My brother Tom met the lovely Pearl Sun on a train journey out of London. He asked her if he could throw away her sandwich wrapper...and the rest is history.
We were thrilled when they chose to get married at our house. They both grew up not far from the sea - Tom in Brighton, Pearl in Los Angeles.
Pearl's family arrived on Wednesday, so we could get the chance to spend some time getting to know each-other. This is Pearl's mum and aunt who flew in from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Pearl's dad, who has a thriving business in China, offered to cook us a Chinese feast. He spent all day preparing it and the food was amazing!
My son and Pearl fought over this sticky pork dish - definitely a favourite.
I loved the noodles.
Pearl's aunt Diana produced this box of 'Mooncakes'. Mooncake is a Chinese bakery product usually eaten during the mid-Autumn festival. With the September full-moon (otherwise known as the 'Harvest moon' or the 'Fruit moon') happening two days after the wedding - this seemed like a very appropriate sweet to have!
At the end of the meal, after Pearl's dad had served us all cups of Chinese tea, my dad gave a small speech about what an honour it is to have joined families, and what a sheer delight it is to have Pearl become a part of ours.
Friday morning and the preparations began in earnest. Pearl and her lovely sister Relic (who flew in with her new husband from New York) started the day in exactly the right frame of mind...following an early morning Yoga session!
Pearl is an incredibly talented graphic designer (weirdly, just like my nephew who married here in June) and everything she produced for the wedding was so beautifully put together. From their invitation;
to the personalised maps of the house and grounds;
the door labels for each apartment;
the central table displays,
(jam jars filled with flowers, sand, shells, black and white wedding photos of family members, the menu cards and candles);
the buttonhole flowers;
and the Hydrangea heads hanging from the trees (more on this later).
While the decorations were going up, we sneaked off for a wedding rehearsal. Pearl and Tom had the legal part of their marriage in a Registry Office, which meant they could do whatever they wanted for this ceremony. Thus, they chose a corner of our garden that overlooks the sea, and my dad to take the service.
In an unusual move, but because Pearl had friends flying in from literally all over the world, we squeezed in a cheeky little hen do, in the afternoon.
Relic worked really hard to make this afternoon special for her big sister.
Kicking off with a glass of fizz was a great first move!
Even our girls got their own glass (although theirs was lemonade).
Gradually through the afternoon more and more girls arrived.
Rennie had put together a great idea. We all had to write a 'pearl of wisdom' for Pearl for her marriage and put it into one of these little jars.
The jars then formed a necklace for Pearl to take with her on her journey (not literal journey as I'm not sure she'll need them in the Maldives).
Relic organised the putting together of a CD of tunes that we each chose for Pearl. Each tune told a story that we shared with her. Nammy designed the cover and wrote out each story for Pearl. What an amazing gift! This is Relic playing each tune and getting Pearl to guess who chose it.
Then came the gift basket.
I think Pearl was happy with this one.
After some welcome drinks in Affinity and Bliss lounges, everyone bombed down to our local village pub 'The Rock'.
The food never fails to impress! Especially now Scott is back!
This is the woodland walk that leads to Lundy Terrace. The flower jars hang in the trees, to show the way.
The weather has been incredible for the last two weeks, and we were so grateful for being able to fulfil their dream of being married outside.
And what a view.
Pearl looked stunning in the dress she designed herself, as she emerged for the 'First Look' photo's. This is an American tradition, where the happy couple have pictures taken on their own, before the ceremony.
Mother and daughter looking beautiful.
I caught these two cheeky cousins still trying to skate, despite being dressed up in all their finery.
Liza loves her 'flower girl' cousins very much, and all of them felt special to be in their lovely dresses.
The flower girls and the ring bearer wait at their post, for the ceremony to begin.
Reuben is chuffed to have such a level of responsibility.
The guests arrive.
and find their seat.
Tom waits - looking cool (but I reckon, secretly slightly anxious).
The processional begins. Again an American tradition, whereby the important members of the family walk in first, ending with Pearl and her dad.
The vows are shared.
Readings were said by both mum's. Frances read her wedding blessing in Chinese and Relic translated to English.
Reuben produced the rings at the exact moment.
