Couple in the market for a special setting

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2012, 12:00am


Candice Chan and Leonard Chao went to great lengths to transform Western Market in Sheung Wan into the perfect venue for a night of wedding celebrations.

Candice, 26, creative director at J. Candice Interior Architects, and Leonard, 29, the managing director of property firm Lechare Holdings, were married on May 5 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Almost 400 guests attended the banquet in the heritage building after the ceremony.

The couple customised all the tableware and decorations, from candles, vases and lamps to backdrop arrangements and party invitations. They also set up a mock flower shop, modelled on the facade of the Henri Bendel luxury department store in New York, where guests could take photos.

Party-goers took home gift bags filled with snacks and a map of picnic spots around Hong Kong chosen by the couple. They were also invited to take home the flowers and candles - and even the plates and glasses.

Candice designed her own wedding gown for the ceremony and changed into an Oscar de la Renta number for the banquet, while Leonard wore a bespoke suit at the church and a tuxedo in the evening.

The couple met nine years ago while they were studying at New York's Syracuse University, and started dating a year later.

Candice was attracted to Leonard's knack of always having a surprise up his sleeve.

At their wedding banquet, he surprised her with a sing-along he had arranged with 50 of their friends and relatives.

Last year on June 21, exactly seven years after they started dating, Leonard proposed and pulled off a hat-trick of surprises.

Candice thought they were going on a trip to celebrate the anniversary but was taken to the Grand Hyatt's Poolhouse. Leonard said he needed advice about a corporate event he was organising.

When she got there, Candice saw eight photographs Leonard had taken of them over the years hanging on the walls, each captioned with a poem Leonard had written. The last photo was of a ring box. Leonard then got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.

That night, Leonard threw a surprise engagement party, which he had concealed as a charity event, to surprise his and Candice's friends and relatives. After the extravaganza, they jetted off to Mauritius for a holiday. Candice had no idea where they were going until they checked in at the airport.

Although they had known each other for a year before they started dating, they both had feelings for each other from early on.

'Honestly, I knew that she was my dream girl well before we started dating,' Leonard said. 'Candice is a sweet girl - obviously beautiful on the outside, but when you get to know her, she is even lovelier on the inside. I love her dedication to whatever she does and her carefree character. Her genuine modesty wins everyone's heart.'

Candice said: 'I knew Leonard was perfect for me even on our first date because everything with us just flows so naturally, and I can totally be myself around him. I love his spontaneous personality. He's always up to doing whatever, and always full of surprises. But most importantly it's his selflessness and the way he treats the people around him with such sincerity.'

The couple recently returned from a honeymoon island-hopping in French Polynesia.