HOW WE MET: We met at a music festival in London called “Lovebox”, hence the Lovebox theme for the wedding. It was a twist of fate as we bumped into each other the first time by accident, Ben said “Hi” and I said “Hello”, we danced, and sparks flew. Then we lost each other and had not exchanged numbers. Later that night, in amongst thousands of festival goers, Ben saw me (“The Crazy Aussie”) running for the tube at the end of the festival. He grabbed my number before anything else was said… and the rest is history.
OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Ben is a big planner and he wanted to propose whilst on our weekly Saturday morning run. He knew I wouldn’t expect it, being all sweaty and in my running gear. Plans quickly changed when the ring arrived at his work the day he was taking me out for dinner for our 3 year anniversary. He got SO excited when he saw the ring, he knew he had to do it that night. After dinner at one of my favourite restaurants “Sushi-E”, and a good laugh at all the Ceroc Dancers at the “Establishment” downstairs from the restaurant, he took me to Freshwater beach, near where we had just bought our first home together, and as the rain poured down he quickly escorted a very confused me under his big umbrella to one of the cabanas by the beach, and here, he got down on one knee. Ben really wanted to propose at a location where we could return to in the future to remember the special moment.
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Finding the person that you love waking up to everyday - someone who makes you laugh, someone who encourages you to be exactly who you are & someone you want to share the adventure of life with. We look forward to always evolving as a couple and a family, being active, healthy and continuing to have fun with one another.
(Interview continued under gallery...)
WEDDING LOCATION: We chose the island Koh Samui in Thailand for a number of reasons. It is half-way between Australia & UK/ Europe where all of our friends and family are spread around the world. We also chose Koh Samui as we have spent a lot of fun times on the island together and it is a magical place. The amazing food, gorgeous people, beautiful culture and stunning environment made it easy to choose Koh Samui as our wedding location. Because everyone flew a long way for the wedding, the wedding was a week long celebration, in true festival style. We organised Welcome Drinks, A fancy Dress party, Yoga in the morning (as Tianjin is a yoga teacher), games on the grass, The wedding, & finally a farewell gathering. As guests arrived at the welcome drinks we had “Lovebox” festival wristbands made for the wedding week. Like all good festivals, we were completely exhausted by the end of the week… but with HUGE smiles on our faces!
THEME/STYLE: Festival Garden Party. Barefoot, relaxed & fancy free…!
BUDGET: We had a budget but we went over. We were very glad we sourced a lot of the stuff ourselves but it is all worth it in the end anyway.
PHOTOGRAPHY: We knew instantly that we wanted Sarah Christensen to be our wedding photographer from the moment we were engaged. Having seen a lot of her work and been in her presence many times, we knew that she had the perfect personality, vibe, ideas and natural skill to shoot our wedding. We couldn’t have been happier with the photos she took (and there are many!). It's going to be a very hard task to choose our wedding album with so many beautful photos to choose from!!!!! She went the extra mile and took the time to explore the nearby area to find different locations for the photos, capturing some magical moments. On the day she was extremely professional, caring, fun, laid back, and basically, amazing! We would not hesitate in highly recommending her to friends for their special day.
BRIDE’S DRESS: I knew I wanted something a little different, a little hippy and beachy, and fun! I definitely wanted it to be short, but at the same time elegant. When I met with my amazing wedding dress designer Leonardo Salinas we decided on having 2 dresses in one. A lace, fitted minidress with a removable, more elegant dress over the top. I spent most of the wedding in both dresses and removed the top dress for our first dance and then it stayed off for the rest of the night, so I had more freedom to dance.
BRIDE’S SHOES: Barefoot
BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: We couldn’t find any dresses off the rack that we liked, and Leonardo Salinas was doing such an amazing job with my wedding dress that we decided to have them made as well. We wanted them to be ivory and comfortable, with a focus on beautiful jewellery. They looked like angels on the day!
