Sofia and Alvin

What a gorgeous wedding I have for you this lovely Friday afternoon. I am always, always so fascinated when a couple includes traditions and ceremonies from their culture into their wedding day – it’s been a week for it on Polka Dot Bride and ending off our week with this stylish Melbourne celebration – the wedding of Sofia and Alvin.

Sofia and Alvin met on the other side of the world. Sofia remembers, “I was seconded to London for work for 6 months but never met Alvin even though we had lots of mutual friends.  It wasn’t until the end of my secondment when we were both snowboarding in Whistler, Canada that we met on the slopes.  It was a whirlwind long distance romance … Alvin proposed 8 months later in New York City the day before Xmas!  I was surprised but apparently our friends had been taking bets on when it would happen.”

Photographs today are by Leo Farrell. I love Leo’s interesting take on wedding photographs. They’re incredibly stylish and unique but they don’t miss the great moments and details that make a wedding.

Sofia and Alvin decided to marry in Melbourne, though the decision was a hard one! Sofia explains “Alvin’s family lives in the US while my family are all in Melbourne, and friends spread out in Hong Kong, Taiwan, UK and Europe so it was quite hard to find decide where to have the wedding.  Eventually we decided on Melbourne: we love good food, coffee and the outdoors and Melbourne in summer seems quite perfectly poised to give us and our guests this.”

Sofia make up and hair was styled by  Anh Trinh ([email protected]u) Sofia says “She did an amazing job with my hair in the morning and afternoon.” Sofia’s first outfit, a stunning red cheongsham was from  Zuki Designs, Hong Kong. Sofia explains “As is traditional for a Chinese wedding, Alvin and his groomsmen had to pick me up in the morning of the wedding.  But they had to pass a set of challenges or “door games” as they are known which were set by my bridesmaids which ranged from eating strange concoctions (to mirror the “sour, sweet, bitterness and spiciness” of married life) to improvising a dance for the bride.  For this part of the morning, I was dressed in my cheong sam and put on my wedding gown after the boys had left for the ceremony grounds.”

The day was made all the more special by “Having amazing friends by our side.  Thinking back there were little crises along the way, but our bridesmaids and groomsmen took care of everything so well that we felt very relaxed and stress free all day. In the end, because of the help we had, we had a really relaxing day and we were able to fully enjoy every bit of it.”

After the groom left for the traditional ceremony, Sofia changed into her wedding gown (from Anaiss Weddings, Hong Kong) Initially I was only going to have a wedding dress and cheongsam but my Mum wanted to give me a an evening gown as a present. Just as well as my wedding dress did get quite grubby after a hot day in the sun in the gardens and I absolutely adore the evening gown now (possibly better than my wedding dress).  I was surprised I managed to find my wedding dress on the first day of dress shopping!” She paired it with a fascinator from Mariana Hardwick.

Sofia wore shoes from Rupert Sanderson. She says ” He makes the most comfortable high heels in the world.  I looked forever for hot pink shoes to wear with my wedding dress but never found them but I’m so happy I went with the RS white heels which I paired with”

Bouquet Melbourne created the floral arrangements for the day. Sofia remarks “They made absolutely stunning flowers for the day. I’d fallen in love with David Austin roses (never having known what they were before I started planning my wedding 🙂 ) and they did the most amazing bouquets for us. Initially we were going to go for a simple bunch of David Austins but we saw that the Fenix reception room needed a taller center piece, so in the end they managed to weave the roses with vines on a candelabra with candles which gave the room the magical feel.  On the bridal table, they thoughtfully left extra vases for the bridal party to leave their flowers.”

Sofia and Alvin hired chairs and decorations for the ceremony from The Wedding Zone Sofia says “They did the gorgeous decorations and equipment at the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Denise and Peter were so flexible and accommodating – they made sure we got exactly what we wanted and needed for the day.”

Sofia and Alvin chose to marry in one of Melbourne’s famous gardens. Sofia explains “The Royal Botanical Gardens were beautiful and green because it had been raining quite a lot in the months prior.  It has a lot of special memories for me as I grew up in Melbourne, and when we saw the big tree that we could be married under, we knew it was the perfect spot.”

