall was one of the most challenging pieces I have created in my career as a floral designer, but one of the most rewarding.

The best part about Syndie and Freddy’s wedding for me, though, came after the fact. In following up with Syndie after her big day, she told me that she and Freddy had such an amazing, stress-free wedding with a ton of laughter and just good vibes. And that it was exactly what they had hoped for. As a wedding florist who genuinely cares about her clients and their weddings, and cares about giving great service, it was exactly what I had hoped for them, as well. Syndie and Freddy – thank you for sharing your joy with me!

bride and groom walking down the aislecolorful floral centerpiececolorful flower wallcolorful flower wallbride and groom kissing in front of a flower wall

Kudos to the amazing Vendor Team:

Planning: It’s Your Day Events

Venue: Willows Lodge

Photographer: Greenhouse Photo + Co

Hair and Make-Up: Artistry by Victoria

Cake: Honeycrumb Cake Studio

AN ENCHANTED WEDDING AT CHATEAU LILL

bride and groom at first look

They say that all good things are worth waiting for. And Heather and David’s wedding at Chateau Lill was filled with SO. MUCH. BEAUTY that it was definitely worth the wait!

Heather and David started planning their wedding in 2019 with the anticipation of tying the knot in the summer of 2020. But like so many other weddings, covid-19 derailed their original celebration plans. Heather and David remained patient and flexible, however, and held on to the vision for their big, festive wedding. They say that the third time is a charm and third date Heather and David chose for their celebration was the one that finally stuck. On June 20th, 2021 they finally, finally got to have the amazingly beautiful enchanted wedding they had envisioned from many months ago.

Heather and David’s wedding was definitely one for the books! It was the first wedding where I used a scissor lift during installation. If you’ve never driven a scissor lift it’s one part fun and and two parts stressful, especially when you are on a timeline with people and things to watch out for. But, I managed to drive it well enough and got all the greenery installed in the tent. And just like that the tent at Chateau Lill was turned into a magical space. Heather and David’s warm, colorful, and quirky personalities were reflected in the decor and the energy of the their wedding day, from Heather’s gorgeous red dress, to David’s top hat, to the labyrinth in the wine cellar, to the colorful flowers.

A big shout out to Rebecca of New Creations Weddings for leading the wedding vendor the team through the rescheduling and ever-changing event protocols of the pandemic. Thank you to Jenn of Jenn Tai & Co for sharing her amazing images.

chateau lill sign woodinville wacolorful wedding bouquetsgroom boutonnieregroom and bridebride and groomred and green floral archchateau lill wedding flowersgroom walking down aislebridesmaids in black dressesenchanted wedding at chateau lillwedding partywedding tabes at chateau lillwedding toasts at receptioncouple cutting wedding cakewedding labyrinthgroom smoking a cigarvintage car at wedding

 

Venue: Chateau Lill

Planner: New Creations Weddings

Photographer: Jenn Tai & Co

Florist: Holly Yee Floral Architecture

Cake: Honey Crumb Cake Studio

Hair & Make-Up: On Site Beauty by Brooke

DJ: Affairs to Remember

Catering: Herban Feast

Rentals: CORT

Paper Goods: Sablewood Paper Co

 

CHINESE WEDDING TRADITIONS

Asian bride in red Chinese wedding dress

On Saturday morning in late March of this year I open up the door to my floral studio – it’s the start of a very busy day. But I don’t have a wedding.

Today a styled shoot is taking place, one that I have been thinking about and planning for many months. Not only am I the florist, but I am also the interviewer, as well as the photographer. Despite my nerves at all of this responsibility, I am looking forward to the day unfolding. I have just created one of those most beautiful bridal bouquets that I might have ever designed in my entire career. It is bursting with color and I am bursting with excitement to photograph it.

Almost a year earlier, on an overcast Seattle day, Eva Hom formerly of August Skies Weddings and had I sat down over a cup of coffee for a get-to-know-you-better vendor meeting. I had first met Eva the year prior at a wedding professionals networking event. I was looking forward to learning how Eva got into the wedding industry, as every wedding professional has a unique journey into the world of weddings, as well as personal approach to their business and the couples they serve. But I also wanted to ask Eva about a picture of a beautiful red dress on her website that had really piqued my curiosity. A simple line of text next to this small photo had stated: I speak Cantonese and I help couples incorporate cultural elements into their weddings.

