Lions, and Tigers, and zombies, oh my! When darling young-at-heart and so-in-love Sylva and Lujia decided to throw themselves a big bash of a block party wedding, they knew it would be a strange and wonderful mix of tradition, non-tradition, culture, and wildness. They wanted to have a fun-filled day where their awesomely talented guests could contribute to make it a team effort for all involved. With the old LA zoo as the ceremony site, these two planned a menagerie-inspired outdoor ceremony in which a tandem bike played a huge and messy role, with friends contributing amazing handcrafted wonderment in such awesome ways, from a custom giant rice krispie cake shaped like the Great Wall, to the menagerie coloring book as wedding program to doing all the florals, hair, makeup, and all manner of fabulousness themselves. There were Chinese lion dancers, there were mariachis, there was pizza being slung from a firetruck. Even zombies couldn’t get them down. Being a Los Angeles Wedding Photographer, we see a lot of festive and creative weddings, but this one really takes the cake. Read on to hear more about this wild adventure!
So, I’m sure you’re wondering about the zombies. Sylva and Lujia have a legit right to claim that zombies ate their wedding. Well, that original ceremony site at the old LA zoo? Turns out that it was somehow double-booked for the Great LA Horror Campout. Complete with fake blood and guts EVERYWHERE that day. You can imagine the surprise and dismay of all parties when they went over to the site less than 24 hours in advance to plan for the decor. But despite the zombies, despite the wrench thrown in, everyone somehow rallied and we hunted to find a spot tucked away just a bit further down the road, a dreamy little grove with giant oak boughs above it, and we made it work. Now I can’t imagine having held the ceremony anywhere but there!
Along a red carpet lined with a gazillion little paper hearts, one talented bridesmaid whisked us into a dreamland singing Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing as the processional commenced. That Chuppah at the head of the aisle and all the flouncy magic around it? All DIYed by their talented cousin and team. I can’t decide if my favorite part of the ceremony was when they got down and dirty and put the wheels on a tandem bicycle (instead of the blending of the wines/sands… clever, no?), or when they had their moms each say a few words and there were all the tears and feels. Oh, my heart. Also, take note of the custom illustrated coloring book as wedding program (by a talented bridesmaid who also illustrated all the stationery of the day). When these two lovebirds literally skipped down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, my heart almost gave out. So much love surrounded by balloons and streamers and all manner of delights. Their friends squaded hard going to the LA flower market to craft the bouquets and flowers, and all friends pitched in spray-painting little animal figurines and folding conical birdseed holders. Basically, it took a village.
Sylva’s family surprised them with an amazing nod to Lujia’s heritage and culture (as well as keeping with the zoo theme) by inviting ceremonial Chinese lion dancers to perform just after the ceremony to kick off the tea party (instead of a cocktail hour) festivities. There were custom balloon animals being made, boba tea, and so much playful fun.
The guests then headed to Los Feliz for the block party bonanza where by some miraculous magical power, Sylva managed to get an event permit just barely in time for the event thanks to the kindest neighbors on the planet. Yet more surprises awaited the couple here, including a Mariachi band, a pizza-slinging fire truck converted to food truck (Dang Brother), handmade pies by a friend, and a giant cake replica of the great wall of China made out of rice krispie treats. Sylva’s dad made it. YEAH, I KNOW, I’m amazed, too. Sylva and Lujia and their whole wedding party made a grand entrance coming down the Hoover Stairs with the gorgeous mural by Ricardo Mendoza. Their community cheered on as they danced their playful and silly first dance amazing toasts were made, and wild dancing (and perhaps the greatest limbo I have had the good fortune to witness) stretched deep into the wee hours of the night.
I’m not quite sure, but I think there may simply be a lack of sufficient words in the English language to describe my joy in the aftermath of this wild day. When Sylva first reached out to me, it was kismet, like a moment out of a dream. I knew I had to be a part of the day, but even I could not have fully appreciated all the wonder of it. But here’s the thing. That wonder wasn’t the endless array of creative and wild ideas, no matter how totally rad they were. Honestly, the wonder came from this whole community truly experiencing an immensity of joy for this couple whose union means so much, this couple who connect these people so significantly, who are endless champions of others, adventurers in the landscape of making others feel wonderful.
I am so lucky to have clients—nay, friends—like these.
TALENT ROLL CALL
Photography: Let’s Frolic Together / Ceremony Venue: The Old LA Zoo in Griffith Park / Event Designer: the bride (Sylva) / Bride’s Dress: Lan Ting / Bridal Hair: Savanna Atlas / Florals: friends, Gillie Francis & Lizzy Trevor / Cake: father of the bride, Lynn Johnson / Succulents: Sunset Nursery / Desserts: Jessica Jurado / Food Truck: Dang Brother Pizza / Ceremony Music: Liz Klein & Liam Kevany / DJ: DJ Tossing T / Mariachi Musicians: Mariachi Fiesta En Jalisco / Balloon Animals: Katie Hughes / Chinese Lion Dancers: Immortals Lion Dance / Officiant: Jacob Jurado / Stationery: Leah Nixon / Accommodations: Los Feliz Lodge / Assistant Photographer: Jessica Schilling