DIY VINTAGE CHIC WEDDING | Serena + Matthew | Art installations, dusty miller, tattoos and a lil dose of true love.

So, I’ve been thinking about how honey and I have been working so hard lately.  Like, SO HARD.  We’re really, really, really invested in our work.  And while we do take time out to chill, we probably allow ourselves to work a little bit too hard.  So I think the best medicine might be to just go out this weekend and tear it up.  Like, really hit the town.  So… Mars Needs Moms?  Whaddya think, honey?

Anyway, THIS WEDDING.  It was expertly shot by my good friend and amazeballs photographer Anna Kim, and I gotta say… I like it, I love it, and I want more of it.  It’s not your typical wedding (the bride wore GREY!) and it’s got primo touches of just the right color, it’s full of happiness, and it takes place in Hawaii.  Triple threat wedding, if you ask my honey (just the word “Hawaii” makes his eyes light up.  Which reminds me, OMGISTILLNEEDTOTELLYOUGUYSTHATSTORYOFWHYHAWAIIISSOIMPORTANTTOUS.  Soon.  Promise.)

I know you guys will be inspired by this wedding.  Serena’s decor elements, her bridesmaids and the story of the couple’s tattoos – it’s all so engaging and awesome.  Really, I think if Sarah Palin were here with me, she’d say it’s flippin’ FABULOUS an’ stuff, ya knoow.  Of course, I’d agree with her, but then I’d kick her out ’cause who the hell invited Sarah Palin into my house.

Matthew looks pretty stunned by your beauty, Serena.  Mission accomplished. ↴

You guys, this BABY!



I wouldn’t have included the shot below if it didn’t hold my new best friend in Hawaii.

Girl in middle.  ↓ You understand.

Uhhh.  Muhhh.  Gaahhhhh.

I’m having trouble speaking after this whirlwind of wonderfulness.  Take it away, Anna:

The first time I met Serena, I felt an instant connection. As she was describing her plans for the event, I knew it was going to be an absolutely gorgeous wedding at the Haiku Mill. The Haiku Mill is an old sugar cane factory that has been restored into a magical outdoor space. I loved the fact that Serena decided to go with a wedding dress that was not white. She looked stunning in it! Matthew surprised his bride by buying her pearl earrings for the wedding, and during the ceremony, they had guests share words of wisdom, poems, and excerpts from books, which made the intimate ceremony very heartfelt. They served infused drinks made with fruit grown right on Maui. These two creative cats even made their own camera which produced 3-D images for the guest photos. Days before the wedding, the two of them decided to get intricate key tattoos to symbolize their union and their love for each other. Every detail of this wedding was not only carefully planned but also deeply significant to the both of them.

And now, an amazing, in detail look at how this wedding came together from our bride, Serena!

As everyone told me, the day itself was quite a whirlwind. it was amazing to see all our months of effort pay off and we were incredibly thrilled with how everything turned out. we had a lot of help from friends and family in pulling this together. from our friends around the world who folded and mailed in our 1000 cranes to our siblings and dad who spent hours and hours creating and then hanging the crane installation. from my dear childhood friend ariella chezar who flew in for 4 days with her baby to do the floral design to the diy crew of volunteer friends and family who acted as her flower crew to make it all happen. to our artist friend ali who decorated our sign and our guestbook. to our friends who helped create and run the 3d stereoscopic camera we used for guest photos, to the friends who ran video of the wedding and to those who created our dj sets for dancing. it was a labour of love by many and all of that made it that much more special. and in the midst of that whirlwind what i hold most dear is how connected and present my husband matthew and i were. the ceremony and our first dance were incredibly moving for us both. the ceremony was created by my father peter, we wrote our own vows and we created a time for our closest friends and family to offer something as part of the ceremony. we received so much beautiful wisdom and love and we were completely locked into each other the whole time. we chose cat power’s version of i found a reason for our first dance and everyone and everything slipped away as we danced together. it was pure love and magic.

The diy elements: We also created elaborate invite boxes which contained layers of vellum with song lyrics- our poetry- and lock and key graphics created by matthew as well as a cd of our music with cover art also by matthew, a colllage of our photos and a front and back photo of us taken by a good friend. we also included instructions for folding orgami cranes, an explanation of the meaning of sending us 1000 cranes, papers and return vellum envelopes. we wanted to create a unique experience for everyone and we hoped they would be a keepsake, especially for those who wouldn’t be able to make the trip to maui.  ariella and i pulled together almost all of the flowers and plants that were used in the floral design in the 2 weeks leading up to the wedding. some cut flowers were flown in from california and we ordered the amazing orchid plants from the big island of hawaii. i was keen to use as many reusable plants as possible. ariella conceived of using tilandsia or silvery air plants, succulents and protea for the gray element. i went on a long winding search for the tilandsia, ending in a private collector’s back yard with 15000 incredible plants he had been collecting for 30 years. he was not a seller but was willing to part with some beauties. we have family friends who own a protea farm and we went and cut our own stems the day before and we also found all kinds of local, tropical goodies on another friend’s property. my dear childhood friend gathered “fairy” moss with her children to use on the orchid boxes. i was absolutely blown away with the bouquet that ariella made for me which featured white catteleya’s, vintage french ribbon, fine gray feathers and even a piece of ribbon from ariella’s own bridal bouquet. sharing this experience with her was truly wonderful and i felt so honored to have her involvement in the occasion. it was a labor of love.

