Emma and Michelle’s Romantic Wedding on the California Coastline
Emma Lim and Michelle Wang attended the same schools in Singapore until they were 16 years old. While their paths probably crossed many times over the years, they first recall speaking one-on-one when Michelle was 14 and Emma was 12. Michelle approached Emma and simply introduced herself, and “many painfully awkward words were likely exchanged thereafter,” says the pair. Years later, Emma (an attorney) and Michelle (a finance worker at an investment bank) both wound up in New York City and started dating. Eventually, Michelle planned to propose and told Emma they were headed to a “family vacation” with her parents in Las Vegas. Michelle’s family actually left midway through the week, and the couple continued their vacation solo at a resort in Utah near Lake Powell. What began with a boat trip on the water and a private dinner at a natural “amphitheater” rock formation ended with Michelle popping the question on the rooftop of their villa.
And so a year and a half after they started dating, the couple wed on May 17, 2014, at Anderson Canyon, a private estate on the seaside cliffs of Big Sur, California. Their 90 guests traveled from places near and far, including Singapore, New York City, Australia, London, and Canada, to attend the modern celebration, which had a white, gray, and muted jade color palette.
After Emma and Michelle got engaged, they revealed where they imagined getting married at the count of three. Their responses were identical: on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Michelle suggested Big Sur, and then Emma researched the location and found Anderson Canyon. The venue, which boasts a house built out of reclaimed railway sleepers from the old Anderson Bridge, turned out to be their dream setting.
The Welcome Basket
Each guest received a welcome basket with two bottles of Fentimans Victorian Lemonade, a bag of pistachios, a jar of olive tapenade with crostini made by caterer Jessica Lasky, Capricious cheese by the Achadinha Cheese Company, and six mini bars of TCHO chocolate. The packaging of the goodies introduced the couple’s M&Em logo—a play on their names that showed up throughout the wedding. Michelle came up with the spin on a traditional monogram shortly after the couple started dating, and pretty soon friends picked up on it.
A Warm Welcome
The couple figured that the natural setting of Big Sur would be perfect for watching the stars. Emma found a printable star finder online and Yonder Events customized it for the welcome basket—one of the constellations was even dubbed M&Em.
Both brides sported Lanvin shoes on their big day; Michelle donned black oxfords while Emma chose ballet flats.
Emma opted for a low updo to keep her hair off her face and keep the attention on her dress.
Atelier Joya used white flowers for every arrangement at the wedding to complement the day’s color scheme. Emma’s bouquet comprised white peonies. Members of the bridal party either carried bouquets of white hydrangea or wore a small corsage with a white rose and dusty miller.
Emma’s Bridal Party
Emma’s best friend, Mei, was her maid of honor, and her friends Sheryl and Maiwenn served as bridesmaids. All the women wore gray Amsale dresses.
Michelle’s Bridal Party
Michelle’s bridal party included her brother and man of honor Michael, her sister Michaela, and her friend Sabrina. Michaela’s Amsale dress matched the gowns worn by Emma’s bridal party, while Michael and Sabrina donned tailored suits.
The wedding programs outlined the order of events, introduced the bridal party, and displayed the opening verse of “Lovesong” by the Cure, which played as guests found their seats.
Fulfilling their fantasies, the couple wed on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Guests listened to a selection of songs, all with special meanings to the couple, before the ceremony.
Since Michelle’s best friend, Olive, officiated the 5 p.m. ceremony, the couple completely customized it. The brides chose to walk down the aisle unaccompanied. Michelle went first to Sigur Rós’s “Hoppipolla,” performed by the Vitamin String Quartet. Emma followed while “Gabriel’s Oboe,” composed by Ennio Morricone and performed by Yo-Yo Ma, played in the background.
Next, the couple participated in a “handfasting” ceremony, during which Michelle’s brother joined the brides’ hands while they made promises to each other, and Emma’s friend read the poem “These Are the Hands.” Each bride recited an original vow, which were both followed by a mutual vow.
The flower girl and flower boy, Michelle’s niece Myra and nephew Liam, wore outfits from Fine Handmade Clothing.
The couple didn’t want decorations to distract from the natural beauty of the ceremony location, so they went with small design details. White rose petals lined the grassy aisle, which was surrounded on either side by wooden benches. Wedding planner Shannon Leahy and florist Atelier Joya designed the flower-adorned spheres at the top of the aisles, which were inspired by Emma and Michelle’s newly renovated and modern apartment.
No Ugly Crying
Many guests had traveled a long way to attend the ceremony; the “little details that would make them comfortable were very important to us,” says the couple. Handkerchiefs monogrammed with “M&Em” were placed in wooden boxes, accompanied by a sign that read “handkerchiefs for happy tears (no ugly crying).” The couple also provided guests with pashminas in different shades of gray for cold weather.
