There are so many unique aspects to this wedding I am unsure where to begin! Izzy and Norman included their Chinese heritage to create a truly original yet timeless affair with a blue and white colour scheme and the most delicious hydrangea florals. Izzy’s gown is SPECTACULAR, her choice of lilac nail polish to match her bouquet is genius and I really really want one of those table runners…..
I don’t believe we have ever featured the National Centre for Early Music venue before but it has a lovely outside space, and I love that the bride and groom chose to invite all of the church congregation to their celebrations, including the Priest….. and the Nuns!
Izzy The Bride: For the engagement ring, I didn’t want a round brilliant or princess cut and decided to go instead with a heart cut. The wedding band had to be custom made with an indentation to match the heart. For the gown, I didn’t have time to try on many designs, but because I’m quite tall and slim, it was suggested that I go for a mermaid/fishtail gown. I tried a few but they didn’t suit me and settled for a simple ballgown without frills. For the reception dress, because of the oriental feel, I wanted a modern cheongsam type look and so I had one made in white and blue with an embroidered dragon, to match the theme. I really dislike wearing heels and so I went for a pair of comfortable flats with a heart detail from Love Moschino, which matched my ring. It also added a touch of casualness, which was what we wanted.
We wanted something not too formal groom wise and we didn’t know how hot it would be on that day, so we opted for a two-piece suit in blue, to match the reception blue/white theme. The shirt had light pink stripes to match the church décor and the pocket square was blue/pink to match the buttonhole and everything else. We were contemplating between linen and a very light-weight wool and decided to go for the latter because it looked sharper, despite it being warmer. We went with loafers over lace-ups for a more summery look.
Finding the right venue was really important for us because we specifically wanted our day to be relaxed without pretention and ‘over planning’. There wasn’t going to be a sit down meal; ideally, we wanted to hold a BBQ reception outdoors. This meant that we needed a venue that allowed outdoor catering but was also in close proximity to the York city centre so that friends and family could easily attend. We bounced lots of ideas around from 1920s tea room in Betty’s through to barns outside of the city, but finally settled on the beautiful National Centre for Early Music. The venue was the perfect blank canvas to create the feel we wanted for a BBQ and for guests to relax in, plus it was only a 5 minute walk from the church.
The NCEM was truly a gem in the city centre, since many venues did not allow for outdoor catering. Its stunning converted medieval church hall opens up to a tree lined garden, which has a good balance of open space and shade (if you didn’t mind the odd tombstone). All eventualities were planned for – we’d have the reception in the garden if it was sunny or in the hall if it rained. As it turned out, the weather bright, sunny and hot, and we were able to set the tables up outside. Perfect!
Given our Chinese backgrounds, we wanted to inject an oriental feel to the styling of the day. We didn’t want to go with a traditional red and so opted for a more delicate china blue. From a trip to China (where we were planning a second reception) before the wedding, and after discussion with Charlotte our wedding planner, we settled on using ornate blue and white table runners and royal blue Chinese knots as the napkin rings. Paired with white Chiavari chairs with blue seat pads from Blacks Event Furniture, the tables really popped and meshed well against the fresh green background of the garden and trees.
We decided to keep the colour of the centrepieces blue and white so they didn’t clash with the table runners. To make the table scene more interesting we decided to use a mixture of both tall and short arrangements – this helped us to maximise the use of our flower budget without compromising on the overall look. The tall arrangements were simple hand-tied, soft blue and white hydrangeas. The short arrangements had more variety of flowers and imparted a sweet fragrance: we had white roses, white stocks, blue and white hydrangeas and also succulents to tie in with the favours we gave to guests. Each of our guests was given a mini succulent to take home in a white votive glass as a keepsake of the wedding.
We used a slightly different colour scheme for the church. My favourite colour is purple and so the flowers in my bouquet and the church were different to the reception flowers. I decided on a beautiful relaxed pink and purple bouquet comprising of amnesia roses, stocks, pale pink peonies and freesias. Norman and Joshua’s both had the same button hole comprising of a single amnesia rose.
The ceremony itself was a straightforward wedding Mass, although there were some atypical points. The service booklets had to be bilingual, which was a lot of work for because we had to translate, design and typeset them ourselves. Yunxiang, my dad, who speaks no English but really wanted to be involved, ended up doing one of the readings in Chinese. He practically memorised the entire booklet and order of service from start to finish to make sure he got everything right. Finally, there were three wedding rings involved, provided by Ashberry of York. We had two made: one custom made to fit the heart-shaped stone on my engagement ring, and another simple round band which Ashberry threw in for free!
We wanted to keep the day relaxed for guests but we did want to have some entertainment for them too! We borrowed some giant garden games (Jenga and Connect 4) from a friend which kept the children and adults entertained. The NCEM kindly allowed us to use their big TV and so we also set up our PS3 in the foyer. The highlight, however, was a photo booth with funny props, which we set up with a backdrop of white fabric with Chinese paper umbrellas to one side – it looked great!
We both agreed form the outset that the food was the most important part of a lunch reception. We wanted to do a posh BBQ without the breaking the bank, and we must say that Bradshaws of York certainly delivered! There was too much variety to list everything we ate but there certainly were highlights. Just to name a few: we had Pimms on arrival with canapés, honey roasted salmon on walnut toast, spicy prawns with coriander yoghurt. For the mains we had everything from rump steak to buttery fish parcels with a selection of salads and chargrilled vegetables. And for dessert, we had a trio of shortbread with champagne berry jelly, baked vanilla and blueberry cheesecake, and lemon tart with miniature raspberry milkshake. For wine, we had two of our personal favourites: Peter Lehmann Shiraz and a Dr. L Riesling. Once everyone was utterly stuffed, we surprised guests with an ice cream bike by Pinguino in York. Somehow, people made more space. Skye from The Whimsical Cake Company carried the Chinese styling through to the cupcakes and cake pops by using subtle blue patterns on the white icing.
We used the talented fine art photographer Samantha Ward to capture the day, who was really unobstrusive but seemed to be everywhere at the same time. She brought out the best of the light and captured some really good shots on traditional film.