During her childhood in Miami, Bogotá-born Rahysa Vargas spent the holiday seasons with her father, distributing toys to children in homeless shelters; more concerned with immersing herself in community efforts than in finding a boyfriend.
When she met Christopher Cheng at the University of Miami football game, she was not intrigued. His face was painted the signature orange and green of their school colors; rain had melted it into streaks.
At a local watering hole a few months later, Cheng offered to buy Vargas a drink, an offer she did not accept. But she did take him up on dinner—"I love food and found him more much attractive without paint on his face," she recalls.
On the first date, they laughed the entire time—and then spent the rest of college together. After graduating and settling into adulthood, they bought a house together in Miami and then took off for a vacation (#dreamlife). During a layover in Paris, he escorted her to the top of the Eiffel Tower and dropped down on one knee. Before he could even get a word in, she blurted out "Finally!" followed by "Yes!"
But then, the hurricane came. Irma blew through, not only disrupting their wedding plans but also destroying their new home, flooding it with seawater. They moved five times in four months before getting back on their feet. And while you might think they'd be happy to stay close to home, in adventurous spirit, the couple chose a destination across the country, in San Francisco, where they would meld the traditions of both of their cultural backgrounds. Chinese lion dancers came soaring in to greet the newlyweds at their sweetheart table, twisting and jumping; they ended with a smooch, as did the lovebirds.
The two threw a gorgeous, raging bash as ornate as the architecture of their venue—SF City Hall. Under the cupola, surrounded by opulent, towering florals with blush toned roses, milky orchids and ivory cherry blossoms spilling over glass floor vases, Cheng serenaded his bride by belting "Perfect" by Ed Sheeran. She in turn surprised him—and the guests—with a performance alongside two Brazilian Samba dancers, adorned in a Met Gala-worthy headdress. It was then that the party really got started and everyone took to the dance floor for the night, while taking breaks to nibble on gold painted macarons.
Venue: San Francisco City Hall
Pre-ceremony location: Westin St. Francis Hotel
Photography: RedSphere Studios
Video: Max Video Productions
Caterer: Melons Catering and Events
Musicians: Synchronicity Strings
Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen