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Our Chinese Western Wedding

Updated on March 5, 2013

How we planned our Chinese inspired wedding

The moment Paul asked me marry him in 2008... besides feeling ecstatic and the happiest woman alive, one of my first thoughts wasn't the number of dresses I would like on the day but where to start in incorporating our cultural traditions?



We both really wanted to tie in different elements from both our cultures and there was no use asking my husband-to-be ... he really didn't have a clue!

I hope our journey helps anyone who is planning or interested in Chinese Inspired weddings.


Here I share with you on how we went from Setting the Date to the Tea Ceremony for our wedding day.


I realised through time, cultural differences and lack of resources available, some things we carried out have altered slightly. But I do hope that our Chinese inspired wedding day incorporated all the major traditions that have been carried out Worldwide for centuries and still takes place to this day.

Setting the Date

How we set our date the Chinese way

After announcing our engagement, the first thing was to look into setting our Chinese wedding date.

We discussed with our families our wishes and both sides were more than happy with the idea - in particular to my side of the family.

Having a 'good' date meant that we would begin marital life with a blessed beginning.

Although we both lead a very modern lifestyle, there were certain elements from my culture I wished for our big day ... and this was a very important one to me.

Church or Civil Ceremony

We decided on a Civil ceremony

As I don't follow any religion or faith, it would not have felt right for me to have a Church Service.

Paul on the other hand was Christened when he was younger

Through careful consideration, we both agreed that a Civil ceremony would suit us best.

Chinese or Western Style Venue

We had one day to make it Our Day - so which venue?

When I was younger I always thought when the day I get married it will be a Chinese Banquet Reception with huge amount of food and a large number of guests!

After much discussion with family and a lot of careful thoughts between ourselves, we decided to host it in a hotel venue 'without' the Chinese wedding banquet.

This was a big commitment for me to make as a traditional banquet was what I would have liked to have served to our guests. We contemplated on having two separate wedding days - one day on a Tuesday for a Chinese wedding banquet and then on a Saturday for a Western style wedding.

Through careful consideration, we decided to have one day in a hotel with a Chinese theme.

We began by looking at venues online and then chose some of our favourites.

With the names and addresses to hand, we made appointments and visited them all. We discussed with the venue co-ordinators and expressed our wishes.

With quotes and brochures to look through, we viewed all the rooms, discussed the food and drinks they will serve... we then headed home to really think it through.

One venue stuck out more than the rest but we wanted to be 110% certain.

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

The Gowns

One big white dress or many dresses?

With us just having 'one day' I had to make the most of it!

Do I go with having The One white wedding gown or do I do it the popular Chinese way and have several gowns? It sure was a very exciting thought and I swung towards the 'several gowns' option, what else is a girl to do?!

I wished for a white gown, Chinese Kwa and Qiapo to wear on our big day. I wanted to show off my culture and tradition and having several gowns is traditional.

After much searching, hunting and several telephone calls to one of my Bridesmaids in Hong Kong, she sourced the dresses and I ordered them ready for my mum to collect in Hong Kong on her next visit - 3 months before the wedding day.

I opted for one A-line dress for the ceremony, then the Chinese Kwa for the Lion Dance and Tea Ceremony, a simple slim fitted white chiffon dress for the Wedding Breakfast and then a Qiapo for the evening reception.

The dresses were altered to fit perfectly when they were in the UK by a local well recommended seamstress

The Venue - The venue we chose to host the biggest day of our lives

Colwick Hall Hotel, Nottingham, UK

It was this old Georgian hotel that we felt was perfect for us! The beautiful exterior, the stunning grounds, the fountains adorned with cherubs and the lake. We could host our wedding in The Lakeside Pavilion - a crisp white marquee that will hold up to 350 guests. It was perfect location for both sides of our family and friends for travel and it was a hidden gem that we had never found before.

On one cold December day in 2008 we made the call to secure the booking and we were so excited to be told the date was still available!

I then began to feel I really can start with d├ęcor, timings, entertainment and the invitations!

