A unique Chinese fusion wedding in London

23 Jul 2019

As well as the unique ceremony venue, Mai Ha and Gabriel Gutierrez made their wedding their own - complete with a 10-course Chinese banquet and bubble girls

How did you meet?

In 2008, Gabriel was a friend of a few of my cousins and we met during a group night out in a London club.

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Tell us about the proposal

The proposal was truly magical, we were surrounded by the sound of the sea and under a blanket of stars.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

There wasn’t a theme but colour tones were mainly blush and my bridesmaids were styled bohemian with their flower crowns and wavy hair. The ceremony was outdoors, and I wanted to keep decorations to a minimum - the venue was just beautiful on its own.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

Being in London all my life has made me really appreciate nature and the great outdoors. I think this is probably why my vision was to have an outdoor ceremony. There are  limited spaces where you can legally get married outside in the UK.

I found Stowe, Landscape Gardens National Trust in Buckingham and I fell in love with it as soon as we drove up to the Corinthian arch. We had a tour of the gardens in a golf buggy and it was so beautifully grand - the history, the story and the nature just made it feel perfect. It was the only venue we visited and we knew it was the place to get wed. I was told they only host five weddings a year there so I felt like it was a unique venue.

We got married outside the Temple of Venues which was opposite the 11-acre lake, so my view was just spectacular. The legal parts of the ceremony happened under the structure, but it was still outdoors, and all our guests were seated outside. After the ceremony there were also many places to get beautiful portrait shoots of us both and I just loved being driven around in a golf buggy. 

My dad is Chinese and wanted to keep some elements of the wedding traditional. Our reception venue was a 10-course Chinese banquet held at Yi Ban Restaurant on London's Royal Albert Dock.

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

I tried on about six dresses before I found my dress. I actually got it customised, so I didn’t actually know exactly what the final look would be like until three weeks before the wedding. My dress was 'Bobbi' by Badgley Mischka, with alterations done by Ann Louise Bridal (I filled in the cleavage and added tulle off-shoulder sleeves). I always like the mermaid/fishtail shape but I didn’t think it would suit me, but when I tried on this style it did suit me the best out of all the other styles. However, I tried on many different shapes just to make sure. 

My veil was £20 from Amazon and I was so pleased with this purchase.

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What did the bridesmaids wear and who were they? 

I had five bridesmaids: three of which were my sisters and two were my cousins. I didn’t want to go for the traditional same dress look and wanted them to feel good on the day and be their own individual self. The rules I gave them were:

  • In a or match a blush colour tone
  • Not to show cleavage or be too sexy
  • Maxi length

Their dresses ranged from £30 to £80 from high street stores (mainly ASOS). They each found their own dress that they loved, and they all still looked co-ordinated. My perfect mis-matched bridesmaids.

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What did the mother of the bride wear?

She had three different outfits throughout the day which she had custom-made by a friend. The first dress was a traditional Vietnamese dress which she wore to the ceremony and the two other dresses were for the reception and were super glam and sparkly.

Where did you find your suits?

The groom had two suits both from Marc Darcy and each fitted him perfectly, so he didn’t even need alterations. The groomsmen's suits were from all over and they were also mis-matched.  They all had matching ties and pocket squares to coordinate with each other.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

I really didn’t want to spend too much money on bridal bouquets and as a DIY bride, I had the idea to make these myself with my bridesmaids. I bought flowers from Asda, Tesco and a local florist and spent £60 in total. We made five small bouquets for the bridesmaids and a larger one for me.

For the reception venue we left it to the professionals as I wouldn’t have had the time to DIY. I didn’t want the flowers to look perfect and wanted them to look quite natural and bohemian. I selected eucalyptus, peonies and roses in white and blush tones.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

  • The were a few DIY elements. I handmade all of the flower crowns for the flower girls and the bridesmaids. The bouquets were made by us (as above), as were the wedding programmes. The wedding invitations were printed by Vista Print but we created a cover with tracing paper, ribbon and custom wax seal stamps with our initials.
  • Instead of flower girls I had bubble girls; they each had a bubble gun so blew bubbles as they walked down the aisle.

I love crafts so these things were fun to do and it was just a bonus that we saved some money too!

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I was happy and just couldn’t wait to get to the front.

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What was your most memorable moment?

There are so many moments and I can’t pick just one, but I think one of my favourites was driving off together in the golf buddy for the bride and groom portraits.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

I probably would say that I spent the most time looking for the ceremony venue – but it was worth the research.

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What was the most important investment for you? 

The photographs. I did a lot of research into selecting the best photographer as this was important to me. Photos last forever and are a big part of the memories.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

We didn’t plan to have a first dance as we didn’t have all of the traditional elements, but we did find ourselves on the dancefloor having a rave – I guess it was some sort of dance track playing at the time.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

We didn’t have any entertainment, but I did have Disney classical music playing while we enjoyed our 10-course banquet. After that, we had a DJ who turned the sophisticated banquet into a rave... it was all too much fun! 

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

This wasn’t really a feature as I wasn’t fussed about the cake at all, it was more for decoration than for eating. I wanted sweets more, so had some displayed as decorations together with the cake.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

I went for pink chunky heel shoes thinking that no one would see them because my dress was so long – I was wrong because they show when you walk, and sometimes you find yourself holding up your dress and the shoes are exposed... so I learnt that the shoes do matter. This wasn’t too much of a big deal, we thought it was quite funny.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

I used my engagement ring as my wedding ring and I am so happy I did this because I love my engagement ring so much and didn’t want another band to ‘dilute’ the look of the ring. I would definitely recommend this for other brides.

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Steal their style:

Photography: Taylor Hughes Photography  
Bridal hair: Sarah White Make-up (Northampton)
Ceremony venue: Stowe Landscape Gardens 
Reception venue: Yi Ban Restaurant 

Click here for more >> real wedding inspiration

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