Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sharing Holiday Cheer

Last year, for our first Christmas as a married couple, Stephen and I loved sharing a few of our favorite wedding photos in the card we sent to relatives and friends, including those who couldn’t be with us on our big day. 

Though we don’t have any major milestone moments to share this year, we thought it would still be fun to keep the tradition alive with another Shutterfly card, this one showcasing offbeat pictures of our newest additions, Molly and Twix, along with a couple shots from our summer trip to St. Maarten, where we had a great time riding horses in the surf.

Now that the cards have all gone out, I wanted to share a copy here, as well, to wish each of you a wonderful holiday and also send out a huge thanks for sticking with me throughout the year. From all of the awesome readers over at my new blog High Heels & Flip-Flops to the friends who have been amazingly sharing advice and support since way back when I first launched Bicoastal Bride in 2009, your kind comments and inspiring posts never fail to make my day.

I hope you’re all enjoying a great week and are having fun gearing up for the holidays! I don’t know about you, but this month has just flown by for me, and I can hardly believe that Christmas will be here in just a little over a week. I think it's definitely time to start packing up for my trip to California! 

Do you usually send out holiday cards, and if so, do you include any special photos?  

P.S. If you haven't already, head on over to Such Life in the Tropics to enter Sunshine's "Bone Appetit" Caribbean cookbook giveaway! Her blog is always so inspiring and uplifting to me, and I especially love that she's using this giveaway to help raise awareness about animals in need. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Real Wedding Inspiration: Vintage Mardi Gras Flair

Without a doubt, one of my favorite things about coordinating a wedding is the chance to help bring to life each couples’s unique vision for their day. Since no two couples or weddings are ever quite the same, I never cease to learn from and be inspired by all of the creative and truly personalized details that make each occasion one-of-a-kind.

When it comes to original ideas, our friends Julie and Nash certainly outdid themselves with their vision for a 1920s Mardi Gras-themed celebration – a well-thought plan that evolved and came beautifully together throughout the past year, culminating this fall with one of the most unique and exciting weddings I’ve seen, let alone had the honor of coordinating.

Here, a few highlights of their day as shot by Jon Fisch of The Seattle Times, along with family members and friends. 

Julie & Nash's Library
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
In keeping with the Carnival-inspired theme, the wedding party and groom wore handmade masks and rang bells as they made their way down the aisle. Vintage hats and feathered headpieces also enhanced the party's attire, while colorful beads and peacock feathers made fitting accents for the flowers and decor. 

John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
Julie's bridal look was beyond breathtaking, as she accented her already stunning gown with a variety of vintage and Mardi Gras-inspired touches, including a colorful sash and necklaces, mask-themed brooch, and headpieces featuring eye-catching feathers and beads. 

John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
John Fisch
Ahead of the ceremony, Julie and Nash enjoyed a private first look on their backyard deck, followed by photos with the wedding party, which showcased the group's vintage-inspired attire. I absolutely loved the bridesmaids' peacock headpieces and the groomsmen's unique boutonnieres, the latter of which were skillfully crafted by bridesmaid Jessica.

John Fisch
Julie & Nash's Library
John Fisch
Stephen Walrath
Julie & Nash's Library
John Fisch
At the venue, an eclectic Seattle photo studio, the unconventional ceremony kicked off with officiants Chris and Olivia waltzing down the aisle to take their places before a gathering of 100 guests. Once in place, they exchanged the wedding party's "wild" masks for more "civilized" bouquets and top hats to symbolize the groom's impending transition from bachelor to husband.

After walking his daughter down the aisle to Bob Dylan's "Wigwam," Julie's father, a Central California vintner, gave a stirring and symbolic speech relating the growth and changes of grape vines throughout the years to those experienced within marriage. Readings, personal vows and an exchange of rings followed. 

Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath
Post-ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail reception featuring appetizers and drinks, including signature concoctions like the Mint Julep and Southern Soprano. The two-level venue featured a variety of themed rooms for guests to explore, along with a studio-run photo booth that was a huge hit throughout the night.

Stephen Walrath 
Stephen Walrath 
Stephen Walrath
Stephen Walrath 
Closing out the night with a special touch, Julie and Nash held a midnight marriage certificate signing ceremony to symbolize the start of their new life together and set their official wedding anniversary date as 11.20.2011.

Thank you, Julie and Nash, for letting me share your day, and many happy wishes for an incredible life together! 

Urban Light Studios in Seattle, Washington

Duos Catering 

Fratelli Perata

Jon Fisch & Urban Light Studios 

Chris & Olivia Bloomquist 

Floral Design
Jessica Wilbur 

Ted Garbeff 

Heather & Stephen Walrath

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Marriage: One Big Publicity Stunt?

