A Moody, Magical "Harry Potter"-Themed Wedding
Cindy and Matthew
Cindy, a calligrapher and user interface designer, first met Matthew, a director, in school at UCLA. A mutual friend introduced the pair, as the trio became roommates, and by the end of their first year living together, Cindy and Matt were dating. After six years as a couple, Matt surprised Cindy with a camping trip in Big Sur, California. He dropped to his knee during a hike through scenic Point Lobos, proposing with a purple flower he plucked along the way.
As an avid Harry Potter
fan, Cindy wanted a wedding inspired by the dark, moody nature of the films—and Matt obliged, despite the fact that he hadn't read a single book from the series before the wedding. (Though he so enjoyed the day that he finally read them all afterwards.)
To get the authentic feel she wanted, Cindy began crafting DIY projects one month into their 10-month engagement—making save the dates, the guest book, favors, table markers, and more. With the help of event designers Crosby + Jon, the bride's crafts contributed to the carefully curated, and utterly magical, look.
On February 20, 2016, Cindy and Matt wed at Hollywood Castle in their hometown of Los Angeles, enjoying a warm, sunny day. With their dog, Millie, and 97 guests, all dressed in "formal wizard-inspired clothing," joining in on the fun.
Cindy designed, printed, and produced all the stationery. (The save the date mimicked a Hogwarts acceptance letter and included a magnetic "ticket" to Platform 9¾.) For the invitation, Cindy created a folding Marauder's Map wrapped with a belly band that read, "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." She printed the design on textured paper, then folded, cut, and assembled each invite.
Finding a venue in Los Angeles that emulates a British castle is no small feat. Hollywood Castle, set atop the hills of Los Angeles, provided an Old World feel with its stone walls and overgrown botanicals. "It was one of the few locations we found that captured the magical feeling of Hogwarts," says Cindy.
A Wizardly Crew
Family and close friends (Cindy has known three of the bridesmaids since high school) surrounded the pair. To fit the moody theme, the entire wedding party wore black with burgundy accents. Groomsmen wore Generation Tux, with feathered bow ties Cindy crafted, and the bridesmaids wore dresses from Rent the Runway and Etsy.
The bride wore a James Clifford dress and gold Melissa flats (in case of rain, as it was the middle of El Niño). Matt went for a "classy, wizardly look," wearing a Zara suit with a subtle raised pattern.
To suit the moody palette, Cindy held a bouquet of ranunculus, Andromeda, hellebores, and roses in a combination of inky and dusty hues, made by JL Designs.
Cindy's headpiece, veil, and jewelry were all Etsy finds. Using tulle and rhinestone patches she sourced in L.A.'s garment district, she crafted her own epaulettes to wear on her shoulders after the ceremony.
The First Look
Matt's favorite part of the day was his first look at Cindy. "Up until that point there was a lot of fun socializing and getting ready, but in that moment it was just nice to see her," says Matt. "It was the first time in the day that it truly felt like we were getting married," he adds.
And Cindy's most memorable moment was immediately after; when the pair shared personal vows they wrote for each other in private. "It's funny that you start to cry just as you've finished getting ready," Cindy says of her reaction.
The Garden Setting
Upon arrival to the 4:30 p.m. ceremony, guests made their way to the garden in front of the castle, where church pews, weathered books, and antique wood stumps from Archive Rentals lined the space. An iron arch, with woven vines, trailing amaranths, and quicksand roses, courtesy of JL Designs, framed the couple.
A Wand Welcome
The bride crafted wands for guests by covering chopsticks with beads and hot glue, and finishing them off with paint, a small bell, and an Ollivander-inspired tag reading, "Cast a spell of love and joy throughout the night." Wands were placed on each seat.
"We were both worried that no one would have fun with the formal wizard dress code, but it turns out we have the best friends ever because so many of them came in wizard wear," says Cindy.
Some guests took creative liberty, like the couple's pals pictured here, donning wigs and fur capes to resemble wolf animaguses.
Dressed the Part
Others came as Hogwarts students. Cindy's coworker, Daniel, used strong magnets to fasten a Hedwig stuffed animal to his shoulder.
The Bride’s Entrance
To the tune of a cover of Christina Perri's "A Thousand Years" by the Piano Guys, the bride and her father crossed a drawbridge to enter the ceremony.
A Special Appearance
In place of a flower girl, the couple's dog, Millie, walked down the aisle.
During the ceremony (officiated by the groom's dad), the couple opted for lighthearted vows as they had shared personal words prior. Matt recited the lyrics to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Lookin' Out My Backdoor," and Cindy shared a silly Harry Potter-inspired love poem.
As the newlyweds recessed, "Magic Works" from the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire soundtrack played, complemented by the soft ringing of bells as guests waved their wands in the air.
The Sorting Ceremony
With the "I do's" complete, guests stayed seated for the sorting ceremony conducted by two of Matt's cousins. They called up groups of guests, and placed a worn wizard's hat (crafted by Cindy, of course) on each of their heads.
"They were so innovative with their performance, many guests thought we had hired professional actors—but to be fair, Matt's cousins are actors!" says Cindy.
Once sorted into a Hogwarts house, guests received personalized boxes that included a history of their house, a pin with the house crest, and their first "class assignment," which correlated with the class textbooks marking tables at the reception. To create the table markers, Cindy painted old Harry Potter books and calligraphed class names, such as Potions, Divination, and Astronomy, on each.
Event designer Crosby + Jon designed the reception space with the great halls of Hogwarts in mind. Towering candelabras filled with black ranunculus, red garden roses, and untamed greenery topped long feasting tables from Archive Rentals. Scrolling table runners of Harry Potter book pages and garlands added another layer to the décor.
With the help of her close friends, Cindy made chocolate favors to place at each seat. Each included a card with either the bride's or groom's face imposed on a "Harry Potter" character, and a fun fact about themselves on the back. Guests enjoyed comparing and trading cards throughout the evening.
The Sweetheart Table
"I was told to hold on to the small moments you have alone with your husband, since people are pulling you every which way throughout the day," says Cindy of opting for a sweetheart table. "The thought of having a place where we could eat alone together felt very important," she added.
Guests dined on a buffet of offerings provided by 24 Carrots, which included a steak dish and a vegetarian risotto.
Cindy and Matt served pumpkin pie instead of cake. They bolstered the dessert options with an assortment of themed treats, like potion parfaits, chocolate wands, and lightning bolt-shaped cookies, served at a "Honeydukes" table (aptly named after the candy store in the series).
A Magical Ending
After dinner, guests made their way inside the castle for Cindy and Matt's first dance, to the tune of Nina Simone's "I Shall Be Released." The wizardly guests joined the couple to celebrate with a night of dancing beneath Cindy's final magical touch—a hundred "floating candles."
Photography, Nirav Patel
Location, Hollywood Castle
Event planning, Crosby + Jon
Catering, 24 Carrots
Flowers, JL Designs
Stationery and Calligraphy, Owl Post Calligraphy
Music, Keith Divel
Bride's gown, James Clifford
Bride's accessories, Etsy veil, headpiece, and jewelry
Hair, Billion Dollar Hair
Groom's suit, Zara
Menswear, Generation Tux