A Chinese Tea Ceremony for Charlie and Vanessa and Their Willow Grange Farm Wedding in Cambridgeshire

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Vanessa, a Strategy Consultant in the pharmaceutical industry, married Charlie, a management consultant, on 3rd June 2023 at Willow Grange Farm in Chittering, Cambridgeshire.

The bride enjoyed a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, in honour of her heritage, on the morning of the wedding. She also changed from her contemporary fitted gown in the daytime, into a super cool jumpsuit in the evening.

We’re thrilled to be sharing the work today of Bowl of Corks Photography, aka, Archie and Abigail.

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A Chinese Tea Ceremony

I am half Chinese (on my mum’s side) and it was important to me to incorporate a Chinese tea ceremony into the day.

We held the tea ceremony in the morning with close family and my mum’s side of the family. My mum took a lot of effort to decorate the Airbnb we were staying in and provide breakfast for everyone. 

My mum helped to choose the tea set and decorations for the tea ceremony which she purchased from Hong Kong. 

Bridal Beauty & Accessories

I wore Versace’s ‘Crystal Noir’ perfume. No particular reason – this just happens to be the perfume I am using at the moment for nights out / social occasions. 

I bought a hair piece from RachelChaprunne on Etsy.

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I wore the necklace that Charlie proposed with and the jewellery that my mum gave me as a gift. This included a gold and pearl bracelet, a rose gold chain with a jade pendant and silver earrings with pearls. The gifts from my mum were purchased in Hong Kong – In Chinese culture, it is traditional for family to gift the bride jewellery on her wedding day.

My shoes were from Esska as I knew they would be comfortable enough to wear all day.

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The Look

For the Chinese tea ceremony I wore my mum’s wedding dress. It was a Chinese style cream / ivory dress with pink detailing. For the main wedding dress I wore the Imogen dress from Love Spell. I also changed my outfit in the evening to a white jumpsuit from Abercrombie & Fitch paired with an ivory blazer from Zara.

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I found Love Spell on Instagram and I liked the styles they had online. The website is very clear and I sent through some ideas of styles I liked in advance. I took my sister with me to the appointment to help me decide.

During the appointment, they provided helpful suggestions of alternative styles to try on that captured the elements of the dresses I liked to help me narrow down to my first choice. When I tried on the dress I went for, I immediately felt comfortable in it and with how it looked on me. 

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They also recommended an alteration service that was familiar with their dresses so I was confident that any alterations would go smoothly.

For my dress, I knew I wanted something more simple and fitted. I loved that this dress was simple and elegant without lots of detailing on the majority of the dress; however, it still had elements that were more unusual such as the off the shoulder sleeve and the lace on the bodice.

I would definitely recommend Love Spell to other brides. 

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For the main day at Willow Grange, it was important to us to have something more relaxed with focus on having fun with our friends and family.

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 We got legally married the week before at Lambeth Town Hall with very close friends and family followed by a lunch in Brixton.  For the main day, our friend Louise officiated our ceremony.

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She did an amazing job – we had met up with her a few weeks before to discuss what we wanted in terms of structure and readings etc. She then sent us the script a couple of weeks ahead to check we were comfortable with it. It was the perfect mix of serious and funny.

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I walked down the aisle to Shania Twain – You’re still the one. We both love Shania and had the Shania Twain album as teenagers. My bridesmaids walked ahead of me and then my dad accompanied me down the aisle.

Our first reading was ‘To Love Is Not To Possess’, by James Kavanagh and our second reading was ‘A Vow’, by Wendy Copes. We selected these because they focus on themes of individuality, togetherness and equality in the relationship.

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We selected our own vows after browsing a few non-religious vows online that focused on themes of friendship as well as love in the relationship.

I got a bespoke engagement ring from a jeweller in Hatton Garden, DG Bespoke Jewellery. I wanted a salt & pepper diamond and they were one of the few jewellers I found in London that used these as part of their bespoke rings.

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Charlie and I went together to design the ring after he proposed. Charlie proposed with a gold necklace with a small diamond pendant which I wore on the wedding day. 

Our wedding rings were made by Madison based in Hatton Garden. We spent an afternoon wandering round Hatton Garden with no particular shop in mind and browsed a few places.

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Charlie was looking for a rose gold wedding band and I wanted a custom made gold band that would fit around my engagement ring. We settled on Madison as they had different tones of rose gold and we settled on a subtle / muted pink tone for Charlie’s ring. 

Find you wedding readings
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Our photographers were Archie and Abigail of Bowl of Corks. They were recommended to us by Charlie’s sister as they were the photographers for her friend’s wedding. Charlie’s sister shared the link with us to the photos and we really liked the relaxed, casual style they used.

We felt this was very in keeping with us as a couple and our aim for the day. On the day, Archie and Abigail were amazing – they put us at ease and even offered to help with small ad hoc things that were above and beyond their remit as photographers.

