Sunday, June 27, 2010

Exclusive Wedding Packages

Determined to open up a whole new market for destination weddings, the team behind The Wedding Planners have worked hard on negotiating some pretty great deals exclusively for our clients within the Indochina region.

Some of the packages that we have negotiated for are also suitable for wedding photographers who wish to take their clients on a photography journey that oozes of old world charm, historical architectures, magnificent natural beauty and cultural heritages.

Whilst Bali is still top on my number one list (and I AM BIASED about this - you all know why), Indochina offers plenty of stunning backdrop for your celebration or portraiture alike. Having been in this business for a decade or so and specializing in destination weddings at that, we are keen to recommend clients to take the roads less traveled a la Journeys For Two style :) How many of you have taken that journey to Ninh Van Bay and watch the yolk of a sun set beyond the horizons? Or how many of you have experienced a floating bar right in the middle of the ocean in Nha Trang? That's what we're talking about, people!

To top it off - these packages are offered at luxurious five star resorts - most of who are award-winning - so you know you are in good hands.

It is after all - YOUR wedding. Why not luxuriate in it and give yourself the best?

For more information regarding all our packages, follow us on Facebook here or email us at

Friday, June 18, 2010

Be Nice !

Its hard to believe but very true, if you be nice to people, people will be nice to you. It works between wedding planners vs couples vs vendors vs banquet staff. A little courtesy goes a long way.

We unfortunately encounter too many rude clients who think that when they pay you .. you are their slave and they can be rude to you. Trust us, not every wedding vendor out there is out to get you and cheat you of your money. Be nice and you will find it easier to get things done.

The next time you meet your wedding planner during their off day/ lunch time/ dinner time be sure to just ask if they've eaten or would they like a drink. Don't you think that little soft touch will help you negotiate price better ?

Since we're on the "nice" issue ...

I am truly honored to have really good industry friends, friends who you know will be there for you no matter what. But this friendship was unfortunately put to an unnecessary test with a mutual client of ours.

A client who I feel wanted to change the design of her gown (after the gown has been made) decided to point out faults with the original gown in hopes of getting the designer to re-do the gown. The remarks and comments made by the family were utterly unprofessional, unnecessary and was in bad taste. The designer held his temper, held his composure and agreed with their demands and it was all for the sake of friendship.

I didn't know where to hide my face because I was speechless that the only reason he agreed to her ridiculous terms was because he was a good friend. I told him to ask them to "fly kite" but he wanted to be the more professional one.

In this situation, if she asked nicely and admitted her mistake he would be more willing to help the situation rather than be forced into the situation.

Another interesting story is a story of invitation cards .... You see to print invitation cards, you pick the colour, the design , the text. You see the design on screen, you check the spelling, you check the design. Then your designer would print a PROOF for you to physical hold/touch/see. Proofs are exactly what the word means PROOF. You are to read carefully, check contentedly and approve willingly - your proof. Once you say GO ! the card gets printed, envelopes get cut and ribbons get tied. After you've received the cards, if there are discrepancies in the text / colour / design which were NOT on the proof ... then its your printers fault. If the discrepancies were on the original text/ colour/ design .. Guess what -- YOU are at fault.

No one to blame but yourself. You checked the spelling, you checked the colour, you checked everything. Once you say go , it should be printed AS PER the proof ! Why do couples, instead of admitting their fault, immediately pick up the phone and tells the printer/ wedding planner "it's your fault, re do it for free". If you were to admit your mistake and ask for her help instead of screaming at your printer/ wedding planner your results would be much more pleasant and they would try to find ways to resolve the issue with minimal costs.

All in all .. Be Nice ! Nice will take you a long way

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Price To Pay

Recently, we had an enquiry for a wedding in Cambodia from an Australian-born Cambodian. She wishes to come home to her roots to tie the marital knot. After an exchange of about 5 - 6 emails, she finally came back saying that our fees were too expensive and that she will find a way to plan her own wedding (and as Leticia rightly put it - very ambitious).

Needless to say, I was a little cheesed-off. In this time and day, people are still not finding it in their mental abilities to respect and value the service industry. Admittedly, the local market in Indochina (TWP is only active in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos), particularly in Cambodia lacks the exposure and understanding of the value of service, I had assumed that someone who was born and bred in Australia would certainly appreciate paying a professional fee to a service provider.

I emailed back, trying to seek an understanding as to what she constituted as "cheap" and what were her expectations should it be "cheap" - and asked if she understood that our fees were paid for an entire team to handle her wedding and not as a person's starting salary per month. Today is four days later from the day I sent that email. I guess, she didn't take to my email very well.

I believe this issue doesn't just affect us here in Indochina (although, I would say, more so than elsewhere). Our businesses in Malaysia suffer the same problems - of clients who deem a particular service "too expensive".  I do have some questions, and I hope some of the wise-ones out there could enlighten us.

1) What do clients expect when they pay for "cheap" services?
2) How much would one actually be willing to pay for the services of a professional? Whether it be wedding planner, photographer, designer, etc?

