A Watters Gown + Traditional Chinese Tea Ceremony For a Romantic London Wedding

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As a London dweller I’m always delighted to get the chance to write about weddings in the city, and this one is an absolute beauty.

Taking place on a golden day in late summertime, it’s the perfect fusion of old and new, of traditional and modern – a celebration of London’s many vibrant facets, incorporating traditional Chinese elements, too.

Meet Kat, a hospital doctor and Tom, a PhD student and researcher. They celebrated their marriage on the 25 August 2018, with a Chinese tea ceremony where they also got ready for the day, at The Ned, London, followed by a ceremony in a beautiful medieval church in the City, St. Ethelreda’s Church. The day concluded with a reception at The Kitty Hawk Bar and Restaurant.

Images by Maja Tsolo Photography.

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“We did not have a particular theme to start with –but what we wanted to have was an intimate gathering and celebration with our loved ones, while creating a look that was modern, elegant and timeless.We had about 50 people altogether at the wedding.”

Kat and Tom discovered their photographer, the wonderful Maja Tsolo through Love My Dress, and she is also one of our highly recommended Little Book suppliers, too. I love how Maja captured Kat and Tom’s day, and the resulting images are natural, relaxed and romantic.

“We found Maja via Love My Dress and I booked her even before finding our final reception venue. She has exactly the relaxed, modern yet film-like style that we were looking for and we really enjoyed our engagement shoot and having a coffee after!”

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“She has an eye for capturing beautiful and candid moments and the emotions and authenticity just shone through her pictures. All our guests remarked how warm and helpful she was on the day too. She is an absolute gem.”

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Kat’s vibrant red dress was from ASOS, and hair and make-up artist Hannah Kenney (booked via Beauty Call) created a graceful and elegant look for her.

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Before heading to the church, Kat and Tom held a tea ceremony for loved ones (with first-look and a little champagne first!), and Kat explains more about the significance and meaning behind this event.

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“I am from Hong Kong and it was important for us to incorporate an important Chinese wedding tradition – a tea ceremony – into our day. We served tea to show respect and appreciation to our families and thank them for raising us. The tea was served with dates and lotus seeds, symbolising richness and fertility. Before the ceremony my mum gifted me some heirloom gold jewellery to wear and I wore a red long-sleeved dress for the occasion.”

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After the tea ceremony Kat changed into the dreamy tulle ‘Skye’ gown by Watters, which she discovered at London Bride Couture.

“I embarked on the dress search solo as my mum and bridesmaids lived abroad. I was lucky that I only tried on a handful of dresses before finding the one at the London Bridal Couture sample sale (which is held 3-4 times a year). As a petite bride, I found the soft and ethereal tulle skirt very flattering.”

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“It also ticked all the boxes of having an illusion neckline and beaded bodice with an almost off-shoulder look. Plus the gown was named ‘Skye’ (we love Scotland and its sleeper trains) and I was instantly sold!”

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To complete her look, Kat wore a single-tier veil borrowed from a dear friend and shoes from ASOS, as well as crystal drop earrings from an Etsy-based seller (no further details supplied).

She chose her everyday perfume to wear, too – Love by Chloe.

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Kat’s bridesmaids wore elegant coordinating gowns in blush pink from ASOS, and the soft and romantic pastel theme was also carried through in the gorgeous blooms from Aesme Flower Studio and Garden. I love the use of spiky, architectural grasses contrasting with luscious garden roses and dahlias.

“Alex and Jess are a sister duo running an artisanal flower studio in West London while growing seasonal flowers from their cutting garden in Hampshire. The flowers really elevated the celebration and added romance to a wedding in the city.”

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Tom and his best man and groomsmen wore classic morning suits from Moss Bros., with Tom choosing a pale pink tie and completing his outfit with silver and mother of pearl cufflinks, which had been gifted to him by his grandad.

“We had our first date on Hampstead Heath – I needed to go off for my marathon training run mid date and he wasn’t put off – and the rest is history! We got engaged four years on at a castle near Krakow after celebrating our best friend’s wedding. Some celebratory vodka shots were drunk after! We planned the wedding in just over a year…”

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Kat was accompanied down the aisle by her dad, and chose Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by J.S Bach for her entrance music.

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“Tom and I met in London and have lived and worked in the city since we met –so it made sense to celebrate our nuptials in London! We had lots of family and friends coming from abroad and we wanted to showcase what a beautiful city London is as well.”

“St Etheldreda’s is the oldest Catholic church in England while the Kitty Hawk is a modern elegant restaurant in the heart of London–a representation of the new and old of this vibrant capital city.”

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The ceremony was conducted by Father Tom Deidun, priest at St. Ethelreda’s Church, and the couple opted to exchange traditional vows. The couple chose two readings – Song of Solomon 2:10-13;8:6-7  and Colossians 3:12-17.

“We chose biblical readings from the old and new testaments. These were read beautifully by my friend Jen and Tom’s grandad respectively.”

