Monday, October 19, 2009

Agatha and John: A Smog Shoppe Motorbike Wedding

Today’s local wedding is truly a joy to share.  Agatha and John (whose invitation you may remember from here) met while racing (and crashing) motorbikes together and they approached their wedding with obvious joy, love, respect for cultural traditions, and respect for their own personalities and shared bonds. Agatha and John created an honest and beautiful day that wasn’t perfect-day-transformative but was just perfectly them. (I mean, if they put Shamwow and good scotch on their registry, you know it’s a personalized wedding experience.) 

I first ran across Agatha on the Kvetch boards at Indiebride, where she was trying to muddle though dress and accessory options.  For someone more comfortable on a bike than in a dress (John proposed to her with a Ducati), this was definitely a challenge, though I’d say she did a splendid job picking a simple J.Crew dress that she felt comfortable in and adding a gorgeous, rewearable bolero made out of pinya to pay homage to her Filipino roots (purchased from Tocatta on Etsy).

All photos from Hazelnut Photography

She and John approached the entire wedding process with that same thoughtfulness, budget-mindedness, and personality.  They started with the Smog Shoppe location. Although it was a definite splurge, it was hands-down the right decision for them: the Smog Shoppe is an old auto shop that has been converted into a LEED certified event space in Culver City. Besides the whole motorbike theme of their partnership and wedding, Agatha is an environmental engineer, so the Smog Shoppe was the perfect fit for their personalities and event space needs (casual, indoor/outdoor space). They admit that it was expensive, but as their one big splurge, it was absolutely worth it.

Smog Shoppe succulent wall. (I love succulents and I looove this wall)

Her bridemaids all picked their own convertible dresses from Victoria’s Secret (Agatha has similar dresses from other locations and swears that the Victoria’s Secret dresses were both the least expensive and her favorite fabric.) I like brides who respect their bridesmaids enough to go for non-matchy-matchy, affordable, non-color/tone specific dresses that they really can use again. (also, psst, the Victoria's Secret dresses are currently on sale...)

They hired the Kogi barbecue taco truck to cater the wedding (It serves Korean-mexican fusion tacos. Yum) which confused John’s more traditional Korean family but was delicious nonetheless.

Here’s some more on their day, in Agatha’s words:
The main takeaway from our wedding was that it was comfortable, casual, and fun.  Obviously, the aesthetics were somewhat important, but not in the "it has to be perfect or else I’m going to cry" sort of way. I wasn't actually trying to be different, I just wanted people to know it was OUR wedding.  We wanted to show off our love of motorcycles and all things gearhead, so the venue was a huge part of that.  We had chrome Tangle Toy centerpieces, Michelin Man table numbers, license plate name cards, and motorcycle races playing on a big screen.  Our invitation even looked like a jiffy lube coupon doorhanger. 

Centerpiece with flowers, tangle toys and the Michelin Man

Their favorite “detail?  Their personal cake topper with both of them in their motorcycle leather racing suits, with their much-loved dogs standing at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.

Favorite moment at the wedding:
Waiting at the top of the stairs before coming down the aisle. I got to see all my family and friends as they were coming in… Thinking that they were all there for my big day, for me, for us, made me feel so joyful and lucky to have such beautiful people in our lives.

Things that went wrong at the wedding:
The ceremony was a bit of a train wreck, as my loving husband would put it.  The bridesmaids missed the rehearsal, so they didn't know where to stand during the ceremony.  When the DJ started playing my entrance music, the officiant, (who also missed the rehearsal) decided to start praying before I arrived.  The officiant got to the venue an hour early so that we could practice and I gave him our vows to hold onto.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t made clear in the pre-ceremony rush and, when it came time to do the vows, he didn't know what to do and asked us to make up our vows on the spot.  He also decided to do one last blessing as the exit music came on.  Man, rehearsal would have been KEY for that guy, but what's done is done, so oh well. 

