An Elegant Two-Part Thai Wedding in the California Bay Area
Although Grace and Steve both work in the field of artificial intelligence, their love is undoubtedly the real thing. After encountering each other at industry conferences in Ohio and the U.K., they finally went on a first date in their home state of California. Four years later, on October 12, 2018, they found themselves exchanging vows in San Francisco. The very next day, Grace and Steve celebrated their nuptials in stunning fashion at Beaulieu Garden. And while it was only 75 miles from where they got married, they knew it would it would feel like a getaway for both their international guests—traveling from England, Australia, and Thailand—and fellow Californians.
"We selected our lovely venue in Napa Valley as we wanted the wedding to feel like a destination wedding," Grace says. "For our local friends and family, we wanted the wedding to feel special for them even for the short drive." As easy as it was to select their venue, Grace and Steve found other wedding decisions more challenging. "Analysis paralysis is real," says Grace, who turned to her wedding planner, Jenny Schneider, (she was recommended by their stylist, Daniel Tran) for direction. "We are so grateful to their careful eyes, wonderful taste, and telepathic understanding."
"Jenny, Daniel, and the wedding team did an amazing job of constructing the look and feel of the wedding such that every detail had a feeling of understated elegance and traditional beauty," Steve says. "I think the result was that the wedding had more of a low pressure and reserved feeling. It was more of a fun and elegant get together of our friends and family."
A City Hall Ceremony
A day before their exquisite reception in Napa Valley, Grace and Steve had an elegant, but intimate ceremony at San Francisco City Hall, about 30 miles from their new home in Woodside. They were joined by their immediate family and three of their closest friends.
"I have always loved the grand Haussmann style of the building's interior and the diversity and honoring of all love this place represents," Grace says.
A Blessing and a Bond
Earlier in the week, Grace and Steve went to the Thai Buddhist temple Grace had attended since college, Wat Mongkolratanaram, to receive a marriage blessing. However, Grace wanted the city hall ceremony to be "straightforward and clean," she says.
"I loved how she used the term 'partner' consistently throughout," Grace says of the vows written by their officiant, Irene Kane, who "kept our ceremony progressive and personal by integrating some notes we wrote about each other."
Grace wanted her ceremony look to be a crisp, modern Thai outfit, with several personal twists. Her mother made the skirt herself with silk from a village in northeastern Thailand, which is reflected in the fabric's subtle pattern. Furthermore, the jade belt she wore had belonged to her grandmother. "Daniel picked the matching silk blouse from Zimmermann, which I love," Grace says of their stylist Daniel Tran's contribution.
Daniel also worked with Steve for the ceremony, choosing a suit by COS in a handsome khaki-green shade for him.
"I thought I knew what I liked, but quickly realized I had zero ability to make choices in this space. Luckily, that's where Jenny came in," Grace says of their wedding planner, who, after a only a few meetings, was able to make choices that felt like personal reflections of the bride and groom. "The wedding invitation is a great example. It's warm in color, offers an organic feel with its deckle edge and dark-green envelope, and it's eco-friendly and compostable."
Jenny worked with PS Paper to create a handmade, letterpress, four-piece set, including classic wedding invitation, an information card, a reply card, and an envelope.
Grace and Steve's reception took place the day after their ceremony, at Beaulieu Garden in Rutherford, California. The Napa Valley vineyard immediately appealed to the couple, and not just because Grace's own family has a vineyard.
"Steve loved the idea of an outdoor wedding as he loves being outdoors hiking, camping, and rock climbing," Grace recalls of choosing the sprawling, lush venue. "I loved the gorgeous gardens and multiple spaces," several of which were put to use for everything from the cocktail hour and family portraits to dinner and dancing.
"The wedding dress acquisition was an emotional journey," Grace says, explaining that she wishes she'd hired Daniel sooner. Over the course of several trips to New York City, she visited seven different shops. When the gown she initially chose arrived later than expected, it no longer felt right to her.
"In a last-minute scramble, Daniel sourced some amazing choices in New York City," says Grace, who was traveling back to the Big Apple for work one more time before the wedding. "I purchased a Monique Lhuillier ball gown that I absolutely loved."
"The reception shoes were supposed to be Alexandre Birman, but of course I forgot them at home," Grace recalls. But her stylist kept her calm about the mishap. "Daniel said they weren't meant to be."
Instead, she wore the same pointy-toe Christian Louboutin pumps with double ankle straps that she wore for previous day's ceremony. The chic shoes looked like a completely intentional choice paired with the Monique Lhuillier gown, and Grace has a theory as to why: "Of course, Daniel chose both!"
The breathtaking jewels Grace wore for the reception continued a story that began with her engagement to Steve and a love of gemstones that reaches back generations. "I've loved padparadscha sapphires since I was young," she says of the deep-pink stone. "My family's jeweler in Cambodia sourced the stone for us, and my parents kept it for our engagement."
That same jeweler designed the necklace and earrings as well, all of which were already in Grace's family.
