Thursday, August 26, 2010

Memory Lane

To montage or not to montage. That is the question. Well 10 out of 10 weddings have childhood montages and you may love seeing your adorable baby photos, dating photos and pre-wedding photos over and over again but trust me, only another 6 people out of your 500 pax guest list are truly interested.

Childhood montages are a bit overdone; if you are intending to do it, perhaps think about merging the montage into one. Not too many photos, not too long a slideshow and not too cheesy. Preferably add in captions of where this photo was taken, when was it taken, etc..It gives guests a chance to relate to you.

So for my wedding - in my mind, yes I think I was a cute baby. But apparently my fiancĂ© thinks he is super cute and definitely wants to show off his baby fats (not current fat). So.."To montage or not to montage”.

I have to admit, looking through old albums, walking down memory lane with mum was a treat. You get to see your mum in the shortest (OMG) mini skirts and in a totally new light. You get to see the fun times, the people we miss and the moments you can never get back.

So do I want to share this moment with every one of my 800 guests? Half of whom I have not met before? Well, yes and no. Many options were thrown into the pool from stationary designers, fashion designers, wedding planners, friends and family and what did I decide to do in the end?

My super spicy wedding planner (she’s petite but a real chili padi) came up with a cost effective and to me, was a cute idea. A pin up registration board for guests to write messages and wishes, that had scattered baby photos of us. The sketch she showed me was a lovely idea.

Find an interesting way to showcase your photos and to connect with your guests, no matter how large a guest list you have. It will show that you have put your personal touches into your wedding. Or go with the montage idea but remember not everyone can spot the kid with braces in a group shot.

Pace Yourself

Your wedding is 2 years away; you think you have plenty of time. So much can happen in 2 years - my taste and choices are a vast ocean of opportunities.

Your wedding is 1 year away; you realize there are couples even faster than you and your option list starts getting shorter. Wedding planners, venues, photographers, makeup artists are getting booked up.

Your wedding is 6 months away; you finally start getting your act together and think … maybe, just maybe you should start doing something for the wedding.

Your wedding is 4 months away, after 2 months of doing nothing you think maybe I should get a wedding planner and handover all the headache to them….

As a wedding planner, we have been getting our fair share of 4-month-planning couples that have not booked anything for their wedding. Some have gotten the venue booked; some have gotten the theme colors sorted out but most of them have not even secured the venue! As a wedding planner, I’m telling you it's not going to be a fun journey planning your wedding at such short notice. Decisions have to be made instantly and your daily conversations just become wedding-infused.

As a bride, I was happy with the progress of my own wedding plans, but then again, I booked my photographer and venue 2 years ago ☺. Ok, maybe that’s the wedding planner in me talking. But at barely 2 months to go to the big day, I’m still a little stressed out with the list of to do's still on my plate.

If you ask any of my friends in the wedding industry or not in the industry, they will tell you that I’m a bride-zilla [Eileen : I agree] and I am anal about everything which means my to-do list will not be the average bride’s to-do list.

But for couples that are planning their wedding, it’s the journey. It has always been about the journey, the experience you get when you plan your wedding together. How you got there, why you chose the venue, why you chose the flowers. It’s the decision you make as a couple that helps you bond and understand each other better.

Enjoy your planning process, don’t rush it, don’t get irritated by it, have fun with it. My fiancĂ© and I spent last night looking thru old music cds, friends’ requests and our personal selection to get the right blend of music for the night. It wasn’t what music we choose but the laughter, the impromptu karaoke and the memories that came back. That is what wedding planning should be all about.

It was a good release from the family pressures, financial crisis and overall planning stress - just to sit down with a good cup of tea and listen to good music.

If you want to have a nice wedding planning journey, pace yourself. Plan your deadlines and to-do's (if you don’t have a wedding planner), follow your wedding planner's guidelines and deadlines (if you have a wedding planner) and you will find yourself enjoying your wedding planning experience.

Trust Me.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two Ends Of The Extremes

Today is my 1st year wedding anniversary. Is it a milestone? I think it is. Of course, I know, the journey had just only began. Living as a married couple - as we all know, means a lot of give and take and mutual understanding and compromises. But I'm not about to go into all the "Tricks Of Making A Marriage Last" as I am no expert (although - I can offer this to those whose husbands are football fans - always ask for something when he is watching football :P).

