All brides have one very special thing in common with one another, and that is, of course, love. Ok, it may sound a tad trite, but, I’m not just gushing – it is simply an undeniable truth.
Every year hundreds of brides-to-be bring their parents, grandparents, siblings, best friends and future in-laws through our doors because, somewhere along the way, they have found the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. However, I have come to see, this is where the similarities end. How our brides choose to celebrate their special day, from the gown they wear, the venue in which they exchange their vows, the music they dance to and the food they share, is wonderfully unique. With every wedding comes symbolism, special touches and nods to cultural and familial tradition; throw in an element of good old fashioned fun, and you have a spectacular celebrations of, yes you guessed it, love.
Our stunningly beautiful bride Theresa’s wedding day, included all of the above and more. Once I had seen the entrancing photos of this inspirational day, I absolutely had to find out more…
Once Upon a Time
How did you and your new husband, Michael meet?
Having always lived in Leeds and knowing the same set of friends, strangely we had never met. Then in June 2011 for a mutual friend’s birthday (our bridesmaid) I went to celebrate with her at Fazenda Steakhouse and Mike had come along for all you can eat meat!
Love at First Sight?
What was the first thing you noticed about him?
He was very obliging, taking photographs for me and maintained that I owed him a drink so that he would have reason to talk to me again! We chatted a lot that night, kept in touch and hit it off quite instantly. We enjoyed each other’s company and officially became a couple from August 2011. So whilst it never really is instant, it didn’t take us too long!
How did he propose?
It was my birthday in December 2014 and Mike took me to the Cow and Calf Pub in Ilkley. We rushed in from the cold, to have some lunch and a drink but were told they were fully booked. I asked Mike if he had booked. He said yes, so I asked him to check again as surely they would have our booking. Mike asked again and they said that they didn’t and suggested we went for a walk and come back as they could get a table ready for us. Go for a walk? It’s freezing! YOU go for a walk, I thought. We then drove down into Ilkley. Ah, I said, let’s go to Betty’s! We can sit there and have a hot drink! Mike just agreed, I guess to keep me quiet, but not before taking me to where we had our first date by the river. He went to get some bread as he did five years ago so we could feed the ducks again. We then walked to the bridge where we had our first kiss. With a few people walking by, he went down on one knee and proposed to me! I did cry a few tears and then of course said yes! Mike knew that I wouldn’t want to walk in the cold and it wouldn’t have made sense that he would want to go for a walk as it’s not like him. This being the case he had prepared this plan in advance. We went back to the Cow and Calf pub where they greeted and congratulated us! They had our table ready. It was by the fireplace with the Christmas decorations and champagne at the ready.
What was it about your venue that made you choose it for your wedding day?
The stunningly modern ballroom with overlooking upper balconied floor. It has an amazing fireplace feature, with beautiful lighting, state of the art sound and DJ system and picturesque views. We loved the surrounding woodland and gardens. There is a beautiful outdoor sandstone gazebo, for which we were very lucky to have exchanged our vows and become married there.
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
What was the best bit about your hen do?
Am I allowed to say the Butler in the Buff? Ok, I just did! Thanks girls! No seriously, we were very lucky as Mike went to Cancun with his friends, yes Cancun! And so as I wasn’t going to let him have all the fun, as well as a day of fun in Leeds with my friends, I went to Dubai with family and had an amazing time there. We went swimming with dolphins, had afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab, went on a desert safari and I fell in love with the Burj Kalifa. I feel truly blessed and still am immensely taken aback by the kindness, help and generosity of my bridesmaids, friends and family.
Tell us a little bit about how you prepared for your wedding – which things were the most important to you?
The personal touches – Following our rose gold and blush theme, I really enjoyed creating our wedding programmes, personalised menus, table plan tree, table number frames, fingerprint tree, sweets & treats bar, Polaroid and photobooth guest book, self-made personalised hangers and handmade personalised children’s colouring books with colouring pencils. We had personalised chopsticks sets for our favours and we also bought gifts for our mums and the bridal party. We also created a rustic feel timeline video of us both growing up to show our guests which was very special to us.We were very lucky as we were so pleased with our amazing suppliers – Dresses and Accessories (Limelight Occasions), Venue (The Saddleworth Hotel), Photographer (Pixies in the Cellar), Videographer (Redseats), Florist and Venue Stylist (Pinterest: @Kellylouisefloralartistry); MUA (Anna Stephenson); Photobooth (Blissbooth), all for whom we had the privilege to meet and would unreservedly recommend.
You looked amazing on your wedding day. What were you looking for when you set out to find both your wedding dresses?
I think it’s true that it never is quite the one you may have first imagined, but it’s so much fun trying them on until you know it’s the one for you! I went back to the one I set my heart on from the start – The Nova Scotia, by the truly amazing Ian Stuart. My mum and I fell in love with it instantly and despite initially seeking an ivory dress, it had to be in the honey colour! To this day, I still receive compliments on how beautiful the dress is and how it’s every girl’s dream to try on such beautiful dresses in a place like Limelight Occasions. You absolutely must see for yourself and you will know what I mean. They have great accessories too!I took a day off work, had my hair and make-up trial done and had my first dress fitting on their amazing runway. To feel amazing was an understatement. I could not have been happier with it and the experience that came with it. However, I couldn’t help but still admire all the other stunning dresses even though I had chosen mine! I felt like a kid at Disney Land. The team are fantastic and you are well looked after. Rita the seamstress is amazing. Just go with what she says! Limelight is a decision you will not regret! My mum also found her outfit from Limelight Occasions by John Charles and as she took to the runway too we had so much fun together! It certainly was a day to remember!