BRIDESMAID’S SHOES: Barefoot
ACCESSORIES: This was important as we were barefoot, and the girls needed a belt to pull their dress in at the waist. We ended up having most of our jewellery made by our friend Eliza Pross who custom makes jewellery for weddings. She made my foot jewellery with a tiny blue stone at the toe (something blue), the girls belts & their anklets. We loved them all!
WEDDING RING STYLES: Tianjin’s is a vintage style round setting with one big diamond surrounded by 32 little diamonds. The wedding band has 3 rows of diamonds and completes the set. Ben doesn’t wear much jewellery so we knew it would have to be something different. We decided on a ring by a New Zealand designer from South West Trader in Sydney. It has a piece Ivory wood in the centre of a solid silver band. It is quite chunky and distinctive compared to most traditional bands and links back to the country of Ben’s birth.
GROOMSMEN: Benjamin definitely didn’t want to wear a suit and he wanted him and the guys to be comfortable but stylish. He went for the classy crisp white fitted shirt from Calibre with neatly rolled up sleeves. He sourced fitted navy cotton chinos from Canterbury of New Zealand with a small green kiwi emblem above the back pocket and red stitching detail at the fly button and down the side seams. None of the boys wore shoes for the ceremony but they did have boat shoes to match the outfits. Benjamin wore oatmeal rope plaited braces with the groomsmen wearing matching belts from Scotch & Soda. To finish the look Tianjin’s brother, Tusyan, found some amazing summer neck scarves from Orlebar Brown. Benjamin and Tusyan wore matching navy and white colourways with the other boys wearing the plain navy. It had an air of nautica without looking too much like they were on their way to the yacht club.
HAIR: Long, loose, natural curls. I also had an amazing flower headpiece custom made by Melbourne designer Connie Cao which completed the look.
MAKEUP: Natural and subtle. My bridesmaids are all stunning and we really didn’t want a lot of make-up.
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: Using the original flyer from Lovebox London Weekender 2008, Benjamin commisioned a designer to firstly create an e-flyer save-the-date with a logo inspired by the festival’s. With the same template he then had invitation “tickets” created that fitted inside a custom wallet that was posted to everyone that had expressed availability to attend. To complete the festival feel the logo was printed onto white wristbands which were distributed to guests and worn throughout the week.
FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: We arranged to buy beautiful sarongs for all of our guests in varied colours. Although it was an interesting journey lugging them from Bangkok to Koh Samui, it was definitely worth it. We really wanted to see everyone using their sarongs back at home to always remind them of our time together at the wedding.
BOUQUET: We wanted to use local flowers & I wasn’t too fussed with what flowers they were so long as they were white, cream and green to fit with the earthy, natural theme. I was very pleased with the lotus/ rose combination that were used and I brought some material from my wedding dress over with me so that I could have my lace wrapped around the stems. My bridesmaids had someivory material also from my dress wrapped around their bouquets.
VIDEOGRAPHER: Ben’s parents gave us a video camera which was used by one of our other photographer friends. She is in the process of creating a video montage of the entire week. A lot of our other friends had video cameras which captured some amazing moments.
CEREMONY & RECEPTION DÉCOR: We custom designed all of our décor styling to fit the festival theme and The Lane website helped us so much with these ideas. We decided on everything from the “Chapel” sign at the ceremony, the heart bunting, the beautiful chairs (we didn’t want the plastic ones with material covering), the floating candles, the decorated trees, the lanterns and lights, the festival table finder board, the festival table settings (each being a different festival that we have been to together), the guestbook puzzle, and the blackboards with our “cocktails of choice” and “our love story” board. Some were made and supplied by the wedding planners and others we organised and either made ourselves and brought over with us or sourced when we were on the island.
WEDDING PLANNER: The wedding planner came with the villa that we booked our wedding & accommodation through. We used them for most of the necessary logistics on the ground but we did all of the planning and design ourselves.
WEDDING STYLIST: Us!
