This Couple Proved That It's Possible to Throw a Thematic Valentine's Day Wedding Without Being Kitschy
When Evelyn and Bryan chose their wedding date—February 15, 2020—the theme became obvious: a Valentine's Day-style celebration full of hearts, cute messaging, and lots of love. But that doesn't mean that cheesy cupids, boxes of drugstore chocolates, stuffed animals, or a red-and-pink color scheme made an appearance.
In fact, the event spoke more to their relationship than the holiday. The pair first met in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they were both getting their MBAs in September 2017, and got engaged two years later at one of their favorite places to be outside. That's why it made sense that their wedding venue would also be filled with natural beauty—which made the Solage in Calistoga, part of California's Napa Valley, the right choice for their nuptials.
As for the day's overall palette and feel, the couple let the theme be their guide. "Our floral color palette and nod to Valentine's Day were bold, so we kept the rest of the design elegantly minimalist," says event planner Callista Osborn of Callista & Company. That meant playing with a range of neutrals (ivory, nude, and oatmeal), dusty blue, and pops of pink.
On the big day, the love theme appeared throughout all the details, from an escort card display that asked, "Will you be our Valentine?" to the tiny conversation hearts that guided each of the 93 guests to their seats; a dramatic floral display in the reception area featured transparent acrylic hearts. The result was a sophisticated, modern Valentine's Day celebration that was, well, all about the love.
The Blue Note
"We loved Solage because it's pretty and in nature," Evelyn says—plus, the venue's close-together celebration spaces allowed the couple to host their ceremony, cocktail hour, reception dinner, and after-party sans transportation.
Lots of Laughs
Evelyn clutched a foliage-free collection of pink-and-coral flowers including garden roses, ranunculus tulips, butterfly ranunculus, muscari, and poppies. Gather Design Co. put the whole thing together.
A Guy Thing
To complement the bridesmaids' bouquets, which were made from single-flowers, each boutonnière was composed of a single type of bloom.
Evelyn's bridesmaids chose from eight or so dress styles at Azazie, all in the same shade of dusty blue.
Gather Design Co. created a rounded floral ceremony arch composed entirely of blooming branches and more than 2,000 stems of bright pink-and-coral blooms, without using any greenery.
Straight and Narrow
Narrow rows of chairs created a longer aisle, even with the intimate number of guests.
A Tiny Mistake
The flower girls, clad in white dresses with dusty blue sashes, got a little lost during their walk down the aisle. "They were supposed to meet with their parents when they were close to the arch," Evelyn says. "However, the girls' father thought they had to go up next to the arch so he kept signaling them to walk up, while Bryan tried to wave them back. They eventually found their way back to the seats."
Evelyn's father walked her down the aisle to a version of "A Thousand Years" by The Piano Guys. "I normally cry at every wedding when the father gives the bride to the groom," she says. "When it was my turn, I almost cried but used every ounce of my concentration to hold in the tears."
A friend officiated the non-religious ceremony where the couple recited self-penned vows. Even though the whole affair was in English, the pair provided a book with a Chinese translation for Evelyn's mother so that she could follow along.
The Happy Couple
The newlyweds capped off their ceremony with a walk back up the aisle to an acoustic version of Bruno Mars' "Marry You."
Drink with Me
During cocktail hour, signs asked attendees, "Will you be our drinking buddy?" Two signature sips, an amaretto sour and an espresso martini, were on offer.
To play off the Valentine's Day theme, the seating chart asked guests a very important question.
Love on Display
Guests found their seats by opening a customized acrylic box filled with conversation hearts and a table number.
Dozens of brightly colored bud vases dotted each table while taupe candles in glass votive holders created a glow. Overhead, thousands of blooms hung from the ceiling, interspersed with acrylic hearts.
The questions continued at dinner, where menus read "Will You Be Our Dinner Date?" On the other side, each guest's specific meal appeared, from butternut squash soup to seared scallops or braised short rib.
One of the couple's favorite parts of the night was their parent's speeches, some of which were in Chinese and translated by the maid of honor. "A lot of our English-speaking guests told us afterwards that they could feel the sincerity even though they don't understand Chinese," Evelyn says. "Bryan's father sang 'Father and Son' in his speech, which made Bryan cry out loud."
"It was harder than we expected to cut the cake," Evelyn says of their four-tier chocolate raspberry confection with Swiss buttercream. "Bryan even accidentally poured the Champagne on our officiant, who held the cake stand steady for us!"
A "Perfect" Ending
Evelyn and Bryan swayed to "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran for their first dance.
Photography, The Ganeys
Venue and Catering, Solage
Event Planning and Design, Callista & Company
Flowers, Gather Design Company
Stationery, Papel & Co.
Calligraphy, Libby Tipton
Cake, Flour & Bloom Cakes
Music, Boutique DJs
Rentals, Theoni Collection; La Tavola
Bride's Gown, Watters
Shoes, Badgley Mischka
Hair and Makeup, Blush
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Azazie
Groom's Suit and Menswear, Men's Warehouse
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