Garen's and my saga began on a rainy fall day. It was our first date and we had decided to go to the Natural History Museum (yes, we are self-described nerds). We realized that we had something special when what was supposed to be a nice leisurely date at the museum, ended almost eight hours later with a trip to two museums, lunch, and dinner.
After some time dating, we got engaged in May 2018. By June, we had decided that we were going to have our own Armenian wedding.
The first wedding related decision I made was purchasing the wedding dress. I very quickly fell in love with a Pronovias Atelier lace beaded off-the-shoulder gown with a dramatic train. The dress had an old-world romantic charm, which set the tone for the wedding.
The next decision was the wedding party. Having lots of siblings and friends between us, we decided to go the traditional route. We chose a married Kavor (best man) and Kavorkeen (maid-of-honor) that are great friends of ours. Additionally, we decided to incorporate all our nieces and nephews into the wedding party.
Garen and I next decided on the venue. After looking far and wide, we fell in love with NOOR - it has a romantic and modern look and feel, it's is in a desirable location near the Pasadena Paseo, and Robert Shahnazarian and his team are complete professionals. Although NOOR has an amazing ceremony location, getting married in an Armenian Apostolic Church was important to us and we just loved St. Sarkis Church - it has the beautiful decor of all Armenian churches, and is also so quaint and tranquil. After coordinating the dates with St. Sarkis Church and NOOR, we settled on a date in October 2018.
With only four months to the big day, we needed to go into full-gear wedding planning. And, since we're both busy working professionals, we decided to hire a wedding planner. Yes, even though I was marrying a Harsanik co-founder, I absolutely knew that a wedding planner was a must. After speaking with a few planners, we hired Annie Agopian of This Magic Moment Events. Annie was indispensable. She helped find vendors, came with us to the venue walk-through, coordinated with our vendors, and provided great advice on how to resolve the many issues that come up in the production of a wedding. Soon after finding Annie, we had engaged a photographer, videographer, DJ, cake vendor, hairstylist, and makeup artist. With all our vendors lined up, the count-down for the big day was on.
While I selected my wedding dress as the first wedding planning task, we held off on Garen's attire until a few months before the wedding. Garen chose to wear a charcoal colored bespoke suit by JB Clothiers. We had such an amazing time choosing out the suit - Jerry Bakchyan (JB) himself took all of Garen's measurements and helped us pick out the colors and textiles for suit, the shirt, and all of the accessories. JB is an incredibly talented and experienced clothier, so his input on how Garen should accessorize and wear the suit on the wedding day and for other events was priceless. Garen's suit was perfectly tailored to his frame and is something he will be wearing for years to come. Also, our Kavor already happened to have a charcoal-colored off-the-rack suit, so there was no need for him to get another suit. However, after seeing JB's work, he ended up taking his off-the-rack suit to JB Clothiers for custom tailoring before the big day. Needless to say, we were all very impressed with the results!
The wedding day was just amazing, and it went by so fast. Garen and I broke with tradition on the morning of. With much of my immediate family having flown into Los Angeles only the night before and knowing that we would have four children under the age of four in our wedding, we decided to forgo the traditional hars haksenel (dressing of the bride) and give everyone ample time to rest before the big event. Instead, Garen, our Kavor, Kavorkeen, and I got ready at the same location during the morning of. Thereafter, the four of us took photos at the L.A. Arboretum before the ceremony. Garen and I both love the outdoors, and since our ceremony and reception were both indoors, we wanted to take pictures in an outdoor setting. We had a total blast at the arboretum and got some amazing photos in various landscapes.
Following the Arboretum, we went to the church and then to the reception. The church ceremony was special for us and we loved having the opportunity to take photos with our family and loved ones in the church.
The reception was a total party. We decided to maximize our opportunity to socialize with our guests that had travelled from near and far and joined in on the cocktail hour. We cannot stress enough how happy we are that we did this - we got to have more meaningful conversations with people during our cocktail hour than we did the rest of the night. Following the cocktail hour, we had the grand entrance. We decided to incorporate a sazandar into the grand entrance. Since sazandars are used only on rare, celebratory occasions in Armenian tradition, we really wanted to include one in our wedding. Vardan Aroutiounian and his band did an amazing job with our entrance and getting the party started with upbeat traditional Armenian music.
After the grand entrance, we enjoyed some delicious Mediterranean/Armenian food at NOOR, and DJ Sevag kept everyone on the dance floor the whole night. We did not take any dancing breaks to cut the cake, toss the bouquet, or toss the garter as these traditions didn't have too much meaning for us. However, we did have a joint father-daughter and mother-son dance to Zaz's Je Veux - the chanteuse and song that we discussed on our very first date on a rainy fall day.
My Tips for Bride-To-Be's
(1) Be Ready for Anything:
Garen and I say that one of the biggest reasons the wedding went so smoothly is that we were expecting things to go wrong and had already promised ourselves that we would not be bothered by it. If we were to dissect each part of the day now, of course there were some mishaps. But, we didn't mind them when they occurred and, looking back, we’re able to laugh about them!
(2) Cultural Traditions:
You can honor your cultural backgrounds without feeling burdened by them. Pick and choose what traditions are important to you and your families and what also makes sense for your wedding day. For example, we knew that a hars haksenel (dressing of the bride) would be very difficult to coordinate and simply chose to forego it. However, there was no way we were going to not have a sazandar!
Be realistic of what children are capable of. We so wanted our nieces and nephews to be part of our big day, but we also wanted them and their parents to enjoy the process. If you're doing a full day of events, make sure that the children (and their parents) have time to rest and eat, so that they will have a good disposition when it's most needed.
(4) The Groom:
Most of the time, the groom doesn't take over the wedding planning and is just happy to do whatever the bride will be happy with. If this is the dynamics in your wedding planning, make sure that the groom has some form of expressive representation at the wedding. For example, Garen single-handedly chose all the music that was played at the cocktail hour and in the bar area of NOOR. And, for a more visual representation, he took over the cake design and embedded a hidden Morse code message on the cake.
Catch up on Diana's wedding planning adventures in Diana's Story Blog Series
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