Giving Notice of Marriage

Giving our Notice and beginning our proceedings to become Mr & Mrs

We contacted our local Register Office and made an appointment to give our Notice of Marriage.

Half an hour later we had given our Notices and confirmed our date and venue.

Our Notices publicly displayed following the UK law were organised by the Register Office.

We began choosing our Promises and Readings for the ceremony and made another appointment to see the Registrar to discuss our ceremony and marriage.

The making of our Chinese Theme

The little and bigger things we wished for!

We both had many ideas on our wedding style - a Chinese cultural wedding.

We sat down and brainstormed! This is the list we came up with to combine the two cultures -

The traditional red colour theme but toned down with purples and pinks

Chinese inspired - Double Happiness invitations in both Chinese and English

The Tea Ceremony on the day

My Chinese wedding dresses - Red Kwa and Qipoa

Orchids complemented with roses

Chinese red Double Happiness lanterns

Mini Dim Sum steamers for favours

The very much loved... but not China's invention - Personalised Fortune Cookies!

Chinese parasols

Hand held Chinese fans

Double Happiness candles

Lai-see/ Hung Bao/ Red envelopes as gifts from guests

Lion dance

String Quartet for the Ceremony and Drinks Reception

Pianist for during wedding breakfast

Ice sculpture - vodka ice luge for evening reception {we wanted to add a little fun too!}

Ice cream bike

Fireworks in the evening

The Three Singing Waiters for Wedding Breakfast

Venue filled with romantic candles and on the outdoor decking area to sit by the lake

Childrens toy bags to keep them occupied during speeches {!}

Candy/ Sweetie table

Escort cards instead of a traditional UK style Table Plan

Crystal tree for the Escort cards

Then the following six months it was our task to try to source them and have them for our day. Every bride will tell you that all they want is to have that perfect day, I was no different!

We only selected our favourites from the list and then almost stuck by the new list to ensure we were kept within budget and not let the day become too 'busy'!

Invitations

A little sneak preview to our day

Invitations to me was like a sneak into to our wedding day. I wanted the Double Happiness symbol printed on them and I wanted them to be in the traditional red but slightly more modern than the ones I've seen many times before. I made phone calls to Hong Kong and spoke to a relative in helping me find a good company to have them printed professionally. I did consider on making them myself to save money but in the end I chose having them professionally printed as there were so many {and I also know making them myself now isn't necessarily going to save me money - only added stress!}

I knew I would like them to look professional, classy yet modern. The company sent me the chosen samples and when they arrived, it looked classy and modern! It was a pocket insert card with a tassel to pull out the insert. Printed with silver foil lettering and I even got a glimpse of the RSVP card!

I also required Save The Date cards to be sent out to guests six months prior to the wedding so they could arrange time off work or if they already had commitments they could let us know in advance. We had the invitations printed in both Chinese and English for both sides of our families.

Six months before our wedding day we sent out the Save The Dates and 3 months before, we sent the invitations with RSVP cards and return envelopes - this gave me 100% RSVPs within the time we had requested from our guests!

The items I ordered so I could receive all stationery in one shipment ~

Save The Date cards

Daytime Invitations in both Chinese and English

Evening Invitations

RSVP & return envelopes with the option box of - Sounds great wont be late or Congratulations, but sorry we can't make it AND the tick box for and vegetarians

Thank you cards for after the wedding

Wedding Website

What a useful tool!

I found the perfect website template for our wedding. Our wedding website was created on www.mywedding.com.

Once registered, it was so simple and easy to update. It had all the important details which meant I didn't need to waste paper giving information to guests. Our guests mentioned they found it very useful and I got good feedback as they could access it at all times.

Who We Invited

We invited 200 guests and we had a total of 160 guests for the Ceremony and Wedding Breakfast- 26 of them were children. A further 50 guests were invited for the Evening Reception.

We both felt children 'made' weddings but was a little apprehensive as to how they would all behave especially during the ceremony. On the day they were all fantastic and played together very well, nor did we hear a sound from them during the ceremony.

