An Elegant Wedding in Budapest with a Green-and-White Color Palette

diana alex wedding couple
Greg Finck

Diana and Alex met as many people do, through a mutual friend. They loosely kept in touch by running into each other at bars and clubs in Hong Kong and the occasional Facebook message. One night, they ran into each other again on the street and said they'd meet up again later in the evening, which they did. "It was fate and the timing was crucial," Alex says. Neither of them were necessarily looking for love, and Diana definitely didn't want a long-distance relationship (she was living in China), but Alex knew he wanted to marry her from the start. They texted and emailed back and forth until she found herself back in Hong Kong for a month and they went on their first official date. Seven months later, they were an item.

Diana (a wedding planner) was actually the one to plan the proposal, which Alex (an entrepreneur and asset manager) executed. The couple flew to Chengdu in Sichuan Provence (where the biggest panda research centers are based) for a private "meeting" with a panda. At the time, private panda visits were prohibited, so a few strings had to be pulled. As the bear was being led out by its keeper, Alex dropped to one knee. Diana said "yes" and then the pair got to pet and feed the panda.

They officially got married two months later, had a destination wedding the following fall on November 13, 2017. Ninety loved ones gathered for a multi-day vacation in Budapest, Hungary. "I have always thought weddings were too short. You don't get to see your friends and relatives that often," Alex explains of the plan to celebrate over the course of more than just one weekend. They took the opportunity to host a five-day river cruise and spend quality time with everyone. The wedding itself—on land at Fisherman's Bastion—celebrated the bride's favorite animal (and the couple's engagement location) in an elegant palette of green and white with a pop of black. And though the weather didn't cooperate, the indoor event was a true highlight of the destination wedding.

01 of 25

The Engagement Ring

diana alex wedding engagement ring
Greg Finck

Alex popped the question with an engagement ring that had previously belonged to his grandmother, who shared nearly 50 years of marriage with Alex's grandfather.

02 of 25

A Historical Venue

diana alex wedding venue hungary
Greg Finck

Initially, Diana and Alex were going to get married on a roof deck of a river cruise ship somewhere in Europe. After reaching out to several companies and comparing the options for a shortened four-day excursion (they are typically twice as long), the best option, the AmaBella, began in Budapest and ended in Vienna.

When they faced restrictions for a wedding on the boat, Diana started looking for old buildings as potential locations. She had been to Fisherman's Bastion before and remembered its beautiful views of the river and parliament building. "I knew this was going to be it," she says, and they booked the venue four months before their big day.

The trip's itinerary included stops in Bratislava and Vienna, too. And one of the guests organized a wine tasting one night to sample some Austrian wines. An open bar, a DJ and a singer, and a customized guide book for the three cities they visited kept things extra fun.

03 of 25

Chinoiserie-Style Stationery

diana alex wedding stationary invitation
Greg Finck

Friend Hilary Ng designed and illustrated a chinoiserie painting that featured a family of panda bears. It was printed as a tri-fold panel that was backed in emerald green paper and wrapped around the wedding invitation, then sealed with a gold-and-green belly band. The invite itself was printed on a sheet of lucite so as not to detract from the illustration. An octagonal logo at the top showcased the couple's first initials and was flanked by illustrations of a pair of pandas, some of their favorite flowers, wine, and champagne.

04 of 25

Chic Attire

diana alex wedding couple
Greg Finck

After a few months of wedding dress shopping, Diana still hadn't found anything to wear. There were a few options she liked but they were over budget. "I remembered that one of my clients had custom-made a wedding gown at a tailor and it was a fraction of the cost of any of the dresses that I liked," she recalls. So she took some ideas from different gowns, brought them to Classic Tina Bridal Shop, who then fused them together for the winning ensemble. Silk, lace, tulle, and beading were all incorporated into the two-piece look, which was a sleeveless gown with a deep V-neck and a jacket to fend of the chilly temperature.

Alex, who likes things that are traditional and timeless, went shopping with Diana to find his classic Armani tuxedo.

05 of 25

Going Green

diana alex wedding green ring
Greg Finck

On the big day, Diana wore her mother's emerald ring, which perfectly matched the signature color of the wedding.

06 of 25

Gorgeous Jewelry

diana alex wedding bride bracelet
Greg Finck

As wedding gifts, Diana's parents gave her a pair of emerald earrings and her in-laws gave her a diamond bracelet—both of which she wore for the ceremony and reception. She also wore this diamond-and-emerald bracelet that was her grandmother's.

07 of 25

The Bridal Bouquet

diana alex wedding bouquet white
Greg Finck

Diana requested anemones in her bouquet as a representation of panda bears. Other white flowers, like tulips and ranunculus, were mixed with lots of greenery by Floresie.

08 of 25

The Wedding Party

diana alex wedding bridal party
Greg Finck

The bridesmaids wore custom dresses in slightly varied shades of green and different silhouettes. Six different materials (lace, tulle, velvet, chiffon, silk, and Thai silk) made each girl's look unique. To keep warm, she gave each woman a black stole. Groomsmen were asked to wear black suits. The group was comprised of close friends and siblings.

09 of 25

The Boutonnières

diana alex wedding boutonniere
Greg Finck

Simple boutonnières by Floresie were made of hellebores and ranunculus in shades of white and green. Each was tied with raw silk ribbon.

