Our That Bride of the month is Kimberley Mills, an East meets West beauty with an eye for wedding design! We talk to her about her Asian-fusion wedding in Kuala Lumpur, her twists on tradition and how to best enjoy your wedding at your partner’s side.
All love stories have to begin somewhere. How did you two meet?
We met in Beijing in 2003. We were both studying Mandarin during our gap years.
Where was your first date?
It depends on whom you ask. We actually celebrate different anniversaries. He thinks it was the first dinner that he asked me out to, but I couldn’t tell you where, what we ate or if he even paid. I’m pretty sure we started dating after watching the Rugby World Cup in a dodgy sports bar in Beijing.
Can you tell us about the first time he said he loved you?
Drunkenly and in a dodgy sports bar in Beijing.
Every bride has a proposal story. What’s yours?
I completely ruined it. He took me to the Pantheon in Rome. I was in a bad mood and impatient to get to dinner. He tried once and I jokingly said it looked like he was proposing to me. He tried again and I still didn’t believe him. We got there eventually though and I said yes. Or at least, I think I said yes.
Tell us about the ring.
It’s a family stone that we had reset by Sally Ryder, who’s a whizz when it comes to jewellery design. I can’t recommend her services enough. We had a consultation where I brought in some inspiration. She then created something totally unique and perfect for me.
What did you do for your hen party? We want the dirty details.
I don’t know what I did to deserve such amazing friends, but my girlfriends organised a surprise trip to Tokyo (take a look at Sassy’s guide to Tokyo here). It was amazing! They made me dance Gangnam style in public dressed as a Harajuku girl.
How did you go about planning your wedding? Did you go the DIY route or did you hire a wedding planner to help you out?
The wedding was in Kuala Lumpur (Sassy loves Kuala Lumpur, see why here!). It would have been difficult to organise from Hong Kong if it hadn’t been for my incredible family. My uncles drove me around the city scouting out venues while my aunties coordinated with caterers. I have to mention my cousin’s girlfriend as well, who had plenty of local knowledge and was an absolute gem.
It was a two-day event. The Chinese wedding had a slight Malaysian twist to it. On the main day, we had an outdoor ceremony and lunch, followed by dinner at the hotel. I was very lucky to find a fantastic florist who handled the decorations. The brief for the daytime event was ‘colourful’ whereas the evening event was ‘peacock’. She nailed it.
I also wanted to make sure everyone had something nice to go home with, so I actually got the groomsmen’s gifts at a place called Royal Selangor in Kuala Lumpur. It’s great because they have shops in Hong Kong as well and the customised tankards really helped pull together the entire Malaysian theme of the wedding!
Tell us about the dress.
I was really lucky-I think the stars must have aligned. I love Claire Pettibone designs and was too lazy to shop anywhere else, so I spent three hours there with my best friend while I was visiting her in Los Angeles. We had the most wonderful saleswoman. She recommended a dress from the sample sale rack, which I almost didn’t try on because it was in no way what I had in mind. Thank goodness I did, because it fit perfectly and it was the one. Quick, painless and 50% off.
I also had my bridesmaid’s jewellery designed by a friend of mine, Cultures by Toni P, and coordinated it all with the bridesmaids outfits.
My tea ceremony outfit was quite special to me. I wanted to wear a traditional kwa, but it would’ve been too hot. Instead, I found a lovely local tailor who created this beautiful traditional Malaysian outfit called a Kerbaya, which is based on the concept of a kwa. Toni helped me out again by designing some gorgeous double happiness wine charms for me to wear as well, she’s such a dear friend.
What was the wedding like?
It was fun and surprisingly stress free.
The song for your first dance?
We didn’t do a first dance, cake cutting or bouquet toss. It seemed like unnecessary attention.
What’s the most valuable thing you learned while wedding planning?
If you’re organised and not too concerned with the details, then don’t involve a wedding planner. It’s much more fun! All you need are reliable vendors, a supportive family and a great bridal party. Decide what is important to you and then work around that. For me, it was that I got to spend as much quality time with my family and friends as time would allow.
Have any tips and tricks for brides-to-be?
Before you start planning, agree with your partner on what your priorities are so you know what goals you’re both working towards. That way you’ll be sure to have a memorable wedding that you can enjoy together.
What do you remember most about the entire experience?
It’s difficult to pick just one thing! If I have to choose, then I have to say the ceremony. We asked a close friend to officiate, and he ended up going above and beyond. It was perfect.
Is there anything you would have liked to do differently?
I get really nervous about speaking in front of people, but I do wish I’d given a speech to say thank you to everyone (especially my family). I thanked them all individually, but it would have been nice to have made a bigger gesture.
And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?
We extended an open invitation to all of our guests to join us for a week in Langkawi. A little group of 20+ came along and it was really fun catching up on all the gossip from the wedding!
We also took time off work and went traveling together for a year. Instead of a gift registry, we asked all of our friends and family from around the globe if we might impose on them at some point during the year. It was wonderful how hospitable everyone was.
Loved reading about Kim’s wedding? Why not check out some of our other That Bride interviews as well, or if you’re thinking about planning your own in Hong Kong- check out our guides to Hong Kong wedding services!