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Plan Your Perfect City Hall Wedding

May 24, 2013

by Lover.ly

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Kellee Khalil is the founder and CEO of Lover.ly, a visual search engine for weddings that helps brides find inspiring images, things to buy, and vendors to hire. Take the Style Quiz and discover perfect wedding ideas tailored to you.

There’s something so romantic about a city hall wedding. The focus on the bride and groom, the lack of distraction, and the fabulous options for attire and post-nuptial celebration have us daydreaming of a wedding do-over. If you’re planning a quick “I do,” here are some of our suggestions for making it all about you and your spouse-to-be. 

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When it comes to a city hall wedding, it’s all about the dress. While there a many options for such a casual affair – short, long, patterned, traditional white – we can’t help but love the classic, tea-length look. Add a unique touch with a sweet Peter Pan collar, or stick with a vintage, full skirt. And don’t be afraid to add a touch of color. Either way, this is an ensemble you’ll definitely wear again!

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[Clockwise from top left: Handmade tea length dress by bridalblissdesigns; 1960s vintage dress from GinnyandHarriot; Vintage peter pan collar dress from sweetnsourvintage; Beach dress by ishkabibblesdesigns]

Explore more dresses on Loverly.

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Going with a short dress? Show off your shoes! We love adding vintage shoe clips to a pair of everyday heels for an instant makeover. Look for clips in bright colors, luxe fabrics, or even sequins to dress up your look. Top off your outfit with a classic birdcage veil or fascinator, and don’t forget to bring a clutch — you’ll need it to carry your marriage license and other identification. For the groom? A personalized tie bar is something he can wear for years to come.

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[Clockwise from top left: Floral clutch by BagNoir; Personalized tie clip by MNCreativeDesigns; Blue velvet shoe clips by studiohboutique; Tulle veil by sibodesigns]

Explore accessories on Loverly.

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A casual ceremony doesn’t mean you have to skimp on details. Give your groom a boutonnière made from the pages of your favorite books and carry a matching bouquet —they will last forever as a reminder of your wedding day. Fragrant, dried flowers are another great, long-lasting option. Make your exit one to remember by asking friends and witnesses to toss birdseed or eco-friendly confetti as you leave. Take along a “Just Married” banner and snap a few pics outside the courthouse, and you’ll have an instant wedding announcement to send to friends and family who couldn’t be there.

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[Clockwise from top left: Just Married banner by LittleRetreats; Rustic boutonniere by TheSunnyBee; Dried lavender bouquet by paulajeansgarden; Paper rose bouquet by HelloMrsBrown]

Explore more details on Loverly.

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Gathering with a few guests to celebrate your nuptials? Keep the party low-key with handmade décor that can be re-purposed. Dress up a backyard with simple tissue paper pom-poms or string lights, and spring for a unique cake topper that doubles as a keepsake. Trade a traditional guest book for a framed print that friends and family can sign as they stop by over the next few days. If you’re keeping the party very small (just the two of you), dig into your first meal as husband and wife with personalized flatware, or sip champagne in custom flutes. They’ll be perfect for those future anniversary celebrations.

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[Clockwise from top left: Custom fingerprint poster by FlutterbyePrints; Garland by giddy4paisley; Custom cake toppers by lollipopworkshop; Dessert forks by BlueCrabb]

Explore more decor ideas on Loverly.

Shop Etsy Weddings | More Weddings Posts

Psst! The Lover.ly app has just been released! Get your wedding inspiration fix on the go, then find your favorite handmade ideas on Etsy. Download it in the App Store now.

110 comments

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 4 years ago

    Both my sister and best friend were married at city hall. Both weddings were beautiful and just as special as any other wedding :)

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 4 years ago

    Great ideas! I've always wanted a city hall wedding.

  • materialrat

    Margarita Rat from PackRatJewelry said 4 years ago

    Adorable picks!

  • NicolasKnitKnacks

    Nicola and Jessica Belton from CelticKnittingCo said 4 years ago

    Lovely ideas, delightful to see, love the bride and groom cake topper!!!

