It was on a night out, in 2008 at a charity event held at Melbourne’s Baroque Bar by a mutual friend, that led today’s newlyweds Jia and Kevin to their wedding day. “We remember just hitting it off straight away and Jia asking ‘hey, let’s take pictures!’ (self-certified selfie queen).” The connection was well and truly on its way. Says Jia “Kevin added me on MSN we were chatting every night and sometimes into the early morning – I can’t remember if I was always a night owl or if Kev made me this way. It wasn’t long before I was joining Kev at his uni lectures for moral support. It wasn’t until one of our dates a few months later that he asked me to be his girlfriend.”
And over a decade later, after lockdowns almost thwarted their plans, these two decided to make it official. Classic, formal and elegant, they invited photographer Alex Chung Photography along for a day that Jia explains as “laid back, light-hearted wedding and just very excited to have family and friends come together to celebrate our wedding. Our wedding would have been the first wedding since the start of the pandemic for most, so I think everyone was just so excited to come out and celebrate love.”
The proposal, with a few false starts, took place in the middle of lockdowns. “Ah, the proposal. Poor Kev, lost two opportunities to propose, or perhaps three because I like to remind him that he missed out on a perfect opportunity when we went to Japan in 2017. (Google search nabano no Sato).
His first attempt was in 2019 when we had a trip planned to visit Kev’s family in Mauritius. He had already purchased a ‘temporary’ ring to propose with so that we could go shopping together after. (Funny story, whilst tidying our wardrobe and drawers one day I found the box with the temporary ring in his underwear drawer and I was so shocked I quickly put it back and never mentioned this until later on). Unbeknownst to Kev, his future brother-in-law also planned to propose but we didn’t find out until just before we were about to fly out. Of course nice guy Kev let them have that one. The next attempt was our planned trip to Europe in March 2020 to see a high school friend of mine get married in London – unfortunately, good ol’ rona forced us to stay put and stay at home.
Despite all this, Kev was determined to propose but lockdown made it difficult as we were together basically 24/7. He told me he originally had an idea to plant the temporary ring in one of my drawers for me to find and he would be waiting for me with the real ring ready to propose but funnily enough, I didn’t notice the ring box in my drawer! A few days later, he planned a sweet little proposal in our first home together. He was so relieved it was finally done!”
“Kev (the groom) didn’t have a clear vision of what he would be wearing on his wedding day but he’s a fairly simple no frills kind of guy” explains Jia on Kevin’s classic black tie look. “I had to nag him to book in a consultation with Brian from MNDATORY to organise custom made suits.
I knew I wanted a classic and timeless look for Kev and luckily for me, he was not too picky about what he was wearing. We ended up with a classic black tux paired with a bow tie and a vest so that he still looked sharp even if when he took off his jacket. We are so grateful to Brian from MNDATORY who managed to turn around 4 suits within a couple of weeks for the boys. It was a tight timeline since retail didn’t open until a couple of weeks before the wedding.”
“Kevin and I chose 3 people each to be part of our wedding party” remembers Jia. “I had two girls who I’ve known since high school (around 20 years ago) and Kev’s cousin who I’ve become very close to and Kev had two friends he met in uni (around 15 years ago) and also his cousin (the cousins are siblings).”
The day began with a traditional tea ceremony. “We wanted to keep things quite simple on the day but we did have a traditional tea ceremony in the morning with our immediate families. It is a tradition whereby the bride and groom offer tea to our elders/parents and they usually exchange gifts. This signifies the union of the two families and also acceptance of a new family member.”
Jia found her classic a-line lace and tulle Jessica Couture gown at Raffaele Ciuca. “Wedding dress shopping for me was a very overwhelming experience, in Melbourne, we are spoilt for choice with the range of boutiques, custom designers and stores carrying different designers.
I never had a clear vision of what my wedding dress would look like, so I went to my very first appointment with an open mind and tried on an array of different styles. I almost decided on a dress that day but something was holding me back, perhaps it was just my indecisiveness but it didn’t feel right. I went to a few other stores after that but for some reason, after every appointment, I left not having that feeling of yes that dress was the one. I thought to myself, all wedding dresses are beautiful, it’s a wedding dress, they’re meant to be beautiful! How will I know it’s the one?
It wasn’t until I tried on a Jessica Couture gown at Raffaele Ciuca that I had that moment where I looked at myself in the mirror and had a feeling overcame me which I never felt with any other dress. I just knew it was the one. Other than the way it made me feel, I fell in love with the detailing on the dress, it was different to the usual floral appliqués yet still felt feminine and classic/romantic.”
The couple who shared a first look, noting it as one of their favourite moments of the day. “We loved that we got to have a first look before the ceremony” notes Jia, “Although the wedding party was present with us, it was a very intimate moment between Kevin and I when he saw me in my wedding dress for the first time. It was very emotional and I still remember that exact moment and exact emotions. It allowed us to share some time before we got caught up in the rest of the day which was on a tight schedule. I’m so glad that we deliberately set aside time just for us.”