For some reason, particularly that of those providing intangible services - clients seem to put in a cheaper value - even though our workscope probably doubles most of the other service providers. No offence to photographers (and I do highly respect and appreciate your creativity and skills as I have no photography talent whatsoever!) - but do you really think your hired photographer would be helping you make sure your cake is arriving on time? Or do you think your gown designer would be helping you tie your chair sashes x 300 chairs? Or do you think your florist is going to ensure you are ordering the correct amount of wines for the occasion? Point made.

You know, I once went into a salon and saw that the price for the 'Creative Director' to cut my hair was "starting from RM155" so I decided to go for the mid-cheaper range - the Junior Stylist instead "starting from RM50". I hated my hair cut that day. Firstly, he talked more than he styled. And then, it was just soooo s-l-o-o-o-w.... I mean, granted, I didn't look like a cat out from the dryer, but all in all, it wasn't a very pleasant experience for me. But did I make a big hoo-ha about it? No, I didn't. Why? Because I understood fully - the risk I was taking - when I wanted to be a cheapskate and only paid for a Junior Stylist. (By the way, henceforth, it was always Senior Stylist and above for me!!).

I mean - would you actually go to a hair salon and demand the 'Creative Director' style your hair for the fee of a Junior Stylist? Or would you pay the Junior Stylist and demand he/she style your hair as a 'Creative Director' would?

Once again - Point Made.

** Photo of wedding by The Photoz

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Handling Guests

As a wedding planner I am always amazed at how inconsiderate guests can be. I've organized a wedding where the guest list was limited because of the venue so the bride carefully picked her closest friends to share in the joy. You would think that these are the true friends who are here to celebrate with the couple.. Lo and behold during the wedding dinner the same "true" friends are bitching about her gown, her "goldfish" snatch, her everything. What is the point then to spend money of people who are superficial.

Inconsiderate in another sense are guests/ family who insist that the couple pick them up from the hotel/ airport/ shopping mall. Or guests who cancel or add on at the last minute. Or guests who complain about the heat/ mosquitoes/ food. People !! The wedding is about the couple. Would you please refrain from spoiling their big day ?

As a bride, I am only inviting my "true" friends (I hope) to the wedding. I'm being a bit anal about giving all my guests all the info they need to enjoy themselves. The one thing I hate is for people to be standing at the side of the road trying to decide what to do for the day or wondering what time is the wedding. I've already warned my guests (yes warned - they are suppose to be my "true" friends after all) that if they have any queries ask now and not during ... yes  DURING the wedding, I'm the bride and I'm the queen, and you will deal with my wedding planner. Yes even the wedding planner needs a wedding planner.

Who doesn't ? Do you really want to be worrying about the flowers , the decor, the food on your big day? You want to be drinking champagne, lounging by the pool and chilling with your mates. Anyone who thinks of planning their wedding without a planner is really ambitious.

** Photo of wedding by See Toh Kok Hoe

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Wedding Planner's Wedding - Part 2

I had written all about my wedding on my own personal blog. You can view it here. To elaborate, I agree with Leticia - people expect your wedding to be a WOW factor simply because you're a wedding planner. That a wedding planner's wedding would be like - Princess D and Prince Charles and all that jazz. I think different strokes for different folks, people.

I feel sometimes, people forget that a wedding is not about other people, but it is about you as a couple, celebrating your union together with people who are important in your lives. Unfortunately, in our Asian society, a wedding is a showcase, or rather, an "announcement" that is necessary to make. Especially with our parents. Which is why, I usually recommend to my clients to have another separate intimate wedding that reflects their personalities and one more to keep the parents' happy. Like me - I went for THREE receptions - one for ourselves in Bali where we fell in love, one for my beloved Grandma back in the kampung and one for our parents in KL.

Some may say - one wedding is bad enough, but THREE??! Trust me, it was really quite enjoyable for us. Except the tiring flights back and forth since I am based within the Indochina market. Other than that, once you learn to 'let go' and say "I'm going to have a great time, come what may," - you'll realise that everything simply falls into place.

I've seen many a clients who walked down the aisle with a look of intense stress because they are afraid of not playing the role of a good host well, they are worried the decor didn't impress the guests, they are worried the guests are not liking the menu, etc. For me and my other half, I was only worried about timing our walk so that I reached the end of the aisle right on the chorus :)  Having said that - I had a team working behind the scenes to make all three of my receptions run like clockwork - and all I had to do was just be a bride(zilla). Not just because I am a wedding planner, but I seriously, recommend a wedding planner - even to wedding planners themselves!

Sure, in the process, I've had my fair share of emotional blackmail and family pressure to make the wedding a "grand" one. I did give in some, but I've had to threaten to call off the wedding a number of times - and I knew my Dad would rather starve than to have me continue my single-dom - so that helped in getting my way a bit. And when I decided to omit all children from the wedding in Bali, I was told I was being extremely over-the-top bitchy, but you know what? Firstly, it is my wedding and secondly, if you were a good friend to me and knew me well enough to celebrate my wedding day with me - you would understand why this is so important to me! And if you don't understand that point - then, I'm afraid..... you know.

