Ocean-View Ceremony with Cultural Traditions + Elegant Reception

Gia and Joshua

Photographed by: Clane Gessel PhotographyLocation: Coronado, California, United States

Falling in love took a leap of faith for Gia Kim and Joshua Pengson. The two had developed a friendship while volunteering in college and moved to different cities after graduation. It was during that time apart that Joshua realized his feelings for Gia were more than platonic friendship. He confessed these new emotions when they were both visiting their shared hometown. Given the distance and the fear of ruining one of her closest friendships, Gia was apprehensive about taking the risk. “But I am so grateful we both took a leap of faith that day and found in each other our soul mates!” she exclaims.

Five years later, the couple was at a Roaring ‘20s-themed “friendsgiving” to kick off the holiday season. “I felt that it would be the perfect time to ask,” Josh says of his decision to propose at the gathering. “I wanted to involve our close friends in an intimate setting to make the event unforgettable.” Dressed to the nines, he got on one knee and asked his sweetheart to marry him. “I was so surprised that I forgot to say anything until our friends started chanting for me to respond, and I threw my arms around him and said, ‘Yes!’” Gia shares.

As San Diego natives, the lovebirds decided to tie the knot on nearby Coronado Island to give guests a destination-like experience. With the help of Thomas Bui of Thomas Bui Lifestyle, their vision of a garden party was brought to life. “Working with him, we felt like we were always five steps ahead of everything we needed to do,” affirms Gia. The bride and groom were also dedicated to celebrating their different cultures during the service. “It was really important to us and my husband’s family to incorporate some Filipino wedding traditions. One of the customs is to have principal and secondary sponsors,” Gia tells. “We also included the Filipino candle, veil, and cord ceremonies during which two candles are lit to symbolize God’s presence at the union.” They also honored the heritage of other relatives. “Our mothers and some of our sponsors wore their traditional dresses, which included the Korean hanbok, the Indian sari, and the Filipino filipiniana,” the bride explains.

White blossoms and verdure created a cohesive look between the alfresco vow exchange and ballroom reception. “We had greenery draping from lowered chandeliers, centerpieces designed with cream and ivory garden blooms similar to what we had in our bouquets and on the ceremony arches, and huge drapes hung throughout the room to create a more intimate feel,” illustrates Gia. Tapered and votive candles also helped exude a romantic ambience.

The enjoyment of loved ones was a priority for the couple, so they looked to unique entertainment options. “Instead of a traditional photo booth, we decided to have a multi-camera system at our reception that could capture single moments in time and create three-dimensional animations of our guests,” Gia details. “This was a huge hit with everyone and a great way for people to remember their time at our wedding.” Attendees were also treated to a stunning fireworks show. Another crowd-pleaser was the newlyweds’ first dance, which doubles as one of their most unforgettable moments of the celebration. Despite practicing for months, the week of the wedding was so busy they did not have time to fit in a final rehearsal. “As we stepped out onto the dance floor, I remember taking Gia’s hands as she smiled, reassuring me that no matter what happened, this was supposed to be our celebration,” remembers Josh. “In that moment, the audience melted away, and it was just us, dancing perfectly in sync.”