Real Weddings: Jenni and Jerome

Hong Kong-based couple Jenni and Jerome Tam got hitched in a romantic garden at St Paul’s Walden Bury country house in Hitchin, England.

Why did you have your wedding in London?

Jenni Tam: I’m from the UK and have a lot of elderly relatives there that I knew wouldn’t be able to make the flight to Hong Kong. We had a Hong Kong banquet a few months later for Jerome’s relatives, who couldn’t make it to the UK.

Why did you choose this venue in particular?

JT: We loved the little brick organ house at the end of a tree-lined grassy corridor. It seemed homely and rustic, and the perfect place to say “I do.”

Tell me a little bit about the planning process. What were the most important details?

JT: We planned the whole wedding ourselves remotely from Hong Kong. After booking the venue and several vendors a year before, I went back once for the food tasting and the rest of it was planned from Hong Kong with help from my mum. The most important details were the music – we spent a lot of time trying to find the right band – and getting the feel of the wedding right. For example, the wooden benches people would sit on during the ceremony and the long trellis tables where we hosted dinner. 

Any complications as you started planning?

JT: Our caterer was a nightmare – one of the most difficult women I’ve ever had to deal with. And she split from her husband and business partner – who was also the chef – during the planning process, but refused to admit it.

What eco-friendly details did you incorporate?

JT: First off, we did all our save the dates and invites electronically. This saved a ton of paper and made sense, given that we were in a different country than many of our guests. With e-invites, we could track who had opened their invite – we chased people who hadn’t, as it meant we had an old email address – and guests could reply through our website with their dietary requirements. It made the whole process much simpler.

Anything else?

JT: We also didn’t have any disposable cutlery or plates, our table name signs were in frames that guests could take home, and my dad hand-wrote the place signs on recyclable cards. But our big move was with the flowers. Flowers are often flown in from Kenya or another far-flung location, then used for a matter of hours before being binned.

To me, it seemed like a total waste. My friend from school is a florist and I asked her to do our flowers. For our table arrangements, we had potted plants running down two long tables on a bed of moss. We told everyone that they could each take home two plants. Throughout the wedding, they were a real focal point – our photographer captured people putting the pots on their heads. Guests told us they wrangled – good naturedly, I hope! – about who would get which plants.

How did the potted plants fit the overall vibe?

JT: The whole wedding was so green – literally, with it being outside in the gardens of an English country manor – so the wedding favours being plant pots fit the theme perfectly. And they reflected my love of buying way too many potted plants for our home in Hong Kong! I will admit, though, that I did still have a bouquet. Walking down the aisle carrying a plant pot just wouldn’t be quite the same!

What about the bridesmaids’ dresses,?

JT: The bridesmaids all chose dresses they loved from ASOS. Nothing was overtly “bridal” and they could all wear these dresses again.

What was your favourite moment of the day? 

JT: My favourite moment of the day was my brother singing in our ceremony. We’d asked him to “lead the songs” because we chose to sing pop songs rather than hymns. He hadn’t practised at all, and I was nervous he’d fluff it, but he pulled it out of the bag. He took the spotlight from us… almost!

In hindsight… 

Glad I spent money on:  My dress! I blew the budget but I loved it.

Glad I saved money on:  Alcohol. We chose a venue with a no corkage policy, and my mum drove to France to pick up the alcohol which meant we could have a free bar all night.

Wish I spent money on: A less annoying caterer! We were attracted by her bottom line, but never again.

Wish I saved money on: The string quartet. They were great during our service, but when it rained during our reception they couldn’t play anymore, and we’d paid them for three hours.

Who helped them:

Photographer: Hannah Mia, hannahmia.com

Florist: Early Hours, earlyhours.co.uk

Makeup: Heidi Yeung, a friend

Dress: Augusta Jones, www.augustajones.com

Tux: Kings Tailor,  www.kingstailor.com.hk

Bridesmaids dresses: ASOS, asos.com

Entertainment: Tom Worrall band, www.tomworrall.com

Gift Favours: Potted plants

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