Holiday Wrapping

I love the holidays, especially wrapping presents! It’s easy to throw everything into a box and wrap it up, but I just can’t help myself. Call it the crazy artist in me, call it therapy…I just can’t let a present (no matter what season it is) leave my wrapping station without “Kimmie-fying” it! I love adding bows, accent pieces (i.e., ornaments, flowers, pearls, beads, etc.) and anything that would make the gift stand out against the other gifts. What’s on the outside of the box should WOW the recipient as much as what’s on the inside. Thoughtfulness, in my book, begins from the inside and radiates outward. Here are some samples from this holiday season.

Gift Wrapping 2013Wishing everyone a holiday season that’s merry and bright. May your lives be wrapped with happiness and warmth all season long and carried through into the new year.


I do!

Life is beautiful when you find the one person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Growing up, I knew what it was like to be surrounded by love, but I didn’t know what it mean to be in love with someone until I met Ken. We actually met at a wedding in 2004, ironically, but I never imagined that three years later our paths would cross again and that he would one day ask me to marry him (proposal story). After a year long engagement and many months of planning our perfect wedding day, we tied the knot a year ago today at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Anaheim, CA.

The Cabo San Lucas Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Hotel was the perfect venue for our vintage-themed wedding.  We fell in love immediately with the Spanish-inspired architecture and decor of the ballroom, especially the champagne colored walls and caste iron chandeliers that made the room feel warm, welcoming and intimate.  This picture of the hotel lobby says it all (courtesy of the Crowne Plaza)!

Ken and I were very blessed to have an amazing team of vendors who coordinated the details of our wedding for us, just the way we had planned and envisioned it be…down to the little itty bitty details. Anyone who has ever worked with me (or knows me) will vouch that I am extremely crazy about logistics, details and having things done the way that I wanted them to be done. Once my mind was made up, there is very little wiggle room for negotiation. Call it the Bride-zilla, call it type A personality, call it the control freak in me…however which way you put it, I am an artist and definitely a girl who knows what she wants. In the end, it was all worth it though because everything was beautiful beyond my imagination!

With close to 450 guests from four different generations in the room, one of the things that we struggled with during the planning process was on how to integrate our culture and traditions with a modern twist of romance. With the help of our vendors, however, we were able blend  and “modernize” a traditional Vietnamese wedding to honor our parents while celebrating our marriage in a way that reflected our personalities and styles. We found Stacy, the catering manager/coordinator at Furiwa Seafood Restaurant, who helped us plan and organize details for each part of the wedding. We had contacted and met with several other catering managers prior to meeting with Stacy and to be honest, she charmed us from the get go. Stacy was not only professional, she was honest and upfront about what the venue could offer…and, she was even more organized than I was! Imagine that! She didn’t give us any sales pitch or pressure us into making any decision. As a bride, she made me feel comfortable and was never offended by my straight forwardness (nor did I mind hers). After meeting Stacy, we knew we’d come to the right place (plus, the food was delicious).

The first step in incorporating a traditional Vietnamese wedding with a modern twist was obviously to pick the right catering menu. Furiwa Seafood Restaurant catered a tradition 8-course dinner to our guests. Who could possibly turn down house special fried rice, lobster and tons of seafood, right?!?  Plus, we figured that if all else fails, at least the guests will leave full and happy! We also had to consider entertainment for our guests as well. With four generations filling the room and friends from all different backgrounds, it was important to find the right MC/DJ for our wedding. We were introduced to Michael Ming at  the 2010 Lifetime Weddings & Events Debut. He got us laughing from the very beginning and from the pictures of that night though, there was no doubt that our guests were having a great time with Michael’s jokes on our wedding day. Michael did such a fantastic job keeping the crowd entertained and engaged all night long switching between Vietnamese and English (and once in a while Cantonese). In all of the weddings that I’ve attended, I’d never laughed so hard during a ceremony as I did at my own! All in all, Michael did a great job keep the guests entertained, in the loop about what to expect and kept the program agenda flowing with ease. He definitely did a great job bridging the cultural and generational gaps to cohesively bring everyone together for a good time.

And, of course special thanks to my make-up artist, Katie B, who arrived bright and early that day to work her magic! Choosing the right make-up artist and hair stylist is quite important and I hadn’t had too much luck with the previous stylists I’ve worked with on other special occasions.  With Katie B though, I knew I didn’t have to worry about looking beautiful on my wedding day and lucky for me, she just happened to be available on November 5th! I loved working with her from beginning to end. She made me not only look beautiful on my wedding day, she made me glow from the inside out!  Here’s a snippet from the review that I wrote for Katie B on Wedding Wire to express how she made me feel on my wedding day and how much I love her work:

Every bride wants to look beautiful on her wedding day, even for a plain Jane like myself. Unlike many girls who’d dreamed about their wedding day since they were little girls, my planning took place while I waited with my mom at the doctor’s office. For nearly 4.5 years, my mom would talk about my wedding day, how beautiful I’d look, what dress I’d wear, how my hair and make-up would be done…When I read Katie’s profile and portfolio, I knew that if anyone could unlock the bride my mom knew I had the potential to be…it would be Katie B.  When Katie B asked me how I’d like to look on my wedding day, I simply said, “like a beautiful bride.” Looking down from heaven, I know that Mom was smiling on Nov. 5th, 2011 because Katie made me look exactly how Mom had imagined I’d look on my wedding day. more..

