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A 1920's Old Shanghai Glam Inspired Asian-American Wedding

Give us the scoop 😉 how did you two meet and who asked who out first? 

My husband, Andrew, and I met through none other than a dating app, OkCupid! I received a message through the app from a cute guy with a stylish hat on (caught my eye because my main profile pic was also one with a hat) asking me to go to an art opening and without even looking at his profile first, I agreed to meet! And the rest is history. 😊

Obviously, y’all put a ring on it 💍tell us your engagement story!

Andrew planned a little getaway to Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, just outside San Francisco. It wasn't uncommon for us to do some hiking in the area, and we had talked about staying up there before when we had a chance. So in my mind, this all seemed normal. 

On the first day of the trip, we drove up to the meadows on Mount Tam, parked by a stretch where we did our first hike together after we had been dating for a month.

Since it was a gorgeous day, I was taking pictures of the surrounding scenery - and that's when he came up behind me to say that "There's actually another reason I brought you up here."

I turned around to see him down on one knee, with a shiny object glistening in the sun. And then I let out a joyous, surprised squeal! The next few minutes were full of elation, love, and happy tears. 

Then, a few weeks later my soon to be mother-in-law came to visit us, and gifted me her original engagement solitaire ring! I was honored and touched by this and so, in essence, I had two engagements!

You both had a vision for your wedding 🔮how did you come up with ideas?

I am Chinese American while my husband is Caucasian, so we wanted to incorporate our different cultures, backgrounds and personal style into the wedding.

For the theme of the wedding, we were looking to have elements of vintage luxury, with a contemporary and cosmopolitan flare. As we were discussing how to blend elements of East and West, it hit us...1920’s “Old Shanghai Glam”!

We researched images on Pinterest and took inspiration from old movies and from vintage floral fabrics, which led us to the choice of peonies as the main flower. 




Tell us about your fams 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

    In addition to the Old Shanghai Glam theme, we wanted to honor Chinese traditions with a tea ceremony in Hong Kong. However, given the political and global circumstances at the time, we had to postpone and now look forward to when we can have our wedding part 2!  

    Location, location, location 🎯where did you get married?


    We looked at multiple venues like hotels and gardens before we decided to research an idea that we assumed was going to be way out of our budget. 

    You see, San Francisco Bay Area dinner cruises had become somewhat of a tradition for us–from celebrating birthdays, having Christmas dinner on a ship to surprising visitors–so the idea of doing a wedding dinner cruise seemed to be very “us”.


    It would be a way for our loved ones to celebrate our big day, while also getting a glimpse of San Francisco, the city where we fell in love and now call home. 

    Once we actually reached out to various companies and got the price lists, we realized it wasn’t out of reach after all and even had benefits as a one-stop shop for all the catering, DJ, decor, and cake!

    We ultimately had our wedding through Commodore Cruises and Events with the ceremony, dinner, and dancing all on board and views of the beautiful San Francisco skyline and Bay Bridge! 


    East Meets Dress Old Shanghai Inspired Asian American Wedding


    Pro bride tip: if there’s a venue idea that you think fits into your vision, do the research on that specific place plus alternative options that could still align with your idea. You may be surprised at what you find out! We contacted various cruise companies that gave us varying quotes, but they were all willing to work with us and provided different packages that fit within our budget. 

    Girl meets dress 💃🏻how did you learn about East Meets Dress (EMD) and why did you choose EMD for your custom dress?

      Since our wedding theme was Old Shanghai Glam, I knew I wanted to incorporate a modern qipao into the night but with a bit of a twist. Whereas many Chinese American brides do a costume change from the western bridal gown into a qipao for the reception, I decided to reverse the trend and wear a red qipao with a long train down the aisle instead!


      My initial thinking was to work with a company in China directly to make a custom gown. But there was one major issue–the language barrier. Then one day, I did an online search for “custom modern cheongsams” and East Meets Dress came up. 

      As I perused the EMD website, a chat window popped up. It was Jenn, one of the co-founders, who was helpful by asking what I was looking for in a dress and gave me the next steps if interested.

