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There are many reasons to love bank holidays: shorter weeks, an extra lie-in, an excuse to talk about the weather… But for today’s couple, a bank holiday was life changing, since that’s how they met while out partying friends!
Say hello to beautiful Annie of Chinese heritage and English gentleman Matt. This chic couple chose a fabulous location for their wedding – at Somersham Station, a Victorian railway station on a train in Cambridgeshire ! I know! I know – the world is your oyster when it comes to adding your own stamp on your wedding day and Annie and Matt did just that! It was all hands on deck with so many personal touches and they celebrated in this unique and romantic venue with friends and family there to join in the festivities and support them in making them all happen, they were on track (see what I did there) for a fabulous day.
To honour Annie’s Chinese heritage, they also had a traditional tea ceremony, with the bride in a beautifully embellished Kwa dress.
Wonderful photographer Annelie Eddy shared these beautiful pictures of Annie and Matt’s big day.
It was complete surprise! We were on a Cotswolds trip to see the ‘Best of John Williams’ performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concern Orchestra at Blenheim Palace.
I woke up the morning after the concert wanting to explore loads of places, but Matt said we were heading to just one, the Batsford Arboretum. We walked around and I said: “wow, what a nice view”… next thing he was down on one knee saying “will you marry me?” I think the first thing I did was look around me in shock that he did it in public, and it took me a while to comprehend what he’d just asked. I think eventually I said yes, as he pulled out a gorgeous ring that he’d had designed in Hatton Garden.
There are so many choices when planning a wedding, so we started by writing down our values: good food, beer, and all our friends there. I also wanted an unusual venue. We didn’t really have a colour scheme or theme at first, but having decided on the wedding invitations it slowly came together as a botanical and gold geometric theme. We were tempted to go down the train theme with tickets and invitations, but that might have taken it too far!
As I am Chinese, I wanted to have a few Chinese elements included, such as the Chinese Kwa, Tea Ceremony, and Chinese-inspired food. Pinterest was great for inspiration, as was looking at blogs.
I had no idea what style of dress I wanted, so I went to the National Wedding Show to try on loads of styles. I ended up buying one, which was on offer, but as soon as I got home I regretted it. I was then tempted to go for a high street dress, as I didn’t like the idea of waiting ages for a dress to be made and having loads of fittings. Finally, I found a shop called Wed2b nearby where you could buy off the shelf and then get a seamstress to alter it. I wanted something with a nice back and they had the perfect WOW dress. I looked at a few more shops before returning to that one.
I also changed into a Chinese Kwa for the tea ceremony and some photos, which a very kind lady called Ling lent to me.
Matt was going to go for a full-tailored, but then on the way back from our first venue viewing, we stopped at Bicester Village and he got a great deal on a lovely Reiss suit. He took it to the London Fashion Workrooms and got it fitted, and it was as nice as any bespoke suit!
The week before the wedding was the hottest London Marathon on record, but by the big day, the temperature had dropped about 15 degrees! It was a very cold day, but he show must go on!
We had our ceremony on a train, GE1, a beautiful, private wooden saloon built for the Chairman of the Great Eastern Railway. It was very emotional seeing all our friends and family from all walks of life there together, huddled under blankets keeping warm! We did the legal paperwork in the perfectly preserved Somersham Station building (the wedding needs to be under a fixed, permanent structure, otherwise it wouldn’t have been legal!)
Matt says his favourite moment of the day was seeing me walk down the aisle. That morning had been quite stressful, as the weather wasn’t great and the staff had arrived late, due to a local sports event, but as soon as I arrived, he said he knew it was worth all the effort and hassle!
We had two readings – one by my sister (‘All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten’ by Robert Fulgham) and one by our friend Steve, who wrote a piece about us which made everyone chuckle.
We picked which traditions suited us and stuck to those. In a Chinese wedding, the groom escorts the bride to the wedding after completing a set of tasks set by the bridesmaids, but as Matt wanted to see me for the first time walking down the aisle, we didn’t do that.
But we did incorporate a Chinese tea ceremony to show respect to the elders of the family.
As the venue is full of train-related memorabilia, we wanted to keep it quite simple. We didn’t really have a vision as such, but slowly we picked things and it all started to come together. We had paper lanterns, festoons, lights, and the flower and table decorations which matched the gold/geometric/botanical invitations.
There is a life size taxidermy-style rhino in the reception room, and a few of our friends took a shine to him. Protecting ‘Gus the Rhino’ became a movement – luckily he’s made out of papier-mâché, so Gus survived!
Our food was delicious smoked meat, but with Chinese flavours. We added the Chinese characters for Double Happiness on our invites.
Our first dance was to ‘China Girl’ by David Bowie. It’s Matt’s song for me. I think a few people were surprised by such a bold choice!
I’d seen amazing wedding photos done with smoke bombs, so I thought I would buy three colours and we would try it. During our experiments, our friend Steve didn’t quite manage to set two of them off. We had one left, and he finally managed to get it to work!
All I can picture is him running up the little slope screaming as this bright red smoke billowed from his sleeve! We laughed so much! His hand and his sleeve were even stained afterwards. Definitely one of my favourite wedding photos!
Challenges and Triumphs
Doing a full DIY wedding is a lot harder than we ever anticipated. (As I’m an events producer, I thought I would do it myself.) We had a completely bespoke wedding and we got to choose everything including forks and beer, but the downside was that it became another work-life project, except that this time I wasn’t spending someone else’s budget! I definitely could have made it a bit easier for myself.
Having our close family and friends around for the days afterwards really helped. For example, we had to wash 700 glasses to return to Majestic Wine the day after the wedding – not much fun with a massive hangover! (Nu Bride: lol!) Thankfully we had a production line of family to help us!
Stand out suppliers
We chose Annelie Eddy as our photographer. We looked at fifty-plus photographers’ websites (Nu Bride: Oh my Gosh!) and in the end, we chose Annelie as she did our friends Joe and Gwen’s wedding. The photos looked incredible – really natural, and she captured loads of lovely, candid moments. We weren’t disappointed! She shared a photofilm and the photos in record time! We would definitely recommend her to everyone.
We would also recommend Anh at Isme & Rose, who worked through the night to make sure all the flowers looked great!
Top Tip for couples
Spend time and effort on the most important things, as there are so many others that can distract you along the way.
Weddings are so personal, so pick and choose what you want, not what you think you should have!
Photographer: Annelie Eddy
Venue: Fawley Hill
Event Design and Florals: Anh Liu of Esme & Rose
Makeup: Tammi Nguyen
Hair: Hair Up by Alice
The Ladies Fashion
Flower Girls’ Outfits: Boden
The Gents Fashion
Suits: Groomsmens’ own
Pocket Squares: Gianni Feraud
Pageboy’s Outfit: H&M
Paper Goods: Erin Flom
Cake: Pandan Bakery
DJs: Justin Robson & Josh Fairbairn