Wedding of the Week: Matthew Miller and Cindy Chi

22 May 2017

Considering a Harry Potter wedding? This American couple fulfilled the theme with flair, delivering a host of magical details to their Hollywood Castle venue

How did you meet?

We met in college (at UCLA) and were actually roommates before we dated. 

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Tell us about the proposal.

Matt took me on a surprise trip to Big Sur for my birthday and we went hiking in Point Lobos one day. During the hike Matt kept trying to pick a flower and I kept swatting away his hand since there was poison ivy everywhere. Little did I know he was trying to propose and when he finally got his hand on a purple flower he did, and I said 'yes'. 

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

Our goal was to have a classy and elegant Harry Potter wedding that kept to the moody colour scheme of the movies. Matt and I were really picky about who would help us bring our vision to life and when
wedding planners/stylists, Crosby + Jon, agreed to do it, we were elated beyond words. They
pulled it off to a T.

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?

It’s hard to put into words what feels right but it just did when I put it on. And It was completely unexpected as I ended up buying a dress that was different to what I thought I wanted.

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Where did you find your suits?

The groom's suit was from Zara. It had a really amazing subtle pattern so it was slightly fancier than just wearing black on black and felt very wizard-like. 

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

Honestly, I left them up to Crosby + Jon and JL designs to design something that fitted the look and feel of our event and they delivered 100%. They were so gorgeous and had a beautiful moody palette. My favourite thing about them were the long pieces that hung out and gave the arrangements a wild organic feel. 

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

  • Chocolate frogs and cards as favours: The chocolate frog is a quintessential Harry Potter item. I printed and assembled the boxes myself (to save money) and my friends helped me make the chocolate frogs. My favourite part was the chocolate frog cards that were inside each box. They’re basically like trading cards. I Photoshopped our faces on HP characters and put a fun fact on the back of each card. Our guests had a blast trying to find all the different cards and trading their own cards for others they wanted more.
  • Sorting hat and ceremony and The Monster Book of Monsters: After our wedding ceremony, we had a sorting ceremony (of course) to sort our guests into their Hogwarts houses. Matt’s talented cousins, Phillip and Elisabeth, helped run the ceremony with the sorting hat that I made. I bought a cheap hat off Amazon and sprayed mod-podge on it to make it look like leather. We had groups of people get sorted at a time and once they were assigned their house, each guest got a box with their name on it. Inside the box they got a small packet that had a pin to represent their house, their first class which was their seating assignment, and also a quiz question.
  • We held a House Cup where guests submitted their multiple choice quiz questions back into The Monster book of Monsters box that I also made (from fabric, clay, paint, and a wooden box). The winning house got to eat first. Ironically, the Slytherins won because they cheated (how very Slytherin of them, indeed).
  • Tattoos: For guests who wanted a Harry Potter lightning scar on their forehead or have a Dark Mark on their arm...or other HP related tattoos, we had a Zonko’s Tattoo Shop where guests could apply temporary tattoos that I made myself.
  • Floating candles: It wouldn’t be Harry Potter without some floating candles so we made all the floating candles that hung above the dance floor. It was a painstaking process but so worth it.
  • Wands: Each guest got their own unique wizard wand, made from chopsticks, hot glue, beads, and paint. Each one was unique and I also attached a small bell at the end (so they could ring them during the ceremony/reception) as well as an Ollivander’s Wand Shop tag for authenticity.
  • The Golden Snitch: Our ring bearer carried down a Golden Snitch that held our rings insides. It was my favourite thing we found on Etsy.
  • Props: I had so many Harry Potter props that were scattered across the venue. For guests who were fans and had a good eye, you could spot things such as the House Crests, Sorcerer's Stone, Tom Riddle’s Ring, Mandrakes, etc.
  • Photobooth + Azkaban Sign: Our friend, Steven, works for a photo GIF app company called PHHHOTO which was the perfect opportunity to recreate wizard photos which move. We set up a booth with props to create their own 'wanted' poster as seen in the movies. I even handmade an Azkaban Prison sign that had our wedding date on it so you could hold it like a real Azkaban prisoner. You can see people’s GIFs here: http://phhhoto.com/p/wizardwedding
  • Invitations and save the dates: I created save the dates that were essentially Hogwarts Acceptance letters that also came with a magnet that looked like a Platform 9 ¾ ticket (with our wedding date on it).The Invitations were based on the Marauder's Map and were assembled by hand.
  • Table runners and names: Matt and I ripped pages from used Harry Potter books and pasted them into table runners for each of the tables. Each table was named after a Hogwarts Class (Potions, Muggle Studies, Alchemy, Defence Against the Dark Arts, etc.) The table names were written in calligraphy (by me) on spray painted books. They were Harry Potter books because I knew guests would look in them (and they did).
  • Question books, colouring packets, and quills: I covered little blank notebooks to look like Hogwarts school books. Inside there were questions like 'Suggestions for honeymoon?' which guests could answer. And, of course, all our writing pens I made into quills.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I was so happy and nervous at the same time. All I remember thinking beforehand was remember to walk slow and then during the walk down the aisle, that completely went out the window. 

