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Shari & Andrew: A Cultural Wedding in San Diego, CA

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Shari & Andrew in San Diego, CA
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To honor Andrew’s Jewish heritage, his father married them beneath a huppah decorated with curly willow vine, hydrangeas, peonies, and exotic leaves. Other family members pitched in during the wedding: Shari’s sister and sister-in-law created leis for all the guests, and her brother performed the processional (a Hawaiian song) on the acoustic guita ...
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Though she hadn’t thought it was her style, Shari fell in love with the pink detailing across the back of her Edgardo Bonilla ball gown.
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For a cultural touch, Andrew accessorized his tuxedo with silver claddagh cuff links that were made in Ireland. His boutonniere teamed cymbidium orchids with bear grass.
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The programs explained the couple's traditions. Shari is Japanese-American and her mother’s family is from Hawaii, while Andrew is Jewish and Irish. They also included their love story, featured love letters and poems Shari and Andrew wrote to one another.
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Hawaiian dancers and drummers created the background music during the meal (filet mignon forestiere or miso-glazed salmon). As a surprise, the flower girl performed a hula dance she had learned especially for the occasion.
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Chocolate-colored, crinkled satin linens and pink shantung napkins added a splash of color, while Japanese paper lanterns and candles added ambient light.
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Zen-inspired centerpieces were created inside oak boxes, handmade by the bride’s brother. Pearl inlays in the shape of cherry blossoms added an ornate touch to the boxes, which were filled with candles, Japanese river rocks, and orchids.
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The wedding cake truly stole the show. Set up beneath the huppah, the macadamia nut, vanilla cream with fresh mango filling, and banana truffle confection was covered in pink buttercream icing and decorated with a chocolate branch and chocolate cherry blossom flowers. “I wanted the cake to look like the cherry blossoms were falling from the branch, ...
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Shari’s sister created the favors, which were beaded cherry blossoms wrapped around wooden chopsticks.
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The Beatles’ “I Will” brought the newlyweds to the dance floor, where they ditched their choreographed moves for a more relaxed first dance. “I’m glad we did because we were able to just be in the moment instead of having to think of whether we were in tempo with the music,” says Shari.

Shari & Andrew in San Diego, CA

Shari first met Andrew when the two were grad students in San Diego State University’s School Psychologist Program—they’re both school psychologists now—and Andrew spoke in one of Shari’s classes. “I thought he was cute, but I didn’t have the courage to call him,” says Shari. One night at a club with their fellow classmates, they hit the dance floor together. “I made her laugh with my goofy dance moves,” remembers Andrew. “But there was an intense attraction.” The Bride Shari Takenaga, 26 The Groom Andrew Melia, 31 The Date June 24 The couple began dating, and a few years later, while visiting family in Hawaii, Andrew treated Shari to a Christmas Eve dinner followed by a romantic walk on the beach. When they stopped at a lifeguard stand to watch the waves, Andrew proposed.
- Susan Berryman
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