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 4 years ago

    My marriage just became legal in my state of Minnesota a few days ago. We had a huge wedding two years ago, so we'll probably be heading to City Hall on our 2-year anniversary. Can't wait to make it officially official!

  • MadisonStreetBeauty

    MadisonStreetBeauty from MadisonStreetBeauty said 4 years ago

    love this!!

  • TheSoCalCompany

    TheSoCalCompany from TheSoCalCompany said 4 years ago

    Having a wedding at City Hall is a great idea. Many places have city halls' that are just as ornate as a Cathedral. We have many beautiful options here in L.A. county. They don't re-build city halls too often, so I imagine many places around the U.S. have the same. Also, when you spend a little less on a wedding venue you have a much larger budget for the reception and wedding favors!

  • Aristocrafts

    Aristocrafts from Aristocrafts said 4 years ago

    Beautiful picks! There is something very intimate about a marriage at City Hall, and aesthetically - there are tons of possibilities :)!

  • sommervilleglass

    sommervilleglass from SommervilleGlass said 4 years ago

    Great picks!!

  • studiokgraphicdesign

    studiokgraphicdesign from studiokgraphicdesign said 4 years ago

    Oh wow, these are adorable ideas! There are so many great alternatives to a big, expensive wedding.

  • agebo

    Ann Cosgrove from acbcDesign said 4 years ago

    So beautiful! What great ideas to make that special day even more special!

  • TheHickoryTree

    Linda from TheHickoryTree said 4 years ago

    My husband and I got married in the City of Chicago at City Hall 30 years ago. It was performed by a judge and it was one of those freezing Chicago winter days. I still remember the other bride and groom that were getting married after us. The bride's Mom kept weeping uncontrollably because her daughter was getting married and her Dad was pacing back and forth down the hall. Oh the good times we had that day. I still have my lovely dress that I wore, and it hangs by his suit in the closet.

  • admspeicher
  • Angelstitchbroderie

    Christine Jargick from Geminivintagestore said 4 years ago

    Love this! I'm planning to have a very casual wedding, enjoying the ideas :)

  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly said 4 years ago

    WHAT FUN! Love the ideas and what could be more simple and chic?!? The cake topper is adorable and the paper rose is sweet.

  • lilyblueboston

    Caitlin and Lily Edge from lilyblues said 4 years ago

    Lovely :)

  • awkward

    awkward from awkward said 4 years ago

    Great article - love the choices and the casual-yet-distinctive styles of each couple's photo! :)

  • PinkCheetahVintage

    PinkCheetahVintage from PinkCheetahVintage said 4 years ago

    So lovely :)

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios from MerCurios said 4 years ago

    Love this! Speaking from experience, I agree that you can have one heck of a City Hall Wedding. Not everyone wants to (or can) have an elaborate full-day affair now a days. Our ceremony took place in the lovely little village of Port Jefferson, NY where the Town Hall over looks the harbor. The reception, right across the way at Danfords, was simple and intimate. The best part - 8 years later friends and family are still talking about it! My advice to newly engaged couples - follow your heart and have the wedding of your dreams. With enough planning, it most certainly can be done on a budget and still be extraordinary.

  • lovelygifts

    Linda from lovelygifts said 4 years ago

    Great selection and pictures!

  • CherryRedToppers

    Kate from CherryRedToppers said 4 years ago

    My sweet hubby and I had a lovely little justice of the peace wedding the month before our "real" wedding. Just the two of us, it was a great way to have a ceremony that was just about us and the marriage we were creating. It also made the stress of the "real wedding" a little less important. We knew that our commitment to each other had already been signed and sealed, so we were able to make our big day more about bringing our families together, and less about making it somehow "perfect". I wouldn't have traded it for anything, and now we get to celebrate our anniversary twice a year. Once just for us, and then again with the rest of our family and friends. Perfection.

  • mkasonen

    Merle Kasonen from Mekadorn said 4 years ago

    Great article with nice findings!

  • genisepark

    Genise Park from genisepark said 4 years ago

    Really cool. Love all the picks.

