This Couple Tied the Knot with a Romantic Wedding at The Swan House in Atlanta, Georgia
Christina and Shaun's wedding pictures make it hard to believe that they exchanged vows in downtown Atlanta and not at a storied European villa. Tucked in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood, The Swan House at The Atlanta History Center served as a regal architectural backdrop to the couple's vow exchange. Following a ceremony set against the building's tiered fountain, the couple explored the estate's wooded grounds for pictures before decamping to The Atlanta History Center's ballroom for a reception that included a first dance paying homage to "Dirty Dancing." Christina explains that "while we had met in Washington, D.C. and were living in the bustling city of Chicago, when we thought of wedding venue locations, we immediately thought about Shaun’s hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Many of our adult friends had never been, and it was the perfect opportunity to show our friends and family some Southern Hospitality. And the Atlanta History Center’s Swan House Garden was no doubt the most desired location of all wedding venues in Atlanta and the surrounding area. With three of four parents being immigrants, we wanted to immerse our family and overseas guests with the ultimate American wedding experience. With the iconic Swan House as the backdrop, we decided to have a romantic, garden theme to compliment the many trees on the grounds of the Museum and focused on colors such as greens, reds, pinks, whites, and golds. Both of us grew up with Christian traditions, and our ceremony incorporated scripture and a Biblical message. We also wanted to keep true to our heritage, so while our wedding was classically American, we honored our parents’ homelands during the rehearsal dinner by donning traditional Chinese attire and holding a traditional Korean Tea Ceremony the night before."
From start to finish, the couple's Georgia wedding was filled with elegance and romance, perfectly befitting of their lavish wedding venue. "We had our ceremony in front of the fountain of The Atlanta History Center Swan House. The venue is such a majestic background for a romantic ceremony that not much decoration was needed. We simply framed the fountain with tall beautiful flowers and lined the aisle with white and light pink petals. To personalize the ceremony, we provided hand-cut wooden fans to cool our guests and a wedding program incorporating our newly designed family crest. After the ceremony, our guests were led up the ivy-covered stairs to an intimate happy hour in the garden and later traveled to the Grand Overlook Ballroom for the reception. Guests were greeted with the most unique place cards -- a silly throwback photo of themselves posted on a large opulent gold frame—which led them to their seat with personalized wedding favors. The ballroom was designed to complement the garden-esque vibe. The ceilings were adorned with gorgeous projections, and the tables were adorned with lavish floral arrangements and occasional vine drapings. We also wanted to add a personal touch to the room and added an intimate sitting area, backdropped with a garden wall and our new family name in neon lights: The Zhangs."
Since most guests were experiencing Georgia for the first time, it was important to Christina and Shaun that they highlight their destination wedding's locale properly. "Georgia is known for their four P’s: peaches, pecans, peanuts, and pine. When our guests arrived at the hotel, they were greeted with a welcome bag that included Georgia’s 4 P’s: roasted peanuts, pecan brittle, dried peaches, and a sprig of pine," says Christina. "Two of our favorite parts of the wedding were the touching tributes to Shaun’s alma mater—Georgia Tech. We used the Georgia Tech trolley to transport the bridal party and family members from the hotel to the wedding venue and rode off in the Ramblin’ Wreck as our getaway car."
Looking back on the wedding, Christina shares that "the most special moment was reciting our own, personalized vows to each other. We both had no idea what the other would say, but the fact that each had written something straight from the heart made the moment even more special and unforgettable. Nerves were definitely running high leading up to them, but our special vows made walking down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs. Zhang that much more memorable." However, although their vows were the most special moment from the wedding, the celebration's most anticipated moment didn't come until the reception. "The most anticipated moment of the day was definitely the first dance! We knew immediately that John Legend and Meghan Trainor’s 'Like I’m Going to Lose You' would be our first dance song. Unlike other weddings though, we didn’t want just a simple ballroom dance that eventually lost our guests’ attention, so we decided to add some special moves. We twirled, dipped, and even pulled off the 'Dirty Dancing' lift! Christina was a little too scared to release Shaun’s shoulder the day of the dance since it was her first time doing it in her wedding dress, but they were successful in both the lift and surprising their guests!"
As for advice for current to-be-weds, Christina and Shaun encourage all engaged couples to remember that "your wedding will go by really fast and with all of your friends and family joining you on your monumental day, you may forget to take time for each other. We highly recommend scheduling 15-30 minutes for just the two of you in-between your ceremony and reception to enjoy the moment as husband and wife. We ended up using our time to get a peek at our reception venue and dancing quietly alone before the night picked back up."