Grace Lee and Devin Chen might have lived on opposite sides of the country, but they were destined to meet. Grace was on a business trip to NYC in October 2018, when she was introduced to Devin through her friends. "We met for casual drinks at the Bowery Hotel as a group and ended up having a blast! A few weeks later, Devin happened to be in L.A. and asked me out on a second date," explains Grace. "He took me to a little Italian restaurant on Abbot Kinney in Venice, followed by stargazing on the beach—and the rest is history."
A little less than two years later, Devin knew it was meant to be. So, he proposed while the couple were off on a weekend getaway at the Ritz Carleton in Laguna Nigel, California. "He popped the question in our hotel room at 11 in the morning—it was incredibly sweet and low key," reminisces Grace.
Switching into the wedding mindset was not a problem at all for Grace. After all, she is the founder and CEO of Birdy Grey, a brand dedicated to creating stylish and affordable bridesmaid dresses. She knew she wanted to support other small businesses when curating her special day. "As an Asian-American female founder in the bridal industry myself, it was important for me to partner with and support fellow woman-owned and AAPI vendors when we could, from local talent such as my photographer, planner, and florist to my wedding dress, paper goods, and registry," she shares.
The couple enlisted the team at So Happi Together to make their wedding vision come to life. First thing on the agenda was choosing the venue. "We live in SoCal and were debating between Palm Springs and Santa Barbara—two of our favorite places for weekend road trips—because we wanted it to feel like a destination wedding without requiring guests to travel too far," Grace explains. "When our planner showed us the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito, we just knew we had to get married there. It was love at first sight! It’s a gorgeous beachside property that’s fresh and refined, complete with a sweeping great lawn and crystal chandelier ballroom. We knew our guests would have a blast. I also love that we can come back to the property to celebrate our wedding anniversary in the years to come."
The couple finally said "I do" on November 12, 2021 in front of 155 guests at a wedding that captured their vision—"classic with a modern twist." Read ahead to see all the details from the beautiful fall event planned by So Happi Together and photographed by Caroline Tran.
To help their guests settle into Montecito, the couple DIY-ed their own welcome bags. "They turned out so great, if I say so myself! I obsessed over the contents because I wanted everything to be personal, useful (not wasteful), and suitcase-friendly," shares Grace. "I sourced simple jute totes on Etsy and filled them with our favorite snacks (chocolate caramel popcorn by Hampton Popcorn Co, Santa Barbara pistachios, salt & vinegar chips, and water) and items to make their stay more comfortable (a Turkish beach towel, mini hand sanitizer, and masks)."
Grace has long been a fan of Monique Lhullier and knew she wanted to wear a dress by the designer. "The Maeve was the first gown I tried on—I just knew she was the one! I should mention that I tried on MANY dresses after that, but my heart kept wandering back to this one," shares the bride. "Before I went shopping, I saw the dress all over Instagram and was instantly attracted—it’s a silhouette I generally gravitate towards. Most of my wedding planning was done virtually, so trying on wedding dresses IRL was the first time I felt like a 'real' bride."
One piece of advice she has for dress shopping? "I didn’t realize how heavy some wedding gowns are, so be sure to do a couple laps around the shop to make sure you’re okay with the weight of the dress," she notes. "One style I tried on was 35 pounds and I could hardly walk in it!"
For her accessories, Grace decked herself out a Toni Federici Colette veil with a spray of Swarovski pearls along with other meaningful pieces. The bride shares, "My mom’s vintage pearl ring that doubles as my ‘something old’ and ‘something borrowed.’"
For her beauty look, "I pulled inspiration straight from Birdy Grey’s beauty mood boards," explains Grace. "‘Relaxed polish’ is the vibe—think fresh, glowing skin, just-kissed pink lips, bold brows, and loads of lashes. I wanted to keep it classic with an elegant low bun and soft whispies framing my face. I added a blue floral hair pin from Etsy to serve as my 'something blue.'"
She also wore Loeffler Randall Camellia Floral Heels. "They’re SUPER comfy and totally match the vibe of our wedding venue," Grace adds.
"My personal style is quite feminine but minimal, and Maeve is a sweeping princess ball gown with large lace floral appliques, layered over whisper soft champagne tulle. What I really love is that it features a minimalist V-neckline, ultra-thin spaghetti straps, and low-dipping back that imparts a fresh, youthful elegance," shares the bride. "I love it because I feel like myself in it."
For her bouquet, Grace carried a mix of petite blooms like tweedia, petite garden roses, dried bougainvillea, and butterfly ranunculous tied with a chiffon dusty blue ribbon.
Devin looked dapper in a custom black tuxedo from B.Spoke with satin lapels. He finished off the look with a boutonniere with a mix of blue thistle, misty limonium, honey Dijon rose buds, white majolica rose, and Adrianne butterfly ranunculous.
Before the ceremony, the couple did a first look to connect and celebrate all their hard work. "I was simultaneously planning a wedding while running a company and moving into a new home at the same time," shares Grace. "2021 has been quite a year for us!"
