Real weddings: Bernice and Ray Wong

A classic Hong Kong love story, Bernice and Ray met over dim sum. The two were dining with their parents, hit it off – and the rest is history.

How did you stumble upon The Secret Kitchen by The Butchers Club?

Bernice Wong: It actually took us a while to find the perfect venue. We wanted to have about 160-190 guests there for a late afternoon cocktail session, followed by dinner – all in the same place. Plus, we were getting married during the rainy season, so we needed a Plan B. At first, our parents thought the venue, which is located in an industrial building, was a bit avant-garde, but they warmed to the idea! 

Why didn’t you go with the usual banquet hall?

BW: We wanted the day to be a party rather than a formal affair for our guests – and for us. In the end, it was perfect: fun, energetic, simple and refreshingly atypical.

Did you incorporate any Chinese elements?

BW: We didn’t spend time or energy on the usual Chinese games and ceremonies, which we didn’t find meaningful. That being said, we ended up doing the Chinese tea ceremony, which was very important for our parents and grandparent. I also thought it would be fun to be in a traditional Chinese wedding gown, and I was very glad that Ray agreed to play along – not a lot of Hong Kong guys do!

How were your personalities reflected?

BW: We both like things to be simple and not too stressful, so I would say, as far as wedding planning goes, we aced on both fronts! As for the decor, it was more of a woody, natural theme with very simple colours, such as white and green on wood. The signage was accentuated in neon pink. Ray was also very excited about the pick-up truck, which was provided by the venue – the back was filled with ice-cold beers to welcome our guests.   

Any advice for other couples?

Take it easy, and enjoy the planning. You are supposed to do this once in your life, so make it fun!

In hindsight…

Glad I spent on: Portable fans and air conditioning for the alfresco area. It turned out to be a very hot day!

Glad I saved on: Simple decorations. Our decorator knew how much was “just right.”

Venue & Caterer: The Secret Kitchen by The Butchers Club, thebutchers.club/wong-chuk-hang

Decorator: The Wooden Fox, instagram.com/thewoodenfox.co

Photographer: KC Professional Photography, www.chankichun.com

Cake: Sift, www.siftdesserts.com

Wedding dress: Spring Wedding, www.springwedding.com.hk

Hairstylist & Makeup: Bart Ko, www.beaute.com.hk

Real Weddings: Nissa and Andy Cornish

Nissa and Andy met while both were working at environmental NGOs. In 2015, the pair celebrated their marriage on an organic farm in Fanling.

When you started planning, which details were most important to you?

Nissa Cornish: It was important that our wedding be not just a beautiful event, but a reflection of who we are. We considered a destination wedding, but quickly realized that with many of our friends and family living far away, Hong Kong is a destination… and a great one! So we decided to do right it here, where our story is. We knew we didn’t want a typical Hong Kong wedding, in a hotel or restaurant. We also wanted to do it as sustainably as possible, and incorporate the outdoors if possible.

Which venues did you settle on?

NC: We had our ceremony at WWF’s Island House Conservation Studies Centre, in Tai Po. It’s a beautiful colonial-style heritage building built in 1905, and has an enormous private garden overlooking the sea. Our reception was at Zen Organic Farms in Fanling. I loved the idea of a rustic barn wedding. At first we didn’t think it would be possible, but then we visited Zen and discovered this open-air shed overlooking the fields… and something in our imaginations just said, “YES.”

How did you discover them?

NC: At the time, the Island House wasn’t open to the public [though it’s now open for event bookings], so very few people knew of it. Because Andy worked for WWF, we were able to make a special request to book it. As for Zen, we knew that the farm supplied organic produce to one of my favourite restaurants, Posto Pubblico. So we asked the kind folks at Posto (who also ended up being our caterers) to connect us. 

Did you encounter any complications?

NC: At first, Zen flat-out refused because they had never hosted anything like a wedding. It took a lot of coaxing from us and our amazing wedding planner to get them on board. But once they agreed, they were super kind and helpful all the way.

What else was special about your wedding?

NC: We enjoyed adding a lot of homemade touches. I designed the invitations, and found a woman who hand-made amazing fabric bunting to decorate the barn. Andy designed and built custom lighting for the head table, which went perfectly with the vintage mirrors we used as a backdrop. 

How were your personalities reflected?

NC: Our ceremony “altar” was decorated simply with two potted banyan trees, which now live on our roof as a memento. Andy hung vintage Hong Kong romantic-film posters from his personal collection in the barn, and selected organic wines and locally-brewed beers to serve.

What other details did your guests love?

NC: The kids’ area seemed to go over well! We had fun things like a teepee, wedding-themed colouring books, games, sidewalk chalk, and bubbles. Guests also made their own pizzas in a wood-burning oven. 

