Also read: Our Chinese wedding ceremony in April 2014, and the official wedding ceremony itself
We had visited a number of reception centres early on in our wedding planning, rejecting all of them for a very simple reason – they were all too ‘function-y’ and had no character. They were blank slates – relying heavily on theming to be brought in by the bride and groom. Given that our approach to wedding planning was one of “the less we have to worry about the little details, the better”, we knew right from the very start that we needed a reception venue that would speak for itself that we could go into with no props.
The Ivy Sunroom was the clear choice. As soon as we walked in on our first visit, the floor-to-ceiling windows over the Ivy nightclub, natural lighting outside, as well as the Palm Beach-esque white wicker furniture and green accents made it a laid-back and casual option with space for our guests to spread out. We were also pleasantly surprised by the per head charge that they charge for wedding banquets – we were certain that such a central location and beautiful venue would charge through the nose, but it was very much within our moderate budget. A real winner!
The support we received on the venue was fantastic as well. Our account manager Ashley was incredibly thorough. Evelina, our floor manager on the day was with us for the whole journey as she also conducted our wedding menu tasting. We also had a special staff member (Lucy) assigned to us on the evening, whose sole responsibility was to ensure that the Bride and Groom had everything they needed, at any given time. I can’t thank the Ivy enough for their amazing experience they gave us – seamless, worry-free and just plain enjoyable!
By the time we arrived at the Ivy following the ceremony and photo shoot at the Chinese Gardens, everything had been set up perfectly for us. I have to thank the Ivy staff, but also my new brother-in-law Patrick and his partner Brooke for heading over to the Ivy early to make sure that everything was in its proper place, and looking good!
As most weddings do these days, we wanted a lolly buffet at our wedding. This would serve as the bonbonnieres for guests – each place setting was provided with a lolly bag that they could go on and fill at the buffet to take home with them for a sweet treat.
Unlike some lolly buffets though, we didn’t want no-name, generic coloured candy on our buffet. Instead, we wanted our absolute favourite candy and chocolate to make an appearance. So, we stocked up on Haribo Bears, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Ferrero Rochers, Lindt balls, Chupa Chups and strawberry clouds from Costco. The lolly buffet was also festooned with a few loose paper roses (thanks to PaperVintageLove) to match the paper roses that I had in my bouquet, as well as wooden letters from Typo.
Our table settings were based on comic book superheroes (artwork purchased from The Retro Inc)! We mixed comic studios which received a few raised eyebrows from fanatics (what, Marvel and DC Comics in the same room?!). I think everyone was very impressed by the concept though, especially after realising that K had spent nearly five hours designing the place settings poster!
To mark each table, we placed a frame (purchased on sale from Masters for $3!) with the superhero logo in the centre of the table, as we’d opted out of having any elaborate centrepieces. Why have a bunch of flowers when you can give each guest a box of Pocky to nibble on in between courses right?
You can also see the place settings as well – we spent an afternoon building the little brown cardboard gift bags (purchased off eBay) for the lolly buffet, and attaching a name tag with the superhero lego. Thank you to Michael, our best man and his fiancee Jess for helping us put them all together!
No social event these days is complete without a photo booth! It’s an ice-breaker for many people, and somehow, funny hats, glasses and feather boas always help people to loosen up, have a few drinks, get on the dancefloor and really have a good night. The Party Starters provided our photobooth (plus photobooth attendant) and DJ for the night for a very reasonable price, and were very responsive.
The reason we arrived early at the Ivy Sunroom ahead of our guests though, was so that we could do a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, which meant a lot to K’s grandparents. K’s father provided all the beautiful tea sets and tea leaves for the ceremony (he’s a bit of a collector!), and our family friend, known as Aunty Daisy, performed the tea ceremony for us.
In order of precedence, K and I served tea to: his dad and mum, my dad, his grandparents, his great-uncle and great-aunt, his uncle and partner, and his aunt, and we received li shi (red envelopes of money) from each of them. We were then served tea by our younger brothers, and we gave them a li shi each.
Though it’s a tradition that’s slowly beginning to lose favour with younger generations (even my traditional father thought it was a bit old-fashioned!), a Chinese tea ceremony is still a very important part of getting married in Chinese culture. It represents the joining of families, and the point in which a daughter-in-law will begin to call her in-laws ‘Mum & Dad’, and the point that a new son-in-law will begin to call his new family by their honorific titles as well.
We’re not quite that traditional – I’m still calling my in-laws by their first names for example – but it’s a ceremony that does mean a lot to many of the older generation. I don’t think it’s something that K and I would ever insist that our own children carry out, but it would definitely be nice if they did choose to do it!