Each of Jia and Kevin’s vendors gets rave reviews but their photographer? All the praise! “We loved all of our vendors and are so so happy with our decisions! We will have to give a big thanks to our extended wedding party – Alex (photographer), Aldin and Don (videographer) for making the day so fun, relaxed and memorable. Alex was an absolute dream to work with, we can’t rave about him enough! Even from our initial contact via email, we had a good feeling about him and at our initial meeting we knew straight away he was the one. We met at a cafe and it felt like we were just catching up with an old friend who knew he would be a great addition to our bridal party (since he would be with us from early morning until the end of the night!).
His portfolio encapsulated everything we wanted in our photos and these are the exact words in my enquiry form: I’ve seen some of your work and just love the whole feel and vibe and how you’re able to capture those fleeting moments.
Kevin and I wanted someone who could capture all those candid moments, we didn’t want anything too posey or forced or uncomfortable. He made Kevin and I feel very comfortable in front of the camera and knew how to make us look good! If you see the album from Alex, he captured a moment where Kevin and I were cutting the cake and we had a shocked look on our faces! That was because as we were trying to cut through the cake, the knife flexed a bit and we were both shocked and looked at each other. It’s funny to see that even a tiny moment like that was captured on camera.
We had a meeting in the lead-up to our wedding to go through the run sheet and Alex had some great suggestions and advice around the timing of certain events to make sure we had enough time to capture the photos we wanted. If it wasn’t for his advice, I think the boys wouldn’t have had the chance to relax and have fun whilst getting ready in the morning which would’ve been a shame as there are some great photos Alex took of the boys in the morning. As mentioned in our earlier response, he knew what we wanted and made it happen for us! We can’t thank him enough for capturing these memories that will last a lifetime.”
Jia and Kevin worked with amazing suppliers to support them, including stylist Rough & Rose and floral designer Flower Head Events. “A friend of ours referred us to the stylist/wedding planner they used for their day so we had Julia from Rough & Rose help us with the wedding styling/decor flowers. We worked on a brief together and I sent her a few inspiration pictures from Instagram / Pinterest which were predominantly roses and orchids in blush pink/ivory colours to keep with the romantic vibes. We also incorporated some dried flowers such as Ruscus, bunny tails and hydrangeas to give it some more texture and help with the flower budget as well! Our bouquets were from Flower Head Events who worked with Rough and Rose to ensure the flowers were consistent.”
“We had originally planned to go to a few locations for photoshoots with the wedding party, however, there was a planned protest in the city and although we tried to avoid city locations we were stuck in traffic and that meant we could only make one location.
In a meeting we had with our photographer where we planned the locations, we knew we wanted photos at the RMIT architecture building for a change of scenery from the gardens and greenery. We were running out of time and the limo was only booked for four hours and had to get us back to the venue in time for our ceremony but our photographer knew how much we wanted photos there so he negotiated (begged the limo driver!!!) to give us 5 more minutes to get a few photos at RMIT. The limo driver agreed and dropped us off at RMIT and said ONLY 5 MINUTES so we quickly ran and had the quickest 5-minute photoshoot but the photos still turned out to be amazing!!”
Jia walked down the aisle with her father. “I wanted to stay quite traditional and walk down the aisle. My dad walked me down the aisle to ‘Kiss Me’ by Vitamin String Quartet (a version of the original by Sixpence None the Richer). Although I did walk down the aisle with my dad to keep it traditional, my way to mix it up was to pick a song that wasn’t your traditional wedding aisle song such as Canon in D so I was on the hunt for a modern-ish song but an acoustic/violin version.”
Kevin’s most memorable moment of the day? “Probably crying all the time (yes, I’m a softie!). That was quite memorable. It was also funny to hear from our friends and family afterwards that I had triggered a chain reaction of crying. Even the people who we did not expect to shed a tear, did.”
“We wanted to keep our ceremony light-hearted and happy – nothing too serious and nothing too long!” explains Jia of the official part of the day, for which they chose Kate Morgan. “We were just very happy to finally have this moment that we have all been waiting for after 13 years of dating.
I told Kev before the wedding that he better cry when he sees me walk down the aisle. He did not disappoint! We had a few family and friends tell us that Kev was to blame for the waterworks amongst the guests. We had a dear friend of mine help with a special message to my parents in Mandarin but didn’t have any other readings as we didn’t want the ceremony to be too long. I remember after the wedding, Kev told me he felt numb – his whole body was numb. I don’t think he’s ever felt anything like that before.”