So as Leticia says - wedding planners are still normal human beings getting married. But deciding on what to do and how you do it - is probably what differentiates us from the rest - because through years of experience, we have seen what our clients go through and we may not want to go through the same shite.

Once, I was handling this wedding and the client put me at a table together with some of her "BFFs" for dinner. I was really quite appalled - because these catty girls started bitching about the entire wedding! From the bride's gown to the theme colour to the favours, to the music! Here's a thought : Are these the types of "friends" you actually want celebrating with you on your wedding day?  

Leticia is planning for her wedding this coming 10th of the 10th of the 10th. Actually, she was already planning for her wedding before I had my wedding! Knowing Leticia, her wedding will be very beautiful too. Whilst I was a bridezilla in my "I-want-it-Simple-Simple-Simple" ways, Leticia is a bridezilla in her own ways (Kris Wong will vouch for that!!). And I am still sore that she made me write the excerpt for the lighting of the unity candle for her (and I wrote it oh-so-beautifully that her parents thought I was a good Christian girl) and yet - I am not allowed to read it at her wedding :P

**Bali Wedding Photo taken by Yeh Poh Chung of Wondrous Vision

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

At One With Nature - Go Wild

Saw this interesting contest ... Bound to get interesting submissions. You should see Eileen's VERY unconventional pre wedding photos , she would win hands down !! For those who are interested to participate in this contest drop by The Olive Branch

The Wedding Planners

Now when Eileen and I were talking (yes one of our lover’s talk) about weddings , how tired we were and how we wanted to retire in luxury. The conversation quickly went to the wedding industry , then to how when we first started 9 -10 years ago we were the only wedding planners in town and now there are more and more sprouting out. We decided we needed a change of scenery and then the idea for The Wedding Planners, Cambodia came up (and our idea of retiring and being tired of the industry went down the drain).
Starting up in Cambodia has been challenging, come this August we are 1 year old and its been a really exciting year. The local wedding community in Cambodia had to be educated on our style of weddings, but the luxury market has proved to be supportive in our efforts.
Our next step (yes retiring has definitely been buried) is to expand throughout the Indochina region. Now one will say why Indochina? But to us we need the challenge, planning destination and ballroom weddings are great but predictable. We want the unknown, it may slap us in the face but I believe with out perseverance we should at least reap some seeds if not fruits.

**TWP Launch Photo taken by Bonnie Yap

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Wedding Planners Wedding

So a wedding planner’s wedding is supposed to be easy, fast and “oh my god, da-bomb” ? A client of mine told me .. As soon as your fiancĂ© proposed did you whip out your full proposal on the spot with the program, colour scheme and all ?

No its not like that. The wedding planner gets just as much nonsense from family, just as much headache from vendors and just as much anxiety as every other bride.

Worse in fact, because its YOUR once in a lifetime and everyone wants to see what you can do and if you can do it better.

I told myself I will not use my wedding as a marketing tool, but someone told me even if you don’t your vendors will. So let’s share with you my problems. I’m lucky as my fiancĂ© is very supportive of my decisions and by supportive - it means I pick he pays. Hahaha. But there are some issues that just cannot be avoided. If you asked me, the small intimate wedding is the way to go but because of the sheer number of people we know jointly , the small affair is only the beginning.

So the question now is to give and take, but how much giving is too much? And how to diplomatically handle family issues without setting a precedent.

The Association of Wedding Professionals

The association was an idea over coffee at Starbucks . An idea by Eileen and myself to create a governing body to give wedding couples a secured platform in which they can get trustworthy vendors for their party of a lifetime - the big Wedding.

From that day, it took us 2 years before actually lifting it off (we did not anticipate the amount of red tape, paperwork, babysitting and convincing it took to get everything together) and now the association ( is turning 2 years old and we are proud to say we have achieved many things.

At least there are couple's that know us and there are vendors that believe in our cause. Look out in July and you'll see AWP in an entirely new light.

But let me be the first to say, it has been one hell of a journey and the amount of work involved in the association you will never think its worth it. It is like running a company without the perks of being actually paid ! If i knew that it was going to be so much baby sitting would I so gallantly propose the idea ? Yes unfortunately we're suckers for pain.

Because its our blood, sweat and tears put into this non profit baby we will stick by him/her till the end. So even if the actual working horses are just a handful of people (and the rest only wants ride on the wagon) so be it. The horses will keep everything running .

For the wedding vendors, its always been a wait and see approach. The only way to increase membership so far is to dangle the right carrot in front of them. We've only managed to increase our membership through highly publicize events, which to AWP has always been our secret weapon, being events based Eileen & myself have almost 20+ years (ok let's not give you an exact number of years for those who know how to count) in the advertising and events line, having events that shouts about AWP , give members due credit and boosts the association (which in turns boosts the members) image is the only way to go .

Happy to say to everyone who is waiting and seeing - The bandwagon is leaving, hop on before you find yourself left behind .