An East-Meets-West Wedding in Newport, Rhode Island
Katherine and Jim
Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" lyric of "love is a burning thing" applies to the love story of Katherine Kung and Jim Bittl. You see, they met at Burning Man in 2013. Being in the same camp for a whole week at the festival provided them with plenty of time to get to know one another. They soon discovered they had similar life values and that spark grew, as they started dating upon their return into the real world. Then, on a trip to Japan, Katherine had a feeling she might find a ring while unpacking their luggage in the hotel. But it was burning a hole in Jim's pocket—until the duo got to Hama Rikyu Garden in Tokyo.
Back home in New York City, the woman's evening-wear designer and client success director at an education company set out to plan a wedding. A little more than a year after the proposal, on September 24, 2016, they got married at the New York Yacht Club, in Newport, Rhode Island, where the groom went to school. It was a no-brainer for the elegant, black-tie wedding, with 150 loved ones in attendance, and plenty of other thoughtful tie-ins to the pair's love story and heritages—starting with a Chinese tea ceremony, and ending with a tented reception with the flags of the countries their families hail from flying overhead.
For their morning tea ceremony, Jim and Katherine wore traditional ceremonial attire, with the bride donning a "qua" set with red-and-gold embroidery depicting a dragon on one side and a phoenix on the other.
A Special Tradition
The couple knelt in front of their elders—parents, aunts, and older siblings—and served them tea to thank them and pay their respects. In return, the pair was given red envelopes, and the bride received a pair of bracelets with the same animals depicted on her attire, which symbolize unity as a couple.
The couple both call this the most emotional and memorable part of the day, where they truly thank their parents while celebrating the joining of their families.
Katherine designed her own wedding dress and veil—which took four months from conception to completion, including waiting for the French lace mill to make some of the material she used. She accessorized with Yoko London pearl-and-diamond earrings, her Cynthia Britt engagement ring, and Prada pumps. Jim looked dashing in a tuxedo made by Martin Greenfield Clothiers, paired with a shirt, bow tie, and shoes by Ralph Lauren.
The Maid and Matron of Honor
Katherine's two attendants (her best friend and sister-in-law) carried petite bouquets that were similar to hers but with soft purple sweet peas added in.
Before becoming husband and wife, Katherine and Jim took a few photos on the grounds of Jim's old high school.
From the very beginning, Katherine envisioned the ceremony taking place under the three trees down by the water. The aisle was covered in rose and hydrangea petals, and the couple was surrounded by garlands of roses, hydrangea, snowberry, and orchids, interspersed with strands of solid dendrobium orchids. Guests added to the carpet of blooms thanks to the cones of petals tied to their chairs, as the newlyweds recessed up the aisle to the Talking Heads' "This Must Be the Place."
Cocktail hour was a mix of tiki-bar details (pineapple-shaped glasses with umbrellas in them and straw umbrellas to shade guests from the sun, for instance), classic Chinese fare like dim sum, and the traditions of New England (in the form of the raw bar and classic cocktails like dark-n-stormies and gin and tonics).
Guests sipped, snacked, and mingled while they checked out the waterfront location and enjoyed a live jazz band.
In keeping with the East-meets-West theme, the white sailcloth tent sported American and Hong Kong flags at its peaks.
Roses, spray roses, stock, peonies, hydrangea, snap dragons, and snowberries were arranged in mercury glass pedestal bowls on the round tables and collections of assorted vases on the long tables.
Double, Double Happiness
The Chinese symbol for double happiness appeared on the place card holders and the embroidered napkins.
Fun and Fare
Guests dined on a surf-and-turf menu and popped into the photo booth during the reception.
The First Dance
The newlyweds chose "I'd Rather Dance With You" by Kings of Convenience for their first dance song. Earth, Wind, and Fire's "September" then got everyone on the dance floor, rocking out in no time.
Flowers Above, Dancing Below
"I wanted for all of us to dance under the flowers," Katherine says of the installation by Sayles Livingston Design. Katherine loved seeing her parents let loose and watching Jim's parents cut a rug, too.
The Wedding Cake
Sylvia Weinstock Cakes created a four-tier confection wrapped with hand-crafted blooms.
A Sparkly Sendoff
Katherine changed into a red dress (the color traditionally worn by brides in China) of her own design and Miu Miu pumps. She had put the colorful frock on a bit earlier when she surprised Jim with a performance of "American Boy" by Estelle with the band. The outfit adjustment let her dance easily.
The happy couple wove sparklers among their guests, who did the same, before departing for the night and heading off to enjoy the hot tub with ocean views in their hotel room at The Chanler at Cliff Walk.
Photography, Britt Chudleigh — Chudleigh Weddings
Location and catering, New York Yacht Club
Event planning, décor, and lighting, Exquisite Events Details & Décor
Flowers, Sayles Livingston Design
Stationery printing, Candid 88
Monogram design, Nim Ben-Reuven
Cake, Sylvia Weinstock Cakes
Music, SugarBabies Elite
Rentals, Rentals Unlimited
Tent, Newport Tent Company
Bride's gown, veil, and reception dress, Kung Katherine
Hair and Makeup, Kyle Harder
Bridesmaids' dresses and mothers' gowns, Kung Katherine
Groom's tuxedo, Martin Greenfield Clothiers
Transportation, ETS International
Piña colada machine, Margarita Man
Flags, Narragansett Flag Company
Photobooth, The Bosco