What a total treat it is to be sharing Lam and Paul’s Chainstore wedding in London today, held on the 24th August 2019 in balmy 35C sunshine. They described their celebrations to me as “Geeky but Cheeky“, which I just love and you will find a lot of fun times in their beautiful images by Marianne Chua Photography today (thanks for sharing them with us Marianne). Their focus when wedding planning was the food, which was of uttermost importance to them and also shaped their venue choice. It sounded as though their food choices were a huge success too if their guests words are anything to go by!
Their decision to have a bouncy castle rather than a first dance was just genius, the first bounce looked really joy filled. They also held outdoor games for even more entertainment with giant Jenga and lawn games. Then come evening a silent disco kept the dance floor busy! Look out for super beautiful outfits, fresh flowers, a cheese stack cake and light bulb terrariums. What an awesome wedding.
We had been talking about getting married for a while, and eventually we had gotten to the point of discussing what kind of ring we’d each like. It became pretty clear that one of us was going to propose soon – the only question was who would do it first!
Unrelatedly, we had booked a table at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, Dinner By Heston, for my birthday, and I thought I could use the opportunity (and gain the element of surprise!).
On the day, Lam made me breakfast in bed, then we went on a surprise trip to a trampoline park for the day! It was an incredible day, but by the time we got to the restaurant I was really nervous… Between mains and the dessert I briefly excused myself to secretly fetch the ring. After dessert I said I would like to make a little speech; saying how much I adored sharing everything with her – and would she share the rest of her life with me? After what seemed like an eternity of time spent on one knee, she eventually realised she had to actually say yes out loud, and made me very happy!
We initially weren’t sure where we were going with this wedding. We wanted it to be our own, and the only thing we knew for sure was that as we are both huge foodies, the catering was paramount. Therefore, we needed to find a venue that would either have excellent food or better yet would allow us to supply our own.
We spent quite a lot of time looking at brochures, stately homes and the like, but none of them really cut the mustard. Then Lam found this really fun, quirky venue across the Thames from the Millennium Dome: Trinity Buoy Wharf. We fell in love with it, and from its rustic charm we developed the rest of the theme: Warm and inviting, simple and elegant. Wood and white, with a pop of fun.
The Planning Process
We got engaged 23 months out from the wedding date, so you’d think we had plenty of time to plan. Paul took point on the planning process, and the important things were checked off quickly: photographer, catering, save the dates, homemade wedding website. From there it was all managed by a vast Google spreadsheet with endless tabs and a to do list that always seemed to keep growing, no matter how much we checked off it…
We had some incredibly generous contributions from our parents. I remember my parents saying they’d like to gift us an amount for the wedding, and Lam telling me later “looks like the decorations budget is back on!”
All in, our budget was around £25k, with the majority of that going to the venue and the caterers, who also rented furniture, and provided event management and staff.
We did save some money by hand-making our invitations with a laser cutter at the London Hackspace, not having flowers, and using the same venue for the ceremony and reception.
The Chainstore at Trinity Buoy Wharf is a warehouse attached to an old lighthouse in East London, very close to our home. This meant that we could travel on the DLR and save on transport costs! (On the day, our family banned us from actually doing this…) It was dry hire, so everything had to be brought in, but fortunately we didn’t have to provide our own lighting engineer – although the best man could have done the job!
The warehouse has a large terrace overlooking the Millennium Dome, nowadays O2 Arena, which provided spectacular views during the ceremony, and a garden space was created for all summer weddings, which made for a great atmosphere, especially in the 35C weather. Inside the warehouse, the white-washed walls and high wood-beamed ceiling were a perfect blank canvas for our “simple elegance” theme.
The Readings & Music
For the start of the reception, we had a set of piano versions of Disney songs. There was chuckling in the audience when they realised! Our entrance music was “Concerning Hobbits” from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack – it’s such a lovely light and airy, joyful tune.
For readings, we had selected three.
The first one was from The Little Prince, about the way that things take value not by inherently having it, but by the way we pour our efforts into them. The second one was called “How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali. Paul’s sister Resi did an absolutely excellent job of performing it! It’s a very funny poem comparing love to a dog on a leash, with all the little messes it makes. It’s worth looking up the original performance.
The final reading was “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum, and advice such as “say sorry when you’ve hurt someone” and “take a nap every afternoon” is just really good life guidance.
Your Outfits & Accessories
Lam: I wanted to stick to a budget of £750 including alterations for the dress but I wasn’t going to let it restrict my choices. I considered a number of new high street options but ultimately decided to make a visit to a wedding specific business, David’s Bridal. I went in by myself on a free afternoon, tried on five dresses and picked the one I liked the most of those as I was already exhausted by choice! The only reason it wasn’t bought there and then was so my mum could come at a later date and verify I was making the right choice. With alterations, it was exactly on budget. My jewellery was all from mum as well – what can I say, she has great taste! My shoes needed to be comfortable and wearable all day so I wore flat brogues from Rogue Matilda which were a fun flash of colour when they peeked out from under the dress.
Paul: In line with a fresh and fun look for our outfits, we wanted me in a light coloured suit. Moss Bros have a “Tailor Me” range where I got a fitted light blue suit, with a beautiful watercolour flower pattern on the jacket lining and the back of the waistcoat. They even had a free monogram included, which I used to write out the second half of RuPaul’s famous quote: [We’re all born naked…] “…and the rest is drag!” The shirt was a T.M. Lewin cotton shirt: As someone who doesn’t wear shirts very much, I find you can always rely on them for great shirt advice. We needed a pink tie to finish off the outfit, and eventually found a nice silk one at Hawes and Curtis that was the right colour.