Onto the food! Many of you will have already seen the delicious entrees and mains that were served at the wedding (read my blog entry on the menu tasting), which proved to be a real hit. A lot of our guests came up to us either during or after the meal to rave about the food, which was in one person’s terms was “a shit ton better than most meals at weddings, that ravioli blew my mind”.
We chose to skip including a dessert course though as well as a traditional multi-tiered wedding cake. Let’s be honest – wedding cake is so boring. Whether it’s a fruit cake or a chocolate mud cake, it’s inevitably covered in a layer of thick fondant and doesn’t actually taste any good!
Instead, we decided that the best course of action was to choose some of our favourite cakes and desserts from around Sydney, and have a cake table where people could sample little bits and pieces of the best desserts to be found. Why do things by halves right?
Desserts ordered included:
I must thank our friends Neil and Anita, and my cousin Michael and other cousin’s boyfriend George, for running around picking up the various cakes for us on the morning of the wedding!
The multiple cakes decision was one of the best decisions we made for the wedding I think. Not only was it entirely representative of K and my relationship with delicious desserts (oh okay, my unhealthy relationship with dessert!), but it was also a nice change of pace for all our friends and family as they got to sample a bit of everything. Thank you to the Ivy kitchen staff for cutting up our cakes for us into small bite-sized pieces so that everyone got to try a bit!
Speeches! Our MC for the evening was my now brother-in-law Patrick. K and I made a decision right from the start that we wanted Patrick as our MC – as K put it on the night, Patrick was clearly in touch with their Irish heritage and had kissed the Blarney Stone early on in his life. With a beer in hand, he took to the task with aplomb, cracking a few jokes along the way, while still managing to keep it short and snappy.
K’s best man Michael was actually the original catalyst for our meeting. I had actually met Michael back in 2007-8 on RSVP, and while we didn’t hit it off (I tried to set him up with my cousin instead) he ended up introducing K and I…the rest is history!
…Although so far I’ve kidded and joked about Kieran’s qualities as a friend. When I do properly reflect on our bromance over the years, words such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, kindness, forgiveness, dependable and generous come to mind. Kieran has been there for me as friend during my toughest times and more importantly than all the qualities I have just listed, is my belief that great friends help each other grow. Kieran has certainly been a positive influence on me and helped to shape me as the person I am today.
Similarly over the years I have been fortunate enough to also witness the growth of Kieran and Amanda’s relationship, both have grown and become even better people because of their love and kindness towards each other.
I know that since Kieran met Amanda, he is no longer scared of cats, vomiting less, has jumped out of planes and he seems to be eating a little faster too. More seriously though as mates we’ve noticed that he has grown in confidence, becoming more self-assured and adventurous and this is just the beginning….
Amanda on the other hand I’ve seen become more patient and seemingly deaf to Kieran’s freight train snores – a necessary disability to have to ensure an enduring marriage. Thank you for not only being there for Kieran but sharing your love with all of us, as you have accepted us as your friend too. As your friends .. and I speak for all those in this room we will always be here for you and for the two of you.
It has been a privilege and an honour to see the two of you build such a happy, supportive and loving friendship. Whilst I know that no love will ever replace or be stronger than our “bro-love” and that I will always be your bro-wife….. I know that Amanda and Kieran… as husband and wife you ARE meant to be.
Let’s raise a glass for Kieran and Amanda ….. may your love continue to blossom and be eternal and your friendship continue to grow and develop. May the cooking and bedroom experiments last a life-time.
First impressions as we all know are very important and I knew that I liked Kieran the first time I met him. The qualities about Kieran that I really liked are that he’s caring, kind and as they say behind every strong woman is a supportive man :)
Now before Amanda gets upset thinking it’s all about Kieran, here are some things that I love about Amanda. For as long as I can remember Amanda has been another brother to me. She’s always been strong, opinionated, ambitious, maternal and bossy! I’m older but she still bosses me around!
My memories of our summer holidays growing up are of us playing outside until it was so dark that we couldn’t see anymore, having zooper doopers cut into 3 with Mike getting the middle piece of course, singing along fabulously to the radio, watching movies in bed together, making Jackie’s life a living hell and fighting over the delicious food that Amanda’s mum made for us and I’m really sad that she’s not here with us today to celebrate Amanda and Kieran’s special day. We all miss her. I’m so grateful for the bond that our families share and we look forward to Kieran and their future little Bok Choys joining our family.
Ray and I extend our warmest welcome and thanks to you all tonight in celebrating this momentous, life-changing occasion in Kieran and Amanda’s lives.
Kieran was a gorgeous baby and has turned into a beautiful man, of whom we’re so proud. To do justice to my strong feelings (I’m a romantic), I’m talking to “Kieran’s Rocky Road to Romance”.
Kieran Aged 1. Refused to eat his first grape. So naturally, his doting grandmother peeled the grape, which Kieran decided he would eat. First lesson – you can get what you want without saying a word to the important women in your life. This set a bad precedent.
