I fell like I’ve been transported back in time to a classic black & white movie, especially when viewing the incredibly romantic first look portraits of our gorgeous Bride & Groom before their humanist ceremony in front of their family & friends.
Larissa wears a truly stunning backless gown that is both elegant and sexy; paired with the most fabulous Jimmy Choo heels and Oliver looks every bit the suave and sophisticated leading man in his Tom Ford suit.
Each image is a work of art and shows off the incredible quirky nature of the venue and the love Larissa and Oliver share perfectly. Come see…..
Larissa The Bride: I love the backless look, it’s so demure and timeless. Being the founder of InvisiBra, it was also only natural to be rocking a backless dress for my wedding. Having worked in the wedding industry before, I already knew the kind of dress I wanted: fitted, elegant but sexy. I wanted something that I could really call my own, so together with my Mother, we designed my dress and had it made for me by a dress maker based in Hong Kong, which is where I’m originally from. I was really happy with the final result, but the only advice I would give anyone is do your final fitting as close to the wedding as possible. I lost a few more inches than expected before the wedding, and had to get the dress altered a few days before the wedding, which is added stress that’s unnecessary.
I loved my Jimmy Choo shoes. I didn’t want anything too bridal as I wanted to wear it for the party at night as well as for after the wedding, so went for a vintage looking glittery gold pair of strappy heels. I changed into a red dress for the first dance and the party afterwards because I wanted to honour my Chinese heritage (I’m half Chinese). The red dress was also custom made and is our take on Chinese traditional wedding dresses.
Sarah Brock did my makeup as well as my Bridesmaid and I can’t recommend her enough. She is so nice and her work is amazing. She knows what she’s doing which is so reassuring. She had a ton of good advice in the lead up to the wedding and when we met for my trial session, we talked about the look I wanted. My makeup stayed fresh all day and night and the only thing I had to touch up was a slick of red lipstick for the party.
Ever since Tom Ford made suits, I’d dreamed of marrying a man wearing one. His tailoring is second to none and the fabrics he uses are so beautiful. We wanted everyone to be able to enjoy themselves and have a good time, so we decided against having too formal a dress code and that included going for a suit not a morning suit for the Groom and we requested guests NOT to wear ties to the wedding.
I think the right venue is the one that reflects the couple’s personality. Some people like grand and traditional but I knew I wanted somewhere quirky, fun and different. It wasn’t easy to find and I remember going through a list of “100 quirkiest places to get married in the UK” and found Aynhoe Park. I set up a visit and immediately fell in love with it. Every room had its own character and there was a dizzying amount of stuffed animals, art pieces and statutes that made it perfect as the backdrop to the kind of wedding I had in mind. Some people like places that are a blank canvas to put their mark on it, but when you have Aynhoe Park, you don’t need to do much to it to wow. Our friends and family were blown away by the décor and the service (they have 3 butlers at the house always making sure everything is running smoothly) and looking back, this was perhaps the best decision we made in terms of the wedding.
Colour Scheme & Décor
I wanted to use Aynhoe Park and it’s crazy animal theme in my stationery. So incorporated a stag head into our wedding invite, animal heads as the table names and on the table plan. I also sourced animal stirrers online to decorate the desert table. Our colour theme was white, grey and blue. We wanted our wedding to be a bit more daring and unusual so used dark blue for our wedding invites with white lettering. For the dinner tables, I wanted long tables because I felt it was more “banquet” like and encouraged lively conversation.
I saw Amanda Austin at a wedding show and loved the huge flower displays she had on the booth. Amanda and her team are passionate about what they do and they have so many great ideas as well as good advice. Flowers are important (in my opinion) and they help set the tone of the day. For my bouquet, I wanted something that was loose and had lots of foliage to balance out the flowers. Amanda showed me lots of photos and together we decided on the design.
For the tables, we bought sets of silver vintage tealights online that were later given to guests as favours. Amanda matched the flower vases to my tea lights, giving continuity in the table display.
For the table names, I wanted to use animals, so mimicked the animals featured around Aynhoe: Rhino, Unicorn, Deer and Giraffe. My stationer Berin Made had the genius idea of having paper cut outs of the animal silhouettes suspended with balloons at the tables (which is a tribute to the giraffe with balloons in the Orangery, the room we got married in).
