Au­gust 3, 2019 San Fran­cisco, Cal­i­for­nia

Inside Weddings - - Contents - Pho­tographed by Peter Nguyen Stu­dios

When the head of event mar­ket­ing at Google is get­ting mar­ried, you know it’s go­ing to be a good party. How­ever, for Derrick Djang, plan­ning his own wed­ding was ac­tu­ally more dif­fi­cult than he had imag­ined. “Ev­ery sin­gle de­ci­sion was so per­sonal to me in this in­stance ver­sus mak­ing de­ci­sions that aligned to my com­pany brand­ing guide­lines,” he ad­mits. Derrick had been dreaming of his wed­ding since he was a five-year-old boy, so his fi­ancé Michael Ken­ney was happy to have him take the lead. “Thomas Bui, our wed­ding plan­ner, gave us valu­able ad­vice dur­ing the process; how­ever, Derrick was ex­tremely in­volved in the vi­sion, cre­ative, and ex­e­cu­tion of our wed­ding,” shares Michael.

It was im­por­tant to the cou­ple that they wed in San Fran­cisco, not only be­cause it’s the city in which they met, but also be­cause they specif­i­cally wanted City Hall for their cer­e­mony. “It’s one of the most im­por­tant land­marks in LGBTQ+ his­tory. It’s also the place where same-sex mar­riage li­censes were first granted, many years be­fore it was writ­ten into fed­eral law,” notes Michael. A non-de­nom­i­na­tional ser­vice was planned, where the of­fi­ciant would pro­vide guests with the rich his­tory of the venue be­fore the vow ex­change.

With five “grooms­maids” and 11 grooms­men by their sides, the gen­tle­men said “I do” at the base of a mag­nif­i­cent stair­case in front of a stun­ning flo­ral cir­cu­lar struc­ture. The ar­chi­tec­ture of the grand build­ing did not re­quire much dé­cor, as it is beau­ti­ful on its own. “We wanted to evoke a sense of heaven in our flo­rals,” shares Derrick, who se­lected the pièce de ré­sis­tance com­posed of white roses, or­chids, and anemones. The am­bi­ence felt clas­sic, yet mas­cu­line, and it was ev­ery­thing the cou­ple had en­vi­sioned.

Guests were es­corted to the re­cep­tion in ca­ble cars and in­tro­duced to a ball­room de­sign in­spired by the ma­jes­tic fêtes of the Roar­ing Twenties. A time­less color pal­ette of gold, black, and white be­decked ta­blescapes, in­clud­ing mas­sive flo­ral cen­ter­pieces, ebony china with gilt rims, and per­son­al­ized let­ter­press menu cards with foil el­e­ments. Even the candleligh­t was art­fully ar­ranged with tall can­dle­sticks of vary­ing heights!

From a large and boun­ti­ful flo­ral run­ner, which cas­caded from the ends of the head ta­ble, to ar­chi­tec­tural and mod­ern white calla lily tow­ers on round ta­bles, to sus­pended “clouds” of white roses and lilies above the long ta­bles, the flo­ral de­sign was as thought­ful as it was im­pres­sive. Since Michael is a sci­en­tist at a sus­tain­able en­ergy com­pany, he’s very pas­sion­ate about be­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly. “He worked with our plan­ner and florist to source flow­ers lo­cally, all of which were re­cy­cled or com­posted af­ter the event. Some ar­range­ments even re­quired no foam at all to stay in place!” says Derrick.

Want­ing to treat their fam­ily and friends to the su­perb din­ing op­tions of San Fran­cisco, Derrick and Michael care­fully crafted an ex­quis­ite four-course din­ner. The menu in­cluded jumbo lump Dun­geness crab cakes and hand-pulled bur­rata with heir­loom tomato salad to start, fol­lowed by ei­ther pan-seared filet mignon, roasted red snap­per, ve­gan gnoc­chi, or Asian duck breast (as a nod to Derrick’s side of the fam­ily) for the main course, and slices from the six­tiered wed­ding cake fea­tur­ing rich choco­late and ba­nana crème fla­vors. At the con­clu­sion of sup­per, the new­ly­weds danced with their loved ones un­til the clock struck mid­night.

“We got to de­sign a wed­ding just as we wanted. Many guests said that it didn’t feel like a wed­ding, rather, it felt like a cel­e­bra­tion of love, which was ex­actly what

we were go­ing for.”

The fol­low­ing day, they cel­e­brated their union with a tra­di­tional Chi­nese tea cer­e­mony. Af­ter, Derrick’s un­cle hosted a Chi­nese ban­quet, which was very spe­cial to the grooms. “Both of Derrick’s par­ents have passed, so Derrick’s un­cle danced with him for the mother-son dance. Dur­ing, Derrick’s un­cle told him just how proud his mom would be of him and all he’s achieved, in­clud­ing find­ing me,” con­fides Michael.

The cou­ple was glad they had taken the ad­vice of Michael’s older sis­ter: swap out ev­ery other glass of Cham­pagne with ginger ale! “That way, you won’t get too drunk to en­joy – and re­mem­ber – the whole night, and no­body will be able to tell it’s not Cham­pagne in your glass,” laughs Derrick. On a more mean­ing­ful note, the pair re­veals how proud they are to have cre­ated a wed­ding that wasn’t bound to tra­di­tion or cul­tural norms. “We got to de­sign a wed­ding just as we wanted. Many guests said that it didn’t feel like a wed­ding, rather, it felt like a cel­e­bra­tion of love, which was ex­actly what we were go­ing for.”

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