In hindsight…

Glad I spent on: A wedding planner. Sonya from Bliss Creations took care of all the boring details, which left us free to do the fun stuff.

Glad I saved on: The dress. It was a simple, classic dress by a local designer, and that’s all I needed. 

Wish I spent on: Live music all night. We hired an amazing live trio to serenade us during sunset, then switched to a DJ after dinner.

Wish I saved on: Nothing I can think of! 

Wedding Planner: Bliss Creations, blissweddings.asia

Caterer: Posto Pubblico, www.postopubblico.com

Photographer: Sean Creamer, facebook.com/SeanCreamerPhotography

Transport: Tesla Motors, tesla.com

Bouquet Flowers: Tiffany Flowers, www.tiffannyflowers.com.hk

Venue Decor: DIY

Makeup: Liz Bohan, bit.ly/2krm85S

Hair: Catherine Law

Entertainment: Cecillia Tang, facebook.com/CecilliaTangMorgana

Rings: Nathalie Melville Fine Jewellery, melvillejewellery.com

Photographers share their perfect moments

We speak to three photographers about the special memories
they’ve captured on camera. By Mahira Jamshed

Jamie Ousby Photography

A self-proclaimed “photo ninja,” Jamie Ousby Photography has mastered the art of blending in and capturing those unstaged moments of joy. www.jamieousbyphotography.com

Forever love: “I try to be like a guest with a camera, and the result are moments like this between the bride and her grandmother. I love how close together they are and the tear running down Lixi’s face sets it apart. This is such an important scene to capture – the kind of moment the couple can treasure for years to come.”

Private words: “I wasn’t close enough to hear what they were talking about – but that was a good thing! This was a moment that needed to be captured without interruption..”

A tearjerker: “Eric’s reaction to Blu’s vows are so heartwarming and genuine. When he took off his glasses to wipe his eyes, it happened in a split second so I had to be ready. I was so happy when I looked back on this shot. I knew it was a lovely moment that they would remember from their day.”

Ali G Studios

A go-to photographer for some of Hong Kong’s biggest society bashes, Ali G Studios immortalizes the day’s emotions in images that are loaded with details and colour. www.aligstudios.com

  

Epic moments: “Set against the backdrop of some incredible palaces in Jaipur, India, this four-day destination wedding was one of the grandest I have ever photographed. I wanted something epic and memorable for the couple, while staying true to their style and the majestic backdrop.”

Red dress: “The couple had informed me they wanted to create images with the look and feel of the famous Hong Kong movie, ‘In The Mood For Love.’ The challenge was to get the perfect lighting and post production on the image, which was shot at The China Club in Central.”

Flower shower: “This was an amazing destination wedding of a Hong Kong couple at The Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok. The key was to inform the guests not to step into the aisle and to throw as many flower petals as they could to get a great effect!”

Kenneth Lim Photography

With a skilled eye for personal and authentic moments, Kenneth Lim Photography beautifully captures the honest, raw emotions that make a wedding so special. www.kennethlimphotography.com

Dad’s dance: “The father-daughter dance is one of the old-school wedding traditions I love. It’s a unique few minutes towards the end of the wedding day, when the bride can give thanks to her parents and honour the special bond between father and daughter one last time.”

Let it rain: “After the wedding ceremony, it began to rain during our portrait session in Sheung Wan. The bride and groom took cover from the rain and I kept shooting. Just as with marriage, sometimes you just have to stick together and make the best of a bad situation!”

Real Weddings: Dervla and Alister

After meeting on New Year’s Eve, Dervla Louli and Alister Musgrave had a whirlwind Hong Kong romance, which culminated in a civil ceremony and intimate dinner in Hong Kong. Dervla, founder of wellness travel portal Compare Retreats, tells us about the 11-person celebration.

How did you and your husband meet?

DL:  Our best friends introduced us at Alister’s New Year’s Eve party in London. I was living in Hong Kong and he asked me if he could come over to take me on a date. I said ‘yes’ and the rest is history.

How did you whittle down the guest list to 11?

DL:  The private dining room in Café Gray at The Upper House only fits 12 people, so that determined the size of our guest list.The room has one large, round table so our party could all chat easily together, and the view is beautiful, especially in the evening. We invited friends who are like family to us in Hong Kong and who know us both very well.

Why did you choose The Upper House?

DL:  I was formerly the editor of Upper House magazine and have great memories. Our first date, engagement dinner and many other events have been celebrated at the hotel and it was a natural choice. The all-star team made it perfect.

How would you describe your wedding aesthetic?

