Thursday, December 30, 2010
Looking back on 2010, it has been a year of utter turbulence. There was pain, tears, disappointment and regrets sprinkled with plenty of laughter, lots of love and loads of kissing.
2010 was a year of challenges for me, it was a year where God has tested my faith, family has tested my loyalty and friends have tested my patience. Hopefully through the tunnel of 2011- there will be light. You cannot help but wonder, whether a time for change has come - A big change.
Of course not all is lost, someone asked me how my life has changed after getting married, well I can honestly tell you that; Life Is Great! We are like two school kids who have just fallen in love, after 18 years and we still have so many things to laugh about, so many things to plan together, it is truly amazing. I feel more loved and in love than before I got married.
It will be Events Wizard 10th Anniversary on the 11/01/11 and the new beginning for our wedding division, we hope this will turn our luck around and give us a breath of fresh air.
I have held many roles through these 10 years and let me share with you my opinions of each hat I’ve worn.
As a Wedding Planner
You get the pleasure of making someone’s perfect day even more perfect and that IS truly fulfilling. There are times when you wonder why you are in this business, but you keep marching on and you know it’s for the better.
Being a wedding planner, you are the backstage manager, the go-to person, the confidante, the mediator, the butler and the shoulder to cry on. There is so much nitty gritty work involved that I honestly do not know how can one plan a wedding without a wedding planner!
As a Wedding Guest
You get to feel how your guest feel and see what your guest sees. You know you get irritated when they stop the food too long because of speeches. You know that you don’t really enjoy seating and sharing food with guests you just met. And you know that although the bride has painstakingly tied every ribbon on every favor, no one really pays attention.
As a Heng Dai assistant
Yes I was a heng dai assistant for friend’s wedding, not really the heng dai but not really useless as well. The heng dai’s are just as blur as everyone else and not every heng dai is evil. Some are just there for a good time. For those who are evil to say the least, I believe that if you have signed yourself up as a heng dai be a good sport, don’t push the girls, don’t be a pain and don’t take the opportunity to molest the girls.
As a Bride
Being the bride is Da-Bomb! Haha. Well being the bride, you have a lot of pressure and stress from family, friends and unreasonable guests. But you are also the star of the show and you get to throw the party of your lifetime. You could command almost anything on that day and it will be done. Among the many things a bride must know, is that everything flies by too fast, so take time to enjoy your planning, enjoy the company and enjoy every other thing. This is your day… when else are you going to walk down the aisle and marry the person you love and you'll soon realize that you'll miss your wedding (i still do after 2.5 months), you wish you could re do it all over again.
As a Chi Mui
I was a chi mui last weekend to be exact and well, I’d rather be the bride. Being the chi mui involved planning, coordinating, scheming and preparing; and at 6.00 AM in the morning !! After that you were pushed around by hooligans, screamed at and molested. But, if you have signed up to be a chi mui, do it and do it right. Be there for the bride, help get things done and not just be a by stander.
Bottom-line ? Put yourself in everyone’s shoes, try to make the event as comfortable as possible for everyone and you’ll have a fantastic do.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
The back-to-work blues hit me pretty fast. The wedding was on a Saturday and by Monday, everything was back to normal – it was so surreal. What a reality slap to the face! I had hoped to live in La- La land for a little while longer, but work would not have it.
So sad as it was, we were plummeting into our work almost immediately, but we still had the final wedding bills, the tidying up of ‘family politics’ and the cleaning up of the house to keep us in the “wedding mood”.
I suppose, it was my fault for arranging the honeymoon right after our Bali reception because that would mean I already had all my fun. But my husband promises that we would have a 2nd honeymoon as soon we settle our housing loan.
But for now, it’s definitely back to work – after all, someone has to pay for the bills.
My cousin is getting married in December and it should be fun to see the wedding plans from the outside. This time I won’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty. I just need to worry about what to wear!
Photos by Jim Liaw Photography
Here’s a topic that’s boring to say the least, but a necessity beyond your believe. Logistics for KL were simple everyday needs that you would not think twice about, but it would have been chaos had we not planned it properly.