We originally compiled a list of all the people we wanted to invite. We then proceeded to speaking to our parents and we said they were free to also invite whomever they wished providing that we knew them personally.

About 45% who attended were family and the remaining were friends to us both.

Neither of us were keen on inviting people whom we didn't know which is common in Chinese weddings and usually the grooms parents are the hosts of the wedding banquet.

Wedding Day Timeline

The timings and dress changes

This was the final schedule of our wedding day.

6am - Brides alarm clock goes off!

630am - Coffee and breakfast

8am - Arrival of hair stylists for ladies

830am - Arrival of make up artists for 11 ladies

930am - Arrival of mother of the bride and groom and female relatives

10am - Fruit juice, tea, coffee, croissants and sandwiches served in room as we are getting ready

10am - Table and seating set up company and florists on site

11am - Arrival of father and brother of the bride

1115am - Arrival of the groom, best man and ushers

12pm - Grooms family arrival

1230pm - String Quartet on site

1250pm - Meet the Registrar

1pm - The Marriage Ceremony

130pm - Drinks reception, canapes & Photographs

245pm - Change into Kwa dress/ Bridesmaids change to Qipao

3pm - Lion Dance

315pm - Chinese Tea Ceremony

4pm - Change to white dress number two

415pm - Wedding Breakfast accompanied by saxaphonist

530pm - Speeches & Toast

645pm - Change to Qipao dress

7pm - Cutting of the cake - on the day we delayed until after 730pm so we could cut cake with evening guests also.

730pm - Arrival of evening guests

745pm - Change to second white dress

8pm - First Dance

9pm - Serve evening buffet

9pm - Live Band & Evening Entertainment

1am - Departure of non-staying guests

Photography

We knew we found the photographer as soon as we logged onto his website

Ken Lam's website Ken Lam photography.

Ken Lam has grown to be a very popular and well-known wedding photographer in the UK. His knowledge of both Chinese and English weddings was why we chose to have Ken capture our wedding day. He is building an excellent reputation amongst UK couples and couples from the Far East, where he originates from. I totally admire his masterpieces and we are so grateful for his hard work on the day and the amazing memories he has captured for us.

I want to thank Ken for some of the photographs that is also featured on this lens.

Dowry

We felt this tradition was another 'must'

Paul and I discussed that he would be happy to give a Dowry to my family. As Paul's parents were not familiar with the Chinese traditions, he felt he should be responsible for this. It was something I was pleased to hear that he agreed to and for sure, so were my mum and dad!

I have spoken to some brides who said they handed a Dowry 2 months before, well, call us being slow... we visited my parents just 2 weeks prior! In the lai-see, with the notes carefully placed inside, we sat down after dinner and Paul handed it over to my father saying "Thank you for giving me your daughters hand in marriage"

They shouldn't and couldn't reject this one sign of appreciation from my husband-to-be and so politely accepted with a big smile on their face!

Hair Combing

This one emotional moment with my family...

The night before our wedding, I went home to my family for dinner and to have the

hair combing tradition.

It was an emotional moment and one never to be forgotton.

Chinese Wedding Door Games

The fun door games that we could have played!

For many Chinese weddings, having your Tze-Mui's - your sister troop - to play the door games is a huge part of the day.

However, we decided not to as I really didn't want to see my husband-to-be until I walked down the aisle. I wanted 'that grand entrance!'

On this page - chinese wedding door games.

You will see I did a small amount of research into it when I was planning our big day.

The Bridal Bed

I love the covers!

I love the traditional bridal bed covers and pillows, but, as it seemed too much of a hassle to get one over from Hong Kong and just for one night, we skipped the idea.

Me and my mother did check the colour choice of the bed covers with the hotel beforehand and as they were pink, we were happy with it.

The other thing I missed was having kids jump up and down on the bed beforehand, the tradition for ensuring rich fertility. I would have done so but timings didn't allow.

Double Happiness + Colours

In-keeping with the Chinese colours and Symbols

Red for Chinese celebration colour, purples as it was my favourite and pinks to tone down the rich red!

