Posted July 24, 2013 by Jennifer Lam in Weddings

Jen and Zen’s Wedding

Ten years and six months after our first date, Zen and I finally tied the knot on the first of June, eight weeks ago!

I am so excited to share my wedding day with you! Grab a cuppa because this post is a longggggggg one!

As briefly mentioned in the engagement post, I was never going to be the girl who squeals with excitement when she finds the “perfect” wedding dress. I didn’t ever dream of a fairytale wedding but have always known that I’d want to be an amazing wife to an amazing man.

Back in October 2012, before we were even engaged, I accidentally found my dress on Gumtree. Yes, the Gumtree site that we all buy second hand furniture from!

Always on the hunt for bargain vintage treasures, I stumbled across an ad for a vintage white dress with the most beautiful lace. The dress (circa 1980) featured gorgeous intricate scalloped edges on the sleeves and hem and was just very me. Here’s the actual pic of the dress from the ad!

wedding dress hanging - Jen and Zen's wedding

I arranged to try on the dress, and only casually mentioned it to one girlfriend who ended up coming with me. After cancelling the inspection because of fear that it was so unconventional to try on a wedding dress without a wedding to plan, the seller offered a further discount and I was hooked! I had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The both of us instantly fell in love with the dress, and the story. There were lots of good vibes as the seller is happily married and joyfully told us that she’d be celebrating her 30th wedding anniversary this November.

So I bought it, unsure of what it would become. I was excited that I had just scored the bargain of the century – who on Earth spends just $150 their wedding dress?! My inner fashion designer justified that if I changed my mind about this being “the wedding dress”, I could always bring up the length to make it a less formal dress that I could get away with wearing regularly.

The dress was shoved into the back of my wardrobe for storage.

Walking into the forest at Centennial Park - Jen and Zen's wedding

I ended up wearing that very dress, with an Alannah Hill belt. The dress fit me like a glove and not a single adjustment needed to be made. Not even the height, for little shorty me! I messaged the seller after the wedding to show her our wedding photos and it turns out that our wedding day was the same date as her mother’s birthday! Isn’t it great how the internet connects us?

I can’t stress how important choosing the right celebrant is. After five months of engaged-bliss, in early April of this year, Zen and I were still only just toying with the idea of actually planning a wedding! There were so many directions we could take it; all the options were a bit overwhelming so we kind of stalled for a while.

The moment I read Jessie Cacchillo’s words on her website, I knew we had found our celebrant.

Even before our first meeting, we were given a questionnaire to answer. Some questions were to be done by ourselves, and a few were combined answers. She suggested us to sit down with a glass of wine together and to speak from the heart and have fun with it.

Zen waiting at alter - Jen and Zen's wedding

After going through our answers with her, I felt so comfortable that she completely understood our personalities and our relationship. She reminded us of why we were getting married, what it meant to us, and how we could personalise the ceremony.

Once she confirmed her availability, we locked in the date of our 10 year and 6 month anniversary and the wedding suddenly felt real!

Jessie our celebrant and us on stage  - Jen and Zen's wedding

Jessie truly shaped our ceremony to be as sweet, funny and intimate as we had desired. She also went beyond her celebrant duties in helping to move our ceremony indoors. But more on that later!

Guests were invited via an eDM. For those who don’t work in the digital industry, that stands for electronic direct mail. I live a pretty paperless lifestyle and didn’t have the patience with snail mail; plus I send so many email marketing campaigns for my clients at The Bamboo Garden that it just made sense to do it for myself!

Our guests probably don’t know this, but Zen and I were tracking the live reports as soon as the emails were sent. We knew exactly when each and every one of you opened, clicked and forwarded the email! LOL

In addition to the e-invites, I also created a wedding website to manage RSVPs. We didn’t lock in the venue until late April so our guests were only given one week to confirm their attendance! See what I mean about no time for snail mail?

I produced the website – JenAndZen.com – over one very long day in the office one weekend. It’s a WordPress website, with a theme called Just Married that I bought from Theme Fuse for just $49.

I wanted every tiny aspect of the wedding to tell a story about us; I wanted guests to feel connected to our journey. We had a page on the website dedicated to ‘Our Story‘ and we had fun with the wording on the e-invite! It read –

Jennifer & Zen
Invite you to join the fun
As they stand together
With sweaty hands & open hearts
Extending their love and friendship
To include the vows of marriage

For my wedding shoes, I wanted something that I could wear again and again after the big day. I ended up with a pair of heels from Alannah Hill’s Autumn/Winter 2012 range called My Poor Heart Aches. I wanted to have fun with my overall outfit to represent my usual love of colour so the heels were in cherry red suede and featured a glitter bow at the front. They were originally $269 and reduced down to $89 at Birkenhead Point. Score!

