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An Unconventional Barn Wedding With Chinese Traditions

by Staff

For Taylar Hart and Kelvin Kwong, being late paid off. “In July 2018, we were both invited to the birthday dinner of a mutual friend and, by virtue of being the last two to arrive, we ended up sitting next to one another at the end of a long table,” the couple shares. “After a fun dinner filled with conversations about amateur beekeeping and childhood magic performances, the evening continued at a nearby bar.” When they reconvened at the bar, “Kelvin quickly pushed his just-ordered drink away to find an excuse to order drinks for both of us,” they laugh. Taylar called it a night early to go walk her dog—but not before Kelvin managed to get her number. 

Kelvin put up quite the ruse for his September 2020 proposal. “In August 2020, Taylar received a Paperless Post invitation to a September engagement party being held for friends of Kelvin,” they share. What she didn’t realize is that it was an invitation to her own engagement. “The morning of the proposal, Kelvin left the house under the guise of lunch with a friend when, in fact, he was at the bar [where we had our first date] hanging fairy lights and hundreds of photos from the entire course of the relationship,” the couple recalls. He met Taylar back home to get ready for the “engagement party.” When they walked into the bar, “Taylar was greeted by Kelvin’s thoughtful decorations and, after taking a moment to process the scene, turned around to find Kelvin on one knee ready to propose.”

The first step in wedding planning? “We sat down and came up with a list of the things that were important to us,” the couple shares. “The pandemic had quickly oriented us toward a small, outdoor wedding but, within that context, we mutually agreed that we wanted to create more of a large dinner party vibe than a small wedding vibe. We wanted our guests to feel at ease and not bogged down by an overly fussy event structure.”

Despite their vision for an outdoor affair, Taylar was adamant about one thing: “No barns!” And yet, the couple fell in love, ironically, with a barn venue. “Beaumont Farms was candidly, not our obvious choice,” the couple shares. “However, the venue had much to offer in terms of not only natural beauty but, also, a menagerie of rescued farm animals as well as several event-friendly features: beautiful bathrooms for guests, tastefully appointed getting ready areas for the bride and groom, and a structure built specifically for events with brick floors and chandeliers that minimized the rustic vibe.” 

It set the perfect scene for a day that perfectly encapsulated the couple’s personalities. Read on to see all the non-rustic details from their October 16, 2021 wedding in Petaluma, California, planned by Bash Please and photographed by Kristen Marie Parker.

The wedding was actually a two-day event. “The day before the wedding, we held a traditional Chinese tea ceremony with our families, which was very important to Kelvin’s mother as a way to incorporate traditional Chinese wedding practices into an otherwise very Western wedding,” the couple shares. “Our dog, Roux, also participated in the tea ceremony, wearing a dog’s tong-style jacket purchased by Kelvin’s mother in China.” 

“Although I went through two trials, I ultimately determined that I would feel more comfortable and more ‘myself’ if I did my own makeup,” Taylar says. “I wanted my makeup to feel unfussy and focused most of my energy on my eyes.” Her hairstylist created a bow with Taylar’s updo to reflect the back of her dress. “She took my guidance about keeping my ears uncovered—allowing my earrings to shine—and used minimal hairspray so that I wouldn’t feel rushed to wash my hair the day after the wedding,” shares the bride.

Scent was of utmost importance. “I actually spent months determining the perfect wedding day scent, ordering about 40 perfume samples from Luckyscent and undergoing a thorough test of each that involved an Excel spreadsheet and months of wear tests,” Taylar says. “I wanted to pick a new scent specifically for my wedding day, as I’ve always had a strong connection between scent and memory. I ultimately landed on Delina by Parfums de Marly because I wanted something sweet, but fruity rather than gourmand.”

Taylar fell in love with a silk Mikado gown from Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2020 bridal collection—and sooner than she’d anticipated. “I actually tried it on first in front of Kelvin before returning with my mother later, not realizing at the time that it would be the one,” Taylar recalls. “I had made the mistake of asking him to take me to a bridal trunk show a month before shopping for a dress with my mother. This was the first dress I tried on and the one I couldn’t get out of my head even after visiting four other bridal boutiques and trying on over a dozen other dresses.”

Her best friend helped her pick a soft luxe tulle cathedral-length veil. “For my other accessories, I went with a modern pearl theme,” she says. “My shoes were Mach & Mach and I wore a selection of mismatched pearl earrings from Katkim, SHASHI, and Zoë Chicco—four in total, including an ear cuff.”

“I wore a bespoke tuxedo made by Spoon Tailor in San Francisco,” Kelvin says. “It was a very dark navy with black grosgrain accents and a narrow shawl collar. The lining was a purple floral to provide a bit of a punch for those occasional glimpses. The highlight of the lining was a label with our initials and wedding date embroidered on fabric that was taken from one of Taylar’s late grandfather’s neck ties.” He added pearlescent cufflinks and a silver bee lapel pin in honor of their first date and engagement spot, San Francisco bar The Beehive. 