I managed to get hold of the Chinese lanterns with the golden Double Happiness character from the US.

We had purple orchids and cerise pink roses in my bouquet, buttonholes and centrepieces to complement

Red candles and candle holders throughout the reception (unscented candles)

My red chinese dresses

Bridesmaids wore gold Chinese dresses to compliment the gold detailing when I wore my Chinese dress

Lots of pink sweeties on the candy table

Red professionally printed Order of Day booklets for guests

Red ribbon tied on the Dim Sum baskets

Adding all these colourful touches pulled the wedding all together.

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

Red Umbrella

Keeping away all evil

I chose to get ready the morning of the wedding at the venue.

When it was time for me to walk down the aisle we entered the marquee from the outside, so, one of my bridesmaids held over me the bright red umbrella until I have entered inside.

This tradition to fend off evil spirits on this special day was important.

Many brides have this tradition for when they are getting out of their wedding car before entering the venue or when they are leaving their parental home after their husband-to-be have arrived to 'pick up his bride'.

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

Lion Dance

Tradition and entertainment for everyone!

Before the Tea Ceremony we wanted something that was traditional yet entertaining and meaningful for all the guests to witness.

So, we had the Lion Dance!

The Lion Dance popular for Chinese celebrations and fends off evil on this happy day and our marriage

The troops arrived in between the ceremony service and Wedding Breakfast. I was advised to have it before the Tea Ceremony and for us that was perfect for timing.

Paul and I were handed the lettuce with lai-see tied loosely together - this is known as the 'choi-cheng'

As the dance started, children were excited, adult guests who have never witnessed it before were in awe and the Chinese guests were pleased to see them.

The lions performed in amazing well choreoraphed king fu style moves.

We were ready for the Lions to accept the 'choi-cheng' from us through his mouth, Watching in amazement as more and more great moves were performed along with the loud drums, gong and cymbals... then all of a sudden the lion spat out the lettuce to show appreciation for the lai-see.

Spitting the lettuce in different directions meant that they were spreading the luck for us in all directions.

Since the wedding we have received many compliments on the Lion Dance from our guests. They all thoroughly enjoyed it!

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

Tea Ceremony

Preparing for the Chinese Tea Ceremony was amongst my number one priority

The one Chinese element that was a 'must' on my list. We wanted to show our families and relatives our appreciation for raising us and to carry out the Tea Ceremony. I was fulfilling my dream and one of the roles of being a Chinese bride.

Here I tell you more on our tea ceremony and the important tradition and the meaning behing it

our chinese tea ceremony .

Something Old, Something New

The Western tradition I followed

As well as the Chinese traditions, I got asked many a times during the planning,

"So, what's your something Blue?"

As the saying goes - Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The old traditions with the meanings of -

Something Old ~ this could be an old piece of jewellery that has been passed down through generations. Maybe your mothers wedding veil, grandmothers necklace, an aunties hankerchief.

This represents the link the bride still has with her own family.

Something New ~ This is normally a very easy one! Your wedding gown, your wedding ring or even your new shoes!

Something new to bring good luck for your future of being man and wife.

Something borrowed ~ Borrowing an item? then don't forget to return it to the owner!

You may want to borrow a precious item from a family or friend. Borrow an item from a happily married lady to ensure the happiness is with you for the rest of your life and that your borrowing may mean that when you need to borrow in the future, you family and friends are there for you.

Something blue ~ The something blue is to represent faithfullness, purity and loyalty. The garter is often used in this modern day. You may want to use blue flowers or blue ribbons. The choice is endless. Just depends if you want to use little blue on your day or your theme colour ay just be blue!

My Old was an old piece of Jewellery

My New was the diamond earrings from my husband on wedding day - easy!

My Borrowed was a piece of gold to wear with my Kwa from my mother

My Blue was a blue garter

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

Wedding Party

Easy peasey lemon squeezy?!

Choosing our wedding party was easy! We both knew who mattered and who we wanted to play a special part.

Between us we had our three brothers, three bridesmaids, one Best Man, four ushers, four pageboys and one flowergirl.

