Tented Skylands Manor Wedding with Tea Ceremony Tradition
November 29, 2018
Tri State
Classic WeddingsHistoric VenueSummer Weddings
Before we begin, I know a very large handful of you will be on the mad search for this dress. It's flowy, fluffy and ever-so-elegant. It takes this already-natural-beauty of a Bride to the next level, and is possibly my favorite detail of this day captured by Amanda Watson. You can find it right here in this darling little Etsy shop. Now that we've taken care of business, let's dive into the rest. Pretty details aside (and there are plenty of them), this wedding represents so much more. The Bride is walking us through every bit, interview style, and giving us a look into their traditions, helpful advice and exactly how they wove their heritage in.

Tell us about your wedding! What was the inspiration behind your day? Did you have a specific theme, style or color palette? Did you incorporate any cultural or religious traditions in any part of your day?

Our wedding was inspired by the English garden. We wanted it to be romantic, classic, and dreamy. The colors were blush, white, with a pop of yellow and lots of greenery. I loved the idea of an outdoor wedding and the theme lent itself perfectly to an outdoor tented wedding. We are both Chinese, and incorporated a traditional Chinese tea ceremony into our reception. The tea ceremony is a way to pay respects and gratitude to our elders and symbolizes us entering into a new family.

Let's talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?

The ceremony took place in the gardens of the manor so it really didn't need much decorating. Our wonderful florist created a beautiful arch that was our focal point during the ceremony. The sailcloth tent was also beautiful in itself and let in so much natural light. It was decorated with bistro lights. We highlighted the VIP table by renting long farm tables. The signs were DIY-ed using Etsy printables. With the help of a friend, the escort card board was also DIY-ed.

What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?

Florals played a big part in creating the English garden vibe to life and Twisted Willow Flowers did such an amazing job! We used rose petals to line the aisles and also used them to adorn the front rows of the ceremony seats to designate reserved seating. The bouquets were designed to be loose and flowy with a mix of garden roses, ranunculus, peonies, and poppies. The centerpieces tied in our color scheme perfectly and the brass compotes and julep vases brought a vintage feel.

Did you personalize the day in any way? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?

Our DJ was one of our favorite parts of the night. We were pretty particular in tailoring our playlist with our DJ to reflect our style and tastes in music. It kept the dance floor busy all night! We didn't do a lot in terms of extra entertainment because we wanted people to engage with each other directly and wanted the party to be focused on the dancing!

Let's talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.

I spent a lot of time looking for my wedding dress, but ultimately came back to one of the first dresses that I had found online and loved. It was actually from a seller on Etsy, which is why I had been hesitant to pull the trigger initially. But after looking at a bunch of other dresses that just didn't live up to it; I decided to go for it. It was a beautiful ball gown with a flowing tulle skirt with tons of layers and a delicate lace and beaded top. It was super romantic and made me feel really special and beautiful and tied in with the theme perfectly. Eric and I went shopping for suits together. We loved the look of a deep blue suit and went through a few options before finding this Hugo Boss suit that was the perfect shade. It was less formal than a black tux/suit but still really sharp and classic. At the last minute I convinced Eric to wear a bow tie, and now he loves the way the bow tie looks!

How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.

Eric and I are high school sweet hearts; we met at a high school house party - super romantic. We were together for 12 years before we finally got married! In 2016 we went on a trip to Copenhagen. Eric took me to a botanical garden which I had begrudgingly agreed to after he had vetoed my plans of going to a modern art museum. Of course when we got there I ate my words, and was gushing at how beautiful everything was. He led me to a bench that sat atop a hill overlooking the grounds - not once, but three times because there was a man sitting at his planned spot, thwarting his plans. Luckily I never caught on until the moment that he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him.

What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?

The most special moment was during the reception when we were dancing amongst our friends and family and we both took a mental time out from the whirlwind of events that had surrounded us that day and just appreciated each other, all the planning we had done, and the love that surrounded us.

Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you'd like to share with other couples planning their day?

Start early and try not to get too sucked in to the details. Try to pinpoint your style and what you want, and stick to it! I found that the things I found and fell in love with initially were usually the best decisions; the more I spent researching and obsessing, the more confused I would get on what I actually wanted. Also, hire a wedding coordinator! I didn't have one, but luckily had really great bridesmaids, friends, and an awesome photographer that kept everything on schedule. Also don't worry if everything doesn't go as planned; it never does!

How did you balance and blend having your Asian heritage alongside a more Western wedding design?

Although Eric and I both come from immigrant Chinese families, we grew up in New Jersey. So, we definitely identified more with Western wedding cultures. Luckily, our families were flexible and understanding that we would not be incorporating all of the traditions that didn't feel comfortable to us. For example we skipped doing the traditional "door games" where the groom and his groomsmen go through a series of challenges to receive the bride in her room on the morning of the wedding; because we wanted to have a more intimate first look between the two of us. The tea ceremony was something that we definitely wanted to highlight. Traditionally it is done in private, with close family members. Instead, we did it during the reception so that our guests could experience and be a part of it. Towards the end of the night, we also went around with the bridal party to each table shouting "Gan Bei!" or "Cheers!" which was a fun and boisterous way of thanking and celebrating with all the guests.

Can you tell us a little more about the Tea Ceremony and how you incorporated it into your day?

The tea ceremony was a way for us to pay hommage to our elders, and thank them for their support and love. It also represents us entering new families. The tea is poured by the bride and groom to close family members in order of age. In return we were adorned with gold necklaces, bracelets, rings, and red envelopes with lucky money. The tea ceremony took place on the dance floor during the reception while guests were having dinner, and was narrated by our DJ/MC. That way, those who wanted to watch the entire process could; but you could also have dinner and chat, without feeling obligated to sit through an entire 20 minute ceremony. For the tea ceremony I changed into a beautiful red qipao or traditional chinese wedding dress that my mom had made for me in China. It was really nice to be able to represent both Asian and Western cultures with the two different dresses.

Any other ways in which you added your culture to your wedding? We'd love to hear!

There were a few other cultural traditions that we did in the months leading up to the wedding. Several weeks before our wedding day, Eric's family came to my family's home to have tea and brought "betrothal gifts" - Chinese delicacies like a whole roast pig, dried scallops, pastries, candies, liquor, and red envelopes. We also (instructed by Eric's mom) hung up signs behind our apartment doors with the double happiness Chinese character; and slept with a red comforter for 3 months after the wedding. We had no idea about these traditions beforehand, but they are supposed to bring good luck to our marriage!
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