A Special Pocket Square
A friend of the couple, Joe, used his new handkerchief as a fashionable pocket square.
Emma and Michelle recessed to “Mint Car” by the Cure while guests tossed white rose petals from paper cones. Emma fondly recalls looking at her new wife after the walk and sharing a giggle. Michelle says the post-recessional moment was also one of her favorite memories of the day. “We looked back on the ceremony site and saw all of our guests still clapping, hollering, and cheering,” she says. “It was a wonderful feeling of love from our friends and family and accomplishment that we had actually pulled this thing off!”
Following the ceremony, Emma and Michelle took portraits on the grounds of the estate with photographer Sasha Gulish.
The Escort Cards
While the couple took portraits with their family and bridal party, guests attended cocktail hour on one of the estate’s lawns. The food, made by Jessica Lasky, included spring fritto misto, Tombo tuna tartare in a crunchy radish cup, mozzarella and cherry tomato skewers, asparagus wrapped in pancetta with hollandaise aioli, crunchy spring rolls with butternut squash and chèvre curry, pommes frites wrapped in prosciutto, and mini lobster burgers. In addition to wine and beer, guests sipped on two signature cocktails: a mojito and “nojito” (nonalcoholic mojito).
A Little Jazz
The Speakeasies, a jazz band, played during cocktail hour and dinner.
The Tent Décor
The reception tent had two different table setups: square with cream linens and rectangular ones with gray runners. Silver Marais side chairs tied into the muted color palette. “The wedding design was really a balance of modern/industrial clean lines with a sort of soft, rustic romance,” says planner Shannon Leahy, who hung the hexagonal light fixtures from the tent’s ceiling. “I liked the way the lights juxtaposed the soft, billowy drape of the tent.”
Clear glass vases held white peonies and ranunculus on the rectangular tables, while cement vessels filled with white hydrangeas, peonies, and ranunculus adorned the square tables. Each table also held a variety of Glassybaby votives in sea green shades, as well as glass votives wrapped with sea grass.
The Table Numbers
Cream ceramic tiles painted with table numbers helped guests find their seats.
A personalized diamond-shaped menu and a petite succulent marked each place setting. Emma and Michelle chose to have a Californian wine paired with each course during the dinner prepared by Jessica Lasky Catering. The first course was a smoked whitefish carpaccio with citrus salad and spicy olive oil, matched with a sparkling wine. Next, spaghetti with spicy artichokes, sweet garlic, and poached lobster went along with chardonnay. For the main course, attendants had a choice of pan-roasted black bass with a glass of verdelho, or duck three ways (seared breast, braised leg, and sautéed fingerlings in duck fat) with a zinfandel.
The “Yum Seng” Toast
During the reception, bridesmaids Sabrina and Olive held an impromptu “yum seng” toast, a tradition at Chinese weddings in Singapore where someone shares their wishes for the couple, like “lots of happiness” or “lots of babies.” Everyone else shouts out “yum” for as long as they can hold their breaths, and then they say “seng” before taking a sip of their drinks. Emma and Michelle agree that the toast, which translates to “drink to victory,” was one of the highlights of the reception.
The Sweets Table
The dessert table, assembled by Edith Meyer, offered mini key lime pies, mini banoffee pies, black sesame macarons, hazelnut bars, and mini cupcakes in two flavors: Meyer lemon with a lemon curd buttercream and bittersweet chocolate with an espresso buttercream. The pair also personalized some white and gray M&M candies with the “M&Em” monogram and placed it on the bar counter after dinner.
Edith Meyer also made the bittersweet chocolate wedding cake with a salted caramel filling and vanilla bean buttercream frosting. The two-tiered dessert was decorated with one white peony, two succulents, and a topper from Oh Dier Living that said “for like ever.” The couple says the topper spoke to them because it struck a balance with timing—“forever” felt too abstract and “for the foreseeable future” seemed unromantic.
Music and Dancing
Stanley Richards, a friend of the newlyweds, took the role of DJ after dinner. Emma and Michelle chose “The Moon Song” by Karen O for their first dance and “400 Lux” by Lorde for the cake cutting. During the bouquet toss, which was for all unmarried girls and boys, Britney Spears’s “Work B**ch” played in the background. “Emma didn’t know her own strength and threw the bouquet over the crowd, and it was picked up off the floor!” says Michelle.
Photography: Weddings by Sasha
Location: Anderson Canyon (831-667-2742)
Event Planning: Shannon Leahy Events
Catering: Jessica Lasky Catering
Flowers: Atelier Joya
Videography: Reel Eyes Media
Stationery: Yonder Events
Cake: Edith Meyer
Music: The Speakeasies
Hair and Makeup: Professional Makeup Artistry
Transportation: Main Events Transport