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“For us it was truly special to have Tom’s grandad read for us as he and nanny had a beautiful 50-plus years marriage and they really are the shining example for us of what a loving and joyful marriage is. We will always aspire to that.”

 

Tom chose a gold court ring from Cred Jewellery, a jeweller specialising in fair trade and conflict free gold. Kat had a wedding ring custom-made – a diamond and rose gold half eternity band from Lloyds Family Jewellery.

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After the ceremony, everyone travelled in true London style to the reception venue, by red routemaster bus hired from Traditional Travel Ltd, and this turned out to be one of the most joyous parts of the day!

“We all travelled together from St Etheldreda’s to the Kitty Hawk on a vintage routemaster bus with bubbly on board. Being cheered on by tourists and pedestrians in Smithfield Market was one of the most unforgettable and joyful moments in the wedding.”

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The stylish and modern interiors of the Kitty Hawk provided the perfect foil for more glorious flowers from Aesme Flower Studio, and Alex and Jess created a stunning floral display around the restaurant’s staircase, and the dining tables were decorated with more blooms in antique brass vases.

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“I sourced photo frames to display family wedding photos and table names, and Tom’s parents kindly helped us source votive candles and photo display frames for the photo booth / guestbook station.”

“We had an DIY photobooth with props and an Instax camera and everyone got stuck in and talking –we now have some priceless and hilarious pictures for the day!”

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“We actually booked another venue…previously but it closed down in February (six months before the wedding) and caused a panic! Back to the drawing board we went and fortunately we found the Kitty Hawk the second time round, which was then a relatively new venue for private hire during weekends.”

“From the beginning the in-house event managers Becky and Michaela were amazing and went above and beyond to understand our vision and bring every aspect of the celebration together.”

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“We were able to create a bespoke and versatile menu with their head chef so we could include everything that we like! From salmon tartare, tiger prawns and crispy beef cheeks as canapés, burrata, scallops and steak as part of the main meal, and some pretty out-of-this-world chocolate tart and tiramisu to finish. We also served prosecco and wine, plus a free flow of his and her cocktails – negronis and lavender martini which went down a treat.”

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Kat Bakes made a delicious two-tier wedding cake – top-tier of dark chocolate and golden vanilla filling, and a bottom tier of vanilla bean and pistachio with a fresh raspberry and rose filling (AKA Persian Love Cake), all covered in Italian meringue.

“It was so delicious and I only had half a slice as it was entirely devoured by guests!”

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Later in the evening Kat changed into a chic asymmetric satin dress from The Outline, which she found online two days before the wedding after realising she would need to wear something she would be able to dance in! And on the subject of dancing, the couple chose a fantastic five piece swing band – The Doodlebugs, who they booked through our brilliant Little Book members Alive Network.

“They had an extensive repertoire and gave a great performance that night. The lead singer Phoebe had the most sensational voice and was so easy to work and communicate with.”

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“The day went by so quickly and we loved every second of it –my favourite moments included heading to the church with my family and bridesmaids all packed into one Addison Lee large car and having a laugh together,the ceremony and Tom’s speech – it was so funny, sincere and touching, I couldn’t stop crying!”

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For their first dance, Kat and Tom chose Etta James’ At Last, and Kat has very kindly shared a link to a film of her and Tom sharing that first dance, which you can take a look at here.

“Tom and I are big James Bond fans so share a secret penchant for female vocalists like Etta James and Nancy Sinatra. We had two first dance lessons with Emma from All Steps Dance Studios and she has really worked her magic in teaching us how to twirl and swirl. It was great learning something together in the lead up to the wedding and we enjoyed it so much!”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom

“Do not fret about the small things / hiccups. Nobody knows how it is ‘supposed to look’ apart from you! Enjoy some alone time with your new husband, even just for 10 minutes – remember the feeling of being surrounded by everyone that you love and love you. It only comes together once!”

“Forgo things that do not matter and focus on things that do to you as a couple. For us we didn’t have a fancy separate wedding car and we didn’t miss a thing.”

“Buy twice as much confetti you think you need…Do a speech, you won’t regret it. If you do not have a videographer (like us), delegate friends and family to take video footage of first dance, speeches etc.”

“Have an after-party! After midnight, our friends came to the Ned Hotel with us to drink and chill in the lounge. It was so much fun and so nice to catch up with guests that you might not be able to talk to during the day.”

“No matter what happens, it is going to be the best day of your life.”

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Kat and Tom, a thousand thanks for sharing your incredible wedding day with us. From the elegant surroundings of The Ned and the Kitty Hawk, to the history and beauty of St. Ethelreda’s, the lovely tea ceremony and infectious joy shown, it’s been such a joy to write about!

Thanks also to Maja Tsolo for these lovely images. You can see more of her work on Love My Dress here.

With love,

Laura

Credits & Thanks

Laura Callan

Laura Callan View all Laura's articles

Laura is a freelance writer and content creator who loves telling stories. She has keen eye for photography and art, and lives with her husband, cats, and huge amounts of books.

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