I stay in a condo, and like all condo security, guests have to register first before they are allowed to enter – so how the hell do you get 50 guests + 10 heng dais to register one-by-one without causing a massive delay? The normal procedure would be for the security to call up to the condo, walk the guest to the lift (because the lift lobby had a security pass) and escort the guest up. I could not see that happening during the heng dais arrival. So what we did was to pay the security chief an allowance and we gave him the guest list complete with car number plates.
All the guests had to do was go to the entrance, obtain a sticker and enter. Another security guard was on standby at the lift lobby to let the guests in. Can you imagine the chaos if we hadn’t done that?
Ensure that all your vendors, especially the early morning ones (makeup, photographer, videographer), all had your home phone numbers (in case your mobile phone is out of range), complete address and maps to the houses and venues. You don’t want to be standing at the side of the road waiting for your photographer to arrive.
Ensure that all the important people has a contact list of the bridal party, the important vendors and the important relatives so that in case of emergencies, everyone can be contacted without needing to disturb you (ha-ha). I didn’t even have my mobile phone with me throughout the day which was great; I just went with the flow and enjoyed not thinking of what to do next.
Bridal Car Needs:
You got your car decorated and everything is nice and waxed. But check to see if you have topped-up your Touch & Go, gas tank filled and have tissues in the car. Think as well to include a bottle of water with a straw in for your own rehydration on the way to the venue. How would you like to stop at the petrol station to get petrol on the way to the ‘zip san leung’? If possible, ensure that all your heng dais do the same.
Planning is essential.
Photos by Bonnie Yap Photography
Thursday, December 23, 2010
We’re not talking about money for the wedding; we’ve covered that already. You need loads of it… FULL STOP.
I’m talking about the money that floats around on your wedding day! There is so much loose cash moving everywhere that you need to have someone you trust to keep an eye for you.
At the tea ceremony, money is given out and taken in and jewelleries are flying out of their boxes. You need someone to safe-keep and keep tabs for you at all times. Amidst hugging, kissing and smiling, the last thing on your mind would be the safe-keeping of your stack of angpaus.
For the tea ceremony, we each had someone to pass us our angpaus and also to keep our angpaus. Our head chi mui and head heng dai was on duty and they did a good job keeping track of everything.
The only thing we forgot was to give an angpau to the chi mui and heng dais (ha-ha); they couldn’t be keeping the angpaus and giving it out themselves! But that was exactly the case during my party – we totally forgot to give them the “thank you angpau” so my head chi mui had to go round passing it to everyone.
For the dinner, we had aunts on both sides keeping count and taking note.
On the same note, please pick someone whom you not only trust for the guest registration but someone who will be there on time and on schedule to look after the table (at least 45 mins prior to the scheduled guest arrival time). Not someone who would be too busy dressing up or chatting with other guests or is more interested in the bar. You will definitely need someone who is willing to spare their time for that important task.
Money situations at the registration counter can become major family debacles so please ensure that negotiations have already taken place prior to avoid any misunderstandings on that day. Who gets to keep the money? Who is to take home the angpaus? Have everything sorted out before the big day, so that there no daggers flying around during your reception!
You will find that some guests rather give you or the parents the angpaus personally but please still have the angpaus passed to your assigned person. You don’t want to be losing your angpaus on the dance floor!
Photos by Bonnie Yap Photography
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The venue gives you the first impact, the décor wow’s you but it is the music that sets the mood. You need to pick the right music for the night to set the right mood.
My hubby and I took a few nights pouring into our CD collection to get the right compilation of music for the night – slideshows, ceremony, pre and post-ceremony, cocktails, during dinner, pre and post dinner party. It was a really long list.
Don’t take it as a chore – it was actually bonding time for the both of us, reminiscing about our school days right down to those special songs which really took us down memory lane.
In the end though, we didn’t get to use up all the music we chose but we did set the mood and scene – to our liking at least. It really all depends on your guests, your own taste in music and how all that will jive. Our taste in music is a mixture of oldies (think Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, The Pretenders, Elvis) to the 80’s (think Pet Shop Boys) to current Pop (Lady Gaga, Ku De Ta) so it was a vast range; we figured that at least there would be something for everyone!