They were all amazing and were all prepared to help us make our Chinese themed wedding day special.

The bridesmaids wore both a western style dress as well as a qiapo when I wore my Kwa to keep in the theme!

For the men and boys, we wore grey tailcoats and we used their cravats to match the bridemaids dresses.

Beautiful Bridesmaids

The beautiful girls I chose to have as my Bridesmaids

I wanted the bridesmaids and flowergirl to feel calm, relaxed, excited and happy.

If not, it would have shown on the day and it would not have been my idea of fun!

I didn't ask much of them the day before so on the day they could concentrate on the wedding.

The one thing I wanted for them was two dresses - one western and one Chinese style and I found some gorgeous Chinese parasols for some very special photographs.

These are the shots that many people have commented on how great they look.

Hope you agree!

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

Order of Day

A little booklet for our day

We had professionaly printed red booklets that were handed out to our guests before the ceremony.

As the day was hugely inspired by the Chinese culture and traditions, we wanted the guests that was unfamiliar with Chinese traditions to gain a better understanding.

We wrote the booklets ourselves and the contents included ~

Introduction

The meaning of the Double Happiness symbol

The reason and how we came to choosing our date

The meaning and history of The Dragon & Phoenix

Timings of the day

The meaning and history of the Tea Ceremony

A little about the Escort Cards instead of a traditional British table plan

A table of: Years of Births against the Chinese animal horoscope

A small paragraph on each animal

Thank you's for all those important people of the day

This eased away a lot of guests apprehension of a slightly different wedding and satisfying their curiosity with all those interesting elements to the day.

This has been another lovely momento for many guests to keep and even some hotel staff took one home!

Music

Keeping the atmosphere flowing...

We chose to get married at 1pm and the day didn't end til the early hours after everyone partied hard!

The one thing I am a big fan of is music. We had a string quartet that played during the ceremony and drinks reception, then a saxaphonist for the wedding breakfast followed by a live band and disco.

The pieces I chose were-

Bridal Entrance - Canon by Pachabel

Signing of register - Stand by me by Ben E King & What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong

Recessional - The Wedding March

For the magnificent saxaphonist, he played us many classical pieces that most of the guests would recognise. It kept an uplifting mood throughout, with no awkward silences and helped to drown out 26 childrens playful screams!

In the evening, we had a live band - The Johnny Guns. Playing their own songs and covers. The dance floor was filled quickly and the disco with all time favourite hits just created the best atmosphere we had hoped for.

Ceremony music inspirations - There are that many choices for great pieces, hope these may give you some good ideas!

Here are some wonderful music videos I came across when I was planning my big day.

Great music ideas - Buy and keep your music forever

Ceremony Reading

He Never Leaves the Toilet Seat up!

We wanted a lighthearted, humourus reading and so with thanks to the World Wide Web and a great forum I found on www.youandyourwedding.co.uk, I came across this one - we loved it!

He never leaves the toilet seat up!

He never leaves the seat up

Or wet towels upon the floor

The toothpaste has the lid on

And he always shuts the door!

He's very clean and tidy

Though he may sometimes delude

Leave your things out at your peril

In a second they'll have moved!

She romances him and dines him

Home cooked dinners and the like

She even knows his favourite food

And spoils him day and night!

She's thoughtful when he looks at her

A smile upon his face

Will he look that good in 50 years

When his dentures aren't in place?!

He says he loves her figure

And her mental prowess too

But when gravity takes her over

Will she charm with her IQ?

She says she loves his kindness

And his patience is a must

And of course she thinks he's handsome

Which in her eyes is a plus!

They're both not wholly perfect

But who are we to judge

He can be pigheaded

Whereas she won't even budge!

All that said and done

They love the time they spend together

And I hope as I'm sure you do

That this fine day will last forever.

He'll be more than just her husband

He'll also be her friend

And she'll be more than just his wife

She'll be his soul mate 'till the end.

This poem is for Bride and Groom

A married couple now

It's a token of the love they share

And the thought behind each vow

Unfortunately I still haven't managed to find the name of the author I wish to give credit to.

