Lively + Michael | French Tea Party Inspired Wedding at Villa del sol d’oro | Sierra Madre, Ca

Where do I even start with Lively and Michael? These two melt my heart with their love and story. If there ever was such a thing as a “wedding style twin,” well, these two and their style would be mine! Every detail, from their vintage inspired engagement session to their elegant old world, European wedding spoke to my soul!

Scroll down to see all the soft, delicate details that are romantic and just a touch whimsical. Lively is wearing a vintage inspired strapless wedding gown with two-tone lace and French embroidered bodice by designer Claire Pettibone. Abundant colored and textured blooms by Enchanted Garden Floral Design set the stage for a picturesque, al fresco afternoon while the Michael’s polished black tux provided a timeless, elegant feel.

This sentimental and romantic inspiration with a hint of classic European elegance was featured on Inside Weddings.

Share your inspiration and the atmosphere you created for your wedding.

Michael and I are fans of sweetness — a cup of tea with some French pastries is our favorite picnic routine. This is why we set “French Tea Party” as our wedding theme. We were inspired by the movies, Marie Antoinette, and the TV show, Bridgerton.

What was your color palette and your style vision?For our color theme, we purposely mix and match colors. We initially have a hard time picking one color for our wedding. Then we realized we just love all the colors so much. As an artist, I believe all colors have their own meaning and energy. So, we decided not to have a fixed color theme. Rather, we brought all the pastel colors we can see in Spring to energize the visual design, including our stationery and invitations.

What unique elements or DIY details did you include?

Michael and I handmade our escort teaspoon board, which featured antique golden hooks with an apricot-colored background. The patterns on our board background were a Spring-inspired floral and bird theme. We also designed and made all the menus, drink menus, and table numbers ourselves. One thing we would like to talk about is our table numbers. Instead of regular figures, we named each table after a French city to go with our wedding theme.

What was your favorite moment? Your favorite crafted detail?

We both agree it was the moment of our first look.

(Lively) I will never forget how loving he looked at me when he turned around and saw me in my Marie Gown for the first time. When I saw his face and his eyes, I knew so strongly that “yes, he loves me.” I will never forget how handsome he was in his tux standing at the backyard garden waiting for me. It reminded me of the last scene in Titanic when Rose reminisces that Jack was waiting for her at the top of the stairs. He turned around in his tux, smiling at her with love and pride. Our first look was my Titanic moment. I will have that moment forever in my mind.

(Michael) I will always remember standing there, with my back to Lively, as she walked towards me. I was so nervous hearing her footsteps getting closer and closer. I thought about our lives together and what Lively means to me. I thought about how I will love her for the rest of my life. When I finally turned around and saw her in front of me, I knew what true happiness is.

What made it even more special was that we exchanged our vows at our first look rather than at the ceremony. We believed it was an intimate event and we hoped to focus on our words without worrying about the microphone or anything else. I am so glad we decided to do that.

Share about your flowers, your gown, your favors, your cake, etc.

I have known Claire Pettibone’s Marie Gown is the one that I was going to say yes to for a long time. Even before I met Michael, I know I wanted Marie to be my dress. Still, now, I cannot get over how dreamy my gown is. I totally fell for its beautiful vintage-inspired strapless design flaunting a two-tone lace and French embroidered bodice with a soft structure and a light-as-air cotton A-line skirt that flows into a dramatic cathedral train. And my SLEEVES!! They are the most mesmerizing design of my dress. They are optional intricate long sleeves slipped on with bands of antique lace and continued with whimsical tiers of embroidered tulle finished with a scalloped-edge flare. I believe only Claire Pettibone’s Marie Gown could speak perfectly for the timelessness, elegance, and subtleness I had always dreamed of at my wedding.

Since it’s a Spring wedding, we put a lot of effort into selecting our flowers. As mentioned above, the mood board for our floral arrangements was inspired mostly by the movie, Marie Antoinette, and the TV show, Bridgerton. The overall vision is featured by textured whimsy style with an emphasis on a romantic floral palette. We selected ivory, peach, and yellow as our palette reference. We used a pastel, rather than saturated, palette to prevent the over-crowdedness of colors for our centerpieces. Icy blue taper candles also played an accent role in our colorful tables. Large open blooms mixed with textured stems and foliage were brought to manifest energy and liveliness. Playful shapes throughout with plenty of floral variety encompassed delicate garden aesthetics. One highlight was the floral urns on both sides of the staircases. We had flowers installed at the base of the urns, front and back, with overflowing greens and blooms, creating a romantic garden atmosphere.