Steve's sister Kristin (not pictured) was the best woman; Grace's younger sister, Amy, was the maid of honor, and two friends served as her bridesmaids. "They feel like my sisters," Grace says of Sophia and Rose, who respectively wore a taupe sateen dress from Alfred Sung and a velvet dresses from Jenny Yoo—the same worn by Amy.
"Daniel was so critical with helping us choose the outfits and bouquet colors," Grace gushes about their stylist, who worked with Max Gill to create what the bride poetically describes as a "lush and romantic composition of abundant seasonal treasures in whites, greens, and creams, with deeper tones of plum and chocolate as accents."
Gill was also behind the the lovely lily of the valley bouquet Grace carried for her city hall ceremony.
Steve is the first to admit that he's uncomfortable being the center of attention, which is why one of the most memorable moments of the day—the bride's big reveal—"started out really awkward," he confesses.
"The photographers led me outside with my back turned. I felt like everyone was watching me and orchestrating my movements," he recalls. But as soon as he turned around to see Grace, everything changed. "She looked absolutely beautiful and had a warm smile on her face."
Their Future's So Bright
Even before the couple met Daniel in person, he picked out a black, shawl-collar tuxedo from Saint Laurent for Steve's reception outfit. "Originally, we weren't going for a tuxedo, but we immediately changed our minds when Steve put it on," Grace says. Daniel also styled Steve in Berluti poplin shirt with hidden buttons and a short collar, a velvet bow tie, and Saint Laurent leather boots.
Steve's favorite part of his outfit, however, was an accessory he didn't wear for most of the reception. "While getting ready, I was given a gift box from Grace. Inside was the most beautiful and mushy letter about how much I mean to her," he says. "Also inside was a pair of sunglasses that the saleswoman at Saint Laurent had me try on. At the time, I laughed at the idea while admitting they were nice—I've never worn designer anything or purchased any article of clothing over $50."
Cocktails in the Garden
The reception kicked off with cocktail hour, which took place in Beaulieu's sunken garden. There, Chris Clouse played acoustic guitar while Champagne, cocktails, and hor d'oeuvres by Paula Le Duc were served to 119 guests. When guests were fully immersed in mingling, Grace and Steve snuck off for romantic portraits during golden hour.
Above as Below
Dinner and dancing took place in the venue's entrancing arbor. In addition to the floral arrangements on the long tables, Max Gill installed wisteria and vines above guests' heads. "The florals really danced," Grace says. The gray linen atop the tables also displayed earthenware china, modern flatware, and cafe au lait candles that helped create a soft yet organic feel that complemented the florals.
Each letterpress menu served as a place card, with guest names calligraphed at the top. Below, the courses were listed, starting with a sampling of heirloom tomatoes—grilled romaine, balsamic caviar, tomato syrup, cypress grove chèvre, and rosemary crunch—followed by roasted filet mignon with tarragon butter, mascarpone whipped potato, local vegetables, and horseradish gremolata.
Cake was the final course on the menu, but it almost didn't make the cut. "We didn't even want a wedding cake originally," Grace says. "Then Jenny showed us Jasmine Rae's work, and I absolutely had to have one of her pieces at the wedding." The result was a four-layer, petaled confection with softly ruffled edges in shades of white and beige, topped off with sugar roses. Inside were two flavors: almond cake with almond paste, lemon curd, and honey rose buttercream and chocolate cake with espresso buttercream and salted caramel.
One of Steve's favorite moments was when his sister, Kristin, made a speech during dinner. "It was really heartfelt, hilarious, nostalgic, and delivered emphatically," he fondly recalls. "It was particularly meaningful not only because she has been my best friend and role model, but also because she, like me, is more shy and introverted and would otherwise never express emotions in front of so many people."
A Gem of a Wine
Instead of gifting guests with wine from the venue, the couple decided their favors would be dessert wine from Grace's family's vineyard, each bottle featuring a custom label with the guest's name.
"My parents own a vineyard in Sonoma. For our wedding, they created a late-harvest blend of mostly Roussanne and a touch of Viognier for smell," Grace says. "It really is one of my all-time favorite dessert wines." And keeping with the family's love of gemstones, Grace's mother named it Zaffiro Giallo—"yellow sapphire" in Italian—for its crisp color.
Though the duo had booked a honeymoon in Bhutan for mid-2019, a "surprise guest appeared to change our plans for this year," says Grace; the newlyweds are currently expecting their first child.
Photography, Sylvie Gil Photography
Location, San Francisco City Hall (ceremony), Beaulieu Garden (reception)
Event planning, Jenny Schneider Events
Catering, Paula LeDuc Fine Catering
Flowers, Max Gill Design
Officiant, Irene Kane
Calligraphy, Curlicue Designs Calligraphy
Cake, Jasmine Rae Cakes
Music, Chris Clouse
Fashion styling, Daniel Tran
Bride's gown, Monique Lhuillier
Alterations, The Wedding DeTailor
Groom's accessories, Saint Laurent
Lighting, Got Light