Merry Monday!!! I hope you had good weekend? Writing this post in advance means I have no idea if I have or not. I am going to opt for yes. Mel and Billy’s was the coming together not only of two families but two cultures. They embraced both with a traditional church wedding followed by a tea ceremony and a dress change. The little boy picking daisies stole my heart though!
imagery by Darren Gair Photography
My bridesmaids, the mothers of both families and I had our hair done at James Bushell Hair Salon. All the bridesmaids had an updo with a plait running along the crown. I left my hair down and curled, like my mum. We did all our own make up, although my sister Deborah and I mucked in to help the other bridesmaids and my mum.
I bought my white wedding dress, a Maggi Sottero Courtney dress at Brides of Solihull which was paid 50/50 by my mum and I. The dress was chosen by my sister and mum which made it very special dress, despite the pricey price-tag.
For the reception, I bought a Chinese backless red lace dress from a Chinese website called Alibaba. When it arrived, it was like a tent so I found a local seamstress to make it into a mermaid-style dress. Both dresses were accompanied by red patent Kurt Geiger ‘Juniper’ open-toe heels which were a gift from Billy, my brother Jonathan and my sister Deborah.
Bride’s hair accessories/veil: I borrowed a veil from my sister-in-law Natasha. I also wore blue sapphire earrings which were a gift from my sister and maid of honour Deborah.
At the reception, when I was wearing my Chinese dress, I wore some gold earrings which were a gift from my stepfather Vijay, whom I fondly call my Papa India. My mother also gave me a gold necklace with a matching bracelet. I was also given a phoenix and dragon bracelets, prior to my wedding, from my grandparents, but I forgot to put them on in my rush to change from one dress to another after the church ceremony.
We had our flowers made at Fleur-de-Lis, Solihull. The bridal and bridesmaid bouquets were made up of orange alstroemerias, red carnations and gypsophila. The groomsman and family buttonholes and corsages were made with the red carnations and orange freesias, whilst the groom Billy had a orange freesia buttonhole.
Billy’s outfit was purchased from Slaters in Birmingham City Centre.
Groomsmen’s outfits/accessories: The groomsman all wore their own suits but best man Joe wore the same tie as Billy’s, which was purchased from Slaters.
I bought my bridesmaid Deborah, Julia and Kay’s royal blue dresses from Missguided and the shoes from the M&S. I decided not to have accessories for the bridemaids.
We got married in the bride’s hometown of Solihull at St Alphege Church in Solihull. We then had an informal reception at the Silhillians Sports Club in Knowle.
The cakes were made by Billy’s mother Jean who has her own company arranging tea parties. Her company is www.room4tea.com. The cupcakes infused vintage with Chinese, a bit like an East meets West, and were arranged on two tiered cake stands. The cupcakes had varying toppings including the ‘Double Happiness’ symbol, carnation and rose-style piping, lace and pearl icing and other handmade fondant decorations. Some of the cupcakes were placed in china tea-cup and saucers to incorporate the traditional Chinese tea ceremony with a British note. There was three cupcake flavours: Victoria sponge; red velvet; and raspberry and white chocolate. We also had a cutting cake which was made of Victoria Sponge and covered in a fondant icing and decorated with a simple flower and pearl decoration.
We designed our own invitations and got a local printing company to print the wedding invitations.
We had some essence of Chinese tradition and decor running through the reception. We had lanterns in red and royal blue hanging from the ceiling, Chinese sweets and bamboo plants.
We really wanted to respect both of our cultures and traditions on our wedding day. For my husband Billy, he is a Christian and therefore it meant a lot to have a church wedding. I had visited St Alphege Church as a child and always said that, if I got married, I would get married there. As we were getting married in my hometown, it was no-brainer that we would marry at that church.
In Chinese traditions, we have a tea ceremony where we serve tea to our parents and grandparents. It is an opportunity for them to welcome us into their respective family.
The tea ceremony consists of the bride serving tea first to the groom’s father who will take a sip and then hand the cup back to the bride. He will then either give a gift or a traditional red packet called a ‘lai see’ which normally has money inside. The groom will then do the same with his father.
