It was truly an honor to have Kathleen & Jonathan’s “Chinoiserie Chic” wedding featured in a recent blog post on Style Me Pretty. The information and photos shown in the Style Me Pretty post provided brides with some helpful information about developing a design concept. But unfortunately, there was a limitation on how many of Kevin Chin’s fabulous photos could fit into a single blog post. So Style Me Pretty chose to focus primarily on the wedding ceremony. In this blog post, I will expand on what was shown on Style Me pretty, and explain how a wedding design concept can be carried on through the reception, as well.
Whatever you choose as a theme for your wedding, it is important to thread elements of that theme through every aspect of the celebration. Establish the design concept in the first communication about your wedding (i.e. your Save the Date or invitation), so that guests become intrigued and excited. Then, for your big day, continue to carry your theme throughout the celebration.
To recap what was already discussed on Style Me Pretty, the design of Kathleen & Jonathan’s wedding was inspired by the couple’s Chinese heritage and their global travels together. Embracing their mutual love of France and China, I developed a “Chinoiserie Chic” theme. In the French language, “Chinoiserie” means “Chinese,” and it also refers to a design style that was first popularized in the 18th Century Europe, with the commencement of regular trade between the Western world and the Orient.
A Chinese-patterned place setting provided the inspiration for the design motif that was used in the Save the Date and the invitation from Union Street Papery, creating a must-attend response from guests:
Guests heard and saw the Chinoiserie theme as soon as they arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel for the ceremony. For Prelude music, the string quartet from Golden Gate Music played selections from French composers. The fantastic floral designer, Hunt-Littlefield, built a square “altar” with four asymmetrical white pillars. Positioned on these pillars were groupings of blue and white Chinese porcelain vessels, filled with white dendrobiums, white roses and white hydrangeas. The columns were wrapped in a blue and white Chinoiserie toile fabric.
For the cocktail reception, the escort card display often provides a great opportunity to creatively express the design theme. For Kathleen and Jonathan’s wedding, we celebrated their travel experiences with escort card “luggage tags,” which were displayed in vintage style suitcases with the trunk lids open. Papineau Calligraphy scripted the guests’ dining destinations on these tags, directing guests to tables that were named after the couple’s favorite Chinese and French landmarks.
The ballroom decor had a more classical French look of regal blues and golds, but at the same time, we maintained the Asian influences. Tall dramatic centerpieces contained a mass of flowers clustered around a natural manzanita branch, in a glass vase wrapped with a gold fabric Asian belly band. On alternating tables, we had low centerpieces, reintroducing the Chinese porcelain vessels in a trio of staggered heights. Classic Party Rentals repositioned their gold chiavari chairs from the ceremony to the dining tables, and we quickly changed the blue cushions to gold. Lamour Light Blue linens from Napa Valley Linens completed the look.
For after-dinner fun, Blueprint Studios furnished an illuminated bar featuring the same Asian pattern that guests originally saw on the Save the Date and invitation. To complete the Chinoiserie look, a French Provincial back bar was adorned with blue & white floral décor.
The lounge areas included tufted sofas with “Shanghai Toile” pillows and Louis XIV coffee tables, creating the perfect atmosphere for guests to say “Oooh La La!”
A custom designed gobo projected the Chinoiserie pattern and the couple’s initials in blue onto the white dance floor. Following Kathleen and Jonathan’s heartwarming first dance, the 9-piece band from Innovative Entertainment kicked the music into high gear, and guests danced the night away, ending this most memorable day with Chinoiserie style.
For your wedding, there are many ways you can build a theme – the design concept can be based on your ethnic heritage, your favorite things in life, or memorable experiences you have enjoyed together as a couple. When choosing a theme, make sure your ideas can be translated into tangible items, including the invitation, décor, music, food & beverages and favors. By creating a unique design concept, you and your guests will delight in the details on your special day, and treasure the memories long afterwards.