In Her Own Style Part 4: Tythe Bride Ashley Ong Chose Three Wedding Dresses Including a Traditional Red & Gold Qun Kwa

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Ashley Ong, 31, married Jay Son Tan, 34 on 17 June 2023 at Tythe Barn. She wore three dress: a traditional red and gold Qun Kwa, a sleeveless lace dress from Martina Liana from Angelica Bridal in London, and a full-length gold sequin evening gown from Nadine Merabi.

This is part 4 in a series of 6 articles that ask brides who married at this beautiful Oxfordshire wedding venue to reflect on their wedding day fashion choices – with insights that will benefit all readers on the hunt for their wedding dress or wedding day attire. You’ll find the other brides here.

Brida wearing a Martina Liana wedding dress outside at Tythe, wedding venue in Oxfordshire

I knew for the tea ceremony at the beginning of our wedding celebrations, I wanted to wear something traditional…

Traditional red and gold Qun Kwa on a hanger.

Bride in a traditional red and gold Qun Kwa with her hair up and a gold and pearl bridal hair accessory.

My sister in law was getting married a couple of months before me in Malaysia and I went with her to collect her wedding dress which she had rented, something that is much more common there.

There were lots of rental Qun Kwa on display and we thought I should try one on just to see what it looked like. I felt pretty good in it, so I rented it there and then. It wasn’t pre-planned at all.

Just before the tea ceremony we played some ‘door’ games

The groom and his groomsmen came to the farmhouse. When they arrived, my bridesmaids gave them a series of challenges – things like performing a song and dance, eating spicy and sour food, some push ups, nothing too terrible – only after passing these challenges could the groom see the bride.

It’s a really fun thing for everyone to participate in and great fun after the stress of getting ready that morning.

The red of the dress symbolises prosperity and gold is typically for luck

A more traditional version would have had a lot more gold. I really like the contrast of colours on my Kwa and the contrast with the deep blue of my husband’s.

There was no big symbolic meaning, we just thought they looked good together. He was with me and we tried them on together. The tea ceremony was just for family and the bridal party, a symbolic start of the day.

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The dress for our civil ceremony was much harder to find. I tried on at least 30 dresses

I did lots of trawling of Instagram first to try to pin down what I liked. But you don’t really know until you get into the bridal shops. I approached dress shopping with a really open mind and ready to try lots of different styles.

I knew the most important thing was to find a dress that I would feel comfortable and confident in. I imagined I would wear quite a flared dress, more mermaid style, and then I realised they are quite difficult to walk in.
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I was about 90% sure it was the dress for me. I chose a full lace gown by an Australia designer, Martina Liana from Angelica Bridal in North London. It has a deep V-neck with a sheer panel, thin straps and a very long train. I found it towards the end of my search, but I still needed to go home and think about it.

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When I returned, I took my mum with me and her reaction reassured me that this dress was the right one. Obviously, she’s my mum and she will love everything I do but she is also a very honest person. If it wasn’t good, she would have told me.

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I knew I’d made the right choice when…

I saw this image of me in the Martina Liana gown. It’s something about the combination of the dress which took so long to find and the moment when we are saying our private vows, just the two of us away from all the guests. It was the point I stopped becoming stressed about anything.

We said the vows under the Willow tree on the farmhouse lawn before going through to the barn for our civil ceremony. It was a last-minute decision to do it but the more we got into wedding planning, the more we felt that this wedding was really for us. It felt like a really sweet sentiment for just the two of us.

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When I returned to the bridal boutique and book my mum, her reaction reassured me that this dress was the right one. Obviously, she’s my mum and she will love everything I do, but she is also a very honest person. If it wasn’t good, she would have told me.

We saw lots of barn venues but none of them had the wow factor of Tythe. The day we visited, it was pouring with rain, the worst day we could have chosen to look at it but still we both loved it.

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We knew it could only get better from there. It’s the sort of venue that looks great all year round and even in the pouring rain there was a real beauty to it. We also loved that Tythe has such easy access to London.

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Of all three dresses, the evening look was the one I had the least idea about…

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It was the Adriana metallic dress by Nadine Merabi, all gold sequins, with an asymmetric shoulder and thigh high split. I knew I wanted it to be long and sparkly and to create a real wow reaction.

It needed to be glamorous but classy too. Once I tried this dress on, I felt sure that it would achieve that. I felt really good in it.

I definitely don’t have any regrets, I made good choices for all three dresses

But even if one of them had proven to be not exactly right, I wouldn’t look back with regret because it’s part of the day and I remember it as a whole. I would tell anyone to focus on how the dress makes you feel.

Rather than relying on a list of criteria – thinking a dress has to have ABC – there needs to be something extra special to it – the intangible thing that you may not be able to describe. I would also say, only take people who you really trust shopping with you, they will help to solidify your decisions.’

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The Tythe Barn

Oxfordshire Wedding Venue

The Tythe Barn is an award-winning wedding venue in Oxfordshire, comprising a cluster of beautifully restored barns alongside a 17th century boutique Farmhouse. Tythe is one of the most impressive wedding barns in the country: elegantly rural, undeniably fun, this exclusive estate is set on the working farm of the Deeley family in rural Bicester.

Relaxed and informal, yet well-known for its incredible attention to detail. This charming venue brings together the beautifully restored thatched Tythe Barn (dating back to 1370), adjoining Cowshed with its old terracotta roof, luxury dressing room (fondly referred to as The Nook), the stunning interior-designed Manor Farmhouse offering seven double en-suite bedrooms and the cosy Shepherd’s Hut which sleeps an additional two.

Tythe can be hired exclusively for two nights and offers everything on site: licensed for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies with the flexibility to adapt to both small or larger wedding parties, dedicated rooms for the groom and the bride to get ready in and accommodation for 16 guests – including tea and cake and a farmhouse supper for residents as well as breakfast on both mornings.

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The Tythe Barn

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Wedding Llamas at Tythe Barn wedding venue Bicester Oxfordshire


Additional Credits

The below suppliers and venues are featured in this article, but are not part of the Love My Dress Wedding Directory.

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Jade Beer

Jade Beer View all Jade's articles

Jade Beer is the former editor of Conde Nast Brides, a role she held for eight years, keeping it at the number one spot for the duration of her editorship. Today, she is the editor of the Mayfair Wedding Guide; editor-at-large for The Wedding Edition and she writes about fashion and lifestyle for the national press and women's magazines. She is the author of three published novels including her latest The Last Dress from Paris.