We didn’t get a band for Bali as we decided to pop in the IPod and enjoy everyone’s company and I have to say I had no regrets. The music set the mood enough for everyone to move their butts to the music and jump into the pool; we even had a YMCA dance routine going on in the pool!
But for KL, we did the total opposite and again no regrets. It was just the setting and scene each created. It suited everyone and suited the guests. We had a Chinese orchestra during dinner, a jazz band for the after-party and a drum performance in the middle just for the heck of it. The guests of all levels were duly entertained throughout the night.
Photos by Jim Liaw Photography
Monday, December 20, 2010
If you have read my earlier blog post, you will know that one of my biggest regrets was that time flew by. And trust me, it did. So you need to document as much as you can. Invest in a good photographer and videographer to document everything. Take as many photos as you can and gather all the photos taken from friends. You will enjoy sweeping through all the CDs of wedding photos. In total – we collected close to 10,000 photos! Photos are all you have at the end of the day; it is all you have to point out all the little touches and sweet memories.
For important photos, make sure you do two things – Have someone who knows the important people (family, friends, bridal party) so that she/he can point out to the photographer who’s who so that no important shots are missed.
Then have a list of “must-have” photos so that you don’t miss out on the little stuff too. The photographer won’t know that you had your parents’ wedding band tied to your bouquet, or your initials embroidered under your skirt. Nor will he know that your dearest uncle flew all the way from the states just for your wedding and left the very next day.
Of course, the photographer may have their own style and may not want to take the straightforward, boring shots but have a list of your must-haves and insist on these shots for your own sanity (I’m basically talking about my sanity ☺). Here is a sample list for posed photos :
___ Bride alone (full length)
___ Bride with Maid of Honor
___ Bride with bridesmaids
___ Groom with bridesmaids
___ Bride with parents
___ Bride & Groom together
___ Bride & Groom with parents
___ Bride & Groom with families
___ Bride & Groom with entire wedding party
___ Bride & Groom with flower girl and ring bearer
___ Groom with parents
___ Groom with best man
___ Groom with groomsmen
___ Bride with groomsmen
Photograph everything, everyone and everywhere. You want to be able to share your greatest memories with your children and grandchildren!
On a separate note about photographers – admittedly, I went over-the-top. I got the top 3 photographers in KL to shoot my 3 separate events (pre-wedding, Bali and KL). I have to say that the characteristics of each photographer suited the both of us at the right time. Ok, let me explain a bit further. My Bali wedding being a tad more western, with all the glamorous setting and mood, Jim Liaw happened to be the perfect person and his style suited Bali to the tee, especially with his non-stop compliments which gave everyone the confidence boost they needed for fantastic photos.
In KL, being a party, it being so huge, with so much color, so many things happening and basically a controlled chaos, Bonnie Yap was the perfect photographer. Her personality shone in this situation, her styling, her ideas and she made everyone feel at ease – she even made the relatives kiss each other after the tea ceremony session!
So picking the right photographer, for the right event is the key to fantastic photos.
Photos by Jim Liaw Photography
Thursday, December 16, 2010
With so many people to choose from, how do you pick the right vendor for your wedding? Well you need to understand your theme / concept, your ideas and the overall look that you want to achieve. Then do some research of your own and check out vendors’ websites to see who has done a similar feel / idea / concept. Now make an appointment to meet up and be very upfront with your wants and needs. Most importantly, be honest about your budget.
From there you would be able to get a good proposal of ideas that will help you decide who is the right person for you. This works with any type of vendors, from florists to wedding planners to photographers to entertainers.
If you got all that and still do not know between vendor A or vendor B? Well, go with your gut feeling. To me, it is all about the relationship you can create. I wanted to have a good time planning my wedding and I didn’t want to be the phone call that all my vendors would shudder at nor did I want them to paint me a pretty picture when in fact everything has gone to the s***s.
But this is here is the next trick; you’ve picked your vendor (yes, make sure everything is in writing as per our previous blogpost) and therefore thou shall Trust In Your Vendor!!
Trust their judgment, trust their taste and trust that they only want what is best for you. Sometimes unforeseen things happen – “the shipment of peonies which got attacked by bugs and the next shipment won’t arrive on time” or “the ice carving broke into half on the way to the ballroom”. Trust that your vendor would still want to get the job done well, because their reputation is at stake too.