I would definitely recommend them to our friends and family – in fact, some of them have already tried to book them for weddings next year. 

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My bridesmaids dresses were from Rewritten in forest green satin. I chose Rewritten as I knew they had plenty of designs and colours that would complement each other. It was important to me that my bridesmaids were comfortable in what they were wearing. We visited the studio one morning and selected two different designs across my four bridesmaids. 

The shoes were provided by bridesmaids – we chose gold as the main colour for the bridesmaids shoes. I bought the bridesmaids bracelets that were personalised with their initials and birthstone as thank you gifts which they wore on the day.



Our flowers were from Clemmie & Twine, who were recommended by the venue. I liked that they were familiar with the venue and knew what would work with the different areas.

I wanted bright and colourful wildflowers with some peonies. Charlie and I like the wild and natural look of wildflowers – we have been trying to grow a small rewilding patch in our garden (with not much success so far). Peonies are considered good luck in Chinese culture. 

We had a deconstructed archway for the ceremony which then moved to the sperry tent for the reception as well as three greenery garlands in the sperry tent itself. The flowers were stunning and really worked well with the setting of the venue. 

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How They Met

We met at university in our second year back in 2009 through our mutual friend Ed (who was one of the best men at the wedding). We were friends for a year before we got together in our third year of uni. We’ve been together ever since and Charlie eventually proposed in April 2021 as we were coming out of lockdown and after we had bought our house together. 

Charlie wore a tailored three piece tweed suit from Moss Bros. I bought Charlie a Longines watch as a wedding day gift which he wore on the day.

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We chose this venue for a few reasons. We knew we wanted a “dry hire” venue where we could supply our own alcohol but didn’t want something where we had to do everything from scratch.

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Willow Grange fit the bill as it had good facilities but we also had the flexibility to select our own suppliers, supply our own alcohol and choose the look and feel of the day without having to worry about things such as toilets. The farm setting with the Sperry tent and Silo barn had a more relaxed feel to it which was the vibe we were looking for. It was also a convenient location for our friends and family who are mainly based in Suffolk, Nottingham and London. 

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The event coordinator at Willow Grange was a big help in ensuring we had everything we need in the run up and on the day. I had a thirty minute call with a stylist to get ideas for table decorations before doing this myself.

I arranged for hire for the furniture and table decorations from Array Event Hire. This included brass candlesticks, brown bud vases and vintage bud vases. I bought coloured candles from Kuntindustrien via Amazon in four different colours to complement the floral decorations. 

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I designed all the stationery myself using Canva including save the dates, invitations, menus, order of the day, menus, table plans and table numbers. I found the templates on Canva and then made some small edits.

I worked in advertising many years ago so had some basic knowledge of how to set up print designs. I used printed.com for all the printing. I ordered a paper sample set from printed.com to help choose the right paper for each item.

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Our caterers were Little Piggy. We knew we wanted sharing platters and Little Piggy specialise in this style. They had a BBQ board which was perfect as Charlie has a passion for BBQing at home. 

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We selected a cake supplier local to the venue in Cambridgeshire, Bitesize Bakehouse. The cake was three tiers with white buttercream and edible flowers that snaked down the side. We wanted the flowers to be in keeping with the floral decorations from the florist.

Each tier was a different flavour – lemon drizzle, coconut/lime/blueberry, salted caramel and chocolate.

We had the cake served as dessert after the main meal as we wanted to be sure it was eaten. Lots of guests have told us how much they loved the cake.  

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Evening & Dancing

We are big lovers of funk and soul so wanted a band that were able to provide this as well as some more modern dance classics. Manytones hit the spot on this brief and everyone was up and dancing.

They also provided a DJ service afterwards with some songs I provided ahead of time.  

We hired a neon light that said ‘Yes sir I can boogie’, from Locke & Busby.

Our first dance was to As by Stevie Wonder. The band sang this for us. We both love Steve Wonder and felt it was a good balance of something to get people dancing to whilst still being a love song.

My favourite part was when the power cut out during the second half of the band’s set.

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Although this sounds like it could have been a disaster, the crowd carried on singing the song that was playing and the band’s saxophone player took it as his time to shine by keeping the music going.

I loved how the power cut didn’t faze anyone and everyone kept the party going. 

Words of Wedded Wisdom

Book the important things as early as possible and don’t put it off.  There were some items that we put off as we got busy with life and thus weren’t able to get our first choice supplier for. 

Another piece of advice I was given ahead of the day is to take a small moment for the two of you to step away to a quiet spot away from everyone. I’m really glad we took this advice as the day goes by so quickly and taking a moment can help to ground yourself. 

The only thing I would have done differently is to spend more time curating the playlist for the dancefloor after the band was finished. The songs still went down well with the crowd but I wasn’t entirely happy with the flow. 

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Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.