California Wedding Photographer | Allied Arts Guild Menlo Park California | Chinese Multicultural Wedding
The unique garden grounds at the Allied Arts Guild were the perfect place to hold Evtim & Amy’s colorful, multicultural, intimate wedding.
A San Francisco Wedding Venue that Feels Like a Quaint Spanish Garden
The unique garden grounds at the Allied Arts Guild were the perfect place to hold Evtim & Amy’s fusion wedding.
Having an Allied Arts Guild wedding gives you access to the entire grounds of this Spanish-style California wedding venue. Flower gardens, old brick architecture, trellises, gorgeous walkways, and swaying palm trees surround the different red-tiled buildings sprinkled throughout the property. It’s a beautiful garden wedding venue for an intimate wedding on the Peninsula. And for this couple’s unique wedding, Allied Arts Guild was the perfect place to celebrate.
In fact, Amy and Evtim had a small elopement at San Francisco City Hall, but I was already booked, and thus was only able to capture their reception. As much as I love to photograph at SF City Hall, I was delighted to capture their Allied Arts Guild wedding.
Allied Arts Guild Weddings
Allied Arts Guild has unique galleries and workshops spread around the grounds, including metalworking, pottery, woodworking, restaurants, and more. While a small and quiet Peninsula wedding venue in an unassuming neighborhood. To get there, you drive through a Menlo Park suburb and into a small, ivy-lined driveway. You’re there!
Back to this couple and their gorgeous, intimate, multicultural Allied Arts Guild Wedding: Evtim is Bulgarian-American, and Amy is American-Chinese. They wanted to have a fusion Chinese-American wedding ceremony, and had a few Bulgarian accents with jewelry and details. Plus, Evtim designed the lighting and circuit board controller himself, which allowed him to change the colors of the lantern centerpieces and hangings with the click of his device. We used it for their nighttime photo session of course!
The First Game: Stealing The Bride Tradition
After Amy and Evtim got ready at an AirBnB together, they appeared in their Western wedding wear—Amy in her white dress, and Evtim in his red tie and vest. Once at the Allied Arts Guild, first thing on the agenda was called the “Stealing the Bride” game. No, it’s not a kidnapping. The Stealing the Bride tradition is not uncommon in China, Singapore, Malaysia, Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, among other countries. While the bride and her bridesmaids are inside, the groom and groomsmen are outside, and must present enough red envelopes with money, answers, and/or prowess in order to “steal” the bride.
I’ve photographed the game with different religions, ethnicities, in different places, and with different groups of people. Sometimes there are signs, chanting, songs, water guns, confetti, stolen shoes, tackles, etc. Since Evtim and Amy had an intimate wedding, they had just a few of their close friends and family members join. It allowed me and my assistant to get images right up in the action, which I loved.
First, there were the red envelopes and money.
Evtim and his groomsmen kept forking over money to Katherine, the MC and leader of the games. When there wasn’t enough money, she made the men play a game of matching the photo with the timeline. That was a tough one, and Evtim was visibly sweating even though everyone was having a great time. The third game was the ping-pong-ball-box game, where all the guys had to strap on tissue boxes and jump around to get the balls to escape.
And lastly, the bride hid while Evtim had to run around and find her. It was super fun to photograph it all!
After a few family and friend formals, everyone had some passed appetizers and enjoyed greeting guests for cocktail hour. We had perfect weather out, and folks enjoyed strolling around the Allied Arts Guild gardens and walkways while greeting the bride and groom.
Wedding Outfit Change: Qipao (Chinese Wedding Dress)
Soon they were seated for dinner, and Evtim and Amy snuck off. Amy changed into her qipao from China—her long-sleeve red dress adorned with a flying phoenix and other decorations. We then took Chinese wedding photos—or at least, Chinese wedding dress photos. I love a colorful dress, and the vibrant colors in the evening light were perfect. Plus, they were so happy and sweet as they giggled and spun each other around.
They had their grand entrance back at dinner, and then it was time for more Chinese wedding games! This time, the prizes were from Bulgaria. Alas, I was not allowed to enter and thus didn’t win one. 🙂 What’s a photographer to do? But their friend was an amazing (and funny!) MC, and I got some pretty fun photos of the moments.
Dinner, cake, and dancing commenced, and we ended the night with some glowing-red night shots to match Amy’s Chinese quipao. Their homemade and cultural touches made their night delightful, and I’m so happy I got to capture their Allied Arts Guild wedding reception!~
Wedding Venue: Allied Arts Guild
Photography: Kathryn Cooper Weddings
Hair & Makeup: Lydia Song at Brides by Lydia
Rings: Shane Company and Green Lake Jewelers
American Dress: La Divine; Chinese Dress: Direct from China
Suit: Ted Baker
Catering: Cafe Wisteria (in-house for Allied Arts Guild)