For me, the KL affair was a party like none other; with my vendors, I basically told them my overall concept, my theme colours and I left it as it is. For Anise (Garden Fairies), I went shopping with her one day, to buy some artificial berries, pots, vases and ribbons. I wanted her opinion and her judgment; at the time of buying, we had an idea of where it would be but not how it would be. I left that to Anise to create an Asian street, and trust me, she did. My KL affair - … think Shanghai bund, think Asian chic, think feathers and tight cheongsams.
My 3rd bridal bouquet (yes, she made me 3 bouquets – one for the morning, one for the mid- morning photography and one for my walk-in) was a creative masterpiece! It was uniquely Asian. For my bridal car, I just told her what make and model it would be and that was it. In the end, to suit my theme, she made my car look like an olden day “qi”, which made my in-laws very happy. Also no one could complain that the colour was not Chinese enough.
Another trick is to BE NICE. If you are nice to your vendors, if you trust them fully, you’ll be in for a sweet surprise. Time and time again, I get inside information (I’m a wedding planner you know) that vendors don’t mind going the extra mile for the couple, just because the couple was nice.
If you are a tart, you’ll be treated like one. Vendors will commit according to their contract but don’t expect more than that. Oh – do expect your phone calls to induce sour-puss faces on these vendors.
Moral of the story – Trust In Your Vendors.
Photos by Jim Liaw Photography
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Look, if you are getting a wedding planner, then you should go with your gut instinct- TRUST HER. If you can trust your initial judgment to hire her, you need to trust her throughout as she had been there for you throughout your planning process and for that – she will pull through for you on your wedding day.
I am the ultimate self-professed bridezilla. However, above all else, I wanted to enjoy my wedding. So when I handed over my wedding plans to Shirlyn, I trusted her and told her that although I’m a wedding planner myself, I trusted her and I left it to her to do what she thought would be right.
In every event, there will be bound to be the unexpected. But since your wedding planner has been your ‘wedding buddy’ for the past 4-12 months, you need to trust that she knows your tastes, your wants and your fears. Trust that in the event of “an unexpected” she will provide the right solutions to your best interest.
Apparently, there were so many ‘tiny’ issues on my wedding day (family, lost priest, forgotten lyrics) but I didn’t have any inkling whatsoever and if you asked me, I definitely did not want to know. So what if your cake is slightly tilted, so what if your flowers turned out redder than you would have liked, so what if the choir was singing the wrong version of the song. Your guests would never know the difference unless I decided to point it out myself!
I’ve read in so many articles that the day passes by very fast. As a wedding planner, I never felt that because my ankles, calves and my entire body was so tired by the end of the day I just felt like chopping off my legs and hanging them up for a rest. But as a bride, I totally get it now. Time flies. I remembered waking up and enjoying breakfast, remembered welcoming my bridal party, remembered having a massage on the beach, but from then on, time flew by so fast that I could not even catch my breath.
I didn’t know how to stop time or even slow it down and I even told my husband-to-be to please tell Father Time to pause for a while. But apparently he didn’t get the memo and before I knew it, I was waving goodbye to the last of my guests and it was already 2.30 in the morning! It was so true when they say time flies while you are having fun.
With that, don’t you want to spend your time doing something more meaningful, like enjoying the moment, catching the little touches, smiles and hugs, feeling the love? Trust your wedding planner and enjoy your wedding day.
Photos by Jim Liaw Photography
Monday, December 13, 2010
What the heck is sweet blood? No, it’s not something out of Twilight. I heard about this from a good friend of mine (who was also my KL florist), Anies of Garden Fairies. She was telling me that the Malays have this believe that when a woman gets engaged, she exudes this aura or glow that make her attractive to other men (besides her fiancé) and to mischievous “spirits” who will do everything in their powers to play tricks on you just for the fun of it.
The day before my KL affair, when Anies was decorating my wedding car, I was just recapping for her all my uncanny coincidences that happened just in the past month. She said, she didn’t believe it herself but when she got married, all kinds of nonsense would crop up and it looked like I had it too.