Table Plan

I felt had two choices -

No table plan at all, sit where you like with who you like {like a traditional Banquet} or

A carefully planned arrangement for every individual seat?

We had a top table of bride, groom, bridesmaids and ushers only.

My parents then hosted their own table with relatives that were closer to their age.

My siblings on two sperate tables to host their table with close relatives of their ages.

And Paul's parents hosting their tables with their closest relatives and friends.

The remaining were tables of friends and so we grouped them with people they knew or with those that have similar interests.

After doing much researching, we decided on Escort Cards. It seems a popular way in the States but not so much in the UK - We loved the idea!

We didn't want to be too rigid with where everyone sat but nor did we want to have our nearest and dearest sat the furthest away from us, so we put some careful thoughts on where we placed the tables in the room.

All the tables were numbered with significant years to us, like the Year we met, the year we were born, the year we will have our 5th anniversary etc ~ this then meant that no particular table was number 1 and why certain guests were sat at the last numbered table!

I hand wrote every name on the purple cards and wrote our personal messages on the back for each guest. This made them all personal and meant that if we struggled to speak to everyone on the day, I hoped that these messages meant that it made them feel just as special and a big part of it. Some guests have kept these cards as a momento of the day!

The cards were placed on or around the beautiful 5ft Crystal Tree we had.

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

Speeches

I clung onto every word he said!

Paul made his speech in both English AND Chinese!

Followed by mine and then our Best Man.

It was important to Paul that he could say a few thank you's to all the people in our lives, including my parents who only understand basic English.

So, he contacted my cousin and her partner kindly helped him with his speech.

Translating the speech into Chinese and then with a little help, Paul wrote down how to say the words into how it would sound in English!

It was a task for him, but he absolutely wow'd us and I was in tears by the end of it along with my mother and several other family and friends.

Even friends that don't understand Chinese have since told me that the Chinese part had them in tears, more so than his English!

My speech began with "Thank you to everyone for coming today" followed by what seemed like an eternity of me in tears.

The day had began to overwhelm me with happiness. I never dared dream so many great family and friends would travel the distance and be there to share it with us.

Once I managed to compose myself after Paul offered me his hand for support, I carried on saying all those words I really wanted to in those few moments to both sides of our family and friends.

Our Best Man Danny, made sure that he got the room laughing and smiling with his comical stories of his friendship with Paul! He kept the timing just perfect for guests to enjoy, even for the ones who didn't understand him, he somehow made everyone in the room smile!

Why not learn Chinese!

Learn Chinese for your speech

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

Chinese Favours

The mini dim sum steamers and cookies

We chose the mini bamboo dim sum steamers as our favours.

We looked at many different options, like red organza bags with sugar almonds or little Double Happiness candles.

But, the authenticity of the steamers was what we loved.

Inside each steamer we placed 2 flavoured and coloured Fortune Cookies with our own personal messages.

Fortune Cookies

So special and meaningful

I ordered the Fortune Cookies in Strawberry, Fruit Punch and Bubblegum flavours!

They tasted good and they tied in with my colour scheme.

They were from www.fancyfortunecookies.com

The messages I had inside them were one of the following five ~

He Loves me, He loves me not

He loves me, We tied the knot!

Love Ka Man & Paul 21.07.2009

Grow old with me,

The best is yet to be.

Love Ka-Man & Paul 21.07.2009

Thank you for a wonderful day

with our family & friends

Love Ka-Man & Paul 21.07.2009

We all have our own path. Sometimes our paths cross, sometimes our paths merge. Thank you for sharing our path this day. Love Ka-Man & Paul 21.07.2009

Love doesn't make the world go 'round; Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. Love Ka-Man & Paul 21.07.2009

Our First Dance - The moment I cried with tears of joy

Image: Ken Lam Photography
Image: Ken Lam Photography

We initially attended dance lessons as neither of us are natural born dancers! So, we were shown how to Waltz. After several lessons we decided due to budget we needed to cancel our lessons.