On August 20, I had the honor of coordinating a wedding for my friend and former co-worker Kim, who married her high school sweetheart of 12 years in a beautiful and heartfelt ceremony.

You may recall that the very same day, another woman named Kim was also busy tying the knot – this one much more famous but apparently not nearly as sincere in her love for and commitment to her partner. As you can imagine, I’m dumbfounded along with everyone else to hear that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries have called it quits after just 72 days of marriage. But am I honestly all that surprised? Sadly, no, and here’s why. 

First of all, even from the very beginning, it seemed obvious to me that the wedding and marriage were nothing more than publicity stunts designed to generate media interest and rake in piles of cash. But even if they weren't, the alternative really isn’t much better in my eyes. After all, marrying someone you met less than a year earlier and then divorcing because marriage “wasn’t what you thought it would be,” flies in the face of everything this type of commitment stands for – a lifelong partnership that will at times require a great deal of hard work, sacrifice and support.  

Of course, Kim’s not the first to cash in on wedding-related publicity or to divorce so quickly, and it makes me sad and angry to know that there are so many people, celebrity or not, who obviously consider their wedding vows to be nothing more than empty words. Whatever happened to the sacredness of pledges to love one another “in good times and in bad, all the days of our lives”? Are these merely symbolic statements? Do couples still consider the true meaning behind what they are about to say and do before standing up in front of family members, friends, TV audiences and the world to make such intimate promises?

In the end, while I certainly do believe that there are legitimate reasons for divorce, including such horrible acts as infidelity and abuse, I also believe that we as a society have too often come to view weddings as nothing more than heavily staged parties. Furthermore, with so many divorces and splits, it saddens me to think that there are many loving and committed gay and lesbian couples who would faithfully honor their vows and take them seriously, but who aren’t given the chance, because somehow, couples like Kim and Kris have more of a right to marriage in our society.

What do you think? Do people like Kim and Kris make a mockery of marriage, and what does this say about our cultural attitudes?  

(Photo Credit: People) 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Living Apart as a Married Couple

It’s no secret that my husband and I would eventually love to move back to the West Coast, or at least somewhere that’s hopefully closer to our families and friends in California. Initially, our plan was to consider heading back last year after we got married, which would have allowed Stephen to take advantage of some great career opportunities in the state we both know and love.

But after I applied and was accepted to my publishing master’s program, we knew we’d definitely need to delay a big move for at least another couple years. Though I sometimes question whether we made the right decision, all in all, I know we’re both happy to have stayed right here in the DC area for the time being.

Why? Well, among other things, being here has allowed us to adopt our beautiful kitties Molly and Twix, work together to coordinate weddings for several amazing clients, spend time with my sister-in-law following her move from NYC, and most importantly, enjoy our first year of married life together in a place we’re growing to love more and more as time goes on.

It may not be California, but there's still plenty to love about the DC area. 
That’s why I didn’t hesitate to give an emphatic “no” when a couple friends asked whether we’d ever consider living apart for a year or two so that I could complete my degree while he began taking advantage of opportunities elsewhere. The question again came up when a professor recently shared details about a fellowship program that certainly sounds intriguing but would require me to be “geographically mobile” throughout the various rotations required.

The truth is that although this arrangement might work for some people – and some may simply have no choice, such as those with military spouses or career and training opportunities that can’t be adjusted – in my eyes, willingly choosing this type of arrangement in our situation would fly in the face of what it means to be married and share a life with one another.

While it may not always be easy to make our dreams and goals fit neatly and compatibly together, I simply did not get married to live apart from my husband for an extended period of time. After all, if I wanted to live singly and maintain a long-distance cross-country relationship, I would not have taken the step of getting married at this point in my life. Career goals and aspirations are incredibly important, no doubt, but not as important as being there for one another day in and day out, through the good times and the bad. That’s what I promised on June 4, 2010, and that’s the way I plan to live, understanding that it’s definitely never going to be all about what either one of us might individually want, but rather about finding the right path together, whatever that might be.

Married and together for life. 
In the end, we’ve made the best decisions we can thus far and will continue to do so "all the days of our lives," without any regrets, just as we promised we would. There will always be other and better opportunities to come, but none more important than the opportunity to support and care for one another each and every day. 

What do you think? Have you ever lived apart from your spouse or significant other for an extended period of time, and is it something you'd consider?

(Photo Credits: Personal Library) 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An Aminal Print Wedding Gown?

Happy Wedding Wednesday! Though I was disappointed that my busy schedule kept me away from last weekend’s Bridal Fashion Week in NYC, I of course loved following all the hot trends and fashions on my favorite blogs. While there were many bold styles on display, the most daring by far made its appearance in a fellow blogger's tweet showcasing a full-length wedding gown with haphazard combinations of leopard and zebra prints, complete with hot pink accents.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the animal print trend in general, but a wedding gown awash in multiple prints? It was definitely a bit over the top, to say the least. Here, a few other animal-inspired findings that have recently turned my head. 