At our tea ceremony, as Billy’s grandparents are no longer with us, the order of serving was Billy’s father, Billy’s mother, my grandfather, my grandmother, my stepfather and then my mother.
As Billy’s parents are true Londoners, we decided to serve them a traditional English brew in a china cup and saucer. With my family, we used the traditional Chinese tea set to serve Chinese tea.
For food, we had an informal BBQ for 150 guests. Our caterers was amazing and made more food than was actually needed. Also we had lots of guests who had very specialist dietary requirements and our caterer Rupert Davies at RD Catering made sure everyone was considered. For the BBQ, we had marinated chicken pieces in chilli and lime; mini sirloin steak in black pepper and thyme; and lamb cutlets marinated in rosemary and garlic. This was accompanied by corn on the cob, vegetable kebabs, roasted marinated paneer, jacket potatoes and a selection of salads. For dessert we had creme brulee, chocolate pot and french apple tart.
After dinner, we had the traditional speeches, although I also made a speech so that I could thank my friends and family personally.
When the DJ started playing, we also continued a bizarre tradition which my brother-in-law started with his friends at his own wedding in 2006. At all my family events, they always do the Y.M.C.A and, although his friends went home early, we decided to rope in some of the men in our family. They even made the effort to dress up in the relevant outfit which was really hilarious.
We didn’t have a lot of money so this was a budget wedding to some extent but, in truth, it doesn’t how much you plan or spend on a perfect wedding, the most amazing moments will come from the things that you didn’t organise or provide.
We always envisioned our wedding would be meaningful if we were able to stand in the middle of the room and look at all our loved ones and see them dancing, laughing and, essentially, having a great time. If everyone was doing this, we had planned our ideal wedding – and we did.
I never imagined to feel so much love in one room and it was wonderful to see everyone mingling with each other. From my father in law being roped in to take part in the Y.M.C.A to my grandfather handing out cupcakes to all the guests, it was just a day full of smiles, laughter and silly antics. It was all those impromptu and unplanned moments which made it all the more special.
Every single person at our wedding translated a memory in our lives and it was a pleasure and honour to have guests travelling some distance to be there. Some guests travelled from London and Kent (mainly Billy’s family) and others travelled as far as Thailand, Hong Kong and New Zealand. It meant a lot to us.
We were looking for a documentary photographer and this is how we found the fabulous Darren Gair who turned up looking very dapper and James-Bondesque!
We hired a friend of Billy’s, DJ Jamie Moon who played a mix of soul, funk, motown, blues – and bhangra and drum and bass! Billy also used his carpentry skills to make a Photo Booth. Our friends and family bought props and wigs for everyone to play around with. By the end of the night, we had over 400 pictures.
We will be going on our honeymoon in April 2016 and we will be going to Hong Kong, Bali, Wellington, NZ and Sydney, Australia
The original idea for our wedding was very different to how it turned out and this was down to the budget, logistics and practicality.
When we started planning our wedding, we wanted to be true to who we are. We didn’t have a lot of money and, as freelancers, we didn’t have the security of a steady income. So, we tried to keep it simple and utilise our knowledge of our cultures as well as any valuable skills or contacts we had. It was important to Billy that we had a traditional church wedding and it meant a lot to me to have the Chinese tea ceremony. So we started with that and while I planned the minute details such as the flowers, dress etc., Billy was responsible for decorating the venue – obviously with some input from me!
In terms of the venue, I (Melissa) have several family members who are elderly or have mobility problems so, instead of a vintage-style barn wedding, a marquee or a Chinese restaurant with no lift, we decided to give up the idea of a traditional Chinese wedding feast for an informal BBQ at a social club. It had all the facilities we needed and gave us a blank canvas to work with. It was also a lot cheaper and with its own in-house caterer, we were able to negotiate a great rate. This meant any money we saved could go towards the decoration or wedding favours.
We merely used our skills, experience and contacts as a way of saving money and making sure everyone had a great time.