The red dress pictured on Eva’s website was the dress she wore to the Chinese banquet her mom hosted in California, about a month after Eva and her husband’s formal wedding here in Washington. Never having designed a bouquet for a red dress, I knew that I could create something spectacular and unique. I asked Eva if she would be willing to collaborate on a shoot using her gorgeous red dress. And luckily for me, she was.

Katey, the fantastic hair and make-up artist of Alluring Makeup Artistry by Katey, pulls up in her car and unloads her beauty supplies. She is also collaborating on this shoot and will be beautifying Eva. Not too long after, Eva arrives with the red dress in tow. Once settled and a little bit into our conversation Eva tells us, “I never got professional hair or make-up with that dress, so I am really excited about this.”

Updo wedding hairstyle

 

CHINESE ROOTS

Eva was born and raised in California, but she is second generation Chinese-American, so Cantonese was her first language. “My parents came from China, which is why I grew up speaking Cantonese at home,” Eva explains. “And the way I maintained that was by watching a lot of TV with my parents, from the local news to drama shows to Hong Kong movies. I also went to Chinese school every Saturday for many years where I learned to read and write [Cantonese].”

In a city as multi-cultural as Seattle there is no doubt that it’s advantageous to speak more than one language. From my own experience as a small business owner, speaking other languages could have allowed for more efficient and accurate client communication. I once worked with a couple that was deaf. I didn’t know American Sign Language, but was fortunate that the bride could read lips. I remember thinking at the time, however, that it would have been even easier if I knew how to sign.

Eva’s couples don’t necessarily seek her out as a Cantonese speaking wedding planner, but she does find her bi-lingual ability helpful in conversing with Cantonese speaking parents, who might be heavily involved in the wedding planning process, as well as with guests at the wedding. “On the day of they may be flying in from somewhere else and they might not be familiar with the venue or a lot of things that are happening, so I catch them up and help them figure out what’s going on,” Eva explains.

 

A BUSINESS THAT VALUES DIFFERENT CULTURES

Asian bride in red wedding dress looks left

August Skies Weddings was formed at the end of 2019. Eva tells me that after planning her own wedding in 2018, she was hooked. “I had a day of coordinator,” Eva shares. “But I mainly planned the whole thing and I really enjoyed the process.” Wanting to figure out how wedding planners got started, Eva contacted a few local planners for informational interviews. After those meetings she spent time looking on Instagram at planners whose work she admired. Then jumping in with both feet, sent her resume over to those planners. “I didn’t even know when wedding season was,” Eva remembers. “But apparently I was applying at the right time when people were just starting to prep for that year’s weddings and looking for assistants. So I assisted for a year.”

Noticing the unfortunate timing of starting her business, I remark that it must have been hard to start a busines at the end of 2019 with everything in 2020 that happened. But Eva looks at the situation more objectively. “I got pregnant, she says. “Either way I don’t think I would have done much in 2020.” Luckily, as the world started to open back up, her 2021 season was much, much better.

Eva loves giving her couples ideas and building in aspects of their culture[s] that fit well with the grand scheme of their weddings. During her initial consultation she will ask her couples if they have any cultural or religious traditions they would like to incorporate into their wedding day. If there is something important to them, Eva will make sure it gets incorporated into the timeline. Eva will also help her clients finds vendors or source materials that might be needed.

Bride in Chinese red wedding dress

“It’s always an honor to be trusted to coordinate a wedding with cultural elements that are not from my own heritage, it means I get to expand my knowledge and build my experiences! I love working with couples who want to have a wedding, but in their own way. If that means incorporating traditions and rituals from their cultural background then I will do my best to help them do that.”

The most memorable wedding with cultural elements that Eva planned was at her favorite wedding venue, Almquist, with the sweetest couple who wanted to honor their Filipino heritage. They included a few aspects of Filipino-Catholic traditions before their vows: the veil and cord ritual. The mothers covered the bride and groom with a ceremonial veil symbolizing being clothed as one. Then the cord, or yugal, was wrapped around the couple like an infinity symbol, representing an eternal bond of fidelity. “It was a really touching moment to witness,” Eva remembers.