Alannah Hill red heels - Jen and Zen's wedding

My hair and make-up was done by Mel from Forever Makeup who combined my love of braids with 1920’s curls. I always feel naked without dark eyes so she worked with that and made my eyes pop! I normally don’t wear lipstick but we decided on bold red lips in the shade of MAC Red for this special occasion. It took a while to get used to looking at myself with red lipstick but I loved how it completed my vintage glam look. Even at 2am after the wedding, my hair & make-up was still feeling fresh!

The back of us - Jen and Zen's wedding

Earlier in the morning, before the civil ceremony, we had a Chinese tea ceremony where we knelt in front of our parents and served them tea. It’s about gratitude and giving thanks. The tea contained lotus seeds for fertility, red dates for sweetness and lily bulbs for good union! Red is the colour of luck in Chinese culture but I didn’t want to have a traditional Chinese wedding cheongsam hanging in my wardrobe never to be worn again… So I created my own version with a red Alannah Hill skirt and belt, and an Asian-inspired top by Here Comes The Sun from Attik.

Chinese tea ceremony - Jen and Zen's wedding

My vision for the civil marriage ceremony was a casual intimate celebration without the formal stuffiness of a traditional wedding. I was originally going to style it myself with hired furniture and DIY props but then realised I couldn’t be there on the day to set it up! That’s when I found Nicolle of Ra Ra Kitty.

I get goosebumps telling people this, but meeting Nicolle has been serendipitous. Our meetings always go on for hours because we have such great conversations. Our styles and love for vintage are completely identical. She instantly understood my vision and she’s so practical and eclectic in her approach. Not to mention her attention to the finer details!

Something Nicolle said at our first meeting which really stuck with me, was that the ceremony is all about transporting our guests to where we are – what we’re thinking, our emotions, etc.

Wedding entrance vintage doors - Jen and Zen's wedding

Nicolle helped turn my vision into reality. I hired every vintage lounge and armchair that she had and she also sourced and reupholstered more vintage chairs so we would have the 30 seats I needed. The chairs were scattered around our mini-stage (a crate covered with astro-turf) and all the chairs along the aisle had vintage milk bottles hanging on the side with gorgeous little posies.

Outdoor vintage wedding ceremony set up at Centennial Park - Jen and Zen's wedding

As Centennial Parklands didn’t allow us to hang anything off the trees, Nicolle also constructed a magical arbour with colourful lanterns and fairy lights which stood behind our ‘stage’.

Furthermore, to ‘fence off’ the ceremony space and to create a more intimate gathering, I designed two mammoth signs which were express printed and mounted by the amazing guys at Trixle Branding Group. The signs were attached to a set of vintage doors at the entrance of the aisle. Yen from Trixle also helped to organise the printing of a set of window decals for Nicolle to stick onto the vintage doors! I chose quotes which reflected our relationship:

We constantly hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

Love begins in a moment, grows over time & lasts for eternity

Two souls with but a single thought; two hearts that beat as one

Vintage wedding signage - Jen and Zen's wedding

Pinterest was a great source of inspiration and I have now un-hidden my wedding Pinterest board for your viewing pleasure!

It's really happening - Jen and Zen's wedding

Sweet little details included signs which Zen and I, DIYed with materials all sourced from Bunnings! Instead of having traditional flower girls and page boys, we wanted to get all the kids we knew involved. There were ten all up. Before I walked down the aisle with both my Mum and Dad by my side, Zen’s two nieces held a banner which read “Here comes the bride”. They were followed by Zen’s two nephews who held balloons, and then Zen’s twin nieces held one sign each which read “It’s really” and “Happening”! Then two of my girlfriend’s daughters held balloons and were followed by the older kids – Zen’s nephew and my kid bro. The boys had a remote control helicopter which our rings were tied onto!

Here comes the bride - Jen and Zen's wedding

Back onto what I said about the ceremony needing to move indoors… Well! After an unexpected puncture on the bridal car (we hired a convertible BMW M3 for Zen & I and organised a separate limo for the rest of the family), the wedding was pushed back by an hour. Add to that the chaos of traffic due to nearby games at the SCG and Allianz Stadium, I was sadly more than fashionably late for the ceremony! My not-quite-husband-yet Zen had to make the call of moving the ceremony indoors to the reception space because sunlight was slipping away and a heavy downpour was fast approaching. Everyone jumped in to help.