DL :The Upper House has a very chic and symmetrical aesthetic so we didn’t need to do much when it came to decor and ambiance. We wanted everything to be very relaxed and elegant so there was no set menu or drinks list. Everyone ordered whatever they felt like.

How were your personalities reflected?

DL:  Great food, music and drinks are all important to Alister when it comes to throwing a party, and they were all there in abundance. The iDecorate brass pineapples on the table reflected a small obsession I have. I fell in love with some Casa Capriz vintage pineapples as I was walking along Aberdeen Street a few years ago, and have collected them ever since.

What else did you do a little differently?

DL:  We made sure that waste was kept to a minimum, so guests went home with flowers. In that sense, we tried to keep the aesthetic very natural with lots of flowers. We stayed away from balloons, plastic and props that would have been thrown away after.

Any advice for other couples?

DL:  Go with your gut. If you love a venue, book it straight away. The same goes for the dress, cake, florist, photographer, band… Once you start to overthink things, you just end up in a Pinterest spiral.

In hindsight…

Glad I spent on: The photography, which I’ll treasure forever.

Glad I saved on: Clothes and shoes. I wore a pair of gold Jimmy Choos and a beautiful SAU Collection crop top and skirt that I had in my wardrobe. Best decision ever.

Who helped them:

Venue: Café Gray Deluxe, The Upper House Hong Kong,
www.upperhouse.com.

Event Planner: Lauren Roberts, Sweet Soirees,
www.sweetsoireeshk.com.

Photographer: Sam Wong (Sam is Home), www.samishome.com

Cake: Whisk, The Mira, www.themirahotel.com.

Wedding Top and Skirt: SAU Clothing, www.sauclothing.com.

Real Weddings: Nathan and Koscina

Surrounded by 100 of their closest family and friends, Nathan and Koscina Green tied the knot at Duddell’s restaurant last year.

Why did you choose Duddell’s?

NG: Duddell’s offered everything we wanted, all in one space, and fantastic food that both our western and local guests could enjoy. The layout is perfect and allowed us to have our reception on the terrace followed by dinner downstairs, then back up to the terrace for evening drinks.

Why did you choose an intimate wedding, rather than a big banquet?

NG: We wanted to keep the wedding small and simple, so we only invited our close friends and immediate family. We have never liked the notion that this should be the happiest day of our lives – we always thought that was a sad idea. We just wanted everyone to have fun.

How else did you save some cash?

NG: We invited a limited number of our nearest and dearest for the ceremony and dinner, then we invited everyone else for drinks in the evening. My suit cost about $3,000. Kos chose a beautiful simple dress which only cost $2,500.

How did the wedding details reflect your personalities?

NG: We are both tattooed and have a great passion for tattoos. One of our very good friends Jennifer is the owner and cake designer of Cake It Studio. She designed our wedding cake, inspired by our tattoo-themed invitation. She even put our dogs Trixie and Lollie on the cake, as they couldn’t join our wedding.

Kos, you were pregnant, right? Where did you get your dress?

Kos: In the beginning, I chose a simple wedding dress from Shopbop. However, I was five months’ pregnant before our big day. My original dress couldn’t fit my baby belly, so I had to look for a maternity wedding dress. In the end, I found it online at tiffanyrose.com.

In hindsight…

Glad I spent on: The food. The guests loved all the dishes.

Glad I saved on: Decorations – you don’t have to spend loads to have a beautiful wedding.

Who helped us:

Suit: Empire Taylors, www.empiretailors.com

Venue: Duddell’s, duddells.co.

Bride’s hair and makeup: Karen Lam, delicateface.co.

Groom’s hair: Kelvin Yu, Hair House Barbershop by Adam Chen, www.facebook.com/hairhousebyadamchan.

Flowers: Bloomy Villa, www.bloomyvilla.com.

Photographer: One Light Photographer, tinyurl.com/onelightphotography
Cake: Cake It Studio, www.facebook.com/cakeitstudio.

Wedding Dress: Tiffany Rose, www.tiffanyrose.com.

Celebrant: Margaret Ma Wai-lam, Civil Celebrant of Marriages.

Real Weddings: Janice and Francesco

Hongkonger Janice Ng and Italian Francesco Benazzi celebrated their marriage in the Chinese Garden of Kowloon Park, followed by a celebration at The Pawn, with about 80 people.

    

Why did you choose The Pawn?

JN: Since we’re from different cultures, we  wanted to have some Hong Kong and European touches on our big day. We had an intimate family lunch at Hullett House and a more lively and friendly dinner at the Pawn – two historical places with two completely different rhythms.

What did you like about The Pawn?