Eva says at some point in her career she would love to plan a Korean wedding. She’s seen a lot of photos of traditional Korean weddings, including those of her husband’s Korean-American friend that got married. The pictures showed an incredibly fun wedding. “As far as I understand there are games involved. There is some part where the bride jumps on the grooms back and he gives her a ride around,” Eva describes. “I don’t know why. It’s probably really entertaining for the guests and really fun for the couple themselves.”

 

CHINESE WEDDING TRADITIONS

Chinese bride pouring tea

Eva’s favorite Chinese wedding tradition is the tea ceremony. “It’s a very simple ceremony,” Eva explains. “On paper it’s very simple – you’re literally just serving tea to your family and elders. But at the same time I feel like the meaning behind it, the symbolism, and how long that tradition has been around is pretty cool.” The Chinese tea ceremony is an event where the couple serves tea to their elders, usually their parents, which is symbolic of introducing the two families to one another. The act of drinking tea together demonstrates the parents welcoming and accepting a new person into their family. The tea ceremony is also indicative of respect and honor. “Thanking them for getting us to that point. Raising us and getting us to that point of being married,” Eva says.

 

“Without a doubt, my favorite tradition is the Tea Ceremony. It really seems like quite a simple gesture, the couple serves tea to their elders and the elders take a sip of tea. It’s a deeply symbolic, and joyful ritual of two families joining together and an opportunity for the marrying couple to pay respect and appreciation for those who raised them.”

In China you can hire professionals to perform the tea ceremony, but here in the United States, generally you have an older married female relative do the honors. I ask Eva if she and her husband had a relative perform their tea ceremony. “Yes, we had my dad’s cousin do it,” Eva explains. “She was invited as a guest. My mom was looking for someone who wouldn’t actually be receiving the tea, but knew enough about the ceremony to conduct it.”

While Eva would not take on the role of facilitating the Chinese tea ceremony herself as the wedding planner, she will help her couples plan it out in their timeline, as well as help them understand how long everything will take and the prep that goes into it, such as boiling the water for the tea. “There’s little things that not a lot of people realize will take time. Somebody’s responsible for doing that,” Eva informs me. “And then even making the tea. Usually it’s special and has special ingredients.” Our conversation is interrupted with the choice of false eyelash length, but I learn later on that the special ingredients are often things like red dates, lotus seeds, and lilies. “I would include that in the packing list to help them make sure they have everything the day of,” Eva says.

Before Western influence, the tea ceremony was the entire wedding in Chinese culture. Chinese weddings were small and intimate affairs with just the two families present. There was no white wedding gown for the bride, instead both the bride and the groom would wear red. The “qipao” or “qun kwa”, a full-length red dress with a high collar and an asymmetrical slit on one side was traditionally worn by the bride. The groom would wear a matching red jacket and pants, both embroidered. Sometimes the pants could be a simple black. Colors like white or blue, both in attire and décor, were (and still are) traditionally avoided at Chinese weddings, as they symbolize mourning.

bride modeling red wedding dress

My husband, Mike, is third generation Chinese, but he and I had a very Western style wedding, with lots of friends and family in attendance. One of the things I wish we had done was make it a point to greet all of our guests. It was not something my husband and I discussed in our planning. As a result, there were some guests we didn’t get the opportunity to talk to at our wedding. In Chinese tradition, at the beginning of the reception the couple will stand by the doorway greeting everyone that comes in, while holding a gift box that guests can put greeting cards in or the traditional red envelope. I love the thought of this formal greeting line. If my husband and I have a vow renewal celebration in 20 years or whatever, this is what I will plan to do. Although I wouldn’t expect red envelopes. I am familiar with the red envelopes in Chinese culture, as my husband’s parents will usually give us each a red envelope with some money inside every Chinese New Year. “In Asian weddings there is no registry,” Eva explains. “You don’t bring a toaster or anything like that. You just bring cash.”

updo hair-do with red wedding dress

Another Chinese wedding tradition, one that Eva will help coordinate at a wedding this summer, is lion dancing. Lion dancers come to perform and bless your event, whether that’s a wedding, holiday, or other special event. “It’s crazy, you have to be super in shape and they train really, really hard for it,” Eva tells me. “There’s essentially two dancers under a lion costume, so they have the head and then the body of the lion. The heads weigh a good 20-30 pounds and they’re holding it for a good ten minute performance. And they’re not just holding it – they’re jumping around with it, doing a lot of tricks. The lion stands up, so the front person jumps on the person in the back. They jump on their thighs. The back person is kind of squatting. It’s incredible to watch.”

