Cover 'Live for moments you can't put into words': The couple's motto of the day

The cofounder of fashion label Duchess & Co gives us the details that went behind the sheer perfection of her weddings that started on a traditional note in Malaysia, and peaked at a romantic ceremony in Spain.

Ju Nn Phang's job sees her days surrounded by dresses, dreaming up new trends and soaking in inspiration. When we got word of her wedding to long-time sweetheart Aaron Tey in 2017, we knew she would not be your typical bride. True to our (and everyone else’s) predictions, the 2 ceremonies in 2018 left a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to witness it. Even the couple, who pulled off a traditional Chinese celebration in Malaysia and an elaborate Spain ‘fairytale’, exceeded their own expectations. There’s a saying that goes ‘Photos say a thousand words’, but in this occasion, it’s Ju Nn’s story that narrates the intimate details of each priceless moment. We speak to the bride about how her dream weddings fell into place, from the moment planning began up to the happy ending.

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First things first: Tell us about your 2 weddings.

Our Chinese wedding was on September 28, 2018 the tea ceremony in the morning and a reception dinner at Thean Hour temple. Our Spain wedding on October 10, 2018 took place at Palacio de Villa Hermosa in Pedrola, Spain, with a romantic exchanging of vows ceremony, followed by cocktails and dinner at the palace gardens.

When did the planning begin?

The Chinese wedding took 4 months to plan, whereas the Spain wedding started in October 2017.The latter took a year to set in place, especially to give guests sufficient time to plan their trip.

You wore 6 bridal dresses for 2 ceremonies – tell us how you chose them.

For the morning tea ceremony, I wore an ivory-white lace mermaid gown by UK designer Annasul Y. I wanted a dress that was timeless and demure with long sleeves and came across her 20s ultra glam wedding designs. It was made with French Chantilly lace applique on 3 different layers of the gown, that created a dreamy 3D and semi-transparent effect. It fitted like a glove. My 3-meter-long veil was by a Malaysian designer based in Canada, Stesha Ho. For the oriental night, I wore a floor-length Mandarin collared cape by Brian Khoo, layered over my Annasul Y gown for a Chinoiserie effect. The cape was also appliqued with Chantilly lace around the collar, chest and the hem of the sleeves and train. My evening gown was another Chinoiserie custom piece made in China; a mermaid gown in yellow, embroidered with royal peonies, leaves and branches across the bodice to the hem.

For the welcome dinner in Spain, I wore a Marchesa Notte Gown embroidered and finely beaded on tulle. My wedding ceremony dress was from the Pronovias 2019 collection. I spotted the ball gown and its lace embroidery and applique when Aaron and I walked into Pronovias Barcelona’s Flagship store. The lace was delicately sewn on sheath tulle that creating an asymmetrical effect. The skirt was embellished with horsehair braid and the back was a deep V-back feature, with all-over lace applique. It was a gown I had imagined but couldn’t bring to life and there it was on me. 

When I stepped out of the fitting room, Aaron took one look and his reaction was priceless; I think his eye teared up a little when he said ‘this is the one.’

For the after party, I wore a custom made grey gown by Brian Khoo. The first layer was a corsetted body suit that made my waist look 18 inches, with a second layer of delicate sheer tulle with lace applique and beadings stitched on, for a peek-a-boo effect up to the mid thigh. Ombre ostrich feathers cascaded the length of the train. It was perfect for my first dance.

How did you prepare for your wedding, fitness and beauty wise?

I went on a no-carb diet for a month and also did intermittent fasting. For exercise I went for Pilates twice a week and did the workout homework from my Pilates instructors.

I applied face masks every alternate day 3 weeks leading up to the wedding. I also went for 3 facials in a span of 2 months 2 weeks prior to the wedding, and for skincare I swear by Decorté and Golden Face Mask.

And the big reveal: Tell us the story behind your wedding themes.

For our Chinese wedding, we decided on the oriental theme with red and gold in the most fitting location, Thean Hou Temple. Aaron loves the art of lion dance, so we had a lion on our wedding stage and lions to welcome guests. We decorated tables with custom made origami cut placemats and had piggy mooncakes for table gifts. A Chinese Orchestra provided music with traditional instruments and we sat guests at tables in balcony style during the banquet, to evoke a Chinese theatre setting. 

The venue was set up with old China elements with cherry blossoms, birds, birdcages and lanterns, and the stage was transformed into a grand opera setting. 

For our second wedding, we chose our favourite destination, Spain. I found my wedding planner Paloma Cruz on Instagram and fell in love with her vintage-with-a-modern-twist style. The historical palace for our wedding is owned by a royal family in Spain, some of whom still lives there today. We decided on pastel hues for colours and contemporary vintage decorations. The wedding took place on the grand walk of the palace, with the place as the backdrop. We sat down to dinner on a long table decorated with garlands filled with flowers and candles, in a tunnel of fairy lights.

We gifted guests with semi-precious stones, an amethysts and a London topaz. As part of the wedding treat, the duke of the palace brought our guests for a tour and history ‘lesson’ around the property. At the end, we had our wedding pictures taken in the beautiful historical library and the grand hall.

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The experience began with illustrated wedding invites. Please elaborate on these special touches.

For my oriental theme in Malaysia, the mood was set from the wedding invitation. It was inspired by the Chinese Calendar with the elements of a rabbit zodiac representing Aaron and the dragon zodiac representing myself. The invite was made in red and embossed in gold with lanterns, flowers, and a double happiness Chinese symbol.

As for the Spanish wedding invitation, we used a vintage classic theme to hint at how the venue would look like. They were hand painted by the designer Penny Qi, who incorporated the palace areas where we were doing our wedding: the garden, the grand walk, the grand hall, and painted perfect emblem for Aaron and I, which was embossed amongst the garden painting on the front. The envelope was also printed with the quote “live for moments you can’t put into words”.

Scroll slideshow below for a gallery of wedding highlights:

What’s your favourite part about the wedding?

I have a few favourites in Spain – The moment when my father walked me down the aisle and I saw all my family and friends, that was very touching. I saw Aaron tearing up as I walked down the aisle and that warm and fuzzy feeling I felt was indescribable.

Another favourite was the wedding shoot in the palace. Aaron and I danced in the grand hall while our photographers, Pablo Laguia and David Rodriguez , were shooting us. From the moment I saw the grand hall I had been picturing Aaron and I dancing there and we were doing it!

As I hugged my family and best friends individually I thanked them for their personal favours throughout the years, and we were all tearing up.

Finally, what’s your advice to future brides?

Be sure of what you want. Decide on a theme you and your other half would love and stick by it. Pick vendors that understand your wants and set a budget so you will be getting suitable design options. Research thoroughly on the vendors’ style before making a decision. A good wedding planner or coordinator is of utmost importance as you will not have time on the big day to meddle in the details. Have everything planned out in an Excel sheet and share it with all the relevant parties so everyone knows their duties. Besides that, remember it is your wedding and a once-in-a-lifetime experience with the person you love. A friend gave me a wonderful piece of advice, which is to pull your husband aside and take a moment to look at everything in front of you and if you can, go outside for a moment alone. Let all that is happening sink in together: That will be the moment you remember for the rest of your lives. The day will go by so quickly that if you forgot to revel in the moments, it will just fly by.

  • PhotographyDavid Rodriguez
  • PhotographyPablo Laguia
  • PhotographyJane Lee Photography
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