JN: The rooftop of The Pawn is a perfect spot in the heart of Wan Chai. We started with a welcome cocktail on the balcony and then had dinner in the main hall. We decorated the roof with colourful lanterns that we put together the day before – it was a lot of fun. We created a historical path through our lives with pictures of us from when we were born to now – a total of 88 pictures.

How did you put your own stamp on your nuptials?

JN: My husband and I are both creative so we tried to do as much as we could by ourselves. We designed our own wedding logo for our invitations, cards, boards and menus. My husband had the idea of sealing our invitations with hot wax – we almost burned the kitchen down but it was worth it!

How did your wedding veer from tradition?

JN: We had to merge two nationalities and cultures. We had a traditional Chinese wedding with a less traditional dinner. I think the furthest we veered from tradition was when we dressed our best man – Panda, our beloved husky – up in a purple bow-tie.

What was the most memorable moment of the day?

JN: The entire day was magical and memorable! I can still remember every single step from the early morning until night. The most touching part was when we had our wedding celebration under the Pagoda in the Chinese Garden of Kowloon Park – it was very emotional for us both.

Who helped us:

Cake: Jeffery Koo, facebook.com/patisseriejefferykoo.

Photographer: Anthony Ho, together.hk.

Flowers: Ines Weddings, inesweddings.com.hk.

Music: Kai Djuric, kaidjuric.com.

Makeup: Dickie Chan, www.facebook.com/pg/dickieworkshop.

Celebrant: Anna Hung, facebook.com/annahung.morethanhoneymoon.

Tuxedo: Luxe Tuxedo, luxetuxedo.com.

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Real Weddings: Susanne and Matt Clark

The Clarks celebrated their big day at Wooloomooloo in Wan Chai on October 27, 2016 after dating for four years.

Q When did you get engaged?

Susanne Clark: We were on holiday in Vietnam at a riverside resort. There was a beautiful garden where we were staying, which was lit up by lanterns. On the final night of our trip, Matt disappeared (to give himself a pep talk) leaving me to take in the scenery. When he returned he got down on one knee and took me by surprise. We celebrated with a meal and drinks in Hoi An and topped it off with a river cruise. Very romantic!

Q What did you envision for your wedding?

SC: We wanted a relatively small wedding for family who could make the trip to Hong Kong, and our closest friends. We are not religious, so we had a civil ceremony.

Q Why did you choose Wooloomooloo for your wedding?

SC: We went for a meal at our venue and fell in love with the view and the food! Later, once we were engaged and started researching venues, Wooloomooloo popped up so we went back to investigate and get a quote. We knew that our friends and family from home would enjoy the venue by day, and that it would add a special and unique element at night.

Q What does the Hong Kong harbour mean to you?

SC: Matt grew up in Hong Kong and I have been here almost seven years. When we decided to get married in Asia, we did consider other destinations but decided that there was no place like Hong Kong for us and a view of the city and the harbour would give our day that true sense of location.

Q Any tips for working with photographers?

SC: We had a consultation with our photographer, Claire, at the venue a few weeks before to get an idea of the setting for photos. This was well worth the time, as we didn’t have to discuss with her on the day.

Q What else was special or different about your wedding?

SC: We didn’t want a long engagement and also wanted to start a family, so it turned out that I was almost seven months pregnant on our wedding day. This added extra excitement to our day and gave us more to celebrate.

Q How did this affect your plans or experience?

SC: Being pregnant didn’t change our plans, but it did mean I had to rethink the dress. I had a bit of a mourning period for the dress I had carefully chosen in England. This had been generously purchased for me by my mum and meant a lot to me. Friends here in Hong Kong took me to a tailor where I had a new dress made. The tailor, who has sadly since closed, did a beautiful job and the dress was so comfortable. I wish I could wear it to work every day!

Q What personal touches did you add?

SC: We put our own music playlists together and we used our favourite colours in the scheme. We had mostly candid photos apart from a few posed shots, which meant that the photos were a lovely surprise when we got them.

 

In hindsight…

Glad I spent on: Food, drinks and photography

Glad I saved on: My second wedding dress

WHO HELPED THEM:

Caterer: Wooloomooloo (www.wooloo-mooloo.com)

Photographer: High Jump Photography (highjumpphotography. com) Florist: A friend did the flowers

Venue Decor: Sourced by the couple, arranged by friends

Makeup/Hair: Airplay (airplaybar.com)

Suit: Ash Custom Tailor (www.ashtailor.com)

Bridesmaids Dresses: Hoi An Tailor, Vietnam

Flower Girl Dress: She chose her own dress and shoes from the Hong Kong Lanes.

Entertainment: Bride and groom’s playlist

Gift Favours: Toffees and vintage-style key bottle openers