Vivian Tao & Derrick Shich

Sometimes birthday wishes really do come true, even when it’s not your birthday. Vivian Tao met her future husband, Derrick Shich, at a celebration commemorating her roommate’s trip around the sun. The attraction was not exactly immediate. “I liked him right away, but he didn’t like me. That’s okay, though,” Vivian laughs.

At the time, they were students at the University of Texas, and after that initial meeting, they began running into each other around campus. “Things happened pretty naturally,” she says. “He liked me back after a couple of weeks, and we started dating. It was pretty low drama.”

They dated for five years, graduating from college and later moving to Boston so Vivian could attend law school. And in March of her third year of school, she and Derrick made plans to go to Sweden. “In college, I got this weird idea in my head that I wanted to see the Northern Lights. We always planned to do that,” she says. What she didn’t know is that Derrick planned to propose there. “I was surprised, actually. He was telling me we would get engaged after the bar exam, when things weren’t stressful anymore,” she says. “He tricked me with a false deadline so I wouldn’t inquire anymore!”

Vivian said yes, and then things got nuts. After taking the bar, she and Derrick moved to New York City. Meanwhile, she was interviewing wedding planners via video conference and eventually chose Elizabeth Gonzalez and Amanda Connolly of After Yes Weddings. “We were on the same wavelength,” Vivian says.

Elizabeth agrees. “Everything came together so organically. Vivian was such a laid-back bride,” she says. “The Southern Table took on much of the creativity as well—we gave them the direction of wanting the look to be loose, romantic, and suited for the fall.”

Vivian loved the Hickory Street Annex and gravitated toward purple from the very beginning. But she didn’t really have a lot of specifics in mind. “It was very much a mood,” she says. “I know a lot of brides have Pinterest boards. Elizabeth asked me to make one, and I had, like, five pictures.”

With the venue and palette selected, Elizabeth worked with The Southern Table to choose colors and textures that worked with all the girls’ dresses and add to the romantic feel of the space. “The raw look of the naked cake and large chalkboard perfectly belong there,” Elizabeth says. “The wild floral installation was just the perfect amount of something to set off a romantic window altar without breaking the budget.”

Vivian and Derrick tied the knot on October 18, 2014, in front of 90 of their closest friends and family. “People say that you don’t remember—that it’s a blur,” she says. “It did go by very fast. I loved the reception when we got to go around and talk to everyone. It’s been a while since we’ve lived in Texas, and we stay in touch with the phone and video chat, but it’s so different.”

Elizabeth says seeing loved ones reunite was one of her favorite parts of this wedding. “For nearly all family members involved, this was their first United States wedding,” she says. “Hearing the toasts and how they came to be where they are today was really neat.”

Ceremony/Reception Site: Hickory Street Annex
Photographer: Ben Q. Photography
Bridal Gown Designer: Issa
Bridal Gown Retailer: Shopbop.com
Hair & Makeup: Michael Gonzalez
Groom’s Attire: Ralph Lauren
Bridesmaids Dresses Designer/Retailer: J.Crew
Flowers: The Southern Table
Stationery: Minted.com
Cake: Sugar Bee Sweets
Caterer: Two Sisters Catering
Music: DJ Austin Patton, i-Entertainment
Wedding Planner: After Yes Weddings