Lan­guage of love wins day

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

Their meet­ing at Can­tonese classes as univer­sity stu­dents put Denise Lau and Henry Li on the same page when it came to or­gan­is­ing a wed­ding. Both agreed it would be­gin with a tra­di­tional Chi­nese tea cer­e­mony, where the cou­ple took turns to serve sweet tea to their new families.

It was also a poignant op­por­tu­nity for Denise to wear her mother’s wed­ding dress, a tra­di­tional long red gown with gold em­broi­dery that she wore for her wed­ding in Hong Kong more than 30 years ago.

Al­though her fam­ily, who set­tled at Strath­field be­fore Denise was born, did not ex­pect her to marry some­one from Hong Kong, she says they im­me­di­ately liked Henry from their first meet­ing.

“So they were very happy when I chose him to be my hus­band,” Denise says.

The cou­ple met in Denise’s first year as a com­merce stu­dent at the Univer­sity of NSW in 2005, when she and Henry, in the sec­ond year of a science de­gree, be­gan shar­ing lunch af­ter weekly Can­tonese lan­guage classes.

Henry was born in Hong Kong and ar­rived in Syd­ney as a child, so, like Denise, al­ready spoke Can­tonese.

Aside from their shared cul­tural back­grounds and in­ter­est in im­prov­ing their lan­guage skills, Denise says she was at­tracted to Henry’s “gen­tle­man­li­ness” and sense of hu­mour. He was at­tracted to her long hair and bright smile.

The cou­ple shared their first of­fi­cial date af­ter about three months of weekly lunches. Denise, a busi­ness an­a­lyst, says she and Henry, a pro­ject of­fi­cer, found they both en­joyed fine din­ing and travel.

Denise was sent to Auck­land on a work trip in Au­gust 2015, when Henry de­cided to join her for a week­end. As the cou­ple vis­ited Wait­omo Glow­worms Cave, Henry sur­prised Denise with a mar­riage pro­posal.

“We were sit­ting in a boat in the to­tal dark­ness, ex­cept for the glow-worms on the ceil­ing,” Denise says. “Just be­fore the end of the trip Henry pro­posed. I was ex­tremely sur­prised, I didn’t ex­pect it at that time, es­pe­cially in dark­ness.

“And I was com­pletely shocked when he had a clas­si­cal Tif­fany six-prong soli­taire di­a­mond ring hid­den in his pocket.”

Denise tried sev­eral wed­ding dresses be­fore go­ing back to the first out­fit she had tried at Karen Wil­lis Holmes at New­town. She chose the ivory Saskia-style strap­less corset­style lace bodice over a lay­ered Se­lena-style or­ganza skirt, with a long, lace-trimmed train.

Be­fore their of­fi­cial cer­e­mony at Peter Chanel Catholic Church, Hunters Hill, on Septem­ber 17, 2017, Denise and Henry vis­ited Denise’s rel­a­tives at Bev­erly Hills, where they served tea to her par­ents and aunts and un­cles, then did the same for Henry’s fam­ily in a pri­vate room at Pier One.

“We knelt on the ground and handed up cups of tea to our fam­ily,” Denise says.

“The tea is sweet be­cause it is a happy oc­ca­sion.”

For their re­cep­tion with 120 guests Denise and Henry had the Water room at Pier One dec­o­rated with a canopy of fairy lights to recre­ate the Wait­omo caves.

Denise also added flo­ral ar­range­ments in pink and pur­ple, her favourite colours, and ad­mits she and Henry prac­tised for two months to per­fect their bridal waltz to Think­ing Out Loud by Ed Sheeran.

The cou­ple, who live at Bur­wood, plan to take their hon­ey­moon at the end of the year vis­it­ing the UK and Europe. PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: INLIGHTEN

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