Our favors were the vintage teaspoons that we attached to the escort cards. They were golden in color with a laureate leaf shape on top of each of them. Besides the teaspoons, our guests could also bring back home the napkins on their dinner plates. Those rice paper-colored napkins were patterned with blue toile garden designs – birds and flowers, made in India with high-quality organic cotton. We received so many compliments from our guests and even asked about where to buy them. Many of my girlfriends could not get over how elegant and beautiful they are that they tried to ask other guests for them to collect a set for their dining table.

The foods and drinks perfectly showcased our cultural difference and adventurous foodie spirit. The all-embracing color palette reflected our passion for life. The decoration and venue expressed our love for European history and beauty. The choreographed first dance was backgrounded with our favorite La La Land song. Our grand entrance also hinted at our naughty and nerdy side of personality by playing Star Wars theme music. The surprise dance I prepared for Michael definitely disclosed my authentic Asian pop girl power!!

What was your favorite part of the planning process?

Our favorite part was our weekly first dance practice. Everything else was so stressful, and only by dancing together for that one hour every Sunday morning could we find a little piece of romance and enjoyment during the wedding preparation. We also love our pre-wedding photo session with Vanessa. It could not be more fun and inspirational. Most importantly, we had so many beautiful photos to share with our guests on our wedding day!

Share why you chose Villa del Sol d’Oro as your venue.

We only visited three venues. Villa del Sol d’Oro was the second one we visited. After the tour, we immediately knew it was the place where we wanted the magic to happen. (But because we had made an appointment for the third venue, we still went. lol)

The uniqueness of our venue is due to the fact that it is really difficult to find a historic European-like architecture/venue in Southern California. We considered several European-like buildings in Los Angeles areas, but no one could bring that historic and archaic feeling we were seeking until we found Villa del Sol d’Oro in Sierra Madre. The villa feels historic, like a building created in Italy many years ago, gently lifted from the ground and carefully placed there.

The villa is very spacious and offers varieties of rooms where our guests could find fun exploring. A must-mention feature of Villa del Sol d’Oro was its fluent passage from the indoor room to the outdoor space. So, when all the doors are opened, we can feel the extra spaciousness and breeziness. The sunlight beams smoothly into the rooms and is perfect for photos.

Located off the central upstairs room, a balcony overlooks the courtyard below. Further in the distance, the reflecting pond and two columns of Cyprus trees reach the sky. The balcony overlooking the courtyard is one of our favorite locations at the villa. We are so happy that we got to have our first dance and reception at such a beautiful, dreamy place.

Another amazing part of the Villa del Sol d’Oro is its balance of feminine delicacy and masculine chivalry. The things mentioned above are more to fulfill my yearning for a fairy tale wedding setting; however, the library can definitely attract modern gentlemen with its ancient and sophisticated composure. It was a dream of an Indiana Jones fan like Michael to have such a perfect room for a groom’s party.

Villa del Sol d’Oro is a venue that offers variety and uniqueness for modern couples who value both freshness and traditions. When we browse the photos, we can mistake them for being taken in many different locations. However, they were all taken in one venue. It is just perfect for all kinds of events that have limited time.

Another major factor was that we really hoped our wedding location could be around the Pasadena area, where we first met, where our family and home are, and where we created the most memories together. And very fortunately, we found Villa del Sol d’Oro in Sierra Madre, only 15 minutes away from us.

What is your most valuable piece of advice you can share with future couples?

We actually had three pieces of advice.

First, there is no fixed way to plan your wedding schedule. I was concerned we would not have enough time to talk to my friends and show how grateful we were for their coming. Therefore, we made sure we had a “chitchat time” during our cocktail hour, which couples usually spend for more photos of themselves. We planned to have our private photo session end before the cocktail hour and then take more photos with our guests during it. We were so happy that we ended up having great quantities of photos with our friends and families with professional photography rather than phone cameras.

Secondly, if you get to choose, we strongly recommend having someone who is close with you and your SO be your officiant. One of the best parts of our ceremony was definitely our officiant and his speech. Instead of reaching out to a priest or a regular officiant, we invited our best friend, Giovanni, to take this important role. Being our close friend, he knew our love story better than anyone else. He was the only one that could bring us back to every moment of our journey to the decision to get married. Every word he said touched us. Every inside joke he hid in his speech tickled us. Every wish he gave to us warmed our hearts. He won not only ours but also everyone’s at the scene. We all laughed, and we also all cried. Giovanni was the non-traditional component at our ceremony yet brought the best beauty out of this tradition.

Last but not least! Well, this sounds slightly silly, but if there is something I can adjust, it would be making sure someone packed up the food for Michael and me. (Haha) At the end of the night, we were really exhausted and hungry. After the wedding, we even went to a 24/7 2-dollar taco place downtown to get food at midnight, like 2 am. (The tacos were really tasty though.)



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