  • dolcesweetjewels

    Melissa from lolaandcompany said 4 years ago

    Cute ideas, just perfect!

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans said 4 years ago

    Neoclassical buildings... Always a great setting...

  • hutapearl

    Marlene Lamar from HutaPearlJewelry said 4 years ago

    My husband and I were married in the courthouse rotunda under a 3 story high stained glass ceiling that is absolutely gorgeous. I wore my floor length designer wedding dress that I had purchased thinking we would have a church ceremony, but plans change. We decided we didn't want to wait any longer. It was fun walking down the sidewalk in downtown Little Rock as people waved, wished us luck and cheered us on. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything!!

  • NirvanaRoad

    Lisa from NirvanaRoad said 4 years ago

    The first and second photo looks like it was taken in SF. Joe Di Maggio and Marilyn Monroe were married there. Nice feature!

  • NotTheKitchenSink

    Sara Carter from TheCostumeCafe said 4 years ago

    The "1960s vintage dress" is actually from 1987. My sister wore the pink version to her Senior Prom. I went to JC Penney's with her to pick it out. haha

  • deekish

    Deeksha Lakshmi from TheColorWagon said 4 years ago

    Lovely feature. I love simple weddings with just close family! But I had a big fat colorful Indian wedding!!! :)

  • handandheritage

    DueAmici from handandheritage said 4 years ago

    Love this- all the details are so sweet and special

  • TopRackPinup

    Nina McCaskey from WeddedKiss said 4 years ago

    this is terrific! really shows how to plan a creative fun wedding on a more casual scale :) enjoyable!

  • Fabulize

    Fabulize from Fabulize said 4 years ago

    Love the post. It's really about each other.

  • Bridalize

    Xiu Li from Bridalize said 4 years ago

    Love the details. Great post. Wedding is such a great celebrations. =)

  • grimmandgrete

    Lisa from REBELbyFATE said 4 years ago

    I think there's something crazy romantic about a wedding at City Hall as well. It's kind of like "let's just do this thing + be together". You can go traditional or super cool contemporary; ie. both bride + groom wearing their Vans.

  • OhMyDeko

    OhMy Deko from OhMyDeko said 4 years ago

    Great article. Stunning candid photos!! =D

  • rissam84vintage

    Clarissa Mays from ForbiddenTrueLove said 4 years ago

    I think that this is a great idea. I want to have a small intimate ceremony and these ideas will make it more personal.

  • SpaceMauve

    Caroline Bee from SpaceMauve said 4 years ago

    Super Great !

  • stargeuse

    Emma Segasture from Astarix said 4 years ago

    Nice article and the beautiful photos in front of San Francisco City Hall :)

  • mattyhandmadecrafts

    Matejka Max from NattyMatty said 4 years ago

    Adorable!

  • inturquoisesky

    asu from THEFAIRYTHINGS said 4 years ago

    Nice details... Thanks....

  • WhateverGetsYouTrue

    Gina Walsh from WhateverGetsYouTrue said 4 years ago

    Just gorgeous !

  • creativejuicecafe

    Eve from CreativeJuiceCafe said 4 years ago

    Love the Just Married banner!

  • daisyremembers

    Lucy and Lynne from DaisyRemembers said 4 years ago

    Love the beautiful simplicity of these weddings!

  • mistycat1234

    mistycat1234 from carolinagirlz2 said 4 years ago

    As an event planner I've planned dozens of bazillion-dollar weddings, but this collection makes it look COOL to just do your own thing at City Hall! Thanks for this nice collection!

  • KnitKnit

    Nguyen Le from KnitKnit said 4 years ago

    One of my best friends had a wedding at city hall, and it was very sweet! Her mother brought pearls for her to wear, and her mother in law brought a pair of beautiful lace gloves that had been in the family. Very special. :)

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls from HandiworkinGirls said 4 years ago

    Beautiful picks! Love the colors, textures, and styles of the various accessories... I think there is some treasury inspiration here today! :)

  • richdon1

    Rich and Dona from TheCottageMouse said 4 years ago

    Goes to show that love is not always about glitz and glamour. Simple can be golden. Love all the photos. Very romantic picks.

