William and Chika first met in October of 2004 in Japan, when she joined a club that planned social events to introduce exchange students like William to local Japanese students. They began dating and though he headed back to the U.S. in August of 2005, they maintained a long-distance relationship for over two years. In 2007, William made the move back to Japan so they could be together again.
In November of 2011, during a trip to the U.S. for William's family reunion in Arizona, he and Chika headed to Sedona. "She'd always wanted to visit, so I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to propose. The only problem was that I hadn't bought a ring yet!" says William. So his sister kept Chika busy while he and his brother snuck out to go ring shopping, and, once he returned, the couple headed to Sedona to hike Bell Rock. "I was nervous, but got caught up in the amazing hike. We found a private spot at the top and sat in the warm sun, and that's when I remembered what I had in my pocket," he says. The couple had a civil ceremony in Japan in 2012, but wanted to celebrate with their families and friends. On November 23, 2014, back in Sedona once again, the couple held a garden-inspired wedding with the red rocks in the background, photographed by Cameron & Kelly Studio.
Shortly after getting engaged, Chika and William visited his mother in Washington and realized there was a David's Bridal location nearby. Chika wanted to stop by to browse, and ended up finding dresses for both the ceremony and the reception, which officially kicked off the wedding-planning process. She chose a White by Vera Wang ballgown with a pleated bodice and a full tulle skirt.
The wedding party wore shades of blush, a perfect match for the bride's dusty rose bouquet.
The ceremony took place beneath a tree on the lawn of L'Auberge de Sedona. With just 30 guests in attendance, it was cozy and intimate. A gradient aisle of rose petals faded from hot pink to blush to white.
Chika's father walked her down the aisle, where she and William exchanged traditional vows.
After the ceremony, the bride and groom headed out into the desert for portraits. "Chika's gown managed to gather up nearly an entire garden, from rose petals and grass to cacti — and almost a squirrel!" laughs William.
Everyone enjoyed the Arizona warmth out on the patio, sitting at long tables beneath café lights and paper lanterns. Tables were topped with low boxes full of hydrangeas, pink roses, and ivy. The five-course meal included tomato and shrimp cannelloni, truffled mushroom cream soup, and braised beef short ribs.
Each guest's seat was marked with a place card that included a hand-written note from the couple, as well as a paper crane folded by the bride. Chika bought a Polaroid Instax camera, and the bride and groom had couples take pictures of themselves to leave in the guest book.
The two-tiered cake was decorated with ruffles and frosting swags.
Photo: Cameron & Kelly Studio
"Because we live in Japan, we did so much of our planning over Skype, which was definitely a challenge, especially because of the time difference!," says William. "But our planner helped us find great vendors, and it all came together beautifully."
The newlyweds recommend taking your time with planning, emphasizing how worthwhile it was to keep looking until they found the venue, photographer, and other vendors that were really the right fit. "Decide what is really important to you, then don't compromise!"
Venue & Catering: L'Auberge de Sedona || Wedding Planner: In Awe Weddings & Events || Bride's Wedding Dress & Jewelry: White by Vera Wang || Shoes: Repetto || Hair & Makeup: Sedona Beauty Team || Bridesmaids' Dresses: David's Bridal || Groom's Attire: Celebrity Tux & Tails || Wedding Bands: Cartier || Florist: Celebrations Floral & Event Design || Invitations & Paper Goods: Flossy Stylish Design || Music: Sedona Sounds || Cake: Sedona Cake Couture || Rentals: Verve Events & Tents, La Tavola Fine Linen || Videography: Something New Media || Photography: Cameron & Kelly Studio
Did you love this intimate, outdoor wedding? Then check out another couple's garden-inspired celebration in the video below.