A Silly, Sentimental, Oakland Wedding

The groom wrote “Mario Kart Love Song.” Yeah, that's right.

Karen, Marketing Specialist & Sam, Video Game Designer / Musician

Photographer: Vivian Chen

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: Our laid-back Bay Area wedding filled with friends, family, and music.

Soundtrack for reading: It’s a tie! Our first dance was “I Will Follow You Into the Dark,” by Death Cab for Cutie and performed by our mega-talented friends Dustin and Monique.

We let the DJ choose our last dance song and he surprised us with “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus. EVERYONE was on the dance floor for that one. Whenever we hear either song, it immediately takes us back to the wedding.


Sam is the singer/songwriter behind “Mario Kart Love Song,” a viral YouTube video. Since then, he’s been contacted by countless video-gamer couples who have told him that they’ve used the song in their own weddings. Sam didn’t perform MKLS but did perform two other songs he wrote about Karen. He was accompanied by one of his best friends and groomsmen, Shalin (on the flute).

Favorite Thing about the wedding

The overwhelming energy of love and support that surrounded us all day. We are both kinda reserved people and on this day, we just let it all hang out (emotionally, that is)! As our groomsman Christian would say, we had #allthefeelings. From Karen: Some of my favorite moments were from months before the wedding. Working on DIY projects with Sam, our family, and friends was great bonding time. From Sam: Our ceremony was my favorite. It had the perfect mix of sentimental and silly moments!


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  • ART

    yay, i LOVE Oakland! i miss living there soooo much. i love how happy you both look!

  • SarahG

    Lovely wedding :) I had no idea you could get married in Preservation Park! I love that spot. What was it like as a venue?

    • Viv

      Such a great venue! Lots of space for your guests and the main fountain courtyard area is perfect for cocktail hour. The surrounding Victorian houses make the whole location feel like a sweet small town neighborhood all to yourself.

  • Kayjayoh

    If I may ask, what are the hand/face gestures you are both doing in the photo from the ceremony? (just after the ring exchange photo)

    • Viv

      That was part of Karen and Sam’s secret handshake that they did to seal the ceremony. So freaking cute! I had such a great time photographing this wedding! Such a sweet couple! :)

      • Kayjayoh


  • KaitlynwithaK

    Beautiful wedding, and such great pictures!

    But, also, is that a picture of R. Barbara Gitenstein? The president of TCNJ? Because it looks a heck of a lot like the president and first man of my alma mater in the above toast picture!

    • Karen

      Yes, it is Dr. Gitenstein and the “first man”! Aka Sam’s parents and my new parent-in-laws They gave such sweet toasts and didn’t make fun of Sam at all, much to my disappointment. ;o)

      • KaitlynwithaK

        Ah! Such a small world! Funny enough my fiance and I are getting married at TCNJ next summer! All the best to you, Sam and your families!

        • R. Barbara Gitenstein

          Hello, KaitlynwithaK–
          Thanks for recognizing me and Dr. Hart (Don). Hope to see you when you come back to campus to plan for your wedding. All the best,

  • Amie Melnychuk

    OMG!!! We had Mario Kart Love song as our reception entrance at our wedding! It is such a wonderfully romantic song that brought us back as a couple to our shared geekdom, and why we found each other.

  • carolynprobably

    To be honest, I often skim the photo-heavy posts. But something about this wedding was just so sweet and honest that I had to slow down and take it in. Lovely.

  • MisterEHolmes

    Such beautiful dresses!

  • Cait

    Your dress is beautiful!! If you don’t mind my asking, what is the style number? You guys look so happy and in love!

    • Karen

      Thank you, Cait! The dress is Justin Alexander 8530. It’s super light and comfy! (At least for a wedding dress :P)

  • Lian

    I loved these pictures, and the feel of the wedding. The picture of the parents both staring at their notes during the speech for some reason really speaks to me.


  • creativedwelling

    I would just like to comment on how awesome it is that Karen is wearing that sick leather jacket over her wedding dress and totally rocking it.

    This wedding seems so sweet and sincere. Especially that photo of the secret handshake at the end of the ceremony. What a great idea to incorporate something so personal into the ritual!

  • Laura

    So. Many. Things. The bridesmaids and Sam’s blue suit and Karen’s leather jacket. And the parents (i assume?) giving toasts. Also, “We Can’t Stop” is my new official wedding planning theme song.