What do you think of these designs? Are they uniquely eye-catching or too wild for their own good?

(Photo Credits:,, &

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Help Support Wish Upon a Wedding DC!

Those of you who have been following this blog already know that in addition to coordinating and writing about weddings, I’m also proud to be a founding board member for Wish Upon a Wedding DC, which provides weddings and vow renewals for those facing terminal illness or serious life-altering circumstances. Since our founding last year, we’ve granted the wishes of two very deserving couples, and our fellow chapters across the country have also worked hard to make many couples’ dreams a reality.

Though some of you aren’t local to the DC area, I’d love to invite those who are to come join us Sunday, Oct. 16 at Crush Winehouse in Annapolis for a fun afternoon of tastings, small plates and pairings, with a portion of the proceeds donated to Wish Upon a Wedding. See our event listing on Facebook for more details, and please help us spread the work by posting, tweeting and sharing the news with your own followers. Your support means so much! 

Do you volunteer with any organizations? What are some of your favorite causes?

Wish Upon a Wedding DC – Meet & Greet Fundraiser

Sunday, October 16, 2011
2-5 p.m.
Crush Winehouse
114 West Street
Annapolis, MD

Valet Parking @ Loews Hotel – $2.00

(Photo Credit: 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Real Wedding Inspiration: Summer Elegance

Working with Tiffany and Fiat to coordinate their June wedding was a fabulous experience in every way. From the day I met her, Tiffany’s clear vision and stellar organizational skills greatly impressed me, and it was a tremendous honor to help her talented vendors bring it all together as she married her best friend on a gorgeous summer’s afternoon.

From the traditional Catholic ceremony to the elegant reception, photographer Hino Banzon captured every moment, and I’m thrilled to share some of my favorite highlights below, showcasing a beautiful bride, lovely details and an all-around incredible celebration. 

Thank you, Tiffany and Fiat, for letting me share your day, and many happy wishes for a wonderful life together! 

Ceremony Venue:
Saint Raymond of Penafort in Springfield, Virginia 

 Reception Venue
Waterford at Fair Oaks in Fairfax, Virginia  

Hino Banzon Photography

Total Wedding Kama

DJ Chizzau 

Hair & Makeup
Leah Le

Heather & Stephen Walrath

Friday, September 30, 2011

Real Wedding Sneak Peak: Blending Eastern & Western Tradition

Fall may be officially upon us, but before I start focusing on pumpkins and Halloween, I'm excited to at long last recap the beautiful weddings I was honored to coordinate this summer, beginning with Kim and Francis’ August celebration. 

You’ve already seen a bit of detail about Kim’s wedding in my recent post showing off her simple and lovely centerpiece design, along with my earlier post about her Vietnamese engagement ceremony. Here are a few more of my favorite images and highlights from a wedding that elegantly combined Eastern and Western tradition for a day that was fun, meaningful and memorable for all who shared it. 

Kim's Vietnamese Catholic parish was already so beautifully decorated that several floral arrangements, plus a handful of DIY tissue paper pomanders, were the only items needed to add a special touch. 

The beautiful and beaming bride, showing off her blue and white rose bouquet. 

Formals at the altar with pro photographer James Le. 

Along with a menu card, Kim prepared a reception program, helping guests know what was coming up next throughout the evening.

The double-sided head table allowed wedding party members to talk with one another, while leaving space in the middle by the bride and groom for guests to easily see them and stop by to visit. 

Taking a break to catch up with former colleagues and friends. 

One of Kim's outfit changes throughout the night included a traditional handmade Vietnamese ao dai. I just love the way the groom is seen here clapping for his beautiful bride! 

The three-tier cake featured a miniature fountain and lush hydrangeas. 

How cute are these custom toppers, symbolizing that both the bride and groom were born during the Year of the Pig? 

The venue's split-level layout, with the dining room upstairs and the dance floor downstairs, allowed guests to watch the action from wherever they happened to be. 

Chopstick favors made for a useful and fitting favor. 
Ceremony Venue: Holy Martyrs of Vietnam Parish in Arlington, Virginia 
Reception Venue: Grand Atrium in Vienna, Virginia
Photography: James Le Photography
Coordination: Heather & Stephen Walrath

Thank you, Kim and Francis, for letting me be a part of your day! Special thanks also to my husband Stephen, who graciously assisted me throughout the entire wedding, and to both he and my former colleague Nancy for snapping all of these pictures. 

Coming Up Next...Tiffany & Fiat's June Wedding Recap 

Did you attend or take part in any weddings this summer? I know that for some of you, the answer just might be your own! :)  

(Photo Credits: Personal Library)