The couple got a special surprise during their first look. “The handler for the venue’s two mini horses brought them up to our first look site after we’d had a chance to greet one another so we could take some photos,” the couple shares. “We spent a lot of time trying to convince them to pose with us instead of eating all of the grass and hay around us!”

For the ceremony, a live musician played a traditional Chinese instrument, the guzheng, to reflect Kelvin’s cultural background. 

“We did not have flower girls or a ring bearer, though Roux accompanied Kelvin down the aisle in a matching tuxedo harness from Tuna & Bear,” the couple says. It turned out to be a mishap they look back on and laugh. “Roux decided that he needed to mark his territory at the altar, much to Kelvin’s chagrin and the amusement of our guests. Thankfully, it was grass!”

The guzheng player strummed Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” one of Taylar’s dad’s favorites, as the bride entered.

“We wanted our ceremony to be very personal. So, in addition to having a close friend officiate and two more close friends give non-religious readings of our picking—A Lovely Love Story by Edward Monkton and ‘What is the Matter with Marriage?’ by William Faulkner—we also wrote our own vows,” the couple says. “We agreed on a general length and ‘structure,’ beforehand, which was three to five minutes. We both made reference to the teamwork that underlies our relationship, and Taylar ended her vows with a quote from Moira Rose on ‘Schitt’s Creek’: ‘Our lives are like little baby crows, carried upon a curious wing, and all we can wish for our families, for those we love, is that the wind will eventually place us on solid ground.’”

“For the recessional, our ceremony musician played Kacey Musgraves ‘Butterflies,’ which was a song that really spoke to how Taylar felt about Kelvin when they first started dating, and was also one of the first concerts we saw as a couple,” the newlyweds share.

At cocktail hour, guests sipped signature drinks named for special locations in the couple’s relationship. “The Saratoga, named after our first-meeting spot, was a Mezcalita with mezcal, lime, and orange juice; and The Water Tower, named after our first vacation spot where Kelvin realized Taylar was ‘the one,’ was an autumnal Old Fashioned with bourbon, lemon, and spiced maple persimmon.” After, they could grab their escort cards from hanging vines.

We aimed for an elegant county home theme.

Then, the couple’s 50 guests moved into the reception space. “Because we weren’t originally keen on getting married in a barn but ultimately selected a farm at which to host the wedding, we asked [planner] Bash Please to aim for an elegant, county home-type theme,” the couple shares. “Bash Please presented a few color palette options and we ultimately selected a very neutral-toned palette consisting primarily of wheat, bone, and black, but with pops of color in the form of garnet and terracotta tones that provided much of the inspiration for our florals.” They continue: “In honor of Kelvin’s childhood magic career, we had table numbers made to look like large playing cards.”

The newlyweds made their grand entrance and danced to “Below Us, All the City Lights” by Tower of Power, then sat down to dinner. 

“Having excellent, memorable food was one of the most important things to us in planning our wedding, and the food expense was the single largest category within our overall budget as a result,” they share. “We also very much did not want anyone leaving hungry and so we planned for passed hors d’oeuvres during cocktail hour, a multi-course seated dinner, an abundance of cake, and late-night passed snacks.” As a nod to the groom’s love of traditional Chinese roast duck, they served a duck confit dish as the main course, alongside pappardelle with mushroom sugo. 

Taylar and her dad danced to the adorable “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” cover by toddler Claire Ryann and her dad; Kelvin and his mom selected “Edelweiss” by JJ Heller for their dance.

As the reception went on, guests stopped by a retro phone “guestbook” to leave audio messages for the newlyweds. The rental service After the Tone allows for three hours of usage, and Taylar and Kelvin got creative. “We elected to have After the Tone come to the wedding for the final three hours instead of the first three—and as the alcohol continued to flow, the messages got increasingly entertaining,” they share. “We loved listening to them days after the wedding and hearing how our guests were feeling throughout the night, especially since the two of us had been so active on the dance floor. We plan to listen to these on our anniversaries in the future to remember the fun of the night and all the love and joy we felt with our friends and family.”

The couple had two cakes: a chocolate ganache magic-themed groom’s cake, and an almond cake with raspberry preserves. But it was their cake topper DIY project that, well, took the cake. “We revamped a vintage cake topper using acrylic paint pens to look more like us,” they share. “It was very hard to find a vintage cake topper that could even remotely pass as an interracial couple. Even after we did find one on Etsy, the groom needed some work to reflect Kelvin’s signature eyebrows, while the bride needed some touch-ups to look a bit more like Taylar.”

For the party, the couple asked guests for song requests, “which included everything from ‘Y.M.C.A.’ to ‘I Follow Rivers’ by Lykke Li to ‘Wannabe’ by The Spice Girls,” they share. Guests hit the dance floor with late-night snacks of mini hard-shell beef tacos, fried chicken sliders, and fries. 

The bride swapped her gown for a feathered Bronx and Banco jumpsuit for the dance party. “My best friend added pearl pins to my hair and I switched into a pair of UGG Oh Fluffita slingback sandals procured at the absolute last minute following having badly broken a pinkie toe two days before the wedding,” she says. The shoe swap ensured she was on the dance floor all night long—right alongside her groom. 

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