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Laurel and Mike’s Zhangjiajie Forest Park Wedding Part 3 – The Ceremony

FINALLY. The big day. (Holy sh*it, we were excited!)

After the immacualte welcome BBQ, the rowdy door games, and the amazing breakfast, I was STOKED to get to the main event. Mike and his boys were well into their suits by the time we arrived for photos and were already starting in on their second bottle of wedding wine. If ever there was ever an indication of how awesome this day was going to be, that was it. Their get up gave a nod to traditional Chinese styling and fused the past with the present with slim fitting garments and modern dress shoes. The crazy socks were a must, signaling how wild and wonderful they all felt.

Now, I had heard for months about Laurel’s custom made red wedding dress but NOTHING prepared me for the sheer perfection of it. Her gown looked like something off the MET Gala carpet and I was HERE fot it. Not only did Laurel look stunning, but so did all of her bridesmaids. Their dresses all sported a different cut for each but created from the same gorgeous navy bloe floral pattern. I don’t know about you, but I think this is one of the hottest bridal parties ever!

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The ceremony was held at the Zhangjiajie National Forest park in the Hunan province of China. If this epic backdrop looks familiar, it’s because this is the same spot James Cameron filmed his 2009 epic Avatar. The floating mountains were absolutly breathtaking, I couldn’t believe this was the backdrop for the wedding! Of course, the decor of the aisle and alter matched the stunning neautrals of the fog filled background with an abundance of white flowers, walkways, teraces, and arangements. Watching Laurel stride down the aisle in her electrifying red dress is a sureal and beautiful moment that I will truly never forget. The ceremony was performed in both English and Chinese to accomdate for all the guests and involved traditional Western vows as well as a tea ceremony with the parents of the couple. It was sealed with a kiss, some dancing, and lots of joy!

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Laurel and Mike’s Zhangjiajie Forest Park Wedding Part 2 – Door Games

After recovering from a rowdy late night Welcome BBQ (see the blog post about that HERE) everyone was up bright and early for the Door Games. I had no idea what to expect from this part of the wedding, but Laurel said it was the part she was most looking forward to, so I was definitely stoked to see it all play out.

Door games are a series of challenges that the bride and her bridesmaids put forth to the groom and groomsmen in order to determine if he is, in fact, worthy of his bride. These can range from physical strength competitions to straight up making him pay cash for his bride, as well as anything in between. With Laurel’s insanely fun friends on the stage, I knew the boys were in for trouble. They did an awesome job completing all the challenges and no one died, so that’s a plus! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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THE PRESENTATION OF THE BRIDE (with bridesmaids in matching onesies, no less!)

CHALLENGE #1

There was an attempt at winning the bridesmaids over with cold hard cash but, unfortunately for the boys, they wouldn’t get off that easy.KEC11182KEC11191

CHALLENGE #2

The bridesmaids tried to get the groomsmen to quit by making them wear saucy little headbands and Kardashian level fake butts, but these boys were in it to win it. The next part of the challenge was for the men to show Laurel how much they love her by creating the word LOVE out of their bodies! While it seems like an easy feat, one of the members also had to be inverted throughout. These boys busted out all the stops to impress the girls and give everyone a laugh.KEH20754007Q0579007Q0599007Q0645007Q0640

GAME #3: BALLOON POP

I’ll go ahead and throw this one in under the category of a humiliation ritual (re: hazing). The groomsmen had to tie balloons around their waist and, without using their hands, pop all of the balloons. Needless to say, there was a lot of hilarious physical contact and attempts at smashing in all the wrong places.

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CHALLENGE #5

This challenge was the physical representation of all the feelings of married life: spicy, sweet, bitter, and sour. These boys had to slam some red chilli peppers, whole sweet mandarin oranges, some icky bitter melon, and a shot of black vinegar!

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CHALLENGE #7

This challenge was sort of a two parter. The bridesmaids asked questions about Laurels life, family, favorite things, etc. and Mike had to answer them. He also had to name 8 countries that Laurel planned to visit in the near future. If he got a question or country wrong, he had to hold a Scorpion inversion yoga pose, meant to open the heart, for 60 seconds. Lucky for him, he was able to also ask a groomsman to step up to the plate. One of them even managed to slam a beer while upside down! (And he’s single, ladies!) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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CHALLENGE #8

Where would the fun be if there wasn’t some element that was actually physically painful? The girls wanted to know how tough these boys were, so they busted out the wax strips for a healthy dose ofย  ‘beauty is pain’. Each one left the game with a fresh bald patch on their leg. Secretly though, I was hoping they’re go for the chest or armpit!

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CHALLENGE #9

This was one of the most fun challenges, of which the boys had been able to practice ahead of time. They did an amazing dance routine to a 90’s boy band song and got everyone to sing and dance along!

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CHALLENGE #10

Last but not least, FEATS OF STRENGTH! The boys were challenged to a pushup contest and a tug’o’war against Laurel’s chosen team of friends. The push up contest consisted of a team of boys doing push ups at the same time with one of Laurel’s friends resting on their back. Laurel’s team kicked butt, groomsmen… not so much. My all time favorite part of this challenge was when, to many people’s surprise, Laurel’s friend Lucia DEMOLISHED Mike’s brother Rich in an arm wrestling contest. I guess all that acro yoga, rock climbing, and aerial silk training pays off!

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And of course, even though the boys got their butts handed to them (real butts and fake rubber ones), Laurel and her bridesmaids approved of the effort and it was time to get ready for the wedding!

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PART 3 – ZHANGJIAJIE NATIONAL FOREST PARK WEDDING – COMING SOON!

