When Gary Chang's best friend first told told Rose Chen that he knew the perfect guy for her, she was admittedly skeptical. But after setting eyes on Gary, the lawyer and entrepreneur knew it was love at first sight. Three years after their introduction, the couple sat inside the Iriarte Jauregia Hotel's manicured garden in Bidania, Spain, while on a grand European adventure, and whispered to one another that they wanted to grow old in a place just like that. They promised to return to that very spot to wed. And nearly a year later, on May 30, 2015, they did!
"We wanted a small, countryside wedding surrounded by nature, and with a farm-to-table culinary experience," the bride describes of their intimate wedding with just 40 guests. Though planning a destination wedding was trying at times, the couple admits, a team of ever-helpful vendors helped bring their elegant peach, green, and ivory affair to life and Ana Lui Photography captured the party to perfection.
To honor their annual tradition of sending holiday cards (complete with their hand-drawn cartoon portraits!), Rose and Gary chose to create custom wedding insignia, which was used on all the wedding stationary. The couple also included their dogs on the stationery suite since their furry family members weren't able to attend the celebration.
When Rose slipped on her ivory and nude Vera Wang gown, which featured hand-appliqued Chantilly lace across a soft mermaid silhouette, she immediately fell in love. "It was low-key romantic, and matched the style of our wedding venue," the bride says. And she wasn't the only one who loved it. Her friends were all in total agreement that she had found the perfect gown.
While she donned a cathedral length veil for the ceremony, Rose pinned a floral and crystal custom hairpiece to the side of her upswept hairstyle. The one-of-a-kind piece was a gift from a couple to whom Rose and Gary had given their apartment furniture when they moved from New York City to Hong Kong. "Her sister happened to be a talented wedding accessory designer," Rose says. "So they asked her to design a piece for me as a surprise wedding gift to thank us for our kind gesture."
The bride carried a round bouquet of pastel-hued garden roses and peonies that was reminiscent of the color of their wedding stationary.
Rose and Gary pictured a "blooming spring" aesthetic for their garden wedding ceremony. "We asked our florist to design a floral arch and spread a lot of real rose petals on the grass as an aisle runner," the bride says. White lanterns hung from tree branches above guests, while the aisle was lined with wooden boards, decorated with their favorite quotes about love and relationships. "We ended up keeping these wooden boards with love poems to decorate our apartment in Hong Kong," Rose says.
A ring bearer and flower girl walked the petal-strewn aisle in outfits in shades of pink. Their young attendants donned a pastel pink jacquard mini-dress, a coordinating bow tie and suspenders.
The flower girl's mother had been worried that the two-year-old wouldn't be able to walk in a straight line down the aisle. "Up until the last minute before the ceremony, she was still rehearsing with her daughter on how to walk and throw flowers from the basket," Rose says. And the practice paid off! "She did an amazing job. She kept on passing flowers to all the female guests after the ceremony, and whispered to them 'I like you.'"
Rose and Gary wrote their own vows, alluding to poet Robert Frost's "The Master Speed."
The couple's reception was held inside the hotel's restaurant, and the space popped with peach and green hues. Centerpieces were made to mimic the bride's wedding bouquet, with each arrangement held in a moss-covered wooden box. There, guests also found the couple's favors: Olive oil lavender, rose, and musk soaps covered in custom labels, painstakingly applied by the bride, her sister, and friends.
"We wrapped the menus with olive tree branches," says the bride, and what a menu it was. "Food was definitely one of the biggest highlights of our wedding. We wanted our guests to have an unforgettable culinary experience." Their menu included local ingredients, including in-season local flavors in dishes like anchovies with green peppers, white asparagus, monkfish, and pork cheek.
Even if they wanted a traditional tiered confection, it wouldn't have been possible in Spain. "There is no American-style wedding cake in Bidania," Rose says. "So the chef designed a three-layer mille-feuille tart with Chantilly cream and fresh strawberries." The bright red masterpiece was displayed on a bed of coffee beans.
The couple was so thrilled with their menu and cake that, as they were cutting into the confection, they invited the entire kitchen team to come out for a joint toast and to thank them for their hard work.
The couple shared their first dance as husband and wife to Adele's "Make You Feel My Love." And after the reception ended, they embarked on another European adventure, this time to Vienna. "We did a mini-moon biking tour," Rose says. "And for our honeymoon, we're considering a road trip in Scotland."
Venue, Catering, Cake & Accommodations: Iriarte Jauregia Hotel || Wedding Planner: 20 Eventos || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Vera Wang || Jewelry: Bloom Bazaar || Shoes: Valentino || Hair & Makeup: Diva Borrelli || Mother of the Bride Dress: Tadashi Shoji || Groom's Attire: Gentlemen || Flower Girl Attire: Zara || Wedding Bands: Harry Winston and Van Cleef and Arpels || Florist: Floristeria Villa Flores || Invitations & Paper Goods: Amy Heitman || Music: Nadim Majure and Bengoa || Rentals: Carpas Loyola || Favors: Aureana Soaps || Transportation: David Autocares || Photography: Ana Lui Photography
Did you love this destination wedding? Then check out another couple say I do abroad in the video below!