Things you would change about the wedding, in retrospect:
I actually don't think I would have changed anything at all about the wedding.  Despite the train wreck of a ceremony or my father-in-law getting sick from celebrating a bit too much, I wouldn't have changed a thing, with the exception of adding a few guests I should have invited (and regret not doing).  As chaotic as it sounds, it was as perfect as I had imagined!
Best cost-saving decision:
I got my dress off ebay for $100.  I wasn't worried about it getting messed up. Plus, I can probably use it again at other gala events I attend.  Hahaha.  Gala events.  Hahaha.
Best sanity-saving decision:
I am so grateful for having a day-of coordinator.
Best piece of advice for other couples:
1.  Compromise on cost/price. Weddings are expensive and really, they're only one day, so don’t stress the little stuff too much.
2.  Don't compromise on your guest list too much.  Set a limit early for family friends, and make sure you invite everyone that is important to YOU, not mom or mother-in-law. If you leave it up to them, they'll want to invite the whole village.
Best decision you made about the wedding, overall:
Going through with it!  Originally, I just wanted to go to Vegas and have Elvis marry us. But my mom cried over the phone about having a big wedding and guilted me into it.  I was upset for a long while because I really didn't want a big wedding. I blamed her for making everything so difficult with the guest list and for how expensive everything was.  But, in the end, seeing everyone have a good time and being happy for us...  that was all worth it and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
Best thing about being married:
Being married isn't really all that different from before.  We've lived together for 3-4 years and life is still as it was before we got married, except that now i have this thing on my finger that bugs me all the time (hahaha.) Oh, and every day is always better than the last.
Local vendors they used and loved (and why they loved them):
  • Hazelnut photography: Jordana is AWESOME.  Chris (her husband) is AWESOME.  They were friendly, comfortable, professional, and so easy-going.  It was like they were buddies taking our pictures, not people we hired to do this for us.  They are easy to work with and we didn't really feel like we were "posing" in front of a camera. Jordana let us be ourselves and was able to capture our special moments without us even knowing! They really love their job and it shows. She was VERY responsive and quick to return emails, phone calls, even got us a sneak preview of our pictures within a week!
  • Kogi BBQ: They are GREAT for catering informal, fun, unique events. If you're looking for something different and tasty, the Kogi truck is for you.  Yumi was professional and very responsive via email or phone. They gave us free tastings and samples of EVERYTHING and even making special menu items just for us with a fusion Filipino-Korean dish!  They were on-time and professional. They are a little pricey considering it is a taco truck, but considering the unique flavors they bring to the table, it's worth it. They're in a truck, so they can go anywhere, anytime, but best to book early since they are in high demand!
  • Signature Party Rentals: Elaine is great!  She was so easy to work with, responsive, and knows her stuff.
  • Smogg Shoppe: Sherry and Miguel, the owners, and Jeff Fleming of Tact Event Management, the site management company, are incredible to work with. They are very responsive, understanding, and easy to work with. The venue itself is AMAZING and one of the things we got the most compliments on for our wedding. It is a unique and wonderful space to play in and my photographers loved being able to capture so many moments in just one spot. Their team was always very professional and though it took up a bit more of our budget than we anticipated (due to their required valet service company, AA Valet), it was well worth it. They do have quite a few rules (candles, music, etc.), but they are easy to work around with enough planning.
  • King’s Hawaiian Bakery: I love King's Hawaiian and always go here for our celebrations. Their cake is the best! And it's SO affordable.  We had chocolate chiffon with fresh strawberries, paradise, and guava cake. All of it was gone! They were easy to work with and gave us HUGE slices at the cake tasting. They got the cake there on time, set-up, and were very nice to talk to on the phone.
  • Icing on the Ring: Ravi and his family are so nice to work with. His dad talked with us about the rings we selected, didn't push us towards anything expensive and only showed us what we came in and asked to see. Their prices are higher than what you find on the internet, but having a brick and mortar store felt more secure and the service is top notch. We got a personal touch, and a guarantee that I know they will stand behind. I would recommend them to any of our friends for sure.

Agatha, thank you for sharing so much about your wedding and joy with John!  I’m sending you both all the best wishes for a happy, casual, fun, loving and motorbike-filled marriage.  To see more photos and joy from their local, independent-minded, wedding, head over to this post at Hazelnut Photography.


  1. LOVE the bolero!! Great feature, the wedding looks like it was lot of fun with good food!

  2. Love the idea of the food truck. Where did the kogi truck park? Did guests have to go outside for thier food?

  3. Hi Anonymous, Agatha here... The Kogi truck parked right out in front of the venue. Because of safety and security issues, the guests were not allowed to go out to the truck to get their food. Instead, we had our servers go out to the truck and serve the plates of food directly to our guests. It added an air of "fancy" to our otherwise casual event. If you have any other questions, you can contact me via email at amondala "at" hotmail "dot" com

  4. OMG Agatha I LOVE King's Hawaiian cakes! They are so light and delish! I'm definitely considering one for my wedding... yum!


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