Initially, there was no plan to have flowers, as we found the logistics involved a little daunting. On the day, however, my mum turned up with flowers for the entire bridal party! For the tables, we used artificial vines and lightbulb terrariums which together with the warm overhead lighting gave a lush feeling to the room. Birch trees we hired from the venue broke up the space without feeling oppressive.
Neither of us are big cake eaters, so we always wanted a cheese tower instead. We sourced our cheeses from a number of different places to make sure all our favourites were in there: A huge wheel of Tome at the bottom, a selection of blues, bries and semi-hard cheeses from the Bath Soft Cheese company, a wheel of vintage cheddar, and even a kilogram of vegan cheese that the Fauxmagerie managed to custom-produce for us. The topper was a heart-shaped cheddar!
The groomsmen all brought their own suits (although one initially turned up in a bathing suit). I gave them all a gift of a silk tie and pocket square in green to match the bridesmaids’ dresses.
The dresses were from Joy – I wanted something that would be light and airy in summer. Initially, I saw the dress in the window and knew it was the one. I then scoured the internet and called the store multiple times to ensure I could get five dresses in the right sizes and the manager was incredibly helpful. All I requested was that shoes be in a nude or metallic tone, the rest of the look I left to my gorgeous bridesmaids.
My hair was done by the only person I trust with my hair: Klerissa of Curly by Nature in North London. I turned up the day before, gave her a general idea of what I wanted and she did a stunning job. Not only did I get a full pamper session and fun de-stressing chat the day before my wedding; on the day, I couldn’t stop taking selfies even before I was in my dress because I looked so good with the style! Makeup was by my highly skilled cousin Onome: she came equipped with a makeup bag full to bursting and turned. it. out.
Our nails were done at Color Riot Nails in Shoreditch. I had mine done a week ahead of time, and Paul went a few days later. He wanted a colour to match the pink of his tie, but when he went for his appointment, he forgot to actually take the tie with him! He ended up just asking for the same colour I had, which luckily turned out to be a great match for the tie.
The Details & Décor
Bouncy castle! We try not to take ourselves too seriously, so when it turned out neither of us wanted to be put on the spot for a first dance, we got creative – first bounce, anyone?
On the terrace, we had a giant Jenga and some lawn games for people to play during the cocktail hour.
After the reception, rather than a DJ or band, we decided to do a silent disco. It’s such a fun concept because it allows everyone to have three different playlists to choose from, while everyone else can keep chatting without shouting. And it’s great fun to watch people yell along to Mr Brightside when you can’t hear the music yourself!
There was a selfie station with the guest book. We had an Instax printer which prints onto instant photo papers, so people got to take pictures with their own phones, then print them immediately and stick them into the book, or take home.
Most of our décor was provided by Crumble, our amazing caterers. Not only did they cook food that we are still being told (repeatedly) was the best wedding food people had ever eaten, they also handled a lot of the logistics on the day and helped give our wedding exactly the look and feel we had wanted.
I found Marianne Chua around two years before our wedding and knew straight away that we couldn’t have anyone else chronicling our day. She had also shot a friend’s wedding and the pictures were wonderful, so we knew we could trust her to give us some great memories.
On the day, she turned up first thing in the morning and stayed around until late at night, always subtly squeezing into conversations to create her outstandingly candid documentary-style photographs. Even after the wedding we received much feedback about Marianne’s people-rustling skills and how she was omnipresent even though she was never intrusive.
We flew to the United States, spending two weeks across three big foodie cities: San Francisco, New Orleans, and Austin, Texas.
Our wedding list had people primarily giving us experiences rather than physical gifts, so a lot of our honeymoon was full of lovely memories created on these experiences: Sunset sailing past the Golden Gate Bridge, axe-throwing in Austin, and a ghost tour in New Orleans.
We had a lovely time and ate far too much food (but would definitely go back!).
The first bounce! It turns out it is possible to jump on a bouncy castle in a ballgown, as long as you jump exactly straight up…
Paul sneaking away to ask the caterers for a pre-dinner snack and being shooed out by the best man’s wife (because wedding catering is stressful enough without the groom interfering!).
The tallest groomsman catching the bouquet at the toss without even jumping.
The photoshoot at the top of the lighthouse at sunset with the Longplayer art installation playing in the background.
Advice For Other Couples
If you have canapés, make sure there is a dedicated “bride and groom” tray that other people aren’t allowed to touch. It’s easy to be so caught up in conversations that none of the food ever makes it to you.
On the day, you don’t need to solve problems. Grabbing your best man or maid of honour and saying “here’s an issue, could you fix it please?” is perfectly allowed and helps you stay calm even when things go wrong.
Subvert expectations wherever you feel like it: bouquet tosses can be for men only, you don’t need a first dance (if you can’t dance) and speeches don’t have to be reserved for traditional roles.
If you have a silly idea just do it – it’s your day and that means no one can tell you that you did it wrong!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Marianne Chua Photography
Trinity Buoy Wharf
Catering & Event Management
Weinbau Regner, Weinviertel, Austria [email protected]
We Love Occasions
The Silent Disco Company
What fun! Didn’t Lam and Paul look really gorgeous too in their chosen outfits? Wow.
Lam and Paul thank you both so very much for sharing with us your brilliant wedding story xo Lou