Exploring My Past to Create Something Exciting and New

When I was approached to design for a traditional Chinese wedding in New York City, I was excited about the opportunity to explore my roots and integrate my current design style (which, having been trained and practicing here in the U.S., features the natural look of soft and romantic color palettes, as well as dark and moody tones to produce a sense of drama) with my own cultural background to create something truly unique. This special event was going to include traditional wedding outfits for the bride and groom, as well as a formal tea presentation, or tea ceremony, as part of the day.

To begin, I knew color choice was going to be crucial for this design. In Chinese culture, red and gold are most popular, while white has long been a big no-no for a wedding (something that has begun to change in recent years, with brides now starting to wear a white wedding gown for the ceremony, before changing into a traditional red Chinese dress for the reception). For this project, I wanted to create a design that was traditional, yet unique; the bridal bouquet would look great against both a white gown as well as a red silk dress.

No matter the culture, flowers are an important part for any wedding, and I wanted to choose blooms that carried significance. In Chinese, the word for Lilies sounds similar to an idiom that means “happy union for a hundred years,” and are thus a popular choice for weddings. Orchids also used to represent a happy and long-lasting marriage. I worked to integrate these flowers, and several other cultural symbols into my designs, to create a look that was right for this beautiful event that brought family and friend from around the globe.

I was extremely happy with the final design. I found unique ways to integrate gold, and the deep, rich color tones gave the arrangements a traditional, yet glamorous look. 

For the bridal bouquet, I crafted a gold wire structure decorated with gem stones and pearls. This base set the tone for the entire design—a mix of old traditions and modern glamour. The bouquet has a cascading look, which adds an elegant feel and works well with both a traditional Chinese dress and a white wedding gown. Visual depth was created by using various shades of red.

To add a unique touch to the corsages, I incorporated Chinese “frog” closures with elastic gold lace. These closures (or buttons) are typically seen on traditional Chinese garments. Using the frog closures allows the ladies to put on the wrist-worn corsages easily, with one hand.

The centerpieces featured orchids, gloriosa lilies, and snap dragons. Knowing the affection my culture has towards dragons, and the strength and good luck they represent, I was excited to use these local Hudson Valley blooms. I’ve since learned that the Chinese name for this species actually means “step up” (and doesn't translate to dragons at all)... but it's still very fitting for a wedding day celebration.

As part of this project, I also created a centerpiece flower arrangement that utilized Chinese style lanterns.