How we met: We met 10 years ago at work in los angeles when we were both starting out in visual effects. we bonded over very similar music taste and other interests, became good friends first and the rest is history.

How I chose my dress: I knew i didn’t want to wear traditional white and i have a bit of an obsession with gray. matthew and i have always loved yellow and gray- he had a great pair of pale yellow and gray kicks years ago that i called the hard boiled egg shoes. when the topic of color palette came up we both had the same idea so that was that. a dear friend, who has known me a long time and clearly knows my taste took me to morgan le fey very first stop on the dress hunt. i fell in love with everything in the store and several of their gowns. the problem was that the colors for that season were wrong. i waited a couple of months to go to the spring trunk sale- searching gowns everywhere else in the meantime- to see the new colors and lo and behold, i walked in to see this perfect pale gray called pearl. i wanted a dress that i could wear again, say for an anniversary, and this dress is actually a chiffon wrap dress over a charmeuse crinolin so it will be very easy to wear again, i imagine w a pair of sandles on a beach somewhere… morgan le fey will custom make any of their dresses, at no extra charge, in the color you want and they only take a month to turn it around. so, after looking for months and waiting and worrying, it all worked out perfectly

The story behind the art installation(s): We loved the meaning of folding 1000 cranes for our wedding. both the bringing of good luck and that it is an exercise in all of the things it takes to make a marriage work. and we conceived from the outset to invite people to help us reach that goal, sending their blessings with the cranes. this seemed again, especially meaningful for those who could not join us. i had thought we would hang them in one of the ways you traditionally see but matthew is an artist and came up with the gorgeous design we went with. i couldn’t have been happier, it really was so stunning in the space! we have kept the strings of cranes and plan to hang them again, in a smaller formation, in our house.  >> -the book with the ring tucked inside the idea of using a book was stolen from a wedding blog and the book itself was actually a lucky last minute find at savers, the island thrift store. we liked the title and the book was cheap :)

Why we chose our site: I actually found it online while living in sydney! we were originally planning on getting married at the family house on maui but the haiku mill is one of the most beautiful,magical places we had ever seen. we also figured that since the majority of the planning would be long distance and the rest of it last minute we should also enlist the help of a wedding coordinator. allie at the mill was fabulous to work with and a huge help in sorting everything with the vendors and in orchestrating the event on the day of. we knew we were going to have christmas and a new years party at the family house so it made sense to have the wedding at this amazing venue. because the wedding was between the holidays and people were traveling from far and wide we really had more of a wedding week than day

Story behind our tattoos: atthew and i have been contemplating tattoos for over 20 years. what to get, where to get it… never able to make a commitment. we gave the same gravitas to getting a tattoo as we have to getting married and after 10 years together, we decided to do both. in honor of our love and forthcoming nuptials we wanted to wear keys- to my heart, life, love- on our forearms. how we found our tattoo artist and how it all came together was as perfect and magical as the final designs we now proudly wear. we love them and were so happy to have made that leap together.

Tips: Don’t leave too much till the last minute! and don’t be afraid to delegate as much as you possibly can. and remember what it is all about…. this whole experience i about the love you share with your partner and it is so good to check in to that as much as you can and revel in the beauty of what you have created together. i was overwhelmed with love for my husband and for our friends and family who were there to share it with us.

Bridesmaids dresses: I wanted the girls to find dresses that really suited them and that they would love and wear again and i didn’t want it to be all matchy matchy. my initial vision was more modern and chic than vintage romantic but the whole thing took on a life and flavor of it’s own and i love that! my sister and maid of honor amber wore bcbg, and my other sisters, shawn and kira both found dresses for around 30 bucks at discount stores! i thought they all looked amazing together and it just goes to show you don’t always need to spend a lot of money to look great.

Jewelry: My black pear earrings were a gift from my honey. long coveted and much loved! the necklace was found at claire’s or some other mall accessory store just weeks before the wedding. i wanted to keep my look from feeling too precious or old fashioned so opted for something fun and chunky.

Anna Kim Photography is member of Vendor Love, The Knotty Bride’s Preferred Vendor Guide.  To view this listing, click here.