I love seeing my dad's smiling face in-between their kiss - makes me laugh every time!
We formed a line each side of the path,
to throw Rose petal confetti on them,
as they passed.
Lychee Martini's and 'sliders, mini-pasties and fries' were served as canapés on the Terrace (slightly embarrassingly I have NO photos of any of the food and drink at this stage other than MYSELF having a lychee martini - which probably explains the lack of the other photo's).
However, I did manage to grab a photo of my beautiful sister and her lovely family,
and my 'best man' brother and his gang. Sun being a slight issue with this pic - sorry Reuben!
And this great shot of Pearl and her best buds. All very creative and clever and love Pearl dearly.
Alright Beth?! I'm guessing it's time for the Wedding breakfast.
Tom and Pearl hired in long and wide tables for our Ballroom, as they had sharing platters to go down the middle of the table. It worked really well.
Each place setting had a handmade test tube of Rosemary Cornish Sea Salt. Rosemary is apparently the herb of 'love and remembrance'.
The little note attached, says it can be sprinkled onto potatoes or used an an ingredient in focaccia. Tom is a great cook, and Pearl a great designer, so they do seem to work well together on these things.
It was great fun finding the pictures in the jars of different family members. Ours was somewhere, but this one was Relic and Dazhi - the newest newlyweds on the tables.
Pearl's dad gave a loving speech to welcome everybody and kick-start the proceedings.
Now. What followed these photo's beggars belief. Which is partly an explanation as to why my photo's faltered for a while. We ate ten courses of incredible food. Yes you heard right. TEN courses!
Apparently the number ten is important in Chinese culture, and this is something Tom and Pearl felt passionate about. (They also LOVE their food).
There are the most wonderful photos of all this food on this fabulous blog post by Rennie - one of Pearl's great and talented friends. So without further ado. Please do look at that.
While the adults ate and enjoyed conversation, the kids were fed and entertained elsewhere. Our wonderful friends looked after them and had them playing all sorts of creative games.
Breaking tradition in a brilliant way, Pearl was the first to speak. She thanked her parents for all that they were and all they had taught her. She also thanked our parents too for their role in hers, and Tom's life.
As a symbol of their thanks they performed a Chinese Tea Ceremony.
Then came Relic, who gave a beautiful and moving speech. The best line was that Pearl can be very blunt, which is possibly why she fits into our family so well! Thanks Relic!
Tom came next and began by playing this tune which he said told their love story (tongue-in-cheek obvs). As he played it, all our kids came into the room and performed some fabulous dance/guitar moves.
He then did proceeded to read out about two-whole-minutes worth of Mandarin. Well. Now the whole room was in tears, but none more so than Pearl, who had no idea he'd been taking private lessons. He then translated it:
"I expressed my gratitude to my mother and father-in-law for bringing up such a smart, kind, loving, fun and beautiful daughter. For me, no-one compares to her. I also thanked them for welcoming me into the family, and that I look forward to a happy future together."
My brother James and two other best men came next, and had us in hysterics. Especially over the photo of Tom in his 80's fluorescent skiing gear.
No wedding is complete without the dancing. I think Pearl had trouble moving in her long dress, so changed into this very snazzy number.
Steve, and Tom's friend Nick, DJ'ed a brilliant set and everyone danced,
enjoyed the photo-booth,
and spent the next morning telling stories and reminiscing about it all, in our pyjamas.
The weather remained unbelievably warm for September, and we enjoyed the beach for the whole of Sunday.
The boys played boules,
to a beautiful back-drop.
Tāngmǔ hé zhēnzhū. Zhè shì yīgè wánzhěng de xǐyuè zhǔchí nǐ de hūnlǐ zài wǒmen de jiā. Wǒmen xīwàng nǐmen de hūnyīn jiāng shì měi yī wèi měilì, tǐtiē hé ài zuòwéi nǐ de hūnlǐ zhōumò. Qù hěn hǎo de yǔ wǒmen de ài XXX
Which roughly translated means:
Tom and Pearl. It was a complete delight to host your wedding at our home. We hope your marriage will be every bit as beautiful, thoughtful and loving as your wedding weekend was.
Go well, with our love xxx