CAKE TYPE: Before the wedding week, we stayed at a health resort also on the island. We chose this place as it has an amazing restaurant which serves healthy food and also has a raw food menu. I had communicated with them prior to our arrival regarding our wedding cake as we definitely wanted a Raw cake and desserts. We decided on 4 Raw Vanilla Cheesecakes served with Berry Coulis. We also had mini individual Tropical Mango and Papaya layered desserts (all raw, vegan, gluten-free, wheat-free, sugar-free & amazing!!). They were amazing and were quite the opposite to most sugar-filled cakes which make you feel sluggish… no wonder our guests were dancing right into the following day!
WEDDING SONGS: Music was a HUGE part of our wedding week considering we met at a music festival & love music. We spent a load of time ensuring that the right people would be playing the right music, at the right time. We had a local DJ play our chosen songs throughout the ceremony, drinks, and dinner & we have several friends who are DJs so they each played later in the night and into the next morning. We had a huge variety of music, played to suit all tastes. Ben’s brother Ollie was “Director of Music” so he was in charge of making sure all of the music we wanted was played, so we didn’t need to worry about a thing on the day.
Tianjin walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of “Signs” by Bloc Party. A beautiful, tear jerking piece of music.
We walked back down the aisle as husband and wife to “Green Eyes” by Coldplay.
We entered the reception dinner to “Gone in the Morning” by Newton Faulkner
Mid-way through the meal we had a photo montage projected onto a giant screen to the song “Little by Little” by Groove Armada
Our first dance was “Church” by the 2 Bears. We wanted our first dance to be fun, kooky and entertaining, so we had a dance choreographed with a bit of acting in the mix too.
The very last tune played (the next day) was “Protection” by Massive Attack
ENTERTAINMENT: We wanted the focus to be on music so we didn’t organise any additional entertainment. Fortunately we have VERY entertaining friends so we were pleasantly surprised with a few amazing performances which were sprung on us throughout the evening. Our friend Masayuki from Japan brought his guitar and sang us a Japanese Love song called “9th of March”. Masayuki had sung this song for Ben and I once before when we first met him at a yoga retreat in Bali. When he met us we werent even engaged, but Masayuki said that we would get married one day and asked us if he could sing us this song. We had no idea what the words meant (as the lyrics are in Japanese) but he had us in tears as it was so lovely. Fortunately, the lyrics are very beautiful and were very fitting for our wedding day. We also have several friends from New Zealand who used their wedding gifts sooner than we thought. Wearing only their (new) sarongs, they did the Haka. It was an amazing moment!!
FOOD & BEVERAGES: Being foodie’s and very much into healthy eating, we were fortunate being in Thailand with not only their amazing cuisine but the abundance of fresh food, organic options, seafood and local produce we had at our fingertips. There were canapes served of fresh rice paper rolls and chicken satay, and for the dinner, the tables were filled with healthy and plentiful dishes to share ranging from softshell crab, beautiful fish dishes, organic vegetables, curries, stirfries, thai salads, the works. No one was left hungry… they were fuelled for the evening. The drinks were a huge focus for us too. We really wanted people to have choice and we didn’t want to get stuck with a drinks package, so Ben and I decided to source and buy all the alcohol ourselves. Guests had “Bride’s cocktail of choice” OR “Groom’s cocktail of choice” on arrival and beers, sparkling and wine ready to go. When we sat down for dinner, each table was stocked with Liquor of choice and mixers to make their own drinks. Beer, sparkilng and wine were also flowing. Later in the evening, as a special treat to guests, we had a typical Thai pancake man arrive on his motorbike and set up his stall on the sand just outside the villa.
TRANSPORT: All of our guests were staying in the resorts right next door to our Wedding Villa, so everyone strolled barefoot along the sand to and from the wedding. Too easy!
HONEYMOON: Ben and I are currently planning our honeymoon in 2013 which is set to include Europe and Central & South America. We might need an extended time off! We have some more festivals we want to go too (of course), and more adventures and travelling that we want to do.
GIFT REGISTRY: We had a gift registry with Flight Centre where our guests could cointribute to our 2013 Honeymoon.
CELEBRANT: Johnny Paterson came highly recommended and he does most of the weddings on Koh Samui. [email protected] He was extremely professional and experienced and he definitely added to the smooth running of our ceremony. We would highly recommend him.
