This couple wasn't afraid of a bold color palette, creative décor, or having a blast on their big day.
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It was 2012 and Huy Doan was assisting on a photo shoot for which Tashina Hunter had made costumes. Although they met, the two didn't hit it off until they were working together on another shoot shortly after. "I was wearing a vintage pink brocade dress-and-jacket set and had bent over and immediately ripped the back-center seam wide open," Tashina says of that day. "We still laugh about it. True love can be found after splitting the backside of your skirt wide open!"
It was another laughable moment when Huy popped the question in Carmel, California, three years later. "We were on these uneven rocks right over the Pacific Ocean with water splashing all around us," he explains. "Super nervous, I took the ring out and asked her to marry me. She said 'yes' but didn't give me a chance to put the ring on her finger. So I was just standing there holding it in front of our faces while she was crying and hugging me with excitement." Thankfully before the blur of excitement, Huy had set the time on a camera to take a photo of them in the unique setting. "We have a series of photos of us posing nonchalantly and then five frames of the actual engagement," Tashina says.
Two years later, on November 11, 2017, Huy (now a commercial photographer) and Tashina (a gown designer and vintage dress restorer) added to their collection of milestones with a wedding not far from their home in Eagle Rock, California. The setting was fitting—The Forge is the very same Los Angeles photo studio where they first met. Since it was a blank space that gave them the opportunity to do whatever they wanted, they totally went for it. Around 125 guests (including the couple's dog) shared the joy of the day, which was a creative, colorful celebration that came to be with help from talented friends and family.
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Her One-of-a-Kind Dress
The design for Tashina's wedding dress came together over the course of a few years. "When we went to Okinawa, Japan, where my mom and her family is from, I bought a bunch of traditional printed fabric called Bingata in the classic Okinawan royal colors with the idea of incorporating it into the wedding dress," she explains. "But then I also wanted to have a slightly classic silhouette and to incorporate white." She ended up using the Japanese textile to make a halter dress with a low-cut back and aqua lining, pockets, and subtle high-low hemline and slit that showed off her pink shoes. A sheer, white silk gazar dress was then added over top of it. "I loved how it muted the color yet gave it a little bit of intrigue," she says. She wore the overlay until it was time to cut loose and dance. "I was really loving twirling around and didn't want to take it off but needed the extra room to get wild and have full arm swinging movement."
Tashina added another pop of color with her choice of lipstick—a fuchsia liquid lip color by MAC. And when it came time to accessorize, she kept it simple and traditional thanks to her grandfather who was unable to travel to the wedding but sent along a pair of pearl earrings and necklace in his absence. "Although he couldn't be there, it felt as if he was there with me the entire night," she says.
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A Really Cool Bouquet
Inessa Nichols Design played off the shape of the bow on Tashina's shoes and the pattern of the fabric in her dress. "I've always dreamed of creating a structural bouquet using birds of paradise for a bride," Inessa says. "I think it was a winner because I made her cry when she saw the bouquet." She softened it up with fluffy gerbers, added tropical Song of India and celosia, and rounded it out with stephanotis and dried sago blooms she'd saved from a desert excursion.
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The ceremony took place in the front studio at the Forge in front of a blank white cyclone wall. "All the magic happened when Inessa arrived with her team," Tashina says of the installation by Inessa Nichols Design. "I literally cried when I saw it. It blew me away."
Tashina also made a mirrored lighting display to project on the wall behind them using semi-circles of plexiglass and 700-plus pieces of mirror tiles. "When approaching the ceremony installation, my idea was to create a transformative, unique, and avant-garde landscape which would double as an interactive piece for the dance party after dinner," Inessa says.
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Pink and Gold
Tashina's one request for the flowers? That Inessa include bougainvillea. So the hot pink flower was incorporated into the ceremony décor. She represented the couple with each side of the installation having a different color story while still remaining complementary to each other. Fun, variegated tropical calathea leaves and palms, birds of paradise, and a selection of painted florals and dried leaves were used.
