This wedding is exceptionally special. Annie and Rich intertwined their families rich cultures and backgrounds on their wedding day(s) so that everyone was involved and acknowledged. Annie is one of the happiest, smiliest brides I’ve blogged and I really enjoyed going through the images of their portrait shoot around London. And really, who wouldn’t want two weddings!
photography by Kirsty Bowen at This and That Photography
Rich is from a village in England called Barkway. I (Annie) have a mother from Spain, a father from Hong Kong, was born in England but grew up in Texas and have lived in London for the last 10 years. It seems complicated, but it’s really fun. We invited all of our friends and family to Austin, Texas for our wedding but a few people would have been excluded – ie maternal Granny and some godparents for not being able to travel. We did not want to leave anyone out, so we decided to precede our celebrations with an intimate mini-wedding in Barkway. As it was mainly family, we wanted to reflect all the different cultures that Rich and I now represented together. So we incorporated English, Spanish, Chinese and Texan touches.
The bride wore a traditional red and gold Chinese dress called a cheongsam. Groom wore his morning suit (trousers from his late grandfather), with a special red waistcoat handmade by his brother’s wife and a yellow tie (as red and yellow are traditional Chinese colours) and new cufflinks (bride’s wedding present to the groom where his initials were inscribed on one side and the bride’s initials on the other side).
Shoes – Barefoot for the tea ceremony. Cowboy boot wellies on the walk to the church from the house (on way to ceremony) then mini-ankle-cowboy boots for the ceremony and reception, inscribed with ‘I DO’ on the bottoms of the soles
Dress: Tea ceremony dress described above.
Ceremony and reception – I wore a Maggie Sottero, Bronwyn (WITHOUT the lace overlay) gold Vogue satin dress. I had a lace bolero jacket to wear on top, lace purchased in Paris and handmade by a dressmaker in London.
NOTE: The full Maggie Sottero Bronwyn with full lace overlay was worn at the Texas wedding months later
Bride’s hair accessories/veil – A rhinestone headband, hair half up/half down, wavy and no veil
Groomsmen’s outfits/accessories – Best man and a couple ushers were present, wearing their own morning suits
Bridal bouquet and Groom’s boutonniere were made and provided by The Urban Flower Co. in Crouch End, North London. Beautiful, natural blush coloured roses with a lot of greenery, including mint, rosemary and thyme, wrapped with Spanish moss.
We started with a Chinese tea ceremony, as is traditional in Hong Kong, in Rich’s living room in the house he and his father grew up in. In fact, this was the very room where his father proposed to his mum. The tea ceremony involved the bride and groom knelt in front of every family member who is older than us. The family members ‘cheers’ tea cups with the bride and groom as a symbol of a wedding blessing, provide wedding advice and hand the couple a traditional red envelope filled with a monetary offering for the couple to start their lives together.
Following the tea ceremony, we had a CofE wedding service at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Barkway, the church in Rich’s village where he grew up. His father was the church warden and his mother rings the church bells. His paternal Granny and Grandpa are buried outside. We knelt on Granny and Grandpa’s knitted cushions during the service. Rich’s childhood vicar, and friend of the family, led the service. One of the readings in the ceremony was read in both Spanish and English to accommodate my Spanish family who were there.
The reception was held in Rich’s family home – The Red House. We served Spanish tapas to start and Rich’s favourite – lasagne as the main. We set up tables throughout the house for people to eat either sitting or standing. There were only 30 of us in total.
Following the ceremony, my new husband drove me away in a 1956 vintage Massey Ferguson (MF35) tractor from the church to the house, with all our guests following us on foot. It was fun, hilarious and so us. A magical moment. Rich used to drive tractors in the fields near his house to earn pocket money as a teenager. His first boss lent him this vintage tractor. As he drove, I stood behind him on a bucket.
The speeches. Rich’s father gave a beautiful speech to welcome everyone into his home, and my mom translated it into Spanish. The two of them spoke to everyone and it ended up being very comical because my mom lost track of whether she was speaking in English or Spanish a few times. The speeches were also very emotional. For my mom, this was the first time she was seeing her Spanish family after a couple tragic years. For Rich, who gave a groom’s speech, he reflected a lot on the absence of his paternal grandfather, who was a great influence on him. He was wearing his grandfather’s trousers, tie pin and our wedding bands were melted down from his old watch chain. It was a very teary and beautiful moment to hear Rich speak so candidly in front of our very closest family members and friends.
Everything about the day felt right. We tried to reflect every aspect of our own families in this room, and embrace everything about us that made us who we were.
Real honeymoon was scheduled the following year, we went to the Andaman Islands in Oct 2014 and had the most idyllic holiday possible!
The lovely Kirsty from This & That Photography. I found out about Kirsty when I noticed a good friend of mine posting amazing engagement and wedding photos on facebook. I honestly had zero interest in speaking to anyone else. Her work is beautiful, natural and most importantly, fun! Just like every other detail, we wanted our pictures to reflect who we were and as Kirsty was able to do that with my friend, I knew she would be the right fit for us.
I was completely reassured when I spoke to Kirsty. From the onset, she understood exactly what we were trying to achieve on our wedding day. She made me feel like the only bride in her life, even though I knew that she was working on multiple weddings. It was a special experience.
This & That photographed both our wedding day as well as a special London shoot. Booking a few hours on the morning after our ceremony, we set off to some of our favourite locations around London, some iconic and some personal, taking photos in between. Some of our hot spots included the Houses of Parliament, a red double decker bus, Trafalgar Square, Jubilee Bridge, Brick Lane (where we bumped into Russell Brand), Columbia Flower Market and Arsenal Stadium (where they feature a giant A and R for Arsenal / Annie and Rich). Ideal! Kirsty adapted to every environment naturally. We took risky shots in the middle of the road, off-the-cuff shots as we were walking through bustling streets and meeting strangers, creative shots down little pockets of real London and of course, classic shots that we will treasure forever.
We had custom tea towels made by The Original Wedding Tea Towel, rolled up, wrapped and handed by the Bride and Groom at the end of the reception.
I designed the invitations, with a logo designed by my cousin. They were printed by the very talented Shades of Colour UK, who did all of our printing for both weddings.
Enjoy the planning process. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing. Get all the important involved when you start locking down ideas – you want to make sure that parents (and any other key people in your lives) support the way you have chosen to celebrate.
It means a lot more when your ideas reflect everything you and your partner are. Make it personal to you, the décor, the readings, the music, the cake, the food, etc… It makes a big difference and your guests will feel it.
Attention to detail – it’s how you differentiate your wedding from anyone else’s. Engage your audience through all the details.