10 of 25

Before the Rain

diana alex wedding ceremony terrace
Greg Finck

The ceremony was set up on a beautiful terrace overlooking the city. But then the weather wasn't cooperating with the plan for an outdoor ceremony, so it was reset inside. "I think we knew the day before that it would be raining, but you always have hope for the rain to stop during the ceremony," Diana says. Alex adds that it was the worst day of weather throughout the entire trip, but that in the end it didn't bother them.

11 of 25

A Pretty Rain Plan

diana alex wedding ceremony indoor
Greg Finck

When it was time to execute the rain plan, Joy Proctor Design and Floresie moved the ceremony setup inside Fisherman's Bastion. "In the end, we were all warm and toasty and it was as romantic a setting as anyone had ever seen," Diana says.

12 of 25

The Ceremony

diana alex wedding ceremony
Greg Finck

The matron-of-honor's husband (who happens to be a youth pastor) officiated the non-religious ceremony. The groom and his groomsmen entered to Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" before the bridesmaids walked down the aisle as Colbie Caillat's "Bubbly" played. Diana chose the score from the movie The Holiday as the soundtrack for her processional with her father. "I remember feeling really overwhelmed with emotion as I entered," says Diana. "A combination of gratitude and happiness that everyone was there to celebrate with us. And of course it's quite a dramatic feeling when everyone is standing up in honor of you walking down the aisle."

Alex had similar feelings, noting that walking in to the ceremony was his favorite part of the day. "Most of the people who attended live in Asia. We had 100 people who flew over to Budapest to attend. We really felt loved and special," he says.

After making things official, the couple recessed to Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World."

13 of 25

A Very Special Reading

diana alex wedding boy speech
Greg Finck

Diana's god son Adam read Robert Fulghum's poem "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" during the ceremony.

14 of 25

Four of a Kind

diana alex wedding boys
Greg Finck

Diana's four god sons all had roles in the wedding. The oldest read during the ceremony and the other three served as ring bearers.

15 of 25

Floating Escort Cards

diana alex wedding escort cards lucite
Greg Finck

Green escort cards were displayed on a large sheet of Lucite. "That way we didn't block the beautiful architecture and the cards appeared to be floating," says Diana.

16 of 25

Calligraphed Escort Cards

diana alex wedding escort cards lucite
Greg Finck

Cecelia Au of Nomad Calligraphy is a friend of Alex's but couldn't make it to the wedding. As a gift, she calligraphed the green escort cards in gold ink.

17 of 25

The First Dance

diana alex wedding first dance
Greg Finck

The newlyweds entered the reception dancing to "Get Low" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz—the song they danced to at a club the night they reconnected in Hong Kong. Then it was time for their first dance song, which began with Brian McKnight's "Back at One" and after a few verses it transitioned into Luis Fonsi's "Despacito." "We had choreographed a one-minute routine which we hoped would get the guests dancing," Diana explains. "I'm happy to report that it was a success."

Alex was on the fence about the mash-up but came around. "First I was really against the idea, but it was really fun and special."

18 of 25

A Mini Toast

diana alex wedding boy speech
Greg Finck

Diana's four-year-old god son Logan said grace before dinner started. Several toasts followed, which was a highlight of the night for the groom.

19 of 25

The Reception Setup

diana alex wedding reception table
Greg Finck

Like the ceremony, the reception was originally intended to be outside. But the indoor setting was just as elegant. The historical building had tables that fit perfectly within the various alcoves, and linens from La Tavola Fine Linen Rentals dressed them up.

20 of 25

In the Round

diana alex wedding reception round table
Greg Finck

A round table in the center of the space was decorated with a large floral arrangement surrounded by taper candles.

21 of 25

Shades of Green and White

diana alex wedding centerpiece
Greg Finck

Floresie combined white blooms of all sizes, including tulips and amaryllis, with a mix of leaves and trailing greenery for the main centerpiece.

22 of 25

The Little Touches

diana alex wedding place card panda
Greg Finck

Gold chargers were brought over from Hong Kong, as were votive holders custom made with the couple's monogram on them. Ceramic panda figurines sourced at a market in Bangkok were placed next to each place card. Like the invite, the menu was printed on lucite. Placed on top of the white napkins, it outlined the four-course meal: pheasant consommé with ginger noodles and smoked quail eggs, pan-fried sea bass with green pea puree and parmesan mousse, thyme venison filet with sweet potato truffle and cranberry, and sorbet.

23 of 25

A View From Above

diana alex wedding guests
Greg Finck

Twenty guests were seated on the balcony and got prime views of the dance floor. "I think that even though we were on two floors, it was still very intimate," Diana says. "You were still able to see and hear everything going on."

24 of 25

An Elegant Cake

diana alex wedding cake chinoiserie
Greg Finck

The river cruise ship Diana and Alex had chartered for the occasion gifted a three-tier hexagonal wedding cake covered in white fondant, which was then personalized with help from Diana's sister, a pastry chef. She printed the wedding's signature chinoiserie pattern onto wafer paper and applied it in panels to each tier.

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diana alex wedding couple kiss
Greg Finck

Photography, Greg Finck

Location and Catering, Fisherman's Bastion

Event planning and design, Joy Proctor Design

Flowers, Floresie

Stationery, Hilary Ng (chinoiserie artwork); Romance Wedding (printing)

Calligraphy, Cecelia Au (escort cards); Hailey Yip Ho Yi (place cards)

Cake and Hair, AmaWaterways

Music, Cool Miners

Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen Rental; Mobilsofa

Bride's gown, Classic Tina Bridal Shop

Groom's tuxedo, Giorgio Armani

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