When the head of event marketing at Google is getting married, you know it’s going to be a good party. However, for Derrick Djang, planning his own wedding was actually more difficult than he had imagined. “Every single decision was so personal to me in this instance versus making decisions that aligned to my company branding guidelines,” he admits. Derrick had been dreaming of his wedding since he was a five-year-old boy, so his fiancé Michael Kenney was happy to have him take the lead. “Thomas Bui, our wedding planner, gave us valuable advice during the process; however, Derrick was extremely involved in the vision, creative, and execution of our wedding,” shares Michael.
It was important to the couple that they wed in San Francisco, not only because it’s the city in which they met, but also because they specifically wanted City Hall for their ceremony. “It’s one of the most important landmarks in LGBTQ+ history. It’s also the place where same-sex marriage licenses were first granted, many years before it was written into federal law,” notes Michael. A non-denominational service was planned, where the officiant would provide guests with the rich history of the venue before the vow exchange.
With five “groomsmaids” and 11 groomsmen by their sides, the gentlemen said “I do” at the base of a magnificent staircase in front of a stunning floral circular structure. The architecture of the grand building did not require much décor, as it was beautiful on its own. “We wanted to evoke a sense of heaven in our florals,” shares Derrick, who selected the pièce de résistance composed of white roses, orchids, and anemones. The ambience felt classic, yet masculine, and it was everything the couple had envisioned.
Guests were escorted to the reception in cable cars and introduced to a ballroom design inspired by the majestic fêtes of the Roaring Twenties. A timeless color palette of gold, black, and white bedecked tablescapes, including massive floral centerpieces, ebony china with gilt rims, and personalized letterpress menu cards with foil elements. Even the candlelight was artfully arranged with tall candlesticks of varying heights!
From a large and bountiful floral runner, which cascaded from the table ends of the head table, to architectural and modern white calla lily towers on round tables, to suspended “clouds” of white roses and lilies above the long tables, the floral design was as thoughtful as it was impressive. Since Michael is a scientist at a sustainable energy company, he’s very passionate about being environmentally friendly. “He worked with our planner and florist to source flowers locally, all of which were recycled or composted after the event. Some arrangements even required no foam at all to stay in place!” says Derrick.
Wanting to treat their family and friends to the superb dining options of San Francisco, Derrick and Michael carefully crafted an exquisite four-course dinner. The menu included jumbo lump Dungeness crab cakes and hand-pulled burrata with heirloom tomato salad to start, followed by either pan-seared filet mignon, roasted red snapper, vegan gnocchi, or Asian duck breast (as a nod to Derrick’s side of the family) for the main course, and slices from the six-tiered wedding cake featuring rich chocolate and banana crème flavors. At the conclusion of supper, the newlyweds danced with their loved ones until the clock struck midnight.
The following day, they celebrated their union with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. After, Derrick’s uncle hosted a Chinese banquet, which was very special to the grooms. “Both of Derrick’s parents have passed, so Derrick’s uncle danced with him for the mother-son dance. During, Derrick’s uncle told him just how proud his mom would be of him and all he’s achieved, including finding me,” confides Michael.
The couple was glad they had taken the advice of Michael’s older sister: swap out every other glass of Champagne with ginger ale! “That way, you won’t get too drunk to enjoy – and remember – the whole night, and nobody will be able to tell it’s not Champagne in your glass,” laughs Derrick. On a more meaningful note, the pair reveals how proud they are to have created a wedding that wasn’t bound to tradition or cultural norms. “We got to design a wedding just as we wanted. Many guests said that it didn’t feel like a wedding, rather, it felt like a celebration of love, which was exactly what we were going for.”