Kieran aged 4. I attended every preschool concert where I watched my son not perform. He sat, unsmiling, unmoving, all the while surrounded by squealing singing children. Of course, his behaviour didn’t stop him from being one of his teacher’s favourites. Lesson learned – do your own thing, when you want to because you’ll still remain loved by all your female teachers.
Kieran aged 10. Received yet another party invite from a classmate. When I arrived to pick up Kieran, I thought something looked a bit odd. Yes, Kieran was the only boy she had invited.
I now have to lump Kieran’s romances at high school and university together. No doubt some romantic activity occurred but it was so successfully screened and censored by Kieran and his friends (you know who you are) that I never got to know.
For his grand finale, Kieran turns up – with Amanda. From the first time we met Amanda, she’s put smiles on our faces and joy into our hearts. Yes, miraculously Kieran has hit the jackpot and won the lottery of love.
Ray and I invite you to raise your glasses in a toast to wishing Kieran and Amanda a lifetime of romance and friendship. To Kieran and Amanda!
My dad’s speech was necessarily in Cantonese as his English isn’t good, so my brother translated for him as he went.
It’s my honour as the bride’s father to have the opportunity to speak to you. I thought for a long time about what to say or more importantly, what not to say. I’ll try to keep it brief, and I’ll try not to make any terrible Dad jokes.
First I want to thank everyone deeply for joining us in celebrating Amanda and Kieran’s joyous wedding celebrations. I know that amongst our guests, there are many who have travelled far to join us today – thank you, we are very grateful that you could join us.
My beloved daughter Amanda is an incredibly smart and dutiful child. Me and my late wife’s work meant that for many years, after school and homework, Amanda had to take responsibility for looking after her younger brother Jackie. From a young age, her approach to schooling and work has always been one of dedication, meaning that we as parents were never worried about her education – we knew she was always going to do well.
Even though she still has many of the less desirable habits of her generation, I hope that after her marriage with the support of her husband, she can continue to improve her character and strive to be the best person she can be.
There are two things I would like to say to Amanda and Kieran. The first, as your father, I hope you will continue to think of my home as your home, forever. The second, that I always encourage you to make your own choices in life without outside influence,
Amanda, you’re grown up and independent now. With Kieran, you have become your own family. But as your father, I would say that although you are your own independent family, you will always be part of our family too.
Kieran, we don’t know each other very well, however I know that my beloved Amanda’s choice of husband, and the prior approval of Amanda’s late mother Ling, means that I wish you both a very happy and long marriage – helping, caring, and looking after each other and creating a bright and happy future together.
Then came my speech, which I chose to keep short and relatively snappy.
Thank you everyone for coming today. Those of you who know me have no doubt been watching me cry during all the other speeches. It’s no secret that I’m an emotional person! Hopefully I can keep myself together during my own speech.
Now the first thing I did when I started writing this speech was to do a lot of research into famous historical and fictional love stories. All these stories, love letters, quotes…they all came up as I started searching for the right words, and the best love story to draw parallels to.
Then I realised, why compare our story to others? Quite frankly, nothing can hold a candle to what Kieran and I have together. Together, we are already beyond compare.
I couldn’t have come to this realisation without your influence. You make me a better, more relaxed (slightly more relaxed!), spontaneous (slightly more spontaneous!), and well-rounded person. You soften my neurotic edges and give me a life full of love and laughter. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you as we grow and learn from each other as individuals and as a couple.
And well, I promised myself that I’d refrain from pop culture references but I have to finish on this quote from the Notebook – “The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more; that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. That’s what you’ve given me and that’s what I hope to give to you forever.”
…Now I have to thank my parents, and I have plenty to thank them for – for example, last night at dinner they reminded me that dad would always fall asleep in class, and mum always leaves things to the last minute – both habits I seem to have inherited. But really, I have to thank them for much more than my bad habits. Dad, thank you for cultivating my love of food, and mum, thank you for my laid back attitude. And thank you both for raising Patrick and I in a loving household, fostering our creativity and giving us so many opportunities. Growing up mum and dad always used to say to me “you’ll need to find a wife who can cook and clean and look after you”, generally as they looked on into my room at the piles of clothes and papers and toys scattered everywhere. Well, here we are, and in the three years Amanda and i have been together I’ve only seen looks of approval on your faces. To clarify, I don’t want to cast myself as some kind of invalid – I am capable of looking after myself, it’s just that Amanda’s idea of looking after ones self may not allow for having a bowl of cereal for dinner.