After two hours of priming, curling, and powdering…it was showtime. Katie added the finishing touch to my hair, a handmade Sworovski crystal hairpiece. The hairpiece was simple, and yet just the elegant touch that this blushing bride needed.  My cousin helped me into my ao dai, the traditional Vietnamese dress.  Traditionally, the bride wears a red (sometimes gold and deep shades of pink) on their wedding day as red is considered a “lucky” color. I decided to stick to my wedding colors and chose to have a rosy lace colored ao dai made to match my bridesmaids’ dresses and the boys’ ties. Doing so allowed me to add a romantic modern twist to a traditional Vietnamese wedding.
While I was getting ready, my house was bursting at the seams with guests from both families. The excitement of the bride’s side was equally matched by the groom’s side as the boys got ready for the tea ceremony. Ken and the groom’s side of the family had arrived at my house around 9:30 am and waited patiently to be invited into my home for the traditional tea / receiving of the bride ceremony. I thought the boys looked pretty sharp in their perfectly tailored, dark gray suits thanks to Lori, our very talented seamstress and owner of Tailor Studio in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
And for the first time since our wedding rehearsal, the bridal party comes together for an unforgettably fun and crazy day. Without these guys, Ken and I wouldn’t have survived the day.

We were very blessed to have family and friends come from all corners of the world to celebrate our marriage and a fantastic team of vendors who pulled the details together and kept our guests entertained all day long!  We had a private ceremony at the hotel where our comedian officiant/MC, Michael Ming, kept the guests laughing from beginning to end. Below are some highlights from the bridal party photo shoot, ceremony, wedding details, and reception.
Whether Ken admits it or not, we are both romantics at heart. We value and appreciate the traditions that our parents raised us with and we embrace the meaning of love and marriage, the good old-fashioned way. Thus, many of the pieces that we chose for our wedding represented elements of nostalgia and romance.  I wanted a vintage fairy tale wedding and that’s what Ken gave me. When I think of vintage, lace and pearls often come to mind so I used that (and my wedding dress) as the inspiration for designing the various pieces for the wedding.
Texture became very important and by rule of thumb, it’s always good to have at least three colors in your wedding palette. Our colors were rose  (more of a satin/mauve rose color versus the traditional pink colors), gray, ivory and two metallic accents (silver and gold).  As you can see, Ken’s completed look includes a rosy satin custom made bow tie, silver/gray silk pocket square, an orchid boutonnière wrapped in lace (which ties in nicely with my lace dress) and rhinestones. Unlike the groomsmen’s suits, Ken didn’t wear a solid gray suit. He wore a suit that was a shade darker and had cross-hatched patterns.
Lace and satin was also incorporated into the girls’ dress design. I wanted something nostalgic, romantic and elegant, and  Audrey Hepburn came to mind. She has always been an icon of natural beauty to me. I love her style and I love the time period that she represented; she was glamorous and beautiful, yet sweet and simple.  Inspired by some of the clothing that Audrey Hepburn wore, I worked with a local seamstress to design dresses for my bridesmaids using that same rosy satin color fabric as Ken’s bow tie. Instead of going for a spaghetti strap, a one-shoulder, or even a strapless sweetheart neckline…I opted for an off-the-shoulder design. It’s different, playful and sexy, but still elegant and classy. The lace cap sleeve and fitted satin dresses turned out beautiful. The classic white, 3/4 sleeve sweater and pearl necklaces added a charming touch of the 50’s that I think is absolutely adorable!
After a fun pre-ceremony photo shoot and a couple of drinks, it was time for the real deal. The ceremony was intimate, just how we wanted it to be.  When the doors opened, all I saw were people on both sides of the aisles and at the very end was Ken..the guy I knew I would one day marry ever since I was a little girl.
Ready or not world, here we come! Gosh, I’ve only been married for five minutes in this picture (and a year in reality) but I already can’t wait to renew my vows in 20 years!
One of my favorite pictures from our wedding day. It looks like a photo out of an old magazine. Timeless and in love.
Most importantly, I have to thank our amazing and talented photographer (and friend!), Kim Le, and her assistant, David Do, for capturing all of these beautiful moments and details from our wedding day. I still look through our wedding album from time to time, laughing, remembering and feeling how magical everything felt…my fairy tale and a happily ever after.
The venue looked beautiful. Everyone had a great time. And, I married the best guy in the world. I couldn’t have asked for anything more as we danced the night away.
Most fairy tales end with, “and they lived happily ever after…THE END,” but the end can’t happen until there has been a “Once upon a time.”  The stroke of midnight was only the beginning of a whole lifetime together for the two of us…the beginning of a beautiful love story about a Software Engineer who fell in love with a girl named Kimmie…a story that I’ve just began to tell the world.


Ceremony +  Reception | Crowne Plaza Hotel

Hair + Makeup | Katie B

Florals & Decor | Lifetime Weddings

Catering | Furiwa Seafood Restaurant

His + Hers Wedding Favors | Love Kimmie

DJ | Michael Ming

Photographer | Kim Le Photography

Assistant Photographer | David Do

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