  • cottonbirddesigns

    Angela Cotton from CottonBirdDesigns said 4 years ago

    Great article!

  • ellabellamay

    Ursula Goetz from ellabellamay said 4 years ago

    A great friend of mine had both a city hall wedding and a traditional church wedding due to family ideals, and she was gorgeous for both! Neither one was better than the other, and both weddings were well-planned and coordinated. She also wore a simple, yet well-designed dress for city hall that worked beautifully with the old-world architecture of the building itself. Thanks for a great article! It takes all types to run a happy world!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 4 years ago

    Beautiful article!

  • fineartstoneware

    fineartstoneware from fineartstoneware said 4 years ago

    Great pictures, and simple weddings can be good!

  • 8point8

    8point8 from ThinkEco2 said 4 years ago

    Hi Kellee, I like your article Would you consider offering our repurposed cedar wedding trays for your clients? They are perfect for a wine country wedding.

  • Nemki

    Nemki from nemki said 4 years ago

    Gorgeous photos

  • thewomensrepublic

    Sara Brazil from SararaVintage said 4 years ago

    I love that etsy covered this alternative "destination wedding". My mother and father eloped and got married at city hall. It's been over 20 years and they are still going strong. She wore a simple shorter 60s mod white dress. They forgot their camera but we have the dress! It just goes to show that all the planning in the world or not is no indication of how the wedding will weather the storms. City Hall worked for them!

  • Cufflinked

    Cufflinked from Cufflinked said 4 years ago

    YES! That's what I'm talking about. Great selections

  • deadsetbabes

    dead set babes from deadsetbabes said 4 years ago

    absolutely gorgeous!!!!

  • tenomushi

    Sam Teague from ChameleonWeddings said 4 years ago

    Gorgous items and an excellent article to boot! City Hall weddings often seem to get overlooked in wedding blogs, so it's great to see an article demonstrating that they can be just as romantic as more formal affairs.

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 4 years ago

    Wow! You make getting married at city hall the way it should be done!! I love the ideas shown here....

  • samanthaspitzner

    On the Rocks from OTRVintageClothing said 4 years ago

    This is so perfect!

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 4 years ago

    This is a great feature. The NYC Marriage Bureau is located in a gorgeous but understated art deco courthouse in Manhattan. You wouldn't know how great it is inside by seeing it from the outside. (Until a few years ago, they still actually had elevator operators who would pull the lever to get you to the right floor, and you weren't even allowed to do it yourself!) In my day job as a lawyer I've gone there for more mundane, lawsuit-related reasons. But I always love to go there for business because the place is just bursting with happy couples and their loved ones. The last time I was there, I told the court officers that they were lucky to have been assigned to that building because it's so filled with joy!

  • H88255

    H88255 from HillarysSuperfoods said 4 years ago

    OMG I LOVE WEDDINGS!! Congratulations to everyone that is married or is making plans for a beautiful wedding this year!!

  • Oliverink

    OliverINK Publishing from Oliverink said 4 years ago

    Love the short dresses!

  • emberair

    emberair from EmberandAir said 4 years ago

    I do love the short dresses for the courthouse wedding! And I love the throwback to more retro dresses as well!

  • myword38

    angie blunk from the5thelementshop said 4 years ago

    Loved that purse

  • dollyjoshi

    Dolly Joshi from WeddingSong said 4 years ago

    lovely!!

  • arcticrose

    arcticrose from arcticrose said 4 years ago

    We did a City Hall wedding. Jeans and t-shirts on a Wednesday. Our family and friends all live thousands of miles away, so we kept it a secret, so no one was hurt because they couldn't afford to come to the wedding. We promised our families that we'd hold a vow re-renewal at some point in the future where they would be involved (maybe in 10 years?) I would have loved to have a retro dress for the court house, but it was a spur of the moment thing. "Hey hun, lets get married today, we've been together 2 years and I deploy soon..." I wasn't going to say no :D

  • sukran

    Sukran Kirtis from SukranKirtisJewelry said 4 years ago

    I love the short length bridal's in vintage style, unique way to get married

  • willowstainedglass

    michelle wood from willowstainedglass said 4 years ago

    This is great. A nice reminder.