Blessing of the Hands:
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
We wrote our vows together.
Exchange of rings:
Happy is the moment,
When we are together
With two forms, two faces, yet one soul.
I am yours and you are mine.
From this day to the end of my days
These my darling, are my promises to you:
That I will love you freely, as the sky loves the bird, and as the sunrise loves the early morning. ~
That I will love you grandly, with my tender fine emotions, with my loving words and all my actions. ~
That I will love you purely, with my soul, with my knowing, with all the best intentions of my being. ~
That I will love you joyfully, with my body, with my laughter, with my foolishness and playing. ~
That I will love you truly, with my kindest and deepest care. ~
That I will love you always, now, from this day forward, seamless, endless and forever.
ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: We really wanted our guestbook to be different and fun so we had a big wooden jigsaw puzzle made for us which we took over to Thailand. Guests were given colourful pens to draw , design and write messages on the puzzle pieces for us to put together back home and one day, turn into a table.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: The Lane, of course, was a huge help especially the Real Weddings and Themes. The many festivals we have been to together also gave us inspiration for the table settings & table finder. Ben’s parents were married in a garden in New Zealand, forty years before, so having our evening on the lawns under the palm trees was also a homage to them.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT: It sounds so corny, but spending the whole ceremony staring into eachothers eyes was extremely powerful and magical. It made us realise, in our busy lives, how seldom we did that. The ceremony was a magical moment as we felt as though we were in our own little bubble until we turned around and saw all our amazing friends and family sharing the moment. Also, having all of our favourite people all together for a whole week was the most amazing thing of all. Something that probably wont ever happen again!
ONE THING I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY WEDDING PLANS: It was great to be in Thailand beforehand to do all the last minute preparation and be a little bit more relaxed before everyone arrived. I don’t think we appreciated how much we needed to do, spending at least a few hours every day doing things. As a consequence we didn’t fully relax until after the ceremony. We then only had a couple of nights before returning home. In hindsight I think we would have stayed on afterwards a bit longer and tried to get the preparation done earlier and all in one chunk of time.
BEST ADVICE FOR PLANNING A WEDDING/TO BRIDES: The best advice we could give is to try to do as much of the planning and or decorating for the wedding as possible. We ended up doing quite a bit ourselves i.e. our guestbook, wedding gifts, menus, blackboards, purchasing alcohol etc, and not only did this save us some money, but we really felt it brought a piece of us to the wedding. Also, choose a venue that doesn’t have a curfew. Due to our wedding being in our own private villa, we could keep the party going for as long as we wanted. It is your wedding day, do you really want it to end??? Lastly, take a moment together and take a step back from all the wedding action and watch all of your loved ones enjoying themselves for you. It is amazing!
TIANJIN & BEN'S CONTACTS:
PHOTOGRAPHY: Sarah Christensen Photography
BRIDE'S DRESS: Leonardo Salinas custom made
BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: Leonardo Salinas custom made (My wedding dress designer was so amazing, we had him design the Bridesmaids dresses too)
GROOMS FORMAL WEAR:
Shirts - Calibre
Chinos – Canterbury of New Zealand
Belts - Scotch & Soda
Scarves - Orlebar Brown
Brides rings: Charles Nobel
Grooms ring: South West Trader
JEWELLERY & ACCESSORIES: Eliza Pross
HAIR: My beautiful friends; Bec Simpson & Charissa Liacolopoulos did our curls and Connie Cao made my headpiece
MAKEUP: My amazing sister; Bianca Lawless with mostly MAC products
FLORIST: Part of wedding package
CAKE: Raw desserts & cake from Radiance Restaurant at the Spa Resort, Lamai Beach, Koh Samui
CATERING: Through the Villa
WEDDING VENUE: Baan Suriya (Sunshine Villa), Lipa Noi, Koh Samui
HONEMOON DESTINATION: South America/ Europe in 2013
TRANSPORT: Short stroll along the beach
GIFT REGISTRY: Flight Centre