Indoor wedding ceremony at Centennial Parklands Dining - Jen and Zen's wedding

Parade of kids - Jen and Zen's wedding

I was so moved when I entered the room. It wasn’t the whimsical fig tree that I had planned for us to exchange our vows under, but a warm intimate room, dazzling with fairy lights, a scatter of vintage lounges, a garden of wild flowers and all of our nearest and dearest. It didn’t matter that we missed twilight and that it was hammering down with rain outside. There aren’t many opportunities in our lives where we can get all of our families and closest friends into the one room, but on our wedding day, it happened, and it was splendidly magical.

Walking down the aisle with mum and dad - Jen and Zen's wedding

Bride with mum and dad at alter - Jen and Zen's wedding

Vintage wedding shoes and dress and stage - Jen and Zen's wedding

The kiss - Jen and Zen's wedding

I asked for something colourful, fun, rustic and vintage inspired and wow did Jennie from Merci Bouquet deliver!

My bouquet was a lush and playful arrangement of billy buttons, aster, spider orchids, vanda orchids, David Austin roses and peppercorn!

Vintage colourful wedding button holes - Jen and Zen's wedding

Vintage inspired wedding bridal bouquet - Jen and Zen's wedding

Vintage inspired posies in milk bottles on chairs at wedding ceremony - Jen and Zen's wedding

The venue, Centennial Parklands Dining had a gorgeous skylight with these wide beams connecting four columns that I decided to transform into the focal point of the room. Jennie constructed a floral installation to hang from the beams, over the dessert table! The installation had aster, calendula, vanda orchids, dancing lady orchids, alstromeria, spider chrysanthemum, peppercorn and magnolia branches. It was so stunning!

Floral installation on ceiling beam - Jen and Zen's wedding

I also bought pot plants from Flower Power to scatter around the room to
build on the vintage glam garden party theme. These now happily sit on
my sunny balcony at home!

Nothing sets the scene more than music. I walked down the aisle to Marry Me by Train; Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder was played as we were signing the marriage certificate; All I Want Is You by Barry Louis Polisar was played as we left the aisle; the crazy, upbeat Newlywed Game theme song was our entrance song and our first dance was to Lucky by Jason Mraz featuring Colbie Caillat.

Here’s our playlist of other songs that were played as guests arrived:

As much as I love the food at traditional Chinese weddings, we chose a cocktail party with substantial canapes so that we could move around the room and actually talk to everyone. We also wanted everyone to mingle – afterall, everyone in the room plays a special role in our lives and we felt they would all really enjoy catching up with old friends or meeting new ones.

Centennial Parklands Dining cocktail party food - Jen and Zen's wedding

Peking duck pancakes at Centennial Parklands Dining - Jen and Zen's wedding

Cocktail party finger food - Jen and Zen's wedding

Centennial Parklands Dining is managed by Trippas White Group who also operate prominent venues such as 360 Bar and Dining, Art Gallery of NSW, Botanic Gardens Restaurant and The Pavilion in the Domain. The menu was a fusion of Modern Australian and Asian. I had originally wanted to organise spit roasts of whole suckling pigs but in the end, decided that a cocktail party would be more elegant. Canapes served were:

Peking duck pancakes with hoisin sauce

Pork and apple wontons

Asparagus, capsicum, grana padano tartlets

Prawns in witches hats, chilli and lime sauce

Coconut crumbed fish gougons with tartar sauce

Chicken skewers with satay sauce

Wild mushroom risotto, pecorino and wild rocket

Wagyu beef burgers

To be honest, I really enjoyed the food at the tasting session, but on the wedding day, I was too caught up in the moment to have an appetite!

Three words. Dessert Table Stylists. They exist! I can’t believe dessert table stylists get to do what they do, for a living! Louisa from LouLou Events really worked her magic! After emailing her various inspirations from Pinterest, including the dessert table from Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ wedding, she took everything in and added our personal flair. I really struggled to contain my excitement every time she showed me the mood boards! Louisa also provided all the glassware hire and labeling which made my life so much easier! She even sourced giant wine barrels as the base of our dessert table – it was rustic and so charming!