This time last year, I was enjoying the glorious day that was my wedding - together with my other half. This year, I sit back and watch in glee as my partner-in-crime - Leticia gets ready for her wedding - which is just around the corner. Of course, given my position now as a 'guest' - I can tease her endlessly and laugh at her predicaments. Ok, ok. In all fairness, I also did offer my help (still sore that I am not doing that reading!!!).

You see, Leticia and I are really two ends of the extreme. She had been planning her wedding since she was a little girl, playing with her Barbie and Ken while I never thought of a wedding even after the proposal! When we had a dinner gathering last week, I was told that I lost hands-down in terms of over-the-top wedding demands. *grin*. Whilst I had threw tantrums in keeping my wedding as simple as possible (and guests list as small as possible : read post here), she's been driving industry friends nuts with her bridezilla demands. We were told right from the beginning that we could slap her if she became bridezilla - but you know what? We couldn't and we wouldn't because we love her. Just as most of our friends from the industry let me have some of my way for my wedding, we will let her have hers :) I can remember a time when Kris slapped me for requesting for a sarong as my wedding dress.... now he's slapping Leticia for the 7-layered wedding gown (or was it 8-layers??) which he's supposed to be lugging along for her to Bali :) :)

As close friends and being in the industry as well, when we are invited to weddings - we do get all excited and we try to be really supportive by going all out in the theme and making our arrangements and planning surprises (which is so difficult because some people keep letting the cat slip out of the bag!!). Me? Believe it or not - I even went to make myself a dress with Kris for Leticia's Bali wedding as I wanted to be in the correct theme (and I know I am not the only one!)

For us - who are planning that trip to Leticia's wedding in Bali - transport arrangements - Check! Accommodations arrangements - Check! Makan-makan itinerary - Check! Spa sessions - Check! Time for our own "getting ready for the wedding" - Check! Destination weddings are usually great fun for the guests as well because it is an excuse for the guests to go on a holiday too. And trust us to have our own fun ;)

For Leticia - and all the other brides out there with weddings around the corner, as we always preach - the wedding is about YOU. So what if Kris misses a spa appointment? Right? Or if I want to cancel my accommodation at Villa Diana? (Your wedding planner will take care of this, right???) Or if someone wants beef on the menu?? Hard luck. It's your day and don't side track from that.

ENJOY YOUR DAY and bask in the glow of love as all of your family and friends celebrate with you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pre wedding photos

I initially did not want to take pre-wedding photos because I thought that photos on D-Day would be more meaningful. At least I would get to wear my wedding gown just once, with all the hair, accessories, the full blown attire once.. which would make it even more meaningful.

Also I wanted the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride in the gown until she walks down the aisle. But thanks to Eileen, I was sucked into the glory of pre-wedding photos!

And a week after my session, I would have to say --- THANKS, EILEEN!! I DID IT! Well, if we are going to do it, do it right :) So admittedly, I went a bit overboard (a bit is understating it). My back seat and car boot was filled with "stuff" i had to bring to the venue. I had 5 different attires, shoes to match, accessories to adorn and a box full of props.

We started at 6am - yes 6am, and ended at 8pm!! No kidding!! The weather was merciful, the team was fantastic (Cindy of Beauty Haven for makeup & hair, Eddie Lee for videos, Yeh of Wondrous Vision for photos, Anies from Garden Fairies for flowers, Debra from The Olive Branch for venue)  and it made my experience from the other side of the fence (i always help setup the scene but not BE in the scene) fantabulous.

We really had a great time - as there were lots of laughter, jokes, Bollywood-scenes of us running around and even deep-water diving!! The venue - Garden Fairies - THE perfect venue for photos because we had all the picture-perfect elements -  water, white picket fences, tree houses and nature in all its wonder. We even took photos in the loo! That was how gorgeous the place was.

With the photography session, I took it as an opportunity to test out my shoes, gown and accessories to see what would work and what would not in real-life weather. And good thing i did too because I am now an expert in flipping my wedding gown skirt.

