A Multi-Day Wedding in the Maldives
Peony and Richard
For some couples, just the idea of long distance is enough to call a relationship quits before it even starts. But for Peony Tang and Richard Lim, their geographic challenges were merely an excuse to travel the world together. Though they worked for the same private-equity firm when they met, he lived in Singapore and she in Jakarta. "During the initial few months of the courtship, we went to the Maldives, Bali, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Sri Lanka for weekends just to spend more time with each other," Richard says. "We even made it to the U.S. and Mexico."
Living in different places wasn't the only stumbling block: Being at the same company meant hiding the romance from their colleagues. By the time it was discovered—when they went on a date to a stand-up comedy show in Jakarta where many of their office-mates happened to be in attendance—both were feeling that it might be the real thing. "Right from the start, we shared a passion for adventures and new experiences," says Peony, who now manages her family's investments. (Richard started his own real estate investment company in 2013.)
The first of all their trips together was to the Maldives, an archipelago of more than a thousand islands in the Indian Ocean. So when Richard proposed, after seven months of dating (Peony had relocated to Singapore), they immediately decided that the slice of heaven-on-earth they'd first traveled to together was where they wanted to tie the knot. It took about two months of scouting before they chose the Maalifushi by Como resort—not that they're complaining about all the research! In the end, the property's color scheme of "white, sand, and a myriad of blues was perfect for my dream palette of soft ocean hues," says Peony.
Sea-inspired shades were just a tiny part of what became a full-blown nautical-themed celebration—one that lasted three days. A hundred and sixty-six friends and relatives arrived on Friday for welcome cocktails and canapés on the beach at sunset, followed by dinner at the hotel's Tai restaurant. The next day, November 15, 2014, the main event had the couple practically walking on water. The "aisle" was a wooden footbridge that led to a pavilion over a crystal-clear blue lagoon, and Peony surprised guests by arriving in a boat decorated with a "Here Comes the Bride!" sign. "When I went down the aisle toward Richard, under rows of white floral arches of wisteria and baby's breath, I felt like I was floating," she recalls.
After a joyful recession to Pharrell Williams's "Happy," the pair joined guests for cocktails on the beach, which was decked out with a traditional Maldives wooden sailboat for a photo booth and a "beach bazaar" where everyone chose party favors like frisbees, sunglasses, and anchor-shaped bottle openers. As evening fell, the revelers moved to a clear marquee tent that let them view the emerging stars above. And the mood shifted from the Maldives to other significant spots—and flavors—in the newlyweds' shared past: Dinner included crispy Baja reef fish tacos inspired by a diving trip to Mexico, pan-seared foie gras (the one French dish Richard learned to make during grad school), and lobster linguine (Peony's father's favorite).
After the pair's first dance, to an acoustic cover of Maroon 5's "Love Somebody," friends and family surprised them with a flash-mob number to "Treasure" by Bruno Mars. "It was totally unexpected, and one of the highlights of the night!" says Richard. Another came when everyone headed to the beach for fireworks over the ocean. It was a spectacular way to cap off the evening—and wish the newlyweds a lifetime of smooth sailing.
The Maalifushi by Como resort, where everyone stayed, has guest rooms that practically float over the shallow waters of a lagoon and reef—the ultimate in romance.
Save-the-dates referenced both the style of the planned wedding and the couple's many journeys together. The sailing motif carried through even to the photo booth on the beach, which was a traditional sailboat.
The invitation suite—which featured embossing, debossing, and gold foil—introduced the maritime theme and included a garland of drawings depicting the pair's courtship.
Life's a Beach
A beach at the Maalifushi by Como, where all of the guests stayed. Most guests flew in on Friday and left on Monday.
A Fashionable Couple
Relaxing in the Sun
When they weren't busy with wedding-related partying, guests had a choice of many activities at the hotel, including snorkeling, diving, game fishing, kayaking, and sailing. And, of course, hanging out at the pool or lying on the beach.
"Boat bags" for guests included sunscreen, flip-flops, and snacks.
Peony, in Zahavit Tshuba, relaxed with Richard before Friday's welcome dinner. "Falling in love with Richard was a lot like breathing," Peony says of the beginning of their romance. "It was the easiest and most natural thing for me to do."
A Waterfront Welcome
Partygoers gathered for welcome cocktails before sunset.
After cocktails, the newlyweds joined guests in releasing wish lanterns into the tropical sky.
A Grand Ceremony Entrance
Peony says the aisle's eight arches of baby's breath, silk wisteria, and orchids were "my favorite décor element by far."
The Saturday Ceremony
Peony and Richard were full of joy at the end of the secular ceremony.
The Ring Shell
At the Saturday ceremony, the ring bearer, Richard's 10-year-old nephew, carried a nautilus shell that held the bands.
The Ceremony Fashions
As her something old (as well as borrowed), Peony wore her mother's heirloom diamond earrings, necklace, and bracelet for the ceremony. Her aunt, a makeup artist, did the bride's hair and makeup for the big day.
The Bridal Bouquet
Despite the fact that peonies were out of season, the bride special-ordered them to play starring roles in the bouquets and floral décor—for obvious reasons! Blooms from the first harvest in Holland arrived the morning of the wedding.
The Bridal Party
Guests lounged on the beach during the postceremony cocktail hour. There were four specialty cocktails on offer—two of which were drinks the bride and groom had on their first date: negronis and Moscow mules.
A photo display of the newlyweds' parents' and grand-parents' weddings, and snaps of themselves in their younger years, along with captions, were hung from twine using binder clips.
Finding Their Way
Calligraphed wooden oars were transformed into signposts.
A Boat Backdrop
The photo booth's backdrop was a traditional sailboat, putting guests right in the "water."
Posing in the Photobooth
Partygoers posed at the helm.
The Escort Cards
Peony herself calligraphed the sailboat-shaped escort cards, which featured laurels designed by Brown Tree.
Marquee Letters in the Sand
Oversize marquee letters in the pair's initials lit up as the sun began to set.
Beach Bazaar Fun
At the cocktail-hour beach bazaar, guests chose their own favors from among more than a dozen gifts monogrammed with the newlyweds' initials, including candles, playing cards, and a selection of the couple's favorite beach reads.
A Reception in the Sand
Guests sat down for dinner in a clear-topped tent that had poles draped with soft chiffon and chandeliers twined with white silk wisteria and capiz shells. The five-course meal was inspired by the couple's travels, including kong bak pau with pork belly and hoisin for China and Wagyu sirloin for Japan.
Along with the ever-present peonies, table arrangements were filled with dahlias, hydrangeas, astilbe, berries, and foliage like Italian ruscus and seeded eucalyptus.
Under the Tent
The reception tent had a clear top that allowed the stars to shine through as evening approached. Chiffon, capiz shells, and nearly-white arrangements added to the magical ambience.
A World to Travel
A calligraphed sign invited guests to suggest new journeys for the already well-traveled bride and groom—they've been to 20 countries together already. The newlyweds jetted off to South America six months after the wedding, for an eight-week tour that included visiting Iguaçú Falls in Brazil, swimming with giant tortoises in the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador, and watching a beautiful sunset over Machu Picchu in Peru.
A White Wedding Cake
The couple cut into a red velvet cake—their favorite—decorated with blush-pink peonies. After dinner, chocolate lava cake with summer berries and vanilla bourbon ice cream was served.