"My bridesmaids wore Birdy Grey, of course! In fact, we debuted our new long satin bridesmaid dresses in taupe, playing off the neutral tones of the wedding," shares Grace. "My co-founder, Monica Ashauer, is my maid of honor, and wore our Jay Dress (which is named after her son), and my bridesmaid Jamie wore our Monica Dress. The satin gowns have a rich siren vibe, designed to drape like liquid metal on the body."
Devin matched his groomsmen, who wore his own black tuxedo along with a black bow tie. Grace adds, "Guys have it so easy!"
The entire wedding party was a family affair. "I had three flower girls—all my nieces—and they wore the most adorable tulle frocks by Noralee. Our ring bearers were Devin’s nephews, and they wore their own tuxedos," explains Grace. "My junior bridesmaid, Julia, wore our ruffled Jane Dress in Champagne."
The couple arrived at their ceremony in style, driving in a baby-blue golf cart topped with a surfboard.
We did a beautiful arch with neutral white florals that fade into a palette of grays and blues for an ombre effect.
The ceremony decor was a stunning reflection of the couple's wedding vision. "To keep things timeless, we chose a neutral palette of whites, taupes, and creams, infused with accents of cool blues and grays," shares the bride. "I’m obsessed with floral installations and ceremony arches with a natural organic feel. So, we did a beautiful arch with neutral white florals that fade into a palette of grays and blues for an ombre effect. We lined the aisles with cloud-like floral bunches of baby’s breath, thistle, and anemones."
Before taking their seats, family and friends could sign the unique take on the guest book. "We asked guests to pin a place on a globe that they think we should experience next, and sign our guest book with things to do and see while we’re there," notes Grace.
Devin's sister officiated as the couple officially became husband and wife. "The ceremony felt extra personal because we wrote our own vows," shares Grace. "We used it as an opportunity to express our love and share our story as a couple.
"Walking down the aisle and seeing so many of your closest friends and family in one place is a truly unique experience," reflects the bride. "To see faces from all different parts of our lives there to celebrate your love is special."
Ultimately, I made decisions that were authentic to the things that I love and value, and it all turned out perfectly!
"Plan the wedding that you’ve always envisioned, and that fits your budget," Grace advises other brides. "There was pressure around me to plan a certain type of wedding because I work in the bridal industry. Ultimately, I made decisions that were authentic to the things that I love and value, and it all turned out perfectly!"
"My favorite part of the decor was a custom escort card wall, complete with a neon sign that said 'The Chens Tie The Knot' by Brite Lite Tribe," shares Grace. "The escort cards were attached to nautical knot keychains that doubled as guest favors—a wink to our life in Newport Beach."
"Rosewood Miramar has an iconic white crystal ballroom adorned with the most magnificent Baccarat chandeliers. We played off the bright airiness of the space by bringing in soft blues and neutrals," explains Grace. "The tables featured misty blue linens by La Tavola, topped with Rosewood’s gold-rimmed china. I have a very similar set at home passed down from my mother-in-law."
"Place cards by Minted Weddings in dusty blue, navy, and blush were used as meal indicators," says Grace. The menu for the night featured a hand-pulled burrata salad, charred octopus with gigante beans, castelvetrano, prosciutto ragu, and romesco, and a choice of salmon, filet mignon, or risotto for the entrée.
"Choosing the menu was so much fun. Honestly, the tasting was one of the most enjoyable things I did during the planning process," recalls the bride. "The charred octopus was an out-of-the-box choice, but most of our guests are adventurous eaters. It turned out to be the star of the menu!"
"It was important for us to throw a really fun party centered around our guests," explains Grace. "We wanted to make sure everyone had a good time, so we invested in the food, drinks, and entertainment. Devin was adamant that we needed a live band!"
The couple took their first turn around the dance floor as their 10-piece band Downbeat Agency played "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran.
Later in the night, the couple cut into their three-tiered cake topped with dried florals. White velvet was the flavor of choice. "All the fluffy goodness of red velvet, without the dye," notes Grace.
The evening continued with hilarious speeches, meaningful moments, and plenty of fun. "People flocked to the dance floor and stayed to the very end when the band closed out the night with Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey," recalls the bride.
While planning might have involved "keeping track of all the million to-do’s," Grace encourages others getting married to let it all go and make the most of the day once it arrives. "Try to live in the moment and take time to soak it all in during the ceremony and reception," she shares. "It goes by so fast!"
Venue Rosewood Miramar Beach
Planner So Happi Together
Officiant Way-Ting Chen Hill
Bridal Gown Designer Monique Lhuillier
Bridal Salon Monique Lhuillier
Veil Toni Federici
Shoes Loeffler Randall
Hair & Makeup Kelly Zhang
Rehearsal Dinner Attire Dissh
Bridesmaid Dresses Birdy Grey
Groom’s Attire B.Spoke
Flower Girl Attire Noralee
Wedding Bands Clean Origin
Floral Design Precious & Blooming Floral Design
Invitations & Paper Products Minted
Vow Booklets Etsy
Guest Book Etsy
Guest Table Globe Wendy Gold
Cake M Cakes Sweets
Rentals The Rental Avenue
Favors Mystic Knotwork
Videography Sam Eng Films
Photography Caroline Tran