      As we moved the conversation to email, Vivian, the other co-founder, picked up the process and I had such a great time designing my custom gown with her. We sent inspiration pictures to each other and she was always responsive and good at confirming every detail to make sure it was what I wanted. My favorite part was actually a suggestion from her to add scalloped edging to the open back of the gown!


      To complete the Old Shanghai Glam look, I styled the dress with a birdcage veil, long pearl necklace, T-strap shoes, and faux fur stole. Hair and makeup were inspired by both Old Shanghai style films and 1920’s Great Gatsby looks. The groom wore a dapper white tuxedo, which was a nice contrast with the red dress.

      East-Meets-Dress-Modern-Old-Shanghai-Wedding-Custom-Red-Lace-Mermaid-CheongsamComing down the aisle in red was definitely unexpected for the guests and I received so many compliments! When I mentioned it was all done through an online store called East Meets Dress, they were amazed by how well it fit and by the quality and craftsmanship! EMD really made my dream dress come true!

      Putting your own spin on things 💕– How did you make your wedding more unique and personal to you two? 

        For our wedding, we wanted to create a bit of suspense and surprise, so we kept the exact venue of the wedding a secret from our guests! The invitation and website mentioned a cruise and the location to board, but they didn’t mention the venue’s name nor details of the boat. 

        When the boat pulled into the dock that night with horn blowing and Andrew waving, that’s when our guests realized for the first time they were about to board a 4-story yacht!

        East Meets Dress Old Shanghai Inspired Asian American Wedding

        Another factor that made our wedding extra personal and special was having our close friend Lynn officiate the ceremony. She has been there for me for over 15 years and she watched Andrew and my relationship blossom over four years. Her words were so touching, made us laugh and cry, and really created a unique and meaningful ceremony. 

        Modern Asian American Wedding with a Custom Lace Wedding Cheongsam

        The big day 👰🏻How did everything go on your wedding day?

          I think it’s important for brides to keep in mind one thing: focus on the big picture and don’t sweat the small stuff.

          Did the wind knock down the aisle decor right behind me in the middle of the ceremony? Yes.

          Did our printed vows get blown to the boat’s edge before our photographer saved them from flying off into the Bay? Yes.

          But it was also these very moments that made it even more memorable and genuine!

          Our wedding was amazing, full of love and laughter! And people took away having fun, snapping beautiful pictures of the scenery, and memories with family and friends. 

          East Meets Dress Old Shanghai Inspired Asian American Wedding


          Seeking your wisdom 🙋🏻‍♀️ do you have any advice for other brides planning an Asian-American wedding?

            1. Get inspired by wedding blogs and resources, but also from things that aren’t necessarily wedding related–What kind of interior design style do you like? What about your favorite restaurant or store? Maybe a special memory you and your partner shared could inspire your theme! Or simply, what makes you happy on a day-to-day basis? Incorporate these things into your wedding. 

            2. Focus your budget on matters most to you as a couple–We prioritized the things that we felt made a fun party–venue, food, music, and drinks.

            The rest of the details we did ourselves: from DIY silk flower arrangements and decorations to paperless invitations and RSVPs. There are so many resources out there to pull together your vision. I used Amazon and to source most of the materials and did a lot of Pinterest image searches.

            Zola was key in keeping us stay honest with schedules and tasks. They also have great features for website design, RSVP, and registry management.

            Additionally, if your venue has a coordinator, then lean on him/her and ask questions! This is their expertise and they have insight into the common and uncommon things that couples face during wedding planning. 

            3. Go with your gut and do what you feel represents YOU–If having traditional qipao elements is something you want, but you would like to modernize the dress as well, don't be afraid to put your own twist on it! Or vice versa, if you want it as traditional as it can be–go for it and rock that qun kwa for your tea ceremony!  


            Special Thanks:

            • The Bride & Groom: Pam (@chilichika) & Andrew
            • Photographer: Benjamin Photographics (@benjaminphotographics) | Website
            • Venue: Commodore Cruises and Events (@commodoreevents) | Website
            • Hair: Tahirah L at Priv Weddings (@priv) | Website
            • Makeup: Mercedes G at Priv Weddings (@priv) | Website
            • Cake: Whisk Cake Creations (@whiskcakecreations) | Website

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