Photography: Anna Kim Photography / Bride’s dress: Morgane Le Fay / Ceremony & Reception Venue: Haiku Mill / Caterers: Catering From Soup to Nuts / Florals: Ariella Chezar of Ariella Flowers / Infused drinks: Garnish Events / Wedding Cake: Ghiselani Designer Wedding Cakes

Omigod, you guys.  WHAT DO YOU THINK???!!!!

xoxo!  – Alison

Label(s): Color, Grey, {Real Weddings}

Love all of this...


  1. Annie @ Marry You Me on March 16, 2011

    Swooning over the vintageness :)

  2. jacin {lovely little details} on March 16, 2011

    wait – what??? those tattoos? the textures on the cake? the ranunculus and dusty miller? love it.

  3. Lauren Elise on March 16, 2011

    Great details! This venue looks spectacular but how could it not be…it’s in Hawaii! The photography is beautiful and the whole event looks super fun and amazing. Can’t wait to hear your story about Hawaii ;)

  4. Emily on March 16, 2011

    So cool that she wore grey. That takes guts, guts I don’t have. And holy cow how beautiful are these images! The photographer did a great job.

    And… bookmarked. :)

  5. erin * sparkle & hay on March 16, 2011

    oh, hello, GORGEOUSness!!!

  6. lizzie on March 16, 2011

    LOVE this wedding…so many beautiful details. her grey dress is fab and i love those fans!

  7. gigi on March 16, 2011

    Love all the details. The photography is amazing. Lots of love went into this wedding!

  8. Alexis on March 16, 2011

    AMAZING! Gotta say, I was shocked to see one of her bmaids in an ivory dress. What a confident, happy-go-lucky bride she must be. You wouldn’t see one of mine in a white dress! :)

  9. CJ Isaac on March 16, 2011

    Wow, what a beautiful wedding! :) And I love the details! What a lucky bride and groom.

  10. Erin (Serephine) on March 16, 2011

    Beautiful! I LOVE that the bride wore grey!

  11. erin @ chatty brides on March 16, 2011

    all those cranes!! love the different tones of blue on the boys!

  12. Kimberlee @ Gracefully Girly on March 16, 2011

    The paper cranes and chandeliers are magnificent! What a beautifully crafted and unique event!

  13. Emma on March 16, 2011

    There’s such a warm, authentic feel to this wedding. I love the striped suit on the groom and the bridesmaid dresses are in the most perfect, complementing shades. That sweet little baby boy keeps popping up in pictures, too, and he’s a little cutie!

  14. Chandra ~ Oh Lovely Day on March 16, 2011

    I think that baby was trying to steal all the bride’s thunder! That’s why I don’t invite cute babies to anything :)

    Such a beautiful wedding, and cute baby too!

  15. John on March 16, 2011

    Very stylish

  16. I love that this is such a confident Bride! She broke all of the rules and it paid off and in a HUGE way!!! What a lucky-beautiful couple.

  17. Lena on March 16, 2011

    The CRANES-holy hell! How stunning! I think my favorite thing about this wedding is that it’s perfect for them-stunning!

  18. Weddingzilla! on March 16, 2011

    One fab wedding, the details made it extra special. Love the chandaliers, the contrast of the rustic to the glam makes it so special. Love it!

  19. Danielle @ Blooms By The Box on March 17, 2011

    Absolutely gorgeous! Love the couples key tattoos :)

  20. Love this wedding – so many amazing expressions captured as well!

    Can anyone explain the two Canon digital cameras…was that a DIY 3-D photo booth?? (just a guess…)

  21. Madge on March 17, 2011

    I loved the grey dress and have seen several brides not wear white and I will always remember their dresses while all those white ones blur together into oblivion. White wedding dresses are cliche (and imply the bride is some virginal gift to the man – yuck!)! move on women! (also diamonds are cliche! but are a brilliant marketing scam!) Be Unique and not blinged-out sheep!

  22. Amber Moon on March 17, 2011

    IN love with this wedding, you, and Anna Kim!!! xo!!!

  23. Robert London on March 18, 2011

    Love the use of color and story telling, I hope that baby did not fall off the table!

  24. Rhiannon Nicole {Hey Gorg} on March 19, 2011

    I die. SO freaking amazing. Those tats?! I need one.

  25. Paula on April 1, 2011

    Nice photos !!congratulations the photographer’s:)

  26. C/Bridal Rehab on June 23, 2011

    I love this wedding on many different levels. By looking at these photos, you can see how amazing and in love this couple is. Their key tattoos = rocks. Paper Crane hanging from the ceiling = awesome. Baby = super adorable. However, not as adorable as the Bambino.

  27. Jill on May 9, 2012

    Loved the cranes & how they were displayed.How did you do that, particularly it being destination? Were the rings made of thin wood? Thank you for sharing this beautiful event with us!

  28. bonito on July 28, 2013

    Podoba mi sie tutaj, wiesz…

  29. Brittney on August 26, 2016

    Guys who of you play Pokemon GO? Incredible game, finally Chansey has
    been caught using pokebusterbot. With this bot you can catch pokemons on autopilot!


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