For us, having the right group of friends with us is very important and with the right synergy, the right team of people made the session a whole lot of fun. With the experts at hand - I am proud to say that i entrusted our team entirely with everything -- meaning i didn't look in the mirror to check my hair & makeup, i didn't check and recheck Yeh's photos and i told Anies to weave her magic and do what needs to be done with my bouquet.

Trust the experts you get because they DO know what's best for you. What's the point in engaging their services if you need to check and recheck whatever you need?

A preview of the photos just confirmed that it was all worth it.

Relax -- Just Do It

Every now and then, everyone gets too caught up in the "showing of face", the show-off status and the need to please and they forget what it is all about. A wedding is one of the most important party you can ever throw in your life but the numero uno thing the wedding is about is.... it is about YOU.

Amidst choosing flowers, gowns, picking out earrings and shoes, don't take your other half for granted. The wedding is a celebration of the two of you and how it has brought both of you together. There is absolutely no point in going through the planning, the wedding and later on in the marriage, screaming your heads off at each other.

With my recent wedding plans, the last few months have become a bit hectic - what with me being a bit anxious since the wedding is just around the corner and with workload ever increasing. My fiance and I decided to take a short holiday away to be alone. Away from the guest lists, away from the politically-correct decisions, away from the societal bitching basically. And the weekend retreat to our favourite local destination -- PENANG!!

It was a good retreat, a good chance to take a step back and know that this is about us and not about everyone else. What did we do on our retreat ... among other things was to go for our favourite beach massage spot on Feringghi with the infamous Foo Family.

Remember its about the both of you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Who Should We Invite?

We often face this dillemma when planning our clients' weddings - in fact, even our own wedding. The dreaded invitation list. Naturally, there's always the if-i-invite-her-i-have-to-invite-her-as-well problem. Or else it is the if-i-don't-invite-him-he-would-get-offended problem. Much worse - the parents' extreme long list of friends and families - granted that they DO have way many more years ahead of the couple.

There is actually no hard and fast rule about who you should or shouldn't invite to your wedding. Some of our clients choose to do separate weddings to cater to separate guests - usually, it is one for the family and one for themselves with close friends (and usually, this one is a destination one!).

When I was planning the invite list with my hubby for our wedding in Bali, it was crucial that we kept the list small as my husband and I wanted to keep the party as intimate as possible. We never started with a huge list because all we did was worked around the following basic questions : 

1) Who do I most want to celebrate this special occasion with?
Ans : Immediate and close family members and friends whom we miss / will miss when we don't see them

2) When I look back at the wedding album, do I really want to see photos of people I don't really know (or care about) at a celebration of one of the milestones of my life?
Ans : No. I don't really want to see photos of people I am not really familiar with or photos of people who would not be jogging good memories when I flip open my wedding album 20 years down the road (well, granted that sometimes, the friendship may go awry after the wedding too)

3)  I don't really want my boss around at this party. Would he be offended?
Ans : Refer to answer for Question 2

4) Do I need to invite business associates / colleagues?
Ans : Only if they are also friends and not just business associates / colleagues - who would be happy for us and our celebration and who would not bitch about the wedding

5) So-and-so has requested to bring his girlfriend. Do I allow that?
Ans : If so-and-so is a really, really close friend / best friend / childhood friend, then a +1 would be fine. (like the time my best friend, Kah Mun got married and she said I could bring a +1, and I ended marrying THAT +1) 

The questions may sound heartless, not politically correct, rude to some even - but at least - it gave us a focus and most importantly, it put things into perspective for us. Let's put it this way - I knew that as families, close friends or best friends or good friends - they would understand when we impose such strict "guest rules" to our invitation (no kids, no unnecessary +1, etc...) and they would be willing to come just because they really do want to be there with you on your special day.

We were one of the lucky ones though - to be able to cater to three separate groups of guests, and some close friends / families who missed us at one reception could opt to come along for the next reception - it does not make them less important. At least we have photos of them in our wedding album :)

So next time, when you do fret over your invitation list - we hope that the above list of basic questions would come in handy. But as always - what works for some, may not work for others.

Have fun planning your wedding!

** Photo of wedding stationery by Kid Chan Studios

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Ticket For The Cake?