  • HouseOfMirth

    Nerrissa McKee from CoilandSlab said 4 years ago

    Wish our city hall looked that lovely.

  • aliciacox5

    ALICIA COX from ELLAFLY said 4 years ago

    very cute ideas!

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 4 years ago

    Amazinig!

  • H88255

    H88255 from HillarysSuperfoods said 4 years ago

    What a beautiful wedding idea!

  • leilalou

    Lesley from leilalou said 4 years ago

    We live in France but were married in "The Grand City Hall in New York" as the song goes....it was amazing!

  • lmouer

    Lynsey from lmouer said 4 years ago

    Beautiful selection! City Hall is the way to go! Thank you for sharing!

  • myvintagecrush

    Kathleen from myvintagecrush said 4 years ago

    I love courthouse weddings! ..so romantic..

  • jenniferbranch4

    Jennifer Branch from Guineverecollection said 4 years ago

    Thank you for sharing! I will being saying I do soon so really enjoyed reading. :)

  • PinesVintageClothing

    Pine from GoodOldVintageOnline said 4 years ago

    Great post and picks! Luv the Chrysanthemum silk lined aqua floral clutch!

  • jhuttonful

    Jessica Hutton said 4 years ago

    Love it... there is definitely something special about City Hall weddings (wish I could still Facebook Like Etsy blog pages!)

  • betterdesigned

    Courtney from soapup83 said 4 years ago

    Such great ideas! Seeing this feature shows me that I have been on the right track all along when it comes to getting things set up for my own small, City Hall wedding in July.

  • Motleycouture

    Motleycouture from Motleycouture said 4 years ago

    Love City Hall weddings! Great article!

  • TeaTimeVintageShop

    carole from TeaTimeVintageShop said 4 years ago

    Love all the ideas!

  • messinabella

    messinabella from BandBEstate said 4 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • sealiah

    Silvia Silvia from SEALIAHJewelry said 4 years ago

    fantastic article, lovely

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 4 years ago

    classic and beautiful ~ a favorite wedding feature for me ~

  • CreateTheCut

    Create The Cut from CreateTheCut said 4 years ago

    Very romantic!!

  • CasseNoisette

    CasseNoisette said 4 years ago

    Belles photos !

  • Leontina1

    Janet from LeontinaCouture said 4 years ago

    This is stunning! Great work

  • SPUNKbyCM

    CM from SPUNKbyCM said 4 years ago

    I love these suggestions because I'm not into full-blown weddings. This is practical, low-key, and still memorable at the same time.

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 4 years ago

    Love!

  • bottlebloomers

    Leanne Stock from ArtePlastique said 4 years ago

    I love city weddings, the atmosphere, close to hotels. Great article.

  • GetMailled

    Christine Lindstrom from GetMailled said 4 years ago

    My friends oldest had her wedding at city hall. It was the grooms mother, Brides mother and younger sister, my husband and I and the couples toddler in attendance. Before the ceremony, my husband took photos of the bride while she waited for him to arrive. Then after he took photos of them together inside the city hall. Afterward we all went to dinner and then to my place where I had gotten them a cake and champagne!

  • chagopatty

    Amy Lee from TangerineTeesPrints said 4 years ago

    My parents got married at city hall and had a massive reception afterwards. Who said you had to get married in a church.

  • swernham

    Shelley Wernham from PreciousShell said 4 years ago

    This is a wonderful and refreshing change to the huge weddings, so much more intimate and personal. You can go all out on the accessories and be creative :) great pictures very inspirational

  • LoveYourBling

    Ruthie from LoveYourBling said 4 years ago

    Looks so romantic!

  • CharmedByWine

    Mary from CharmedByWine said 4 years ago

    some wonderful ideas for a city hall wedding!