Earlier this year I was at a WIPA event that was lunar new year themed. Dancers, who were wearing dragon costumes, came and performed. I learn that usually if the dance troupe does lion dancing they will also do dragon dancing. At the WIPA event I remember seeing some of the attendees put money in the dragon’s mouth. “Feeding the dragon is good luck and in a way it’s tipping the performers,” Eva explains. The local dance troupe that Eva is most familiar with is Mak Fai.

 

THE FUTURE OF TRADITION – A PERSONAL, MODERN APPROACH

With Eva’s own wedding in 2018 at Woodinville at the Novelty-Hill Winery, she was very intentionally about subtly incorporating pieces of Chinese culture into the celebration. She didn’t want to have a traditional Chinese wedding, but rather, she wanted to add in little personal details that were important to her and her husband. “For us, it was adding the double happiness character symbol, the symbol for Chinese weddings,” she says. “Traditionally in Chinese weddings those [symbols] are hung up on walls and printed on signs. We just had the script design incorporated into our photo booth. I thought that was a fun way to incorporate that in.”

Chinese bride standing by flowering bush

“Just like American weddings, I think aspects of Chinese weddings are constantly evolving and there are always new and creative trends. There’s no one way to have a Chinese wedding, even in Asia – couples of Chinese background celebrate very differently according to what country they are in and what’s important to them and their families.”

Incorporating traditions in a not so quite traditional method is a way to honor the past, but embody the modernity of the 21st century. In Chinese weddings this could be by using different colors, like shades red, instead of all bright red. Or even incorporating other colors like pink and gold.

The traditional qipao that Eva brought with her to our shoot was not the dress she wore to her tea ceremony. Eva’s mom had ordered it from China, but it wasn’t ready on time for Eva’s actual wedding. “It kind of worked out,” Eva recalls. “I couldn’t find a traditional dress that I really liked. They looked too traditional and I wanted a modern twist on it. So I found a burgundy dress that I really liked. And it had a high collar similar to traditional dresses, but it had a lace back. So I wore that one to the tea ceremony.”

On a side note, Eva mentions she ordered her burgundy dress from Lulu’s. In unison, Katie and I both exclaim that we love Lulu’s!

Asian bride sitting on bench wearing a red dress

Beyond the realm of tradition, Eva values design elements that mean something. “I think there’s a lot of details in a wedding that could turn into something more personal. For example, like table numbers. You could just go ahead and purchase some table number. But if the groom is a professional poker player you could use cards as the table numbers. And it’s fun for guests, because people who only really know who him would make that connection,” she explains.

I, as a wedding florist, absolutely love when I am able to help couples incorporate little personal elements into their floral designs. I once worked with a couple who wanted to incorporate their Irish heritage into their wedding, so we focused on using woodsy botanic elements, like ferns, berries, and moss. The groom was an avid fly fisherman, so we also included fly fishing feathers into his boutonniere. Another time I worked with a couple where the bride was in grad school for mycology, the study of fungi, so we included ceramic mushrooms into her bridal bouquet.

Bride in red dress stand under cherry blossoms

Incorporating elements into weddings that are meaningful to the couple, whether they stem from tradition or not, really does take those events to another level. Thoughtful, intentional design with meaning behind will always shine brightly.

Eva, we look forward to seeing all those personal touches in your weddings this season and beyond. What lucky couples you have!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holly Yee

 

Hello and welcome! Thanks so much for taking time to stop by my part of the internet. I have been working with flowers for a long time and I just love helping people make their celebrations absolutely stunning. It is an honor and a priviledge to be a part of weddings and other special events.

In addition to floral design my other loves are yoga, coffee, the outdoors, and my husband and all the amazing people in my life.

 

 

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