The couple held both their ceremony and reception at The Ivory Elsternwick. “After our first visit to The Ivory, we knew it was the one” remarks Jia, “it has the perfect mix between modern and romantic elegance with the beautiful draped ceiling. The foyer area had been newly renovated as well. It also has a beautiful courtyard which was a bonus as this meant we didn’t have to have the ceremony at a different location to the reception.
The Ivory has a generous main reception room with a large dance floor. Another reason we chose this venue is capacity-wise, it can hold up to 300+ guests. We thought this would be a good option in case there were density limits on our wedding day meaning we wouldn’t have to cut our guest list down.”
The couple even managed to fit in a nod to Kevin’s love of KFC! “Kev has a love for fried chicken so his favourites are the KFC photos which we quickly snapped in the private wedding room. We originally wanted to take some photos at a KFC store on the way back to the venue from location photos but we ran out of time so my brother bought some KFC and had it ready for us at the venue for some quick snaps!”
Jia loved so much of planning the day. “I’m a project manager by day, so this just felt like another project for me, but in saying that, it’s also not like anything I have ever done before. There are so many different elements to wedding planning from researching, locking in vendors, and scheduling not to mention the stylistic and creative elements and the tiny minute details. Although I enjoyed the process of wedding planning (the researching, scheduling appointments and booking in vendors made me feel like I was organised and getting things done) that was only the tip of the iceberg.
I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the little decisions but luckily I also had the help of Julia from Rough and Rose (who also helped with our styling) who was starting her online wedding planning course – Bewedded at the time, which provided me with the tools and templates to get things done with ease and less time wasted. All in all, I think my favourite part of wedding planning is at the end where you’re finally able to see everything come together beautifully.”
“There were a couple of things we DIY’d for the wedding which includes the wedding favour/name cards – we personalised acrylic arch luggage tags as we love to travel and hope to be able to travel again soon. We went with the black acrylic to fit in with the monochrome theme and an arch shape for something different but also to match with the table decor and ceremony arch decor we had.
A lovely friend of ours also helped to DIY/customise a few things such as our acrylic wishing well, proposal boxes and hangers for the bridal party. Although we didn’t print the invites ourselves, we did come up with the design ourselves on Canva and Julia from Rough & Rose helped to organise the printing for us.”
Jia has three very important pieces of advice for you. “I feel like this is very cliche, but the day honestly goes by so quickly so my advice would be to remember to pause and take in the moment and try to remember the little details during the day.
I think to go with your gut instinct – it can be so easy to be overwhelmed and inundated by inspiration and content online, I remember changing my mind about florals every time I saw a new photo but in the end, I went back to what I originally loved.
Run sheets! I always thought it was something that I could just whip up in a couple of weeks leading up to the wedding but I would recommend doing it as early as you can. Putting together the run sheet raised more questions than I realised I had because it requires you to think about the minor details and logistics. For example, we knew we wanted to re-purpose the neon sign from the outside courtyard area during the ceremony as the backdrop for the photo booth, but the run sheet made me think about when exactly it could be moved whilst guests were there and the photobooth vendor was bumping in, in the foyer.”
“During wedding planning, I was adamant about getting a few lessons to help with our first dance as we’re not the best dancers apart from daggy dancing at home, then lockdown happened and it didn’t look like we would be getting any lessons so we turned to Youtube for some ideas!
We had a few ideas for songs but Kev didn’t want anything too cheesy so we agreed on the Childish Gambino / Donald Glover cover of ‘Into You’. Kev and I both love music and we loved that this was another take on a version by Fabolous which we both love but also an original by Tamia which we also love. Our awesome DJ helped to bring my idea to life by mixing the song at a certain point where it transitioned to the Fabolous version to open up the dancefloor to the guests! This also meant our first dance was kept short and sweet. Kev loved this idea as this meant he didn’t have to dance for too long.”
And of course, the cake? None other than a Ladybird Cakes beauty!
The must-have sweet treat for these two? An ice cream cart! The couple hired Little Sugar to show up and serve surprise ice cream for their guests. “We wanted to do something special and different for our guests so we knew early on that we wanted to have an ice cream cart! We thought it would be perfect for that time of year (in November) and who doesn’t like ice cream?
Due to the pandemic, the original vendor we booked was no longer operating in Melbourne so I had to find another vendor to replace them asap. It was no longer a negotiable item and we had to have an ice cream cart for our day. Luckily, we found Little Sugar Van and luckily they were still available for our date.
Looking back on our day, we are very happy that our guests thoroughly enjoyed the ice cream cart we had at our wedding. We thought it was something a bit different (we haven’t been to any wedding ourselves with an ice cream cart) and the guests young and old all raved about how good the ice cream was! It made us happy knowing that they enjoyed it so much.”
A big beautiful congratulations to you both Jia and Kevin. Thank you for telling the stories of your day! Thank you also to Alex Chung Photography for sharing today’s beautiful wedding with us.