Following Chinese tradition also, I chose an albeit more modern take on the traditional red dress which was handmade in Hong Kong. I love this dress too as it’s not every day that you would wear something so bold but red is lucky in Chinese culture and I felt very lucky indeed.
We loved the Chinese traditions of the groomsmen arriving before the wedding and the tea ceremony was obviously a very special and beautiful part of your day. Could you tell us a little bit more about these traditions?
The door games! This is a very fun, light hearted part of Chinese wedding tradition. The groom arrives with the guys at the bride’s family home where the bride is. The bridesmaids and other female friends or family on bride’s side will prevent them from entering and will begin the door games to test the groom’s worth as they are put to the test! Firstly greeted by florescent bras and lacy thongs flung from the upper window to the driveway for the guys to wear. It was hilarious when both the postman and binmen did their rounds! Next they had to drink various vodka shots which were flavoured sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. This is to test the groom’s ability of being able to cope with what marriage may bring. Then they had to do various questionable yoga positions and forfeits such as waxing! No pain, no gain so they say! They were also tasked with passing a piece of seaweed from each person to the next using only their mouths! Then for the finale, they grouped up and did a rendition of “As long as you love me” by the Backstreet Boys in serenade of me! Haha, it was all good fun!The groom must also pay up, otherwise he won’t get to his bride! The groom and girls may do some lighthearted bartering for the amount of money accepted in order to let them pass. This value will contain the number 9, as the number represents ‘longevity’ in Chinese, therefore a lucky number for marriage.
The tea ceremony is where formal introductions are made in the joining of two families. It is symbolic and holds traditional significance and meaning. We certainly wished to include this into our wedding day as it shows our gratitude and respect. It is arranged in a relaxed and respectful manner as we both kneeled in front of family members to serve them tea whilst addressing them by their title. The order of serving tea is important as it shows how we respect seniority. Our parents are served first, then our grandparents followed by uncles and aunts and elder siblings. Traditionally the groom’s family would also be first.The traditional tea is sweet, symbolising sweetness in the new union. Red dates are used for this purpose. Tea is the symbol of purity (as love is pure), stability (as love is faithful) and fertility (as it represents children a plenty!). The tea set is a meaningful keepsake of the wedding and can be used should a future daughter get married.
After drinking the tea, the tea ceremony gifts for the bride and groom will be presented in the form of lucky red envelopes with money or gold jewellery which may feature the symbolic dragon with the pheonix. As newlyweds, it becomes a new custom for us to also give lucky red envelopes and it was a pleasure to give these to our family’s children on the day.The night before the wedding, we also had a family gathering in our respective family homes and carried out a hair combing ceremony for good luck.
The Main Event
If you had to choose three favourite memories of the day which would they be and why?
Firstly, being in the Rolls Royce Phantom with my mum who is so dear to me. She looked beautiful and it was so precious to share that special journey with her. Secondly, it would be seeing our family and friends. It is your guests who make the day so special and the emotion that comes with their warmth and best wishes. We will forever appreciate their kindness, generosity and efforts. Thirdly, the speeches from Mike and the best man left me in tears. I wasn’t prepared for how emotional it would be hearing these with all of our dearest family and friends around us. They both did a great job!
Were there any unexpected surprises that made you laugh on your wedding day?
Our first dance – So we had left no time to practice this but a mere minute the day before our wedding day, when we managed to do a few spins. So there we were on the dance floor, slow dancing to “Can’t help falling in Love” by Ingrid Michaelson, eyes locked, in each other’s embrace, pulling out a few of those ‘practiced’ spins, when the music changes! I muttered to Mike, “what’s going on? This is not our song!”. Either something had gone wrong, or worse, our guests now thought we had a dance routine prepared! Only the surprise was on me as the next thing I saw was a dinosaur! Our groomsman was dressed as a dinosaur alongside our best man who were now busting out some moves on the dance floor! Mike still straight faced. Soon I realised as he and what seemed like most of our guests suddenly jumped onto the dance floor into some serious dance mode! Clear now, it was the HARLEM SHAKE! =) Fear turned into sheer laughter! Complete madness and then it stopped. Straight back to original positions, complete calm but laughter as we continued to slow dance again to finish our song. Everyone had so much fun, what a memorable first dance, I absolutely loved it!
How did you choose your honeymoon destination?
On searching for a Hen destination my cousin suggested Boracay, Philippines and whilst I thought it would be too far away for a Hen do it looked like the perfect paradise location for Mike and I to have our honeymoon and I was not wrong. It was our first relaxing beach holiday and we stayed in a tree top villa with a stunning sea view and sunsets at the Shangri-La. We explored the island, went snorkeling and had the most amazing private dining experience on the beach. It truly was a holiday of a lifetime.
What advice would you give new brides to be who are planning their wedding?
Afterwards, you just want to relive all the fun and happiness of the day. Have a good photographer and videographer. Leave things in their hands and those of your bridal party. Enjoy each and every moment for it goes all too quickly. Persevere with those preparations as it is all worthwhile! Be happy in making your own choices and know that things may not go perfectly but that’s ok.