I must have gotten the grade 1 “spirits” because I had my full share of challenges. But I’m happy to report that with every challenge, somehow, somewhere, things would just sort itself out and we would pull through. I’m not sure when or how it started but basically; I sprained my left foot and right ankle 3 days apart and 1 week before my wedding. Thankfully, after both Western and Chinese medication, acupuncture and lots of prayers, I could hobble around and still managed to wear my wedding shoes as well as danced on my wedding day.
My make-up artist nearly missed her flight because she had a bad case of food poisoning on the way to the airport and actually fainted in the petrol station. When she finally regained consciousness and got back into the cab, they got stuck in a bad jam (there was an accident) and then when they got out of the jam, the cab driver told her that there was something wrong with the engine and the cab might breakdown anytime. Thankfully, the cab broke down right in front of the airport.
It rained (but you already know this story), before and after my ceremony in Bali and (but of course) in KL as well. Rain just followed me everywhere!
My photographer sprained his ankle on my wedding day. He could still walk but his ankle swelled up pretty badly the next day.
The church choir forgot the lyrics to the hymns that were supposed to be sung. Thankfully I had a backup CD of the same hymns.
The priest got lost and was one hour late to the venue; thankfully everything was already delayed from the rain so his delay went unnoticed.
The list actually goes on. But I shall refrain from boring you. These brought on a whole different meaning to the term “bridal glow”. But looking back, I am really thankful that with every challenge, I suppose, our love, our strength prevailed and we pulled through. Like I’ve said so many times before, our wedding was just perfect (to us). So whether you believe in “sweet blood” or not, there can’t be so many coincidences that happen all in the same month – perhaps it was just fate.
Photos by Tjun Hong's New Toy
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Destination weddings to me are the most perfect of all wedding celebrations because it sets the tone and mood for you. Anyone going on a holiday is already psyched up for a good time so when you invite guests for a destination wedding, they are already in a the mood for a good time.
What’s not to be liked for a destination wedding? You have an exotic location, a new experience for yourselves and for your guests, you have a picture-perfect backdrop, you can choose to have as simple or as unique a wedding setting and ultimately, you have a sense of sexiness for the unknown.
Of course, having said that, destination weddings are not meant for all. You need to know if it suits you. Are you keen on an adventure? Are you prepared for things that go out of control because they are really, beyond your control? Are you ready to just go with the flow? Are you always excited to try new things?
Because whilst there is all that sexiness and magic to it, a destination wedding is not without its fair share of chaos! So here are a few things for you to consider before you think about planning one (especially if you do not have a wedding planner):
The Unexpected : As sexy as it sounds, you have to expect the language barrier and miscommunications, the foreign exchange fluctuations, the hidden costs, permits, licenses and taxes, the local regulations and the variations in weather (sunrise, sunset, prayer times, tide times, etc).
The Logistics : This is definitely not sexy and can come up to quite a lot in terms of cost. You need to think about the exit tax or visas where applicable, ground transfers, insurance, extra baggage, meals and accommodations for family and crew as well as local phone calls. Thank God I had my wedding team in place so that they could handle all the nitty-gritty issues that I didn’t want to be bothered with. Which bride wants to be calling the van driver, the florist, the rain doctor (bomoh), the caterers, etc on their wedding day?
The Unknown : The local folklore / taboos, the surrounding atmosphere and setting. For us, the unknown was actually quite a funny story. We had done our site visit of our venue before we confirmed it and everything from the lighting to the tide times to the breeze were all meticulously checked. But we were not aware that the local village boys staying around the area liked to run into the sea naked! The evening before our wedding, while we were taking our pre-wedding photos on the beach, we saw three teenage boys in their birthday suits squatting over the water for a whole half hour! Not something I would like as my backdrop during my Catholic ceremony indeed! And luckily – it didn’t happen.
On the high side, the unknown is what will give you stories to tell in years to come, so not every unknown is bad :)
So my suggestion is to get a planner – whether you bring one along or hire one from the locale of your wedding, you should have someone who knows the local scene to help you coordinate your wedding details. With limited time and plenty of guests to entertain, you want to be able to enjoy yourself too!
Photos by Jim Liaw Photography
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Now that the wedding is over, I can sit back and reflect on ‘what may have been’.
