The Aesthetic at This California Ranch Wedding Was Maximalist, “Craigslist-Core,” and Steeped in Wabi-Sabi

The wedding took place on the family’s ranch in Woodside, California, where Alexander grew up. Perched upon a clearing, the site overlooks rolling hills and forested valleys stretching toward the Pacific Ocean. Large, sculptural art is embedded into the landscape, and guests were able to view works by artists including Mauro Statuoli, Bruce Beasley, and Bruce Johnson while mingling.

The ceremony was officiated by the couple’s good friend from Princeton, Itamar Bar-Zakay. The Han Diaspora Ceremony was initiated by eight drummers from a local taiko group, Taiko SOBA. “It was mesmerizing to hear the deep rhythmic bass their drums reverberate across the hills,” Justines. “One of the main purposes of this ceremony is to honor one’s ancestors and parents by serving tea and exchanging gifts and food. The program incorporated both ancient Chinese rituals as well as new traditions manifested by me, a member of the Han Chinese and Taiwanese diaspora and Alexander, who is of mixed European ancestry. The rituals involved a lot of bowing in all directions, eating from the same bowl, drinking sweet and bitter liquids (to symbolize how the couple will stay together through sweet and bitter times), and lighting incense at the family shrine.”

In a newly minted tradition, the bride and groom also invited family members and friends to play them in a marital game of Go by placing a black stone on their board, symbolizing how the couple commits to making strategic decisions together as a wedded couple.

After the wedding, Justine changed from her hanfu back into her western wedding dress, and guests made their way to cocktails. “I had spent two weeks leading up to the wedding, driving around the Bay Area with a U-Haul and picking up free furniture that we used to build an outdoor turn-of-the-century living room space,” Justine says. “I would describe the wedding aesthetic as maximalist, Craigslist-core.”

Dinner began at sunset and was accompanied by a marathon of speeches. For dessert, guests enjoyed Fried Chicken Ice Cream by Life Raft Treats and a dish-sponge cake served with lemon-elderberry syrup in mini refurbished dish soap bottles. An antique, early 1900s dresser was repurposed as a “ramen bar,” stocked full of the bride’s favorite brand of cup noodles for guests to enjoy as a late-night snack break from the dance floor. Finally, later in the evening, it was time for the cake-cutting. “A few months before our wedding day, I became fixed on this idea of ​​building a Rube Goldberg machine to cut our wedding cake,” Justine says. “The machine demo did not go smoothly, but it only served to enhance a wabi-sabi aesthetic that evolved throughout the evening.”