When Raffi Kassabian decided to propose to his girlfriend Angela Karaguezian, whose family has owned Kirk Kara, a fine jewelry company, for four generations, the pressure was on to make the proposal and engagement ring special. The pair planned a mini getaway in Maui, Hawaii, before heading to Honolulu for Kirk Kara's annual trunk show. After landing on the island, the couple headed straight for a private spot on Wailea beach where Raffi surprised his girlfriend with a stunning Kirk Kara ring. To make it even sweeter, he presented the stunning ring in the company's brand new pink box, which Angela had helped create. They toasted with Mai Tai’s and spent the week celebrating their engagement in true island style.
With a joint desire to celebrate their Armenian heritage throughout their wedding, Angela and Raffi chose to have a traditional ceremony at the church Angela grew up attending, St. Peter’s Armenian Apostolic Church, in Van Nuys, California. “Being so passionate about my heritage and homeland, it was only natural that our wedding would be a traditional Armenian service,” the bride says. For the reception, the couple’s 275 guests joined them at The Langham Huntington Hotel in the heart of Pasadena. Angela enlisted help from her mother, a jewelry designer with an eye for detail, and a day-of coordinator to bring her vision of vintage glamour with a modern twist to life. Photographers Lin & Jirsa captured every sophisticated detail of the May 14, 2016, wedding celebration.
After trying on several different styles, Angela knew she found her wedding dress when she put on this silk and lace Monique Lhuillier gown. “I felt it the minute I put it on! It put a big smile on my face and I felt like a bride,” the bride says. She loved the sweetheart neckline and tulle and horsehair skirt, but added flower appliques to the top and small Swarovski crystals to the skirt to make the look her own. On her wedding day, Angela paired her gown with a cascading veil and carried an asymmetrical bouquet of peonies and mini phalaenopsis orchids.
For this bride, accessorizing her look was all about the jewelry. Her engagement ring and wedding band were designed by her sister, Grace, from Kirk Kara’s Pirouetta collection, and featured a romantic halo design. “The signature filigree design and peek-a-boo diamonds under the center stone represent the celebration of 125 years of jewelry making that runs in our family,” Angela says. Six months before the wedding, the bride-to-be custom designed a diamond necklace and earrings set in 18K white gold with bow details that match her engagement ring.
The maid of honor wore a pink strapless gown with crystal and lace embellishments. As per Armenian custom, Angela’s bridal party consisted of six flower girls rather than bridesmaids, who charmed the guests in adorable white dresses and floral crowns.
The groom wore a classic navy blue Armani tuxedo with a matching bow tie. For Raffi and her father, Angela created custom cufflinks in rose and white gold embellished with round diamonds. The men each wore a white boutonniere tied with an ivory ribbon.
The church was decorated with vintage-inspired floral arrangements in shades of white, blush, and light pink for the ceremony, giving guests a glimpse at the couple’s overall color scheme. The free-form floral displays featured roses, hydrangeas, peonies, and draping phalaenopsis orchids.
An electric violinist performed during cocktail hour, setting the tone for a fun-filled evening. “The Armenian heritage embraces the art of dance, and we were led by lively, traditional Armenian dancers who entertained the guests before the anticipated arrival of bride and groom,” Angela says.
The reception moved to the venue's Viennese Ballroom, which dates back to 1907 and stuns with its 25-food vaulted gilded ceiling and crystal chandeliers. The same free-form floral displays used at the ceremony were brought into the reception space, along with tall centerpieces in shades of white, cream, and pink. Shimmering crystal-covered vases were right at home in the ornate space.
A mix of rectangular and round tables were topped with shimmering linens, gold candles, and gold beaded jewelry boxes filled with dragees, sugar coated almonds, for each couple in attendance. “Fresh almonds have a bittersweet taste, which represents life; the sugarcoating is added with the hope that the newlyweds’ life will be more sweet than bitter,” Angela explains of the traditional favor.
Guests spent the evening eating, dancing, and celebrating the newlyweds. For dinner, the couple offered a menu of Chilean sea bass with risotto, short ribs with potatoes au gratin, and portobello ravioli with a tarragon white wine sauce. Then, everyone hit the dance floor while a live musician and a DJ played a selections of songs the couple had hand-picked.
Along with the couple’s hazelnut crunch and red velvet cake, dessert included the groom’s favorite treat: Caramel and chocolate gelato and mixed berries.
Angela and Raffi continued to celebrate their marriage in both Miami and Bora Bora on their honeymoon. The bride says she couldn’t have asked for a better wedding day. “Overall we created a celebration to remember, where we felt as captivated by the night as we did by our relationship!”
Ceremony Venue: St. Peter's Armenian Apostolic Church || Reception Venue: The Langham Huntington || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Jewelry, Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Kirk Kara || Shoes: Badgley Mischka || Hair: Jack Hagop Dochoghlanian of Pearl Salon & Boutique || Makeup: Kimberly Rosenberg || Groom's Attire: Armani || Invitations: Occasions to Celebrate || Cake: Rafi's Pastry || Videographer: BGS Productions || Photographer: Lin & Jirsa