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A Trio of Kids
Though there were no bridesmaids or groomsmen, Huy's niece and nephews served as young attendants and walked down the aisle. Tashina jumped at the opportunity to make them something special to wear. Bennett and Reagan got a bow tie and pocket square showcasing their favorite things: bacon and sprinkles, respectively. Olive wore a sparkly dress with velvet bows and fresh flowers in her hair.
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Pom Pom Fun
The bride created fun attire for another niece, too. One-year-old Ellie's sequin dress was made all the more playful with the addition of rainbow pom poms.
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As family walked down the aisle, "Domino" by the Cocteau Twins played. "It was the opening song to my aunt's fashion show in the late 80s," Tashina explains. "It starts quietly and ends with a full sound, which is when I walked in. My aunt has always been a huge inspiration and I wanted to acknowledge her and how much she means to me. Seeing her hear that song and sharing a moment with her afterwards was truly worth it."
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The couple wanted everyone to feel welcomed and loved during the ceremony that was officiated by Huy's friend, Taylor. The couple exchanged personalized vows that were short and sweet.
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An Interactive Ceremony
Taylor orchestrated a beautiful, interactive ceremony. As he read statements about the couple, guests were asked to throw colorful streamers to signify that what he said applied to them and their relationship with the bride and groom. "Seeing the streamers thrown and locking eyes with our guests will forever be so memorable," says the bride.
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The couple sealed their vows with a kiss, which was the cue for confetti poppers to explode in celebration.
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Adding to the fun of confetti and streamers, a slew of white balloons were scattered around the venue.
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A Pup and a Photo Op
The couple's dog, Nutmeg, roamed around the venue during the wedding, even following Tashina down the aisle and making herself comfortable near the bride and groom at the ceremony. She joined them again at the reception, this time to pose in front of the photo booth. Huy and Tashina made the colorful backdrop using pieces of plexiglass from a photoshoot a few years prior. While scouting the studio for the wedding, they came across them again and decided to reinstall them near the bar and dessert table. With a camera in self-timer mode and leaves and grasses arranged by their florists, the couple created the perfect DIY photo booth for guests to enjoy.
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Everyone sat at one long table set on the venue's driveway under bistro lights. Tashina made the simple navy linens and washed-canvas napkins for the tablescape, and the couple invited guests chose to sit wherever they'd like—except for a few seats that were reserved for immediate family.
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Time for Dinner
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A Fashionable Guestlist
The dress code was open to interpretation but it was suggested that guests wear something colorful and bring dancing shoes. Both guidelines were readily accepted by the group. "It was awesome to see friends and family come up to me and show me what they were wearing," Tashina says. "It was just an explosion of colors swirling around all night."
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Heather Wong of Scootabaker made the cake and kept the design of it a surprise for her friend Tashina until the big day. The bride gave Heather some design ideas and colors she liked, but ultimately let her go wild. In the end, the four-tiered confection featured edible silver mosaic pieces that mimicked the ceremony backdrop and pops of sprinkles for color. Inside, it was just as exciting, with four different flavors: matcha, citrus, chocolate, and berry cakes.
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The dessert table was filled out with some of the couple's favorite Japanese sweets, including Pocky sticks and gummy bears.
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Time to Dance
The couple let loose on the dance floor after sharing their first dance to "You Send Me" by Sam Cooke. To pick the song for that special moment Tashina started by narrowing it down to five options and Huy helping with the final selection.
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Photography, Jenn Emerling
Location, The Forge
Event planning, Orange Blossom Special Events
Catering, Max City BBQ
Flowers, Inessa Nichols Design
Music, DJ Ivy
Rentals, Sir Michaels
Bride's gown and flower girl dresses, Miss Tashina
Bride's accessories, Delpozo shoes
Hair, Christine Choi of Knives Out Salon
Makeup, Erin Walters
Groom's suit and shirt, H&M
Groom's tie and shoes, J.Crew