The Look: Oriental Opulence
When it comes to themes for weddings, the possibilities are endless. As a wedding planner, I’ve seen countless different concepts.
Having reached a point where I lose track of what some deem to be considerably unique and sui generis, I’d like to take a step back and return to my roots — I’m a Chinese Malaysian — and churn my grey matter to think of ways to incorporate an oriental touch to weddings, which I think is a totally underrated theme.
It’s become rather humdrum to scroll through Pinterest and see throngs of images of blush and gold weddings, whimsical ones decked in pastel hues, and wispy-gowned brides walking down a rustic garden illuminated with fairy lights here, there and everywhere. Don’t get me wrong: these are extremely gorgeous looks and, judging by the number of pinned images online, they’ll likely be evergreen themes. However, weddings with an oriental opulence certainly deliver the “wow” factor, especially when finer details are combined with the right blooms and props.
Born and bred in an exquisite Southeast-Asian country that holds a melting pot of diverse cultures, races, traditions, and religions, I am fond of playing matchmaker to the modern and the traditional to create a twist for a fresh look. When creating a look of oriental opulence for a wedding, the sky is the limit.
Let’s start with the solid bold colours. When most people think of oriental themes, they think “red”. You can never go wrong choosing a rich ruby or rust tone. The Chinese believe that the colour “red” symbolizes good luck, happiness and prosperity to the marriage, thus having a red-themed wedding is a must-do among many Chinese communities. Flowers that fit in well could be an array of mokara orchids, red roses, marsala-coloured peonies, fuchsia orchids, maroon hydrangeas, and even tangerine-coloured ranunculus. A tinge of tangerine adds a vibrant pop that is pleasing to the overall palette of an oriental look.
Also, a tip that most Chinese would definitely not miss out on is to include the word “Hei” or its symbolic sticker” (囍), which translates to “Double Happiness” in English. It is a ligature, composed of two identical Chinese characters that symbolize joy. Usually, this character appears in such forms as velvet-textured sticker prints, paper cups, house slippers, cushion covers, and just about everything the Chinese believe should be used on the actual wedding day. In modern times, there are many other ways to incorporate this auspicious symbol. For instance, you could imprint a classy gold outline onto a rich, oriental backdrop or even create a customized marquee light bulb version of it. Trust me, the pictures will look fabulous and your bride will look positively radiant and memorable donning the emerald sheen of the cheongsam or a gold-embroidered qun kwa.
More often than not, red oriental weddings are often associated with the classy 1920s “Shanghai-Tan” era. Jazz up the reception area by going the extra mile, bringing in antique and vintage props that bring guests down memory lane. Among the assortment of old-school eye candy you can bring in: a classic black bicycle, big red Chinese lanterns, old kerosene lamps, vintage luggage, vintage-print boxes (these make awesome favours), gramophones, and light bulb-framed mirrors.
If red is too bold a statement for your client, consider a Chinoiserie theme that creates a softer oriental vibe, brought out by the intricate blue details on porcelain jars and curvy china pieces. The beauty of Chinoiserie is that you can never go wrong with any colour pairings. Bold and rich hues like fuchsia and maroon coordinate just as well as more gentle hues, such as apple-green hydrangeas and white tulips. Incorporating mirror and glass elements create a clean look ideal for blooms in shades of blush pink and ivory and lots of greenery. For those keen on making a bolder statement, include yellow, as the colour brightens the entire atmosphere and, at the same time, is a perfect complement to the ultramarine blue of the china pieces. Yellow tulips and the motif of dancing ladies would be on point.
Another adventurous oriental look might pair sweet, ethereal hues of jade with blush. Peonies (particularly the Chinese peony) would complement the gentle, mysterious colour of jade, which is very much a look that is Orient-inspired. Those multi-petaled blooms arranged with crisp white linens, silverware, and Wedgewood-inspired china will make anyone fall in love with this look time and time again.
With such a diverse range of beautiful blooms available, coming up with a look of oriental opulence can be a fun and creative pursuit. It needn’t only be used for weddings; consider also bridal showers, baby showers, and intimate birthday parties. Nudging customers outside of conventional themes and comfort zones can result in them having a picture-perfect memory.
So folks, hope this little insight of creating a look of oriental opulence helped and that perhaps you’d give this look a try for a future event.
Contributed by Eunice Chan En-Xin