Today’s blog is extra long! I came across this gorgeous Chinese wedding and with three customary outfit changes I had too many beautiful photos to include. Enjoy.
The story is of Carmen Luu, 27 and Andy Ngo, 28; classmates in 2002 at Sydney’s Kingsgrove North High School. After graduating it would take three years for a romance to slowly blossom and for them to realise they were a match worthy of marriage.
On 26th February, 2012, with a proposal ring in his pocket, Andy drove Carmen to the Opera House only to find a crowd of people and his nerves getting the better of him. He opted instead for a small park below the Harbour Bridge.
Which is just as well because his proposal took Carmen totally by surprise. She says, “I always expected it to be something really special where I would know that it was coming, so I was extremely shocked.” Hardly glancing at the ring, she said yes.
Red – representing love, joy and prosperity – is the central theme of the traditional Chinese ceremony. Carmen had her traditional red and gold silk outfit custom made from China.
To follow Chinese customs, Andy and his party arrive at Carmen’s house first thing in the morning. While Carmen stays in her room, guarded by her family, her bridesmaids devise games for the groom and groomsmen to play. “These games are for the groom to show the bride’s family and friends the love he has for his bride,” Carmen says. “Given the chance, the ladies do their best to give the men a hard time… in this instance it included eating chilli and brushing teeth with wasabi!”
A traditional Chinese tea ceremony is the Chinese equivalent to wedding vows of the west and is conducted first at the bride’s house and then at the groom’s. “The bride and groom pour tea for all close family members (in order of hierarchy) and pray to the gods, deceased ancestors and other elders as well as paying respects to each other,” Carmen explains.
Once the families have sipped tea poured for them by the couple, Lai-See (red envelopes containing money) are given as gifts back to the bride and groom.
A Chinese wedding wouldn’t be authentic without several costume changes. Here we see Carmen in her pre-civil-ceremony gown; a white one-shoulder satin gown from BCBG MAX AZRIA accessorised with lucky-red suede pumps. Her two bridesmaids wore lilac hatler dresses from Sami & Sita and the groomsmen were dressed in grey three-piece Uber Stone suits with lilac ties.
Carmen’s white civil-ceremony gown was from Evermore Bridal Couture in Leichhardt, Sydney and featured a strapless figure-hugging French lace bodice flowing into a lustrous silk satin and georgette skirt and sweep train.
The couple’s small and intimate civil ceremony was held at Meadowbank Wharf at Helene Park in Sydney’s north-west. Andy wore a black shawl-lapel suit from David Jones with white accessories.
The reception was held at Phoenix Rhodes restaurant with a twelve-course Chinese banquet for dinnner. Significant dishes included shark fin soup with crab meat symbolising wealth and steamed coral trout with ginger and shallot representing prosperity.
A five-tier alternating red velvet and chocolate mud cake with white chocolate ganache was created by couture cake maker, The Dainty Baker.
Fun Photo Booths kept the guests entertained with wacky props for instant photos they could take away as keepsakes of the celebration.
Carmen’s advice for other brides-to-be: “No-one knows what the future holds so treasure every moment you have with your loved ones and make it special.”
Photos courtesy of Anna Zhu Photography & Film.