The dessert table - Jen and Zen's wedding

Dessert bar closed until 8pm - Jen and Zen's wedding

our initials on the dessert table - Jen and Zen's wedding

The sweets itself were created by baking extraordinaire, Linda of Eat, Show & Tell. That’s the beauty of blogging, it brings people together! Trusting Linda’s taste and creativity, I gave her full control of our sweets menu. We had:

Chocolate peppermint marshmallows

Chocolate tarts with orange blossom fairy floss

Passionfruit meringue

Pistachio meringue

Lemon meringue cupcakes

Pate de fruits: apricot & vanilla, blackcurrant and pomegranate & orange

Kaya doughnuts

Earl grey and honey madeleines

Salted caramel popcorn macarons

Dessert table cupcakes and macarons - Jen and Zen's wedding

Dessert table doughnuts, meringues and marshmallows - Jen and Zen's wedding

Funnily enough, four weeks to the wedding, and I suddenly realised I had forgotten about the wedding cake! Angie of Angie Lives To Eat And Cook came to my rescue when I asked about a last minute order.

I didn’t just want any plain cake so I gave Angie a list of Asian-inspired flavours I loved. There was pandan, coconut, lychee, rose, dulce de leche, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, ginger and tamarind. Angie came up with three flavours:

Rose and lychee

Pandan and coconut

Palm sugar, ginger and lime

The only way we were going to decide was with a tasting! You may recall my Instagram of that moment!

Pink ombre wedding cake with rose finish - Jen and Zen's wedding

Cutting the cake - Jen and Zen's wedding

A little obsessed with ombre cakes, Angie went all out and produced the
most stunning wedding cake I’ve ever seen! Our two-tiered 10 inch and 6 inch cakes featured ombre tiers on the inside in a pink gradient, and on the
outside, we had buttercream with a rose finish, also in pink ombre!

As you can imagine, the money shot was going to be the innard shot!
Unfortunately, it completely slipped my mind when Zen and I were cutting the cake… But, pair a crazy cake lady with a crazy bride and what do you get? Two food bloggers, recreating the scene,on a smaller scale of course! Despite initially thinking that I could wait one year to have the same cake on our first wedding anniversary, it was driving me insane that we didn’t have a photo of the cake cut open! It didn’t feel just to Angie’s work of art! But now I’m content 😉

Innard shot of the pink ombre lychee and rose cake - Jen and Zen's wedding

There were a few non-negotiables when it came to wedding budgeting. Photography was one of them. For years, I’ve followed the work of Trish of Tealily Photography and have always known that they’d shoot my engagement and wedding!

The pre-wedding shoot took place at Wendy’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay with Trish as our photographer.

Trish and Joel were already booked for a different wedding but we had the pleasure of having lead shooter Zabrina capture our day. Zabby has been working with Tealily for the past 3 – 4 years and really suited our candid style of photography.

In addition to the official photographer, we also asked our guests to Instagram our wedding. By asking family and friends to hashtag their photos with #JenAndZenWedding, we were able to view the wedding through their eyes instantly after the wedding!


I wanted a thoughtful and edible gift that our guests could take away from the wedding and enjoy later. With some help from Pinterest, I fell in love with the idea of mini jars of honey with the message, “Meant to Bee”. I was originally going to source jars and fill and label them myself but thank goodness I stumbled across Kelly Beans Bomboniere, who saved me so much time!

Meant to Bee honey jars bomboniere - Jen and Zen's wedding

Kelly offers lots of other cute ready-made and customisable bomboniere options such as mini jars of gourmet jams and chutneys with sweet messages like ‘Spread the love’! I was set on the honey, so we had 42g of pure Australian yellow box honey in round glass jars with my own design for the label to match the look and feel of our wedding! It’s so great working with small businesses such as Kelly Beans. Her flexibility with the short order time-frame and label changes was so helpful! Even though she operates out of Brisbane, the internet makes the world such a small place.

My most favourite part about wedding planning was discovering how my taste and preferences were so naturally synced with Zen’s. Everything just felt so easy – it’s good to know that we’re compatible on so many fronts, even on things that we had never spoken about. What describes our relationship best, would be the two readings my dear friends Karen and Catherine read during the ceremony. Here they are:

“I Like You” by Sandol Staddard Warburg

I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember

When I think something is important
you think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
I like you because you know where I’m ticklish
And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you
Boy are you ever silly
I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly
Maybe day after tomorrow
Maybe never
Too late, it’s a quarter past silly
Sometimes we don’t say a word
We snurkle under fences
We spy secret places
If I am a goofus on the roofus hollering my head off
You are one too
If I pretend I am drowning, you pretend you are saving me
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump
That’s because you really like me
You really like me, don’t you
And I really like you back
And you like me back and I like you back
And that’s the way we keep on going every day