  • kb408

    Karen Babcock said 4 years ago

    It was so lovely to read this and see the amazing ideas you could include to make it romantic and special.City Hall has always been my dream wedding venue, especially since I live right by San Francisco- how can you go wrong by getting married where Marilyn Monroe got married?!- there is something intimate and wonderful about getting married with a minimal amount of guest. You can have a large reception or party if you feel like afterwards, but the actual ceremony should be kept small. My dream, get married at city hall and then pop off to SFO and go on an incredible honeymoon still decked out in wedding attire!

  • sibodesigns

    Sheila Bobeldijk from sibodesigns said 4 years ago

    Absolutely love all of these items! The look and feel is so simple and romantic! <3

  • lissasbrown

    lissasbrown said 4 years ago

    Thank you so much for this post. My husband & I were married @ the city hall in Santa Rosa, CA. We picked it because it was close to our home & in wine country (we are into wine)... it was beautiful & we got a wine country wedding on the cheap. I got a vintage looking white & baby blue short dress at Banana Republic for like $100. My mom got me pink roses & surprised us with an ice-cream cake. The workers at the city hall were also very sweet... the lady helping with the licence even took photos for us. It was small, but the people who mattered the most were there. Plus we were able to afford to take them to a nice dinner & do some wine tasting.

  • Florentes

    Inga and Daiva from Florentes said 4 years ago

    Lovely and inspiring :)

  • studiolara316

    Lara Harris from studiolara316 said 4 years ago

    ~~~lovely~~~

  • LiSoCards

    LiSoCards from LiSoCards said 4 years ago

    This is perfect! I am planning my wedding for next year and we will be married at a City Hall! :)

  • kadydesigns

    Denise Vining from kadydesigns said 4 years ago

    Great ideas for a simple wedding and just as lovely!!

  • mandykillorn

    Amanda Gallant from MamaMonstersClips said 4 years ago

    These ideas work great for small elopement and chapel weddings too I must say. When my husband and I decided to have a chapel we had just parents. I struggled with not having my exact style, or options larger weddings do. But you don't have to skimp on style for these. I still had my dream dress and added some touches of my chosen colours. I wish I had of discovered both this article and all the other added Etsy touches but hey I still loved my day and continue to browse Etsy for the day we decide to renew and include our 2 soon to be 3 youngest boys.

  • CharlotteRenata

    Charlotte Renata from HenrietteRenee said 4 years ago

    Nice Picks!

  • AntonellaMia

    AntonellaMia from AntonellaMia said 4 years ago

    Nice!! I'm in love with the wedding bouquest! ;)

  • yzfashionbridal

    YZfashionbridal Inc from YZFashionBridal said 4 years ago

    Love it! check out my collections!

  • laremi

    Laremi Lace Wedding from HandmadeLaremi said 3 years ago

    Great tips! Love the picks!

  • amazingbridalscom

    Jasmine Wang from amazingbridalscom said 3 years ago

    Fantastic! OWN A HIGH QUALITY CUSTOM-MADE WEDDING DRESS IN AFFORDABLE PRICE. 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEED. Check our collections.

  • toastsandtraditions

    Wedding Toasts and Traditions from toastsandtraditions said 3 years ago

    Your pictures really grabbed me and took me back to my own, San Francisco City Hall wedding. From our custom wedding rings, of rose gold and garnet (fashioned after a ring in the Museum of Boston catalog), to my short strapless dress with a corset of gold lace, braided with sparkles and a vintage veil, to his brand new double breasted pin-stripe and fedora. We looked like we'd stepped out of the 1940's even though it was the 1990's. Black & White photos by friends and co-workers made for a great memory. But our favorite moment has to be when the rollerblading messenger did donuts while waiting for the elevators, just as we were saying our vows. You can even hear the soft melodious chimes of the vintage elevators in the background of our wedding video. Thanks for a great article and super photos! (check out my newly launched shop and tell me what you think)

  • korenkwan

    Koren Kwan from GarasuWonderland said 2 years ago

    wonderful ideas!

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