George & Elisa’s Rainy Day Wedding in Livermore California

Imagine this; itโ€™s three days before your wedding and the skies are pitch black. Rain is pouring down and thereโ€™s no sign of it stopping. Your venue, an exclusively outdoor historical site, has just informed you that you need a special permit to put up tents for your event. The permit will take weeks to acquire. Imagine switching venues for your entire event that same afternoon and imagine handling it with such grace and charm and humor that guests wouldnโ€™t even know it it all happened just a few days before your wedding, save for the call informing you of the new location.

Elisa and George were THAT couple. Along with their planner, Kelsey at Avida Bridal, they were able to find a solution within hours and move everything around. Their acceptance of the situation and roll of their eyes at the twist of fate before them was right in line with their incredible character. They are kind and lighthearted and full of love for each another, which in no way was dampened by the stormy weather. They were lucky enough to still be able to get ready at and do their first look at the Ravenswood Historical Site in Livermore, where they had originally intended to do their entire wedding. The covered wraparound deck was the perfect spot for an intimate and tearful; first look. Itโ€™s always beautiful to watch the raw emotions unfold between a couple so in love. After braving the rain for a couple of fun group portraits we headed over to their new ceremony site, The Barn in Livermore.

Their beautiful lavender laden arch looked perfect against the rustic aluminum siding of this rustic indoor venue. Their purple table linens and pops of color in the flowers throughout brought a cheery disposition to an otherwise gloomy day. There was a very sweet walk down memory lane in the form childhood photos interspersed with sweet treats to snack on while viewing. Of course, the rain let up directly after their ceremony for just enough time for us to head outside and get some beautiful couples photos. Even mother nature wanted to give these two a break on their special day.

One of the most exciting parts of their day was when they did a long held German tradition called a log cutting ceremony. The couple uses a traditional two-person saw to cut through a large log. The tradition aims to symbolize the first challenge the couple will face as husband and wife. George and Elisa may have had a slow start, but they got their rhythm and ripped through their log in a little less than four minutes. With a solid high-five to seal the deal, this couple had officially passed the first test of married life!

Along with being fantastically fun people all around, Elisa is also an incredibly talented musician. She showed off her skills and intertwined a violin performance with her deep love of George. The couple then shared a sweet first dance with a couple of twirls and a lot of smiles. The epic party came to a close with a ribbon wand exit as these two headed out into their future together. Iโ€™m so happy I was the one who got to capture their day, it was such an honor to be there!

Congratulations George and Elisa! โค

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Lauren and Clayton: A Vintage Inspired Wedding at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza

I met Lauren and Clayton at a bridal fair in 2018. We hit it off after Clayton and I discovered we both had a deep love of true crime. We talked shows, movies, and podcasts before finally moving on to chat about their wedding. Lauren described her style as vintage with a heavy dose of rock and roll and said they were more interested in candid shots of them enjoying their day with their friends and family than formal photos. I felt like we instantly got each other’s vibe and I was thrilled when their wedding day finally came.

The Hotel Shattuck Plaza was the perfect venue for this quirky couple. The decor screams unique vintage, with colorful wall paper and monochrome tiles throughout. Lauren fit right in with her fit and flare wedding dress and Marilyn red lips. Clayton was channeling some serious Mad Men vibes as he sipped whiskey and got into his dapper 3-piece suit. These two are a match made in old school heaven!

Everything from their ceremony to their wild reception went off without a hitch. Some favorite moments of my time with them include: a massive bridal party photo straight off the pages of Vogue magazine, their grand entrance to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins (drum solo acted out perfectly), a hysterical reading of Clayton’s old OK Cupid dating profile by Lauren during toasts, a serious mosh pit in the middle of the reception, the most ridiculous rendition of the shoe game I’ve ever witnessed, and everyone dancing to “The Time Warp”. I am so stoked I was able to be a part of their day and I’m happy to say that I’ve made yet another set of lifelong friends in this couple.

CHEERS TO THE TRAYLOR’S!

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Lauren sprinkled bits of tiki vibes throughout her day, bringing a pop of rich jungle colors to each event.

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No one was more excited for Lauren than her gaggle of gorgeous bridesmaids. She looked like an absolute vintage vision!

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Clayton was throwing off some serious Don Draper vibes while getting ready. Of course, not every moment can be a serious one when you’re surrounded by 8 of your best friends drinking whiskey.

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The ceremony took place inside Hotel Shattuck’s newly updated bar/ceremony space. The full white draping gave it a dreamy and intimate feel.

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Everyone deserves a high five when “I give you this wing… RING” is uttered by BOTH the bride and groom during their vows!

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What do you do when you have a bridal party of 16 plus the bride and groom? You out on your best impression of a Vogue cover shoot and hope for the best!

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These two were just so in love… wandering around the hotel for couples photos was an absolute delight.

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Lauren loves everything rose gold and shiny, so their reception decor was tricked out in pink sequins. Their bar was tiki inspired, with signature cocktails to match the theme. Their dessert table was something out of every sweet lover’s dream and their awesome guestbook was a mish-mosh of polaroids and signed records.

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If you’re not acting out a drum solo during your grand entrance, you’re doing it wrong!

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The toasts were hilarious through and through. We found ourselves laughing along with them throughout!

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There’s nothing like first dances. Lauren mixed things up by dancing with her mom as well as her dad. These two ladies really turned on the waterworks.

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The shoe game is a fun was to interact with your guests and friends during the reception. Both a bride and groom hold one of each persons shoe. Questions are asked about their relationship (i.e. – who is the better cook or who talks more?) and the couple raises the shoe of the person they think fits the questions best. Sometimes they’re in agreement, but sometimes they hilariously disagree and everyone involved has a good laugh. Lucky for these two love birds, there was very little disagreement.

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There’s nothing like cake in your face to get the party started!

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Rowdy doesn’t even begin to describe this incredible dance party!

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Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Traylor! โค

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