Tricia and Zhen
If there is one thing I love about destination weddings, its the utter feeling of relaxation each and every guest has – combine that with the romance and joy of a wedding and you have my idea of a perfect holiday. Tricia and Zhen chose Thailand for the wedding day, captured by Jenny Sun and planned by the team at Take Us To Thailand.
Tricia tells the story of how she and Zhen came to be. “Zhen had moved about 12 months prior to us meeting from Brisbane to Sydney. Because we both worked in professional services (him in investment banking at the time, and myself in consulting), we had the same social circle but had never met until one night I was convinced by my housemate who is also my best friend to ditch my study books (I was studying for my Chartered Accounting qualification at the time), to go clubbing with him and the boys.
It definitely wasn’t love at first sight – he ignored me in the queue going in when everyone was getting introduced to each other and then later on in the night, I accidentally bumped him on the dance floor, and he whipped around and told me not to encroach on his space! There was an apology later on in the night by way of a drink and I felt obligated to at least try and strike some conversation with him. I found out that we shared a common passion in fitness, and invited him to join my running group.
We started meeting after work (even at midnight!) in Darling Harbour to run the Harbour Bridge, and one night, he claimed he wasn’t feeling too well but asked me for dinner instead. I was taken aback when we turned up at a rather nice restaurant in Potts Point, and we discovered we shared another common passion – food. Dinner lasted for hours – we couldn’t stop talking and we had so much in common. Within the month, he had moved in with me.”
Tricia and Zhen chose the Sri Panwa, Phuket for their wedding day, Tricia remembering, “By the time we started planning for the wedding, we both knew that we wanted a wedding that reflected our relationship and our passions in life. So our shared vision was for a small destination wedding with close friends and family, and one with good food, good company and lots of fun instead of a staged show (which is really common in Hong Kong!).
Phuket was our destination of choice because not only did we have friends and family coming from all around the globe so we wanted to make it a holiday for everyone, but we also love being outdoors, by the ocean and of course, Thai cuisine is one of our favourite cuisines.
We decided that instead of a single day, we would host a fun-filled weekend with lots of food, drink and partying! The first resort we visited and stayed at was Sri Panwa, and as soon as we entered, I knew that this was the right place for the wedding. The views were simply breathtaking, the food at the resort completely exceeded our expectations and the service was six star.”
Tricia and Zhen were heavily involved in designing every aspect of their wedding, Tricia telling, “Zhen and I love design and artistic details (he is very much into dressing up and secretly has a shoe collection that outshines mine, and handcrafting jewellery is a hobby and side business for me). Hence, it was important to us that the wedding weekend was not just fun, but also intimate and personalised featuring a lot of handmade touches. From my first trip to Phuket and my first visit to Sri Panwa, I took a lot of photos of the resort and the island.
Inspired by Thai ikat print and interior tile details found in the Sri Panwa resort, I worked with Sarah from Icing on the Paper Designs to develop two custom prints that would be used for our wedding stationery, printed wedding totes and invitations.
Upon check in, each wedding guest received as wedding favors a printed canvas tote filled with Trish & Zhen’s guide to Phuket (containing our favourite restaurants, things to do, and must-sees that we compiled), handmade sarong, Thai red bulls and tiger balms, and hangover kits.”
Tricia’s bridesmaids wore gowns designed by the bride and made them jewels under her own label – Bejewelled Bespoke “As a gift to my bridesmaids, I custom made them their own silk dresses and jewelry for the wedding. I collect a lot of vintage beads and jewelry parts, and selected pieces that I thought reflected each bridesmaid. I then handwired them to create necklaces or headbands for each girl. For their dresses, I knew exactly what I wanted – silk gowns with a sweetheart neckline and tulip skirts. I sketched the designs and took it to a dressmaker to be made up. I even handmade the flower girl baskets myself because I couldn’t find anything that I liked. I also had personalised wooden wire hangers made with each bridesmaid’s name from Etsy.”
The day was filled with tradition, with a twist! Tricia recalling, “Being of Malaysian Chinese origin myself and Zhen’s family is from China, to be respectful to our grandparents and families, we observed the Chinese tradition of holding a tea ceremony. Depending on the respective Chinese origins of each family and how strict couples are when observing tradition, tea ceremonies would differ.