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What was your most memorable moment?

Most of the day was so joyful and passed by in a blur as I tried to stick to my husband. But I specifically remember seeing our first guests start to come in while I was getting ready in my room. The first guests I saw were my friends, Gleb and Ashley, and they were the definition of classy wizards. I literally squealed in delight. 

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

I would say that making a Harry Potter wedding look classy was going to be hard, but Crosby + Jon did all the hard work for us. On my part, the most challenging part was probably making all the DIY stuff I wanted in time. It was like a craft factory in our apartment for most of the time we were engaged. 

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What was the most important investment for you?

Both my husband and I, being artists ourselves, agreed that the most important investment was the photography. Even if we threw the same exact wedding that we did, it would be forgotten if it weren’t for our amazing photographer, Nirav. He really captured the entire wedding’s mood, details, and moments perfectly.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

Nina Simone - I Shall Be Released, because it's a song about that very special feeling you live for.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

We aren’t cake people so we didn’t have a cake, and instead opted for a single pumpkin pie (for cutting) and dessert table. The desserts were expertly created by 24 Carrots and were Harry Potter themed. We also named our table 'Honeydukes' after the sweet shop from Harry Potter. Here is what we had:

  • Golden Snitch Krispies
  • Chocolate Wands
  • Mini Butterbeer floats
  • Potion Parfaits
  • Sugar cookies in the shape of Hogwarts ties and lightning bolts 

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

We had a no cell phone/picture rule during our ceremony so that it would be easier for our photographer to take good photos without the possibility of ruining them. For the most part everything was fine, but I had one family member who chose not to listen to us and was literally running behind my bridesmaids to get photographs and my only regret is that I didn’t have someone nicely take away her camera before the ceremony (is that terrible to say?). It still makes me sad to think that maybe we could have had more photos of our ceremony if she hadn’t been in the way. 

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

I wish my husband and I had maybe booked an engagement photo session, not for the photos, but for the practice. Being in front of the camera can be a scary thing if you’re not used to it, so a day of posing can be very awkward. But kudos to Nirav who made us look beautiful despite our non-model moves.

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

We went on a mini-moon to Palm Springs after the wedding, but my husband and I are saving up for a bigger honeymoon still (hoping to go on an African safari).

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

The best advice I have is to get a wedding planner. I realised very early on that I was going to drive myself crazy if I didn’t get one and I’ve heard from friends who did everything themselves that they regret not getting one. For most people, throwing a wedding is a first-time thing and you can’t be an expert on something you’ve never done before. Our planner, Laura from Crosby + Jon, was our superhero and if I could, I’d hire her to be my life planner.

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Steal their style:

Planner/Designer: Crosby + Jon, http://crosbyandjon.com/
Calligraphy and stationery: Owl Post Calligraphy (The Bride), http://owlpostcalligraphy.com
Photography: Nirav Patel: http://niravpatelphotography.com/
Rentals: Archive Rentals, http://archiverentals.com/
Catering: 24 Carrots, http://24carrots.com/
Venue: Hollywood Castle, www.thehollywoodcastle.com
Hair: Billion Dollar Hair, www.instagram.com/billiondollarhair

Find more real wedding inspiration in the latest edition of Bride magazine

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