Ashley and Ryan’s colorful engagement session earlier this year did not adequately prepare us for the serious awesomeness that would be their wedding at Lucie Stern Community Center in Palo Alto this summer. The complex not only features a ballroom but a community theater and a children’s theater, and it turned out that Ryan attended many a summer theater camp there. While he trod the boards in front of the curtain, Ashley literally wrangled the ropes behind the scenes. This, and their long history together (they dated for the first time in 9th grade, before finally dating again when they were college freshmen), would shape their wedding day tremendously.
The day kicked off with door games, a Chinese tradition wherein the bridesmaids block the groom from seeing his bride until he performs a series of tasks to their satisfaction. There was only time for one task, so the bridesmaids demanded a song-and-dance number. We don’t know if Ryan was tipped off ahead of time but, boy, after five minutes of practice, he and his groomsmen belted out an incredible a cappella rendition of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” complete with choreography and an air guitar solo! The bridesmaids were completely won over and Ashley and Ryan flew into each other’s arms with tears and smiles.
The waterworks continued during their heartwarming ceremony, held against a sparkly theater curtain backdrop and beneath a string of paper butterflies. (Fittingly, their officiant was their middle school drama teacher!) At one point, both their moms caught each other wiping away tears and had a good laugh. Shortly after our couple tied the knot, lion dancers bounded in to wish our newlyweds good fortune.
Happily, we had time to sneak into the theater, the outdoor children’s theater, and the secret garden behind the children’s library. There, Ashley and Ryan and their wedding party re-enacted scenes from their favorite rom-coms, nail-biters, and sci-fi trilogies. Ryan and his groomsmen, incidentally, wore distinct superhero pins but were not hindered in any way.
Little did Ashley know that a grand surprise would be sprung upon her during the reception. After toasts were given and guests continued to munch on chicken and waffles, Ryan and his groomsmen took the stage, so to speak, and serenaded Ashley with a hilarious, personalized rendition of “My Girl” (Lily was especially touched by the line referring to Ashley’s gothy black lipstick stage in high school), enhanced with a kazoo bridge. We learned later that the guys had practiced together just once at Ryan’s bachelor party; afterward, they practiced over Skype! Their performance was so mesmerizing that we had a hard time focusing on taking photos, but we did, and had a great time capturing their exuberant cake cutting (the swan cake toppers were first used at Ashley’s parents’ wedding), their first dance, the bouquet toss (the original catcher passed it on to a little girl who looked thoroughly displeased), and the spirited action on the dancefloor.
Talent aside, Ashley and Ryan’s wedding was full of thoughtful touches and details. Their handmade fan programs outlined the events of the day and also revealed fun facts about the couple. They set up a bocce ball station with which to entertain their guests. They had a popcorn machine and instructions on how to eat it like Ashley’s family does (drizzled with sweetened condensed milk and eaten with chopsticks). But what really took the cake? Ryan and Ashley used their skills in making gold dental crowns to craft their wedding bands from gold donated by both of their families (both Ashley and Ryan are aspiring dentists). What an amazing day for an amazing couple! Here are some of our favorite moments, complete with a mini “movie” of their time in the theater.
Bride’s dress: 2001 Lazaro; altered by Kirsten Tucker (San Mateo)
Bride’s shoes: Julianne Hough from Nordstrom.
Earrings: Delezhen Handmade Jewelry Collection (Etsy)
Hair: Patti Greene at Trenz Salon (Burlingame)
Groom’s suit: Jos. A Bank
Groom’s tie: J.crew outlet
Groom’s shoes: Camper
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Banana Republic
Flowers: Dana’s Flower Basket (San Mateo)
Caterer: Cheat A Little Catering (San Mateo)
Cake: Nori Kitaoka of Sweet Nothings Cupcakes
Groomsmen’s flasks: FrederickEngraving (Etsy)
Superhero pins: MyGiftStores (eBay)