Leanne and Paul chose Wellington’s Boatshed as a relaxed and convenient venue, with its beautiful harbour/lagoon setting, and held both the ceremony and reception there so no-one had to travel.
"We liked the idea of everyone getting dressed up for a formal event, and ultimately to have a good time.
"The food was a real priority: it would have been hugely disappointing if the food at my wedding was not up to scratch. My parents were particularly keen to ensure everyone had plenty of food, as generous wedding hospitality is important in the Chinese culture.
"Taking inspiration from the way banquets are served at a typical Chinese wedding, we wanted our guests to taste whatever they liked from a real variety. We decided upon a big family style meal with dishes to share at each table. After all, a wedding is about family and friends coming together so it made a lot of sense.
"Working with our budget, Ruth came up with a stylish menu based on our barbeque theme. We liked her suggestion that we serve a whole fish at each table, as in the Chinese culture this symbolises a wish for prosperity and a successful marriage from beginning to end.
"Ruth added some distinctive New Zealand ingredients like TuaTua Fritters with Aioli and Fried Capers, and (a particular favourite) Smoky Pulled Pork with Kumara Mash.
"As platter after platter of delicious canapés were served to guests while the wedding party was away having photos taken, my parents began to relax as it soon became clear that there'd be no danger of a shortage of food!” she laughed.
Chocolate fountains (one dark, one milk chocolate) were a hit with guests of all ages. The tiered cake was served on a beautiful silver platter, decorated with flowers by Ruth. It was finished with a red Chinese cake topper Leanne’s mother had found.
Paul and Leanne also borrowed a popular UK wedding feature: late night pies for anyone still peckish. Reminding Leanne of "grabbing a pie after a night out dancing in my youth in Wellington”, they were not unhappy that most guests had eaten so well there were plenty of pies to take home afterwards for the next day.
"To our pleasure, handling dietary requests was actually the easiest thing of all. The guest list included pregnant women and Muslim guests with dietary restrictions, and others with egg, gluten or dairy allergies and intolerances.
"They all enjoyed Ruth’s alternative menus, and commented on how well looked after they were by Ruth’s staff, who cheerfully identified their particular foods for them without prompting. And the children loved their special little kid’s packs, which made them feel special too,” she commented.
But a wedding is not only about the food. Leanne the web developer and Paul the software engineer collaborated on their own wedding website ("fun but at times our patience with each other was tested”), and Leanne designed the wedding stationery. They played with their L&P initials, and added some nautical touches to reflect the Boatshed. Ruth even used Whittaker’s L&P Chocolate in the cake, and guest favours included a small L&P chocolate slab
Leanne’s favourite colours of peach and mint echoed through bridesmaids’ dresses and flowers, table decorations and hanging lanterns.
Finding the right wedding dress can be trying, but Leanne had a stroke of good fortune. Although her favourite look from initial online shopping research was a "delicate Jenny Packham 1920s look, with gorgeous draping and detailed beading”, it was way out of her price range.
"Breaking all the rules,” she explained, "I went to a sample sale and bought the very first dress I tried, on the spot. It is a gorgeously detailed ivory dress by Pronovias, beaded with flowing antique silver, crystal, sequins andtulleflowers, with one shoulder, almost Grecian style draping.
"I have never regretted it. I found a beautiful beaded Jenny Packham headpiece and my Mum made my lovely veil. My bridesmaids found dresses in the same mint shade, in different styles they liked, in London,” she explained.
Looking back, Leanne says that while organising a wedding is definitely challenging and can be stressful, picking the right suppliers and not being too precious about things really helps.
"Our suppliers made our wedding so easy to organise from London via email and Skype calls. They all worked so hard and cooperated with each other to make our wedding day so special.
"Working with Ruth was a joy.We were so impressed at how hands-on she was, and how receptive to our ideas. She understood exactly what we had in mind and threw in some of her own ideas and experience, which was great. Being half a world away made no difference.
"We’d get detailed reports with every aspect of the arrangements covered, so that we and the guests would be looked after from the moment they walked through the door right through to after the last guests departed at the end of the night. We were so thrilled with the end result,” Leanne concluded with a smile.
Photo Credit: Mary Syliva
Fish Photo Credit: Samantha Loong