For transport, the couple used a London cab and London bus by Deedecker Bus.

Sofia walked down the aisle to “Our harpist, Emily Rosner playing Canon in D by Pachelbel”.

Sofia describes the wedding day as ” A sunny delicious day shared with close family and friends” The groom wore a suit from Armani Collezioni with shoes from Saks 5th Avenue and the  groomsmen wore grey summer suits from Spurling.

The bridesmaids wore gowns from Spurling.

The couple enjoyed the company of family and friends form all over the world. Sofia recalls ” I loved having all our close family and friends there on the day – about 70% of our guests flew in from overseas, and it was really amazing to have them all there including two friends who were heavily pregnant, a couple who flew in from London just for the long weekend for the wedding, and Alvin’s elderly grandpa and grandma who took a long flight from Malaysia.”

Sofia loved “planning the wedding together – both of us were equally involved in planning most of the wedding, from choosing the venue, the menu, designing the invites and the wedding website “

The newlyweds loved the quiet moments together with their photographer. Sofia says “I knew I was going to change in my evening gown after the shoot so we just chilled out on the grass and kicked off our shoes and rested.  It was a really lovely quiet break for the two of us.”

Sofia and Alvin held their reception at Fenix restaurant in Richmond. She says “We didn’t know Gary Mehigan when we booked the venue but now we are big fans of his and TV series Masterchef! We loved working with Sophie Mcgregor from Fenix who patiently answered all the endless questions and pulled everything together beautifully.

As we love good food, we wanted to make sure the guests were served good food.  We tossed up some nice restaurants but we also wanted dancing so eventually we settled on Fenix which had rave food reviews.  Our first tasting didn’t go so well and we actually ended up having 3 tastings in total!  But in the end the food on the night was fantastic.”

The couple designed their own stationery together. Sofia says “We both love graphic design as a hobby, so we designed our own stationery for the wedding including the save the dates, wedding invites, info maps.  As a lot of our guests were flying in from overseas, we wanted a travel theme, so we made our wedding invites as boarding passes, placed inside boarding pass cases along with rubber “immigration” stamps based around the central image of a bridal couple marrying under the tree.

Continuing with the garden theme, we also created a wedding tree picture where guests could leave their thumbprints and autograph which formed the “leaves” of the wedding tree.  We chose different shades green and gold as the ink pads so the tree has some really pretty colours.  The wedding tree is framed and now hangs in the living room of our new home.”

Photos of guests were placed on each table. Sofia explains “Instead of a guest book, we collected a set of old photos we had of each and every guest attending the wedding which we made into post cards.  On one side was the photo and on the other was space for the guests to leave us a message.  There were lots of laughs from our guests – especially since we had dug up some real howlers.  We had a great time reading the messages left by our guests – not sure whether their humour and wittiness was in spite of, or enhanced by, the intoxication.”

The couple had a magical first dance. Sofia says “We started our dancing lessons 2 weeks before our wedding!  Luckily our instructor from The Secret Garden of Dance was fantastic so we managed to put together something.” For the reception, Sofia wore a Mariana Hardwick gown.

The cake was complimentary by Fenix. Sofia says “It was the most delicious chocolate mud cake ever. Free cake topper in David Austin roses and dodder vine by Bouquet Melbourne.”

The speeches were incredibly special. Sofia remarks “We were really touched by all the speeches given by our friends and family, and we really appreciated having the opportunity to thank our parents.  Growing up in Chinese families, we are not very vocal with showing our affection towards our family!”

The best moment of the night? Let’s leave it to Sofia to explain. “My favourite moment was throwing the bouquet.  I have a few girlfriends that we are dying to see walk down the aisle and I didn’t want anyone to miss out, so I threw not one but 6 bouquets (including the bridesmaid’s bouquets and the bridal table bouquets).  It was really fantastic to see them each holding one!”

Congratulations Sofia and Alvin! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to  Leo Farrell for sharing today’s photographs!