While undergraduate students at the University of Southern California, Christine Berberian and Armen Zenjiryan developed a friendship that blossomed into more. “I’m proud to admit that Armen was my first and only boyfriend,” says Christine. Five-anda- half years later, they found themselves planning the wedding of their dreams.
“I was told to spend quality time on the invitation because it sets the tone of the event and allows guests to envision what the wedding will be like,” shares the bride. Christine followed the advice and was glad she did. Each time she met with a new vendor, she took along her invite to help illustrate the style of event she was aiming for. “It really helped meetings run easier and smoother,” adds Christine. With the guidance of a wedding consultant as well as the bride’s parents, Christine and Armen selected vendors based on reputation. “We wanted skilled, responsible, and reliable people that would deliver what they promised on the big day,” says the bride.
The California natives planned for their wedding to be held in the Los Angeles area, close to all of their loved ones. A historic hotel was the site that Christine chose for the reception: “It reflected all of the characteristics I wanted to capture – timelessness, class, and one-of-a-kind beauty.” A French theme was carried throughout the affair, infused with elegant hues such as champagne and ivory. Custom artwork inspired by the details on the bride’s gown appeared on the wedding stationery, the cake, and the dance floor. Sparkling jewels were also incorporated into all elements to add an extra touch of glamour.
The Armenian Apostolic church selected for the ceremony was transformed into an enchanted-garden setting with hedge-like displays of white and ivory roses, hydrangeas, and orchids. “It was breathtaking,” says Christine. A large arch made of white roses stood erect on the podium alongside towering cherry blossom trees. A bright white aisle runner was decorated with mounds of snowy petals. Christine carried a delicate mixture of stephanotis blossoms and lily of the valley, while bridesmaids carried smaller lavender bouquets to complement their violet dresses.
Following Armenian tradition, the Archbishop blessed the rings and the priest joined the couple’s hands as a sign of their union. The bride and groom then touched foreheads to symbolize the spiritual aspect of the pairing. While foreheads remained touching, Christine and Armen were crowned to symbolize how bride and groom become the king and queen of their own realm. Lastly, the Archbishop blessed a goblet of wine and offered a drink from the “common cup” to the couple to symbolize their willingness to share in all of life’s experiences.
The ballroom of the hotel was decorated to look reminiscent of a French garden. Two large artificial trees ornamented with white dendrobium orchids and cherry blossoms flanked the stage. Across the back of the platform was a lattice made of lemon leaves dotted with white roses. Dinner tables were bedecked with alternating centerpiece arrangements: Boxwood hedges with white roses, hydrangeas, and gilded pears decorated some tables, while fixtures with willow branches strung with white orchids adorned others. “They were gorgeous and striking,” describes Christine.
Plates of Jordan almonds were placed on each table to symbolize good luck and life’s sweetness over bitterness. Vases that were handcrafted in Armenia were etched with the couple’s wedding date and distributed to guests as favors. An attached note explained the symbolism of the painted details on each vase. “Pomegranates are an important symbol for Armenians, and we were sharing the love and luck our culture believes this fruit possesses,” Armen explains. A surprise from the bride’s father followed the dinner and cake cutting: Famed Armenian singer, Tata, began performing for the shocked couple and their guests. “I have never seen so many people run to dance at a wedding,” exclaims Christine. “It was amazing and an unbelievable surprise.”
Christine and Armen were thrilled with the way their wedding turned out. “The celebration reflected all of our ideas of elegance and formality,” affirms the bride. “It was a dream.”