Throughout the course of planning our clients' weddings, we have - a fair few times - had to transport the cake from a local destination to the wedding destination or vice-versa. We're not talking about cake transportation within the same locale. We're talking about inter-state and inter-country transportation.

As wedding planners, we always tell clients that there is a risk in transporting the wedding cakes, whether it be by land or by flight. I mean - anything can happen during the journey - like the time we had to travel 9 hours by car to the wedding destination and all of us had one box of cupcakes on our laps each - and we nearly got into a very bad accident (thanks to the quick reflexes of the driver - Edmund Tham - we are still alive - and the cupcakes were intact.) You can imagine the stress for the planners when the first question asked after the brush with near-death wasn't "Is everyone alright?" but instead "Check the cakes!!!!"
What about the time the fabulous sugee cake from Angelina was flown-in from KL to Phnom Penh? A very stressful flight indeed. Luckily, the flight wasn't full and the cake had a seat of its own. Still, it requires the planner(s) to check on the cake every few minutes - if only just for our own peace of mind.

At the end of the day - is it worth it, though?

The wedding cake plays a symbolical role in all weddings. A tradition dating back to the ancient Roman empire, the modern wedding cake now plays a role in symbolizing the couple's first task together as man and wife when the bride cuts into the cake, aided by the groom. The gesture of feeding the cake to each other is another symbol of their commitment to provide for each other.

With destination weddings being a more intimate celebration - couples are able to spend on a cake which will be served to all their guests at the reception as opposed to the 1,000 pax banquet in town (one would need an extremely large cake to serve!). As such, the trend has become more and more popular for brides and grooms alike to choose and select their cake with the same gusto as they would their decor.

Many a couples - mostly brides :) - would already have their favourite cake (comfort food) in mind and therefore, come what may, they want THAT cake and THAT particular cake-maker and they are willing to go to the extend of transporting the wedding cake from destination to destination. Hey - it is after all your wedding, you know :) But bear in mind - there are risks! (read above :P)

As for me - I can be pretty fussy when it comes to cakes that goes into my tummy and I do have a selection of my favourite cakes, but I did not want the stress of cake transportation - considering that the route for me was Phnom Penh - KL - Bali. And because I did not want my wedding to feel like "work" to me, I left the cake and cake design in the good hands of the pastry chef from Kayumanis Nusa Dua. I told them "Surprise Me." I'm sure they were under slight duress too. But hey - it's my wedding. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Leticia will also be having her wedding in Bali this coming October and she isn't going to have any of that cake-transportation stress either. In fact - she's already done her cake-tasting when I had my wedding last year :) So we know the cake WILL be good. (Tip : If you do not want to fly your wedding cake anywhere - be sure to check out what is available locally and do a round of tastings - there will  bound to be something that will appease your cake-buds).

However - recently, right here in Phnom Penh, I've had the privilege to get to know a renowned pastry chef from Honolulu, Hawai'i - Chef Leigh Ann Seto (whom I simply call - "Chef"). Chef has more than 20 years experience as a pastry chef spanning across Asia as well as back in her home country. Some of the well-known chains she has worked for included the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, Hard Rock Hotel Bali, The Kahala Hotel & Resort in Hawai'i and the Grand Wailea Resort, Maui (which hosts an average of four weddings per day! And kept Chef super-busy).

Her cakes? For a cake fanatic like myself - they are to-die-for - especially her Devil's Chocolate Cake (real chocolate with a hint of peanut butter!). Trust me - IF I had known Chef earlier - this cake together with whatever designs she's creating (Chef's experiences with weddings in Hawai'i has also helped Chef create magnificent designs for wedding cakes) - would be MY wedding cake. I wouldn't care if I am doing the PP-KL-Bali route. The cake WILL come with me and the cake WILL have a seat of its own. It is what I call a slice of heaven. Particularly so when chocolate is Chef's favourite ingredient to use and I am every bit a chocolate chick.

And she's right here in Cambodia. Any orders? :) And oh - if you're going to be asking for cakes with "grand staircases" or cakes with "standing tiers" - Chef will knock you on the head.

** Photo of Wedding Cupcakes provided by La Flaire / Photography by Arden Khoo