9 September, 2019
Weddings

That Bride: Claire Johnson, Corporate Hospitality Manager At Art Basel

9 September, 2019

Inside Claire and Brian’s beautiful Italian wedding of dreams, complete with European heatwave and a surprise gelato cart!

A less than glamorous small town nightclub is hardly the meet-cute of dreams. Yet for Hong Kong-based couple Claire and Brian, it somehow worked. “At the tender age of 19, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight!” admits Claire. “But we’ve certainly grown and changed a lot since then.” Now, fifteen years later, Claire, Corporate Hospitality Manager at Art Basel, and Brian, a Black Sheep stalwart currently working at Carbone, have since had many wonderful and exciting adventures together. The latest of which happens to be their very own nuptials, set in a dreamy private farmhouse in the picturesque Tuscan countryside…

Read more: That Bride: Lili Chu, Assistant Comms Manager At The Upper House

Every bride has a proposal story. What’s yours?

He proposed outside Osaka castle. I had an inkling he was going to propose during our Japan trip, however he left it right until the last day which definitely kept me guessing! He had considered doing it at Shibuya Crossing, so I’m very glad he settled on somewhere a little less busy!

Tell us about the ring.

We decided to choose the ring together. After much searching, my mum offered me her ring which is an unusual gold design from the 70s. As I wanted a bit more of a “rock”, we had the diamond replaced with an old Victorian one from a jewellers in the UK. I couldn’t have hoped for a more perfect ring.

What did you do for your hen party?

As my bridesmaids were split between Hong Kong and the UK, I had two. The first in Tokyo (one of my favourite places) and the second in London.

The best advice you received before the big day?

Don’t stress about the little things on the day. There’s bound to be something that’s not quite right, but it’s really not worth worrying about! I found the final week or so leading up to the wedding quite stressful, so it was definitely good advice to just let it all go and enjoy.

Tell us about the dress. How many did you try on?

I found it quite challenging to find a dress I liked, particularly as I wanted something quite simple, which isn’t too easy to find in Hong Kong. In the end, Jackie and her team at The Loft helped me to decide on a simple Alex Perry gown and pearl veil from One Day Bridal.

What was the wedding like?

We got married at a private farmhouse in Tuscany with an intimate wedding party of 34. It was very relaxed, with an emphasis on the amazing scenery, food and wine.

Do you have a favourite part?

It being a destination wedding meant we got to spend some real quality time with our wedding party. Living away from home, it was a really unique opportunity to get friends and family together from across the world. The wedding in my memory is really the whole time we were away with them, not just the wedding day.

How did you incorporate little pieces of Hong Kong in your overseas wedding?

We had a Hong Kong-style rubber stamp made with the double-happiness symbol and some wedding details. We used this on the wedding invites and then to decorate the paper fans given to guests on the day.

What were memorable parts from the speeches?

We kept the speeches short and sweet, with one from the best man and one from the groom. I’ve never been too keen on the formalities of a traditional wedding.

What was your first dance song and why did you choose this?

Again, not being keen on wedding traditions, we decided to replace the first dance with a first drink! Everyone enjoyed a round of limoncello before the DJ kicked off the party.

What was the most fun element of planning your wedding?

The little added touches and trying to make the whole trip an unforgettable experience for our guests.

And the most stressful moment?

Getting a mild case of heat stroke the day before the wedding! There was a freak heatwave in Europe that weekend so it was A LOT hotter than anyone envisaged!

What about the best decision you made in the planning process?

The gelato cart! We kept it a surprise and our guests loved it when the two old Italian guys appeared to serve them delicious gelato.

What were the wedding favours?

We chose some small pots of honey from the wedding venue. They make their own honey, oil and wine!

Any tips and tricks for brides-to-be?

For destination weddings especially, get a wedding planner. I had an amazing lady (shoutout to Mariane Vitoria from Blooming Eventi) who helped source vendors and transport. It meant that I didn’t need to worry about a thing on the day.

And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?

As we were already in Italy we decided to do a mini-moon in the Amalfi coast for a few days. We’re also planning to do a longer trip travelling through Japan in 2020.

Images courtesy of Carolina Serafini.

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