I’d been a Bridesmaid a few times and always wore the same dress as other Bridesmaids so I wanted to do something different for mine. All their dresses were floor length and showed off their backs, but they were all a different shade of blue and styles.
Before the legal ceremony, we did a first look photo shoot which I highly recommend. I loved that the first time we saw each other was our own little moment (apart from our photographer and videographer). It was very emotional and poignant, and there were lots of tears shed. We did the legal ceremony after, which was just for family, then had the wedding ceremony in the Orangery which was what we considered the proper ceremony.
Neither Oliver nor I are religious so we had a humanist ceremony. I walked down the aisle to a live rendition of “Suddenly” (billy ocean), one of Oliver’s favourite songs. Our celebrant Mark Townsend delivered a beautiful and magicial ceremony (he started our ceremony with a magic trick). We had a lot of input into how we wanted the ceremony delivered, and Mark tailored the ceremony to the sort of message we wanted to convey that was best conveyed by the wedding reading we picked—On Marriage by Kahlil Gibran. I convinced Oliver that we should write our own vows to put our own stamp on the ceremony. The vows were personal, heartfelt and funny and we’re so glad we did it.
We had a two-man band (guitar and singer) to sing at the ceremony and the wedding reception. We had a magician who we’ve seen in action twice before do close up magic. He’s very good, funny, entertaining and just amazing in his tricks. The photos of people’s “laugh out loud” and “how did he do that?” faces were priceless.
We did a first dance or you could say 2 dances. We did the dance from Dirty Dancing for the first half then did Pulp Fiction for the second half. We wanted to put on a good show for our friends, so we took it seriously and got a dance teacher to choreograph it. It took us about 8 one hour lessons and daily practising to get it to the level we were happy with. I’ve done dance before but the only dancing Oli’s done is a bit of finger pointing after a few drinks. It was a super fun routine and our friends loved it and no one could believe how well Oli danced.
We had a DJ as well as a photo booth where guests could take photos and take them home as souvenirs. The booth I used was photo emporium, the vintage set. It’s a proper photo set with a background, vintage camera and lots of fun props. My guests loved it and there were many fun pictures taken (as well as embarrassing ones).\
We love good food and for that reason, finding the right caterer wasn’t easy. We were originally going to go with another caterer, but after two disappointing tastings, we decided to find someone else. We were so pleased with Bread and Honey. They were professional from the start and delivered impeccable service as well as food on the day. We had so many people compliment the food saying it was the best wedding food they’ve had. In Hong Kong, wedding dinners are drawn out affairs with usually about 8-10 courses. For ours, we wanted 2 courses for the sit down part, dessert was served outside by the photo booth as a buffet. Our first course was asparagus and our main was pork belly with crackling. Desserts were sourced from Ottolenghi in Nottinghill and these were transported on the day from London to Aynhoe.
Choosing our photographer was one of the most difficult decisions we had to make but I’m glad we took the time and didn’t go with the more obvious choices—ie a UK based photographer. When we started researching photographers, even though there seemed to be lots of options, the photographs didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t like the traditional wedding photography which is very posey and in my view, unnatural. What I was looking for was reportage wedding photography with an edge. I needed someone that was going to be creative and intuitive, who was going to capture the essence of the day. After reaching out to several UK based photogrpahers, Thierry’s name was recommended and I got in touch. We exchanged several emails before meeting in person. Thierry travelled from France where he’s based and we got to know each other over dinner. It was clear from that meeting that he was passionate about what he did and I felt in safe hands. We communicated a lot before the wedding and by the time of the wedding, we had a good rapport, which is really important between a photographer and his subject. Thierry was a joy to work with and we love the moments he captured.
A friend’s wedding planner once advised me: Spend money on your wedding photography and videography because after the wedding, that’s what you hold on to for the rest of your lives. Philip was an easy decision. I saw his work recommended on a wedding blog and immediately called him to confirm him as our videographer. I loved the cinematic approach he used which is unusual for wedding videos.