If you go away, then I go away too
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
You don’t just say Well see you around sometime, bye
I like you a lot because of that
If I go away, I send you a postcard too
And I like you because if we go away together
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me

And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
You want to think about things
It takes time

I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t
They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose

I like you because if I think I am going to throw up
then you are really sorry
You don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that
You say, maybe it was something you ate
You say, the same thing happened to me one time
And the same thing did

If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
If I find four, I give you two
If we only find three, we keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don’t

If I break my arm, and if you break your arm too
Then it’s fun to have a broken arm
I tell you about mine, you tell me about yours
We are both sorry
We write our names and draw pictures
We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too

I like you because I don’t know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then

I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do
So many reasons
On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
On the fifth of July, I like you too
If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE
See what I mean?

Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That’s how it would happen every time
I don’t know why
I guess I don’t know why I really like you
Why do I like you
I guess I just like you
I guess I just like you because I like you.

“I’ll Be There” by Louise Cuddon

I’ll be there, my darling,
Through thick and through thin
When your mind is a mess
When your head’s in a spin
When your plane’s been delayed
When you’ve missed the last train
When life is just threatening
To drive you insane
When your thrilling whodunit
Has lost its last page
When somebody tells you
You’re looking your age
When your coffee’s too cool
And your wine too warm
When the forecast said ‘Fine’
But you’re out in a storm
When you ordered the Korma
But got the Madras
When you wake in the night
And are sure you smell gas
When your quick-break hotel
Is more like a slum
And your holiday photos
Show only your thumb
When you park for five minutes
In a resident’s bay
And return to discover
You’ve been towed away
When the jeans that you bought
In hope or in haste
Stick on your hips
And won’t reach around your waist
When the dentist looks into
Your mouth and just sighs
When your heroes turn out
To be wimps in disguise
When the food that you most like
Brings you out in red rashes
When as soon as you boot up
The bloody thing crashes
When you’re in extra time
And the other team scores
When someone informs you
There’s no Santa Claus
When you gaze at the stars
And step on a nail
When you know you’ll succeed
But, somehow, you fail
When your horoscope tells you
You’ll have a good day
So you ask for a rise
And your boss says ‘No way’
So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear….
When you spill your beer
When you shed a tear
When you burn the toast
When you miss the post
When you lose the plot
When I’m all you’ve got
When you break a rule
When you act the fool
When you’ve got the flu
When you’re in a stew
When you’re last in the queue
Don’t feel blue
‘Cause I’m telling you
I’ll be there
I’ll be there
I’ll be there for you

Planning a wedding in such a short time-frame meant family and friends had to put up with our spontaneity and drop everything to attend our big day with very little notice! Unfortunately the date clashed with the travel plans for several friends but that was inevitable. Also, our dear friend Lachlan, only had three weeks notice to be our MC/DJ/lighting-man and we didn’t even get him our songs list until just a few days prior to the wedding!

Intimate cocktail wedding - Jen and Zen's wedding

On the brighter side, it made me focus less on the unimportant wedding fluff that the wedding industry tricks us into spending on, and more on the special moments that count. We were able to inject so much of ourselves into personalising the wedding. There were photos of us from our travels sitting behind the bar; we had a lovely keepsake wooden chest with letterpress cards where guests left wishes, stories and advice. We also had to be creative with pulling off things such as the first dance. Jennifer of Your Bridal Dance taught us so much in our one-off 1.5 hour lesson! It wasn’t a traditional bridal waltz because we wanted to have fun with it, and Jennifer definitely showed us how!

Our first dance - Jen and Zen's wedding

My second favourite part of wedding planning was seeing everything come together. Everything I had to work with started off as a blank canvas and only came together on the wedding day. I definitely wouldn’t have achieved this without the assistance of some amazingly talented people. You all know who you are – thank you from the bottom of my heart! xoxo

The newly weds and our life size YouTube sign at our DIY photo booth - vintage glam wedding - Jen and Zen's wedding

I’ll now leave you with our wedding video and one last message. Challenge the status quo. The groom typically doesn’t see the bride before the ceremony but for us, it was more important that the reception flowed seamlessly from the ceremony. We didn’t want to leave our guests for too long and kill the mood, so we took photos and had our ‘first look’ beforehand! Just because everybody does it, it doesn’t mean that it’s right for you.

So here’s our wedding day, done our way –

Jennifer Lam

Jennifer is the founder of I Ate My Way Through. Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. These days, you'll most likely find Jen blogging about slow & intentional living On The Slow Lane and sharing what she knows now about mindful parenting and play-based learning at Mama's Got This.