On our wedding day, the First Dance was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

I cried and laughed with my husband so much. I was overwhelmed what the day had brought to us and I loved every moment of just swaying side to side with the man I can finally call 'my husband'.

It may not have been 'the amazing dance' to our guests but it still meant more to me than I ever thought would.

First Dance music - Why we chose this special song

After much of my brain cells dissapearing with just finding and choosing our First Dance song, we finally decided on Jon Bon Jovi's 'Thank you for loving me'

We had an 'Our Song' but we felt it has been used on so many occasions we wanted something that was a bit more special to us on our day.

Thank You for Loving me is the sentence that would always appear on our cards for Valentines, Anniversaries, Birthdays and so it just seemed so right...

... listening to it still makes me cry with happiness each time.

Wedding Film

We hunted high and low for the perfect videographer... and we were right to have chosen engagedvds.com

After spending several months searching for the one... we found engagedvds.com

Pete, an amazingly talented guy and he really did more than we could have ever asked for.

In the beginning, we wasnt 'bothered' about having our day captured on film. But after seeing Pete's jaw-dropping website, we knew we wanted the day to be filmed.

In years to come I wanted to be able to relive our beautiful day, the movements, the reactions and the most vital thing to me, the voice and messages from all those important people.

Pete and Nick worked like crazy from 1030am til late. They captured all those special moments and Pete has since worked so hard in making our own very special movie.

Huge thank you to Pete from www.engagedvds.com

Our Wedding Film Trailer - by the amazing Pete at engagedvds

A trailer I can never stop watching!

Chinese wedding videos on You Tube - Great for inspiration

I scoured on You Tube for Chinese Wedding ideas when we was planning our big day

Our Guest Messages

Using friendly talents!

We have a very talented and artistic friend who hand painted us onto canvas. We kept a large part of the canvas bare so guests could leave us hand written messages.

This replaced our guest book. We wanted the memorable messages, yet, we felt a book would have just been put away for many years gathering dust after the wedding.

With the canvas, we have placed it on a wall at home and every time we walk by we read the messages - a continuous reminder of our incredible day.

The other messages we have are the ones that the video guys have filmed. They set up the 'Green room' and during the course of the evening, guests were leaving us messages on film for us to watch on our DVD.

Lai See Gifts

All of our guests loved the Lai-See gift idea!

Lai-see, Hung-Bow or red envelopes... all the same but just different names for them.

Neither of us wanted the traditional gift list and end up with toasters, bed linen or kettles... so I wrote my very own Lai See poem and posted it on our wedding website.

We have toasters and bins

We have all the other things

We have TV and DVDs

We have many old CDs

We hope to have your precious company

To witness the start of our matrimony

The joys of you joining us

To celebrate our wedding day

The two different cultures united together

The two of us never to be without each other

But shall you decide to attend with a gift

May we ask your token towards our honeymoon trip

The trip of our beginning

The start to our forever

May the Lai See that we have given

Be your part in the Chinese tradition

Your greatly appreciated gift

Of any amount you wish

In this red packet sealed

Is to bring us many years of joy, happiness and health

May we sincerely thank you all for being our dearest family and friend

But most of all

The greatest present indeed is your precious presence

Our day will not be the same without your essence

Love

Carms & Paul

It worked and I made my own post box for guests to post their cards and lai-see in to keep them all safe!

Children

The incredibly behaved children!

We were amazed at how well behaved all the 26 children were - aged between 6 months to 12 years old.

Not one sound was made throughout the ceremony and afterwards, they all played very well together.

We made individual toy bags for every child.

They had several pieces of toys that kept them occupied during the day and they all took home as their gift.

The toys we incuded in the bags included -

Reading/ model making Books depending on age

Colouring books and crayons (no felt tip pens!) for the younger ones

Toy cars for boys

Little tiaras and wands for young girls

Games

Small cuddly toys for the younger ones

This was to much of the parents joy as it kept them all happy!

Our Personal Do Not's

Things we avoided

I avoided things like the colours - black as in the funeral colour.

