Real Bride Story – Emily Wu

Emily & Eddie had an international do-good mindset from the beginning of their dating relationship and thus naturally infused it into their wedding day. This non-traditional bride made some eco-choices by opting for an intimate ceremony in nature followed by a bigger community-fueled reception in an office-turned venue in the city. Spoken like a true friend chatting over a glass of wine, read on for Emily’s nuggets of advice for planning a heartfelt, ethical wedding:


When I moved to San Francisco with two suitcases in hand and a wild dream to become a professional dancer, I couldnt begin to fathom the importance of community. I had plenty of friends I was certainly known and loved.

Then I became really known and loved.

The same community that reached deep to fully know and love me led me to my amazing husband, helped foster our relationship, and put together a wedding better than all my Pinterest boards combined.

Our small ceremony was in wine country, about an hour north of San Franciso.

wedding invitations laid out on wood, surrounding by leaves

stove and counter-top

lemons, greens, and utensils laid out on wooden table

detail shot of bride's gown hung over the corner of a dresser

close-up of the bridal bouquet, held by the bride

detail shot of the groom's boutonniere

three of the suit jackets hung up on a white wall with photographs

bride poses in front of white house


bride laying on bed, surrounding by her bridesmaids

groomsmen getting dressed before the wedding

Groom and groomsmen sitting next to each other

Bride and groom walk in the middle of their respective parties

bride and groom kiss in front of family and friends

Advice Nugget #1: Root for a cause together thats bigger than your relationship makes for much bigger dreams than that fancy juicer that you’ll only use once a year

Eddie and Iofficiallystarted dating in 2016, a few days before he left for a mission trip to Romania. While he was there, he had met the beautiful girls and founders of Beauty From Ashes, a nonprofit caring for orphan children in Romania, teaching them of Christ, and equipping them with skills to provide for themselves. My name must have come up a few times because 1 year later, and a few days after we wereofficiallyengaged, I got to meet those very same beautiful girls and founders who were the first to hear about our dating relationship (imagine thatgirls on the other side of the world knew Eddie & I were a thing before my mom. Sorry mom!)

Eddie prayed for, encouraged, and kept in contact with the girls (many of whom asked about me) for the following year. Many stories and a grand proposal later, Eddie finally introduced me to the girls I had heard so much aboutas his fiancé!

Emily teaching two young girls dance moves

Beauty From Ashes and all of the ladies there shaped so much of the beginning stages of our dating relationship and our engagement period that it only made sense that they help shape the beginning of our marriage, as well.

Because of their impact on us as individuals and us as a couple, Eddie and I chose to highlight Beauty From Ashes as our charity registry instead of asking for gifts that wouldnt fit into our (adorable) matchbox apartment in San Francisco. We asked our family and friends to donate to their fundraiser to help purchase the home they had been renting that was recently put up for sale by the owners. Our friends and family honored our wishes and together we pitched in nearly $500 that went on to helping them successfully buy the house!

Group photo of Emily and the girls from Beauty From Ashes outside

Advice Nugget #2: 

Find a community of friendsI promise theyll be better than any wedding planner.

With our registry in place and the wedding date around the corner, our community of champions, serious #SquadGoals, turned a renovated architecture firm office building we found on Peerspace into an intimate modern wedding venue that comfortably hosted a crowd resembling the UN. Dear friends with Instaworthy skills made gorgeous handmade flower installations that lined the hallways. Musical wizards and soul sisters sang our first dance song adding an extra dosage ofawwwhen the track malfunctioned and it turned into a surprise acapella performance. Boss babes with photo skills to die for created a personalized photo booth and photo mark for guest photos that is so cute that I still find prints hanging on their fridges. And actor friends dressed accordingly left the party early to chauffeur us to our wedding night hotel.

zoomed out shot of living room

close-up of colorful flower arrangement

view of wedding ceremony as viewed through a window

wedding party table set with flowers, utensils, and photographs

Hanging disco balls from ceiling of the venue

A card titled "Romania" is posted on a wall with description

Photos hung up around a room against white walls

All in all, the day reminded us how you step into your marriage is just as important as (yes, Im going to say it) the dress, the cake, and the honeymoon destination. The one day where everything really is about you is truly the perfect day to make sure every decision is good for someone else (and you!).

Final advice nugget: Shine the light on others on your special dayI promise the spotlight will fall on youand when it does, because you’ve shared some of that light, it feels a lot less blinding and a lot more like that #GoldenHour glow.

bride standing in a bedroom, holding her bouquet of flowers


Bride and groom stand side-by-side in a field

bride and groom walk through field, bride holding bouquet of flowers

Photographer: Kappen Photography,

For more tips on planning a heart-driven, ethical wedding,check out the Mindfully Wed E-guide here.

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