Modern Armenian Wedding Featuring a Bold Indoor Garden Theme

Ani Galyan and Allen Shakhbazyan

Photographed by: Kevin Le Vu PhotographyLocation: Glendale, California, United States

After getting drinks with Allen Shakhbazyan, Ani Galyan was worried she may never see the handsome man she met again. Little did she know, Allen couldn’t wait to see her and ended up canceling his date the next night to take Ani to dinner. It wasn’t long before Allen and Ani decided to get married before moving in together. He asked her father for Ani’s hand in marriage, meticulously designed an engagement ring over the next 10 months, and finally proposed on bended knee after practicing their first dance. 

When planning their special day, Ani and Allen enlisted the help of esteemed planner Hovik Harutyunyan of Harutyunyan Events. “He was the most important person during the planning phase,” confirms Ani, also noting that he “was able to balance tradition, family demands, and the vision we had for our wedding.” The couple admits that planning a wedding is a lot of work, so they were grateful to Hovik for making their big day as seamless as possible. “Being busy professionals, we put our trust in Hovik to help us prioritize what was important and what we would not regret years down the road,” she adds. 

“We really wanted to take a traditional Armenian wedding and modernize it,” confirms the bride of their vision. Thus, they made a few choices to make the celebration their own. “We opted out of doing a traditional Armenian church ceremony,” she adds, noting that was unusual for an Armenian wedding. “We think this was a novel experience that many of our guests enjoyed.” As they joined together in front of the geometric gold backdrops decorated with lush greenery, orchids, and anemones, the couple shared their own vows and selected Rich Cowley, a world-class magician, to officiate the ceremony. 

After they were announced as husband and wife, Ani and Allen joined their guests in the ballroom for a stunning reception. “We wanted the look of a modern indoor garden,” affirms the bride of their vision, which also incorporated masculine touches to honor Allen’s style. “I really liked the look of ‘urban modernism meets botany-inspired greenery’ – I wanted something more edgy and moody, yet elegant and pretty.” 

Guests found their seats at golden tables or varieties cloaked with midnight-hued linens, all decorated with lush arrangements of greenery with touches of white orchids and anemones. Industrial-style gold backdrops and tablescapes filled with black and gold elements were softened with verdure and white florals to create a textured look in a fairly monochromatic setting. To add to the unique design scheme, friends and family were seated atop modern white-and-gold chairs, as well as translucent ghost chairs throughout dinner. 

The custom food and bar menu was an especially important part of the celebration for both Ani and Allen. The couple worked with the venue to create a family-style menu complete with appetizers, smoked fish and caviar, and three main courses that modernized Armenian fare, followed by late-night snacks and miniature desserts for guests to enjoy after dancing. Though the gastronomy was impressive, the cocktails were the real stars of the show. “We wanted to treat our guests to a very special bar experience,” notes the bride, who shares that she and Allen put in tremendous effort to search for and taste small-batch gins for the bar and also create five handcrafted signature cocktails. For dessert, friends and family indulged in slices of an all-white wedding confection as well as miniature desserts. 

“We didn’t see ourselves as the typical bride and groom, and we wanted our design to reflect that,” muses Ani of their big day. “The unusual, unique wedding décor with the black backdrop, lush greenery, and ghost chairs for guests was a very unexpected look, but very illustrative of our personalities… I think everything resonated with our friends and family as ‘this is definitely Ani and Allen’s wedding.’”