Pure white and yellow flowers especially Chrysanthemums as its Chinese funeral colour and flowers.

I avoided having any umbrellas or parasols opened inside. Maybe I watched too many Chinese ghost films when I was younger and so thought I'd bear that in mind!

Saving Money

What we learnt and how we saved

We set a budget but I was being the bride that kept falling in love with great ideas... so in order for us to make our day happen the way we wanted I had to follow our set rules ~

Only put the deposit down when we was sure we wanted it.

We didn't have a huge fancy buffet in the evening and surprisingly the guests much preferred it!

Shop around for the dresses and suits. We saved 25% with a voucher from a wedding magazine for all the suit hire.

Use all your contacts - our florists were good friends and gave us a very good discount and my mother in law made me cookies for the candy buffet. Our artistic friend hand painted our guest message board, a friend of a friend was a printer and he printed the Order of Day booklets.

Paul's brother played in a local well known band and so they played us the fantastic live music in the evening!

If I worked out how much it would all cost if we paid for everything at the full price, we may not have been able to afford them.

We purchased our own alcohol and paid corkage

We hired all suits rather than buy

Visit market stalls for all the small things like ribbons

For the toy bags, we visited the shops during sales

We purchased all the sweets from a wholesalers - bulk buy and it works out cheaper

If I could change anything

What I would change about the day if I knew before and what I am so glad to have had

Of course it was the most amazing and incredible day but, if we could change anything about it what would we change?

I am so pleased with the parasol shots with the bridesmaids!

So many people have commented on them and they truly show the difference in cultures - I wished we had more time for more!

I am glad we invited all the children we wanted. Some guests were concerned that the children would be noisy or mis-behave, well, they certainly didn't on our day!

I cannot make my mind up about the number of dresses I had - good or bad?

It was hectic fitting in all the dress changes and meant I missed out on spending more time with the guests. But on the other hand I am so pleased I did it because all the dresses I adored and every dress change wow'd the guests.

I am glad we served a cheaper buffet in the evening - our guests seemed to have preferred it and it saved us money!

I am glad we spent the money on a fantastic photographer and videographers.

They are our only ever lasting memories and we really wanted them to be beautiful.

I was pleased towards the end of the night that I had my Kwa flat pumps to put on. I loved my Jimmy Choo's with the white dresses but after a hectic 10 hours my feet became sore. The flat shoes were bliss especially when I was ready to hit the dance floor!

I wished I had a wedding planner! Since my own wedding I realised how much pressure a planner would have relieved me of for both planning and on the day. At the time, I had a stressful job and was working many hours {some weeks 65hrs plus} as well as planning a wedding!

Although it's quite common to have a planner in the US, UK brides and grooms do not consider having a planner as much and think of it as a luxury. A wedding planner will save you time, money and stress and through my own experiences, this was why I chose this career path to help as many brides as I can.

Hope you have enjoyed this and may have given you some ideas... - do leave me a note!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      thanks you so much carmen. this has helped a lot. This has given me some ideas to incorporate the two cultures. I didn't want it just to be all chinese as I was born and rised in uk as my fiancée. I am finding it hard to source chinese wedding invitations with both chinese and english wording so hopefully this will help me. Will be visiting this again.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      thank you very much Ka man for this awesome blog. I have similar issues with marrying a western man and your blog helped me very much in oragnising and giving me ideas on what to do. Thank you for your inspration

      Anita

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi Carms

      Just wanted to let you know that I have enjoyed reading your informative and wonderful wedding piece. I am trying to organise a chinese western wedding as well and did not know where to start. You have given me some very insightful ideas.

      Thanks

      Almy

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 6 years ago

      cool lens. lots of great ideas!

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 6 years ago

      I enjoyed reading about your wedding!

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      Hi Carms - I have just spent about an hour reading through this site - it is amazing. Your wedding looks so special and the perfect balance of chinese and western influences! I especially love the wedding video clip..so creative!! Lots of love, Leanne xx

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      scar4 7 years ago

      wonderful. congulations. best wishes.