Hannah and Wataru met when they were 15 and dated throughout high school to the first year of college. However, then they broke up in college and did not speak for 6 years. In a strange twist of fate, they ended up reconnecting again as adults and ended up falling in love again, Nearly five years on they were planning their wedding.
The couple originally wanted to elope however, ended up planning a larger wedding for their families sake. "When Covid hit and we had to postpone our June wedding, we decided that we would take an unfortunate situation and make a perfect opportunity to get creative; finding ways to create a formal feel with a non-traditional approach." The couple decided to have a virtual wedding and stream their ceremony to loved ones, while only having four close friends present. "With all the virtual weddings and us just wanting to get married, we took a hold of the opportunity by recruiting a handful of friends to help us plan. Many parts of our day were spontaneous. We decided the week before on the Donatsu donuts, an hour before on ordering Panda Express and a week before on getting Wataru’s Bailey Hats fedora." The brides textural bouquet was created by Studio Yeoreum.
Hannah and Wataru knew they wanted the scenery to speak for itself, and looked for an Airbnb that had a beautiful indoor and outdoor space. "We decided to go to California because our officiant and his fiancee lived out there and we rather fly to them than them coming to us. California was also on Illinois’s mandatory quarantine list, so we were glad we made that call early on. Also, since our wedding was only a handful of people we figured, why not go somewhere interesting away from home. We looked into mountains, oceans and deserts for Airbnb's in California and knew we wanted the desert (nothing says social isolation than a desert). We felt that since it was such an intimate wedding, it would be perfect to have it in the middle of the desert where it’s just us and the friends we hold dear to our hearts." Gabby J Photography captured the couples day in the Californian desert.
"Everything about the space at Villa Kuro was perfect. It felt like it paid homage to Wataru’s Japanese culture with its Wabi Sabi aesthetic and we loved the mix of barren desert and greenery from the Joshua trees. We knew if we had to do our ceremony indoors due to inclement weather, the interior would still be perfect.
Their main challenges for the day were very representative of Covid Weddings. "We just had to figure out once we arrived, where the best lighting would be and make sure the WiFi could reach! With a guest list of four every guest had a role to play in making the ceremony seamless for the couple. "Wataru’s best friend was our officiant, and his fiancee was our tech support- making sure we were live and monitoring our guests, my childhood friend from 1st grade helped hold my flowers, steam my dress and pass me my vows and her husband ordered our Panda Express. We were lucky that all 4 live in L.A. and could help us out!"
Hannah originally purchased a wedding dress with a train. Once they changed their wedding plans, she sold it online and purchased the beige Dior strap heels and Cami NYC slip dress with pearl beading. "I always wanted a slip dress for my wedding but felt it wasn’t bridal enough and caved to getting a wedding dress. But I couldn’t be happier with all the changes. It made me even more certain this was the dress I always wanted. I wanted to purchase items that could be worn again and not subjected to a one time use. The silk dress was simple with details that elevated the simplicity of the silhouette and fabric. I could never see myself in a veil and originally opted for the BHLDN cape. Luckily it went with my new dress too!" Wataru was also considering having a tux tailored, but with all the stores closing because of COVID-19 they figured a well fitted suit he already had was fine for their virtual wedding. "Even though we didn’t get the tux, we both felt that we wanted his shoes to be a statement piece to remember our special day, so we ended up getting a pair of Gucci loafers to go with his H&M suit!"
Hannah and Wataru's biggest concern with holding a virtual wedding was hosting it at a time where everybody was able to tune in from their time zones. "Having our wedding be so intimate also gave us the opportunity to really think about what we want for our special day. We felt we had a of lot freedom with hosting it virtually. It also gave us the chance to invite all the people we wanted without worrying about the size of a guest list or capacity. Overall, the most important aspects to us was that the ceremony would be meaningful to us and we got to share the moment with all the people we care about."
The couple also chose traditions that were meaningful to them. "The only wedding tradition that we felt was very important to us was writing our own vows. We wanted to be able to express our feelings in our own words. We had other traditions like the Korean Pyebaek planned, but that will have to wait until we host our wedding reception".
Their advice for other couples getting married? "Don’t get too caught up on tradition and what a wedding “should be.” Keep the traditions that mean the most to you and your family, and remember that it’s a celebration of your love, do what makes you happy. You can’t please everybody, but be sure to focus on the people that matter most that day."
Ceremony + Reception Location : Villa Kuro @villakuro | Photographer : Gabby J Photography @hellogabyj | Entertainment : Spotify | Flora : Studio Yeoreum @studioyeoreum | Catering + Beverages : Panda Express @officialpandaexpress, Natural Wines + Donatsu Donuts @donatsudoughnuts | Nails : May Chicago @may_chicago | Bride's Dress : Cami NYC @caminnyc | Bride's Shoes : Dior @dior | Bride's Cape : BHLDN @bhldn | Groom's Suit : H&M @hm | Groom's Shoes : Gucci @gucci | Groom's Fedora : Bailey Hats @bailey_hats | Groom's Watch : Omega Seamaster @omega | Rings : Brilliant Earth @brilliantearth | Earrings : Mejuri @mejuri