Looking back at my Bali wedding, I did put my hopes and expectations highly on how everything should turn out, how our friends and family would be there for us, how God would not let us down with the weather. And because of these hopes and expectations, when things did not turn out as I expected then to, I was disappointed. No, I was crushed.
Days after the wedding, my thoughts were full of regrets and it was such an awful mood to be in during my honeymoon! I hope no brides would ever have to go through that feeling. (It is now one month after my wedding and I still have regrets!!)
To those who knew me – I’m sure there was a silent poll being conducted somewhere on when I’ll go bonkers or take over on my wedding day (not sure who was for me and who was against me), but to everyone’s surprise, I did let go and I did leave it to my wedding planner to sort everything out while I had a massage by the beach.
What were my regrets…
The Rain : The one and only thing I couldn’t let go of was the inclement weather which ruined the entire wedding setting. So my first regret was not the rain, but how I reacted to it. I bawled like a baby! It was just the sight of the chaos that came from the rain that hit me rather too hard in the face. To be looking out at the venue and seeing everything being ruined was like a slap in the face.
Well, on hindsight, what I should have done was to dance in the rain – ok, not actually in the rain, but I should have been the gracious hostess and welcomed my guest into the living room and continue on with cocktails, make merry and celebrate the special occasion.
Photography : Because of the chaos and my ‘tragic’ reaction to the rain, we were not able to take all the formal portraits that I would have liked (newlyweds with individual bridesmaids, newlyweds formal portraits, newlyweds with individual parent) and no matter how we tried to recreate this (which we actually did in KL), I still did not manage to capture the moments immediately after our ceremony.
Like I said, I should have embraced the rain. Maybe some of my photos would’ve have turned out stunningly beautiful.
Time : For both Bali and KL wedding, because there were just so many activities and so many people / groups of people, we couldn’t spend as much time with all our guests as we would’ve liked to. Especially for KL – we had some guests who attended and we didn’t even know that they did! Even though we had been mingling before dinner started. This, we really tried our best – to make all our guests feel comfortable and enjoy the celebrations together with us.
I’ve planned enough weddings – including my own – to know that to truly enjoy and be happy during your once-in-a-lifetime day is to go with the flow and embrace everything positively.
Photos by Jim Liaw Photography
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
After a week of family, friends and fun, we headed off for our honeymoon It was a beautiful, beautiful location and the service was second to none. The Malay wedding concept of Raja Sehari has extended to our honeymoon right here!
We were really in heaven and we were excited that we could now find some quiet time alone doing whatever our hearts desired. The suite had a great view and all meals could be served anywhere you wanted! The hotel even had ‘stalking’ services – they knew exactly when we returned to the suite and when we left and things like our afternoon tea magically appeared and our laundry magically disappeared!
The problem was … we were lonely. Yes. LONELY. From having so many people around us to just the two of us were a bit unnerving. It was too quiet, too relaxed – just a couple of days before, if you asked me, I would have loved some alone time, but now it was different.
Don’t forget that we have been together for 18 years prior so we’ve been on many trips together, we have similar interests in what we want to do during a holiday and because I had planned the entire wedding to a tee, I didn’t want to plan the honeymoon as well. We decided to leave each day to do whatever we felt like doing but this proved to be a wrong move! Because we are an ‘old couple’ and we never do anything without plans (yes, even during holidays), we felt lost and in fact, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves!
We got up each day trying to plan the day ahead during our honeymoon (yes, we have a sickness) and there were days we actually walked about aimlessly. But to our surprise, we still had a good time because we were in each other’s company and we get to do ‘spur-of-the-moment’ stuff like being adventurous and getting mountain bikes to cycle through the forest without realizing that the path was so steep, we ended up pushing our bikes instead! (yes, we were not that fit :P)
At the end of the honeymoon, we were sad to be leaving Bali. We wanted to replay our wedding day and relive each moment of it right up till the honeymoon but all I have now are the great memories.
A honeymoon is really all about how you can get to know each other even more and taking the time to relive that special moment in your lives so that 10, 20 or 50 years down the road, your entire wedding celebration will be but sweet memories, erasing whatever mishaps that may have happened during the wedding.
Photos by Tjun Hong's new toy