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Past the red carpet, past the ballerinas and foie gras, an army of videographers massed to catch on giant screens every moment of Joseph and Michelle Fung’s wedding reception. Held at the convention centre, the July 5 party, one of the city’s most over-the-top affairs, drew nearly 1,200, including local VIPs like Rick Hansen, Gregor Robertson, and Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie. From across the water came Lee Shau Kee (worth US$21 billion, according to Forbes), Trade Development Council chief Jack So, and actress Gigi Lai.
Towering orchids and hydrangeas adorned the tables; macarons and chocolates flown in from Shanghai were at each setting. For dessert, the Fung family’s Saint Germain Bakery made mini replicas of the wedding cake.
The affair was as much a coming-of-age party for Joseph, 33, as a wedding, a golden introduction to his father’s vast, highly influential business network. Thomas Fung, founder and CEO of Fairchild Group, a media and shopping-mall empire worth an estimated $400 million, has long been grooming his son for the family business. But first, he needed to be certain Joseph — who speaks seven languages — measured up. As he said in his forthright wedding speech, the Fungs don’t tolerate spoiled brats. The Maseratis and five-star hotels come when you earn them. “I have to admit that Joseph, my only child, was born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” Thomas told the crowd, many of them no stranger to sterling. “I worried about that, and I tried very hard not to raise a parasite.”
If Joseph hadn’t been a suitable heir, the wedding would have been dialled down a few hundred thousand, says Thomas later in a restaurant inside Aberdeen Centre, which he owns. As is, he figures he spent just under $800,000 on the banquet. “We were going to do a small wedding, but then I thought this might be a good opportunity to introduce him to my associates and future potential partners,” he says, “because I could see that he could handle the follow-ups by himself.”
The mogul was involved in every detail, including the seating, which proved a headache because so many guests asked to be placed next to (or away from ) someone. It took until 3 a.m. one night to sort out.
Not everything turned out. Thomas had wanted a big-name singer, but Diana Krall’s fee for two or three songs was around $100,000. Joseph wanted to release 1,000 balloons into the evening sky for his 25-year-old bride, but authorities worried they might prove an air traffic hazard. With some last-minute wrangling, Thomas hired a fireworks company to produce a display over the harbour that confused a great many West End residents that night.
Inside the gigantic hall, however, there was nothing but oohing and aahing. “A few girls cried because it was so romantic,” says Thomas, looking triumphant. “They were hoping their boyfriends would do something similar for them.” They can dream.