After being in the wedding industry for seven years, Katrina Centeno of Calligraphy Katrina knew the business of nuptials inside and out. Of course, spending all of that time around brides and grooms could make any person envision their own big day on a regular basis – and Katrina was no exception. “This may sound corny, but I knew from the moment I met Tony that I would marry him,” she notes of her first encounter with Tony Nguyen in 2006. “I had this feeling and I was so comfortable with him.” On February 14, 2014, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. “He was very clear that he would never propose on Valentine’s Day – he made sure to throw me off,” she laughs. “He asked me to plan the day like I do every year.” After a trip to the museum, a gourmet dinner, and a gift of diamond-and-sapphire earrings, “he asked me if I wanted to take a drive to the site where we first fell in love seven years earlier,” Katrina recalls. In their parked car overlooking the beach, Tony thanked his beloved for being so patient and told her that he loved her. Finally, he popped the question with a ring he had designed himself.
“I’m blessed with friends from our events industry, so everyone gave their wisdom [when I started planning],” reveals Katrina of her 17-month engagement. “It was great!” The couple elected to include Katrina’s dear friend and professional planner in their wedding team, who she credits with being her “life-saver” when it came to organizing her special day. When discussing the best advice she received, the bride is sure of this philosophy: “Quality vs. quantity. Keep it simple, but always do it correctly and with practicality. These are mantras that we live by in my own company, as well as everyone we know professionally.”
On a warm September afternoon, guests gathered at St. Elizabeth Parish in Altadena for the bride and groom’s traditional Catholic ceremony. “We are not overly conventional, but we as individuals and our families share the same morals; building our own foundation with the sacrament was vital,” shares Katrina. After their “first look,” Katrina floated down the aisle in a classic lace A-line gown featuring off-the-shoulder straps. Her bridesmaids donned different dresses in either black or grey that displayed unique patterns and details. Following the Catholic mass, the newlyweds led friends and family on a quick trip to their hotel ballroom reception in Pasadena – ready to kick off the celebration of their union.
Their reception space was filled with examples of Katrina’s trade skill. Calligraphy adorned paper products and mirrors in the form of song lyrics, table numbers, and even the seating chart itself. Long tables featuring reflective tops were set up in a U-shape, allowing conversation to flow easily across the room. “We just wanted simple elegance,” the bride muses. Each table displayed floral arrangements held in gilt vessels in varying heights. Place settings featured a large charger plate underneath a black-and-gold menu presenting guests with the selection of fine cuisine available for the evening. “We’re big foodies, so it was very important to us to have an amazing menu!” exclaims Katrina. As their nuptials took place on a Thursday – a date that landed directly between the bride and groom’s birthdays – their cocktail hour and reception simply featured small activities and delicious fare; however, Katrina reveals that the pair also hosted an after-party with plenty of dancing and merriment.
Katrina and Tony tell that they wouldn’t change a thing about their wedding day. As for words of wisdom for future couples taking the plunge: “Keep it intimate," she affirms. "We were able to look around the room and see the faces of all the people we loved the most, and this also allowed us to go around and talk to everyone and personally thank each of them for celebrating with us.”