I would next like to thank Amanda’s parents. Firstly, Wai, I’m sorry that I can’t thank you in Cantonese. I promise one day I’ll be able to speak to you about more than just my favorite yum cha dishes (har gao, sui mai, char siu bao) but in the mean time maybe Jackie can translate for you. Wai, I know how much Amanda loves your dad jokes and I love watching, or more often hearing you guys talk over the phone – even though I don’t understand I can hear the love in Amanda’s voice, and I think she laughs differently, in a good way, when she laughs with you.
I would also like to thank Amanda’s mum Ling, who passed on so suddenly last year. Even though I only met her a few times, her influence in shaping Amanda into the person she is today is clear. Talk to Amanda for 5 minutes about raising kids and studying and you’ll recognize the Asian tiger-mother influence. I also recall from a few years ago, Amanda excitedly rattling off a list of about six or seven dishes she was going to request her mother to cook for an upcoming home visit, and I was confused at the time because she would literally only be there for one lunch. Of course Amanda had no doubt that her mum would cook everything, and I think that there indicated to me that she loved you, and I know she would be proud of the person you are now. I know you you are a strong and independent woman, but Wai, I promise to look after Amanda to the best of my abilities for the rest of out lives.
Special shout out to Amanda’s brother Jackie – Amanda used to tell me you were born so she could have a slave to boss around – well, she’s got me now, so i guess you’re free, enjoy it!
And so I come now to Amanda. Amanda, I love you. You look beautiful, stunning, amazing tonight. But then, I think you look beautiful every day. I could say pretty much anything right now and she would cry. Blowfish. Chocolate thunder. No, but really I could stand here all night and tell everyone all the things I love about you and I’d still be going as the security guards physically escorted me out. Rather, I thought I’d talk about the first thing that caught my attention about you – your writing. Note, I didn’t say I love you for your writing, that’s just kind of strange. But as everyone here is i am sure aware, you’ve blogged since forever ago, and you essentially write for a living, but even before I met you in person I remember reading something from your blog and thinking “wow, what an erudite and articulate person”. At the risk of sounding older than my grandparents, I think that in this modern day, in the age of tweets and text speak and selfies and chatsnaps and whatnots, the ability to form coherent sentences is something worth taking note of and appreciating, and that’s what I did with you.
But like I said, I didn’t fall in love with your writing. It took a while to get to know you, and as I did I realized the truth in the term “opposites attract”. In some regards it’s not true, like our mutual love of food, of quiet weekends, our dislike of the outdoors (it’s really dirty). But in many ways we are polar opposites. Amanda is organised and plans ahead. Amanda studies. Amanda is efficient and can multi task. I think the only one where I come out ahead is that she cries watching movies, and TV shows, and reading books, and sad YouTube videos and, evidently, listening to sappy speeches.
So, since this is the one time it’s ok for me to be sappy: Amanda, I love your compassion for fellow people. I love your passion, whether it is for a good cause, a good actor or for a good dessert. I admire your determination, your drive and your work ethic. Even though I believe that no one is 100% perfect, I know that you’re a lot closer than me. (I’d say you’re 99% perfect but then you’d be angry that you missed out on the other 1%). I still can’t believe you’ve agreed to spend the rest of your life with me, and it makes me want to try harder to make our future together as great as it can possibly be. I have no doubt at all that this is the best decision of my life so far. Amanda Chan, you’ve made me the happiest man in the world. I love you.
Needless to say, I was a hot teary mess by the time speeches were over, with a few of my false lashes falling out from my crying so hard!
Time for the first dance – with moves taught to us by Terry Fitzgerald of Sydney Dancing School over three hour-long sessions after work. We had a few fancy moves to show off, with a few shadows, twirls and spins and a fancy dip right at the end.
We danced to Queen’s You’re My Best Friend which we chose as a tune that was a little bit classic, memorable, and widely known. Being a little more fast-paced than a traditional love ballad as well, it allowed us to move a bit more freely and have a bit more fun!
I never thought that I’d see my dad on a dancefloor, but he was out there dancing and boogeying with everyone else!
And it was just so fantastic to see all our friends and family on the dancefloor having a good time.
The whole wedding day – ceremony and reception – was without doubt, the best day of my life. It sounds like such a cliche, but it’s absolutely true. While the day seems to go by in a blur, it is at the same time, the most memorable day of your life as you’re surrounded by all the people you love and who love you. It was also one of the first weddings of our friendship group (my friend Katy’s wedding in mid-2014 not withstanding), and as many people have said to us since our wedding day, “You’ve set the standard awfully high for all the weddings to come!”
And this ‘standard’ isn’t about the money spent on the wedding, as we were by most accounts relatively restrained in our spending, spending just over half of the ‘average cost’ of an Australian wedding. This ‘standard’ is about trying our best to not have a cookie cutter wedding and making the day all about us – personalising our vows, making sure that the food and desserts matched our preferences, bringing in our love of pop culture and superheroes, etc.
It was in the end, our day, a day to remember for the rest of our lives.