We opted to include the main elements – a hair combing ceremony the night before for the bride with both families present, the groom with his groomsmen having to pick up the bride but with a twist as they would have to satisfy the whims of the bridal party first which means lots of dares and embarrassing games, and then the tea pouring ceremony where the groom and bride would need to pour tea for elders of both families, and then the younger generation of both families would need to pour tea for the newlyweds. The wedding games are probably the most fun part of the Chinese wedding ceremony. In our ceremony, the bridal party made the groom and groomsmen do everything from lap dance in g-strings (over their pants)! (We had children there!), to eating strange food concoctions, getting them to put lipstick on each other without using their hands. While lap dances and some games are just for laughs, some have meaning – a marriage may go through four flavours, i.e.: sweet, sour, bitter and spicy, so testing the groom’s ability to cope with what marriage will bring, him and the groomsmen are asked to eat something of that flavour.”
“ I was extremely nervous about my part of the speech as I was supposed to say a few words in Mandarin to Zhen’s family who did not understand English and had spent all my free time during the day rehearsing my few lines. I am proud to say that those lines were probably the most coherent sentences in Chinese I have ever spoken! Just before Zhen arrived, our tea ceremony lady asked if I had a red cloth – apparently this was to go over my face as a “veil” and one item we had clearly missed the memo on. We had to impromptu make do with a red cushion cover!
At the tea ceremony, gift exchanges are involved, which mainly include lucky red packets containing money from the older generation to the newlyweds and from the newlyweds to the younger generations. The entire Chinese ceremony is conducted by a “tea lady” – by Chinese custom she has to be in a happy marriage herself and is considered “lucky”. Her job is to coordinate the tea ceremony and also has the job of saying lucky words during the pouring and drinking of the tea between the various family members and the couple. ”
“Before the ceremony, I had laid out the necklaces that I made for my bridesmaids, who are my four best friends from my childhood. In the rush of getting ready and almost running late, I had forgotten to tell them which necklace belonged to who. Funnily enough, they each picked their favourite and coincidentally ended up choosing the right necklaces intended for them! ”
Tricia remembers, “In the week leading up to the wedding, it rained every single day as Phuket was in its rainy season. Magically, everything cleared up for our welcome party and at the wedding ceremony, there was a moment where the skies turned a very dark grey and light rain started coming down. Just about 5 minutes before the start of the ceremony, the clouds rolled away, and the sun came out shining. We felt truly, truly blessed.”
Tricia and Zhen chose a neutral colour palette, Tricia explaining, “Because most of the wedding celebrations were outdoors in some way, we did not want to detract from the surroundings. Hence, our colour theme was simple – ivory and sand with very light touches of grey to complement the modern resort. I handmade a plethora of large chandelier lanterns with streams of petals from hand cut silk, fishing wire and disc shaped paper lanterns bought from Ikea.” Tricia walked down the aisle to Air on G String – JS Bach.
“We also wrote our own vows for the ceremony because we felt that it was important to have vows that came from our own hearts. We did not know what each other’s vows were before the ceremony, and we were both so touched by each other’s vows that there were a lot of tears all around. We had many of our guests tell us that there were a lot of tissues going around!”
“My favourite part of the wedding had to be our ceremony – even though we both practically cried through it all. We’re naturally quite private people, especially Zhen, and we do not generally express our feelings in public. But because we laid out everything we felt about each other so publicly and so shamelessly, it was emotionally charged for the two of us and we pretty much wept throughout. (Thankfully my makeup artist helped me touch up my red nose after!)”
The reception continued in the resort, guests dining at long tables. Tricia loved, “Having all of our family and friends from all over the world come celebrate with us, many of them taking the time to come from as far as US, Europe and Australia. With some of the groomsmen and all the bridesmaids being childhood friends, it was touching to also be celebrating over 20 years of friendship.”
Tricia’s personal touches even came through at the reception, she tells, “ For the reception dinner, I made origami lotuses with personalised name cards. I was really happy when guests loved them so much, they kept them!”
I love that Tricia honoured her mother in so many ways, she remembers, “For the reception, I wore my mother’s old wedding dress that is an exquisitely fully sequined custom-made floor length gown that remains timeless til this day.”
For their first dance, well there wasn’t one! “We actually didn’t have a first dance as we didn’t have the time to prepare one! Instead, we got all of our guests down to the club (yes the resort has a club!) which the owner as a surprise, opened up exclusively for us and then proceeded to be our DJ! We originally planned for a pool after-party, but the resort had another surprise in store for us. Even though we did not plan on a father and daughter dance, an impromptu one happened with my dad jumping onto a table top and dancing with me! We had pretty much most of our guests take their shoes off and dancing well into the night. This definitely topped off our party weekend.”