When a pair of creative women bonds over their shared love of fashion and Japanese anime, it's serious.
On election day 2016, Chen Jiang and Shaf Khan decided they would tie the knot; a few weeks later, Chen proposed right before a wedding photo shoot the two were modeling in. With more than a hint of irony, their ceremony coincided with inauguration day, and they chose none other than San Francisco City Hall for its history and stunning architecture—a perfect match for their aesthetic. When it came time to decide on a theme for their wedding, they knew it would be geared around their love of Lolita fashion.
"It's an often misunderstood street fashion style, mainly due to the Japanese name, that merges Victorian and Rococo elements with a shorter modern silhouette," says Khan.
The wedding party got ready together at the Inn San Francisco, where the lovebirds spent their first Valentine's Day together. "It's a lovely Victorian bed and breakfast that is very LGBT friendly. The decor is lush and their breakfasts are quite a large spread—the biggest I've seen! They make their quiche fresh every morning, along with pie."
In addition to the ultra cutesy street style, Khan and Jiang wanted to incorporate elements of their cultural backgrounds. For Khan—hints of red, the hue of South Asian weddings, contrasted with slightly masculine elements. She found a secondhand dress online and paired it with a pair of Vivienne Westwood shoes she'd been eyeing. "I discovered the brand through the Japanese comic Nana, and I've loved it since." She opted for a boutonniere with crimson detail and a custom fascinator rather than a traditional veil and bouquet. The same cardinal hue made its way into her makeup with a bold lip and lids.
Jiang wore a dress from a Japanese brand the two had modeled for in the past, Baby the Stars Shine Bright. Though it had a slightly more feminine cut on top, the bottom ruffles matched Khan's almost perfectly. Her veil was hand-trimmed by a fashion designer friend, who also made all the flower crowns for the wedding "squad." To top it off, her eyes were adorned with flowery false lashes, and matching 3D nails. They also wore matching Vivienne Westwood necklaces and wedding rings.
Though they were unable to indulge in many of the wedding traditions common to their respective ethic backgrounds due to the haste of the ceremony, they did have their hands covered in intricate mehndi designs the night before. "Tradition says that the strength of love in the marriage is shown by the color of mehndi on the bride's hands," explains Khan. "The darker the stain, the deeper the love. We both had a very deep color on our hands, so I suppose that's twice the love of an ordinary marriage!"
Brimming with thoughtful and personal touches, they wrote our own vows, and Jiang gave Khan a Chanel lip balm, referencing a moment in the show Yuri on Ice, one of their favorite anime. "The show was meaningful to us for many reasons. Not only was it a lovely homage to men's figure skating, it had authentic queer representation and the first LGBT couple in a mainstream anime. It was proof that progress was being made despite recent events."
Afterwards they had lunch with their wedding party at the Palace Hotel, and naturally took lots of photos in their unforgettable outfits.
They even met their photographer at an anime convention.
Venue: San Francisco City Hall
Reception: The Inn San Francisco
Chen's dress, socks, and shoes: Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Shaf's dress: Lapin Agill
Shaf's shoes: Vivienne Westwood
Beauty: Mehndi Zone
Chen's Eyelashes: Miyuki's Eyelashes
Mehndi: Mehndi Zone
Rings: Baby the Stars Shine Bright
Floral designer: Farmgirl Flowers
Caterer: The Palace Hotel
Photography: f27 Photography