We chatted to the charismatic Jessie Gogan from GHC Asia about how she created her dream wedding day
From walking down the aisle rapping to Here comes the Hot Stepper, to ending the night dancing on a podium at 6am, Jessie Gogan knows how to get a party started – and how to keep it going. Originally from Bray, a coastal town in north County Wicklow, Ireland, Jessie moved from London to Hong Kong in 2014 with Chris, her then-boyfriend, now-husband. Jessie and Chris worked to create a meaningful 3-day celebration in Croatia, full of a special memories for their loved ones and private little moments to spend with each other. After all, a wedding day is meant to be about the couple! As the PR Director at GHC Asia, Jessie is no stranger to the benefits of being organised, so it’s no surprise to hear that her wedding plans revolved around thoughtful decisions and efficient little additions. Jessie shares everything from her favourite section of her speech (we love that more and more brides are making speeches on their wedding day!), to helpful tips for brides-to-be…
Every bride has a proposal story. What’s yours?
Chris proposed in the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. I always thought he would propose on a beach somewhere in Asia but his rationale for the MO was that it’s a Hong Kong icon and he’s sure it will still be standing in years to come, so we can bring our kids there when we are old and grey. He will kill me for saying this but he also wrote a poem for the proposal… so it was really unique to him.
Tell us about the ring.
The ring is a lovely round brilliant with a diamond band by the great team at Ryder Diamond. Chris chose the diamond and the design; I love the sketch that came with the ring too. All Ryder rings are handmade in the Queens Road workshop, which I got to go to afterwards and see for myself. It was such a lovely experience and Natasha Guinness at Ryder was fab throughout.
What did you do for your hen party?
My Hong Kong hen went from Four Seasons Spa action, to a Hawaiian themed bash in Crafted 852’s private space, followed by Wahtiki Island Lounge, where we had – what felt like – 400 Champagne Canoe cocktails. We then crawled home after I danced on a table, thinking I was Ireland’s answer to Beyoncé for 4 hours. My friend, Kit, handmade the funniest hen-themed piñata which got a few laughs as it was paraded around Hong Kong.
Read more: Celebrating Your Engagement in Hong Kong
Tell us about the dress. How many did you try on?
I tried on about 8 to 10 dresses with my mum when she was visiting from Ireland, so we had a tight timeframe. But I had no idea what I wanted, I only knew what I wasn’t keen on – nothing too bare!
The dress we chose was by New York designer, Reem Acra from Trinity Bridal on Wydham Street. It was an A-line number, which I always feel comfortable in. I didn’t want bright white so the subtle pink hue just worked for me.
The best advice you received before the big day?
The best piece of advice was to make sure Chris and I took a moment alone during the wedding day, we had a glass of bubbles by the sea in the evening and took it all in. I had just about cooled down post-speech and after the heat of the blazing Croation day, so it was perfect to sit by the sea and have a laugh and smooch.
Favourite wedding designer?
I’m all about a dress that makes you feel like a million dollars. Lluvy at Trinity Bridal told me that my face said ‘yes to the dress’ immediately, I say aim for those moments rather than the name tag.
I can tell you my favorite bridesmaid dress designer though – I can’t recommend Rewritten enough. London-based duo, Katie Arnott and Frances Cookson, design contemporary and cool dresses that are lovely on, suit lots of different body shapes and can be worn again. I love the colour palette of the dresses too.
What was the wedding like?
The wedding was on the island of Hvar in Croatia (where we met 5 years earlier, on holiday). We got married in amongst old statues and ancient trees in a high-walled courtyard of a ruined church – a total hidden gem. We had to get special permission to use the courtyard, which sat hidden behind two massive wooden doors and unbelievably only a few meters from where Chris and I first met! The reception and dinner was in Bonj Le Bains beach club, overlooking turquoise water.
The wedding sounds a bit traditional but we aren’t, so we wanted to add some personal elements. Our entrance song was Here comes the Hot Stepper by Ini Kamoze, we both love it from when we were kids and rap to it at home (or try to!) so it seemed apt! We also had a surprise saxophonist solo to Tina Turner later on. And my mum and I both made speeches, which I liked as it was a break from the male dominated speech vibe.
The end of the day was a highlight, Chris and I were the last ones standing… in a club… on a podium… at 6am… surrounded by a bunch of 19 year olds on their gap year who were dancing around my dress.
Do you have a favourite part from your speech or your mum’s speech?
Personalised words are very important to me and Chris too, he’s always bashing out great heart-felt and funny poems (again, he is going to kill me for this). So we wrote our own vows in our own styles, and neither of us heard each other’s vows until at the altar. We loved that.
My mum, Ina, is so special to me, so there was no question that she should have an important moment at the wedding. She gave a very heartfelt speech but also threw in some funny Ina-isms too, making everyone laugh when she commented that its incredible that her and I are now the same age (she still thinks/acts like she’s in her thirties!).
Even though it added to my nerves on the day, I really wanted to make a speech myself. I knew what I wanted to say months in advance (and thanks to Isobel, we got it down on paper last minute). I won’t give too much away, but it focused on how I’ve called many places and cities home but all I really need going forward is the warmth, security and sense-of-home that lovely Chris gives me. I think I got a few tears for that one – nailed it!
One detail you and Chris just couldn’t agree on?
We (thankfully!) did quite well on this front! We had a wedding planner so she helped act as a good intermediary. At one point, I thought Chris went a bit off-piste on his suit colour but he was totally right about that in the end.
What was the most fun element of planning your wedding?
The fuss-free, funny and fantastic bridesmaids! They were so chilled and helpful with their dresses, it couldn’t have been easier. The Rewritten team were incredibly helpful too. Isobel was pregnant at the time so we waited until the last moment to get her fitted, and it was all sorted in a matter of days.
Most stressful moment?
We had some steamer dramas on the morning of. And being on an island in the middle of the Adriatic meant there were no steamers to be found! Thankfully, one of our guests had a hand-held steamer but it took ages so we were late to the church. I think Chris was getting a bit antsy at that point, and there is a picture of me looking a little stressed with Chelsey helping to tidy up my veil just before I walk down the aisle.
The best decision?
Getting married overseas. It meant the wedding was a 3-day affair and also a holiday for everyone else!
What were the wedding favours?
No traditional favours, we needed something easy to transport to the island and also that suited the sea setting and warm weather so we had calligraphy names on rare Baltic sea glass for guests to take home, beautiful calligraphy by Bonnie K, an ex-colleague of mine, based in Hong Kong.
One planning app you used religiously?
I didn’t use any apps but the wedding website and wedding invites were all designed using Wix, which I loved and found very easy to use. All the RSVP’s being tallied in one easy-to-use interface – perfect for a PR person!
Any tips and tricks for brides-to-be?
Being organised! I gave my photographers a visual guideline of the sort of pictures that we wanted (giving them examples from Instagram that I liked). I thought they would think I was a total nightmare but they actually said it was very helpful.
If you are getting married overseas and don’t speak the language – look into a wedding planner. We couldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for Maja at Croatian Moments, she was a lifesaver.
Keep some perspective, stay calm and try not to stress – of course, easier said than done! Your guests will have no idea if something goes a little wrong on the day.
And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?
We had a mini-moon in Dubrovnik and then at Christmas, when we could get a bit more time off, we went to Tulum in Mexico, followed by Havana in Cuba. And now, onwards to our next adventure together….
Read more: Planning a Honeymoon? These Trending Spots are at the Top of Our List
All images courtesy of Jessie Gogan