Friday, November 25, 2011

Simple, Chic and Fabulous !

Isn’t it fabulous when something so cheap, so easy and so simple can turn out so fabulous? Here was a wedding where the bride’s request was to use what the environment could give us.

Our challenge started a few months before when the bride and I went snorkeling for stones, shells and other sea worthy items to use. Yes the things wedding planners had to do to please the bride. We even had to canoe to find the resident shark so that we were assured that when the boys were given a task to snap a photo of the shark , they would actually find it !

So we used what we could get from nature and made wonders with it , I was actually quite surprised that the guests really enjoyed our DIY décor and the photos were stunning.

Here are some easy ideas for you to follow :

Noise Makers : For the guests to make noise during the festivities. We put dead corals into mineral bottles and tie ribbons around the neck.

Centerpiece : We used shells, sand, stones, leaves and added a bit of candles to create a unique centerpiece for every table

Beach Décor : Use paper bags, add a candle in it and light up the beach with your homemade luminaries

Escort Card : We used stones and wrote the guests names on it to act as escort cards

Place Card : We use sturdy leaves from trees to write the guests names on it

So think about it, what do you have that will make your wedding more YOU..

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wedding Samples : BE REASONABLE

Cartoon by Mike Cope / COPETOONS.COM
In our line of work in this market, there is one persistent issue that keeps cropping up - and that is clients requesting for free samples or free sampling. For me personally - whilst I believe in the notion of "no surprises" on day of event, I think judgement and reason ought to be practised when requesting for samples from vendors.

Why? Simply because - samples are also cost to these vendors, who by the way, operate a business and not a "FREE SAMPLES / SAMPLING" institution. It's all good and fine if the particular vendor has samples in hand to show to the client - be it a tangible product like a guest sign-in book or a votive candle holder or even perhaps, samples of invitation cards or other stationeries. But in the event where the vendor does not have a sample product in hand, be reasonable. Sometimes, in all likelihood, a photo reference or a sketch might suffice.

For clients requesting for samples, do keep in mind a few key points :

1) Have you agreed on the quotation / budget of the vendors? Has a deposit amount been paid?
If the answer is yes to both questions, then it is in the goodwill of the vendors to provide a sample or a sketch that will meet your final approval. However, if you have not agreed on any quotes or budgets and neither has a deposit been paid, then it is certainly extremely unfair to request for samples - especially in the event where the vendor has to purchase the samples without there being a confirmed business from you. One might argue that this is the vendor's investment when pitching for a business - which might be true. But in all honesty, it is up to the vendor to decide if your business is worth pitching for. So, exercise common sense and reason when dealing with vendors. We all understand only too well that it is better to see finished goods 100% as per to appear on the wedding day, but there are costs involved and how each vendor deals with this cost is different.

2) Raw materials / 1-time-usage materials / Perishable products (Eg. Flowers, Wine, Cake, etc...)
Even if the quote has been agreed on, for certain items, there are still high costs involved for samples due to its perishable nature. Especially when it comes to flower arrangements. If you are not able to visualize the details from a sketch and require a real-life sample, understand that there are costs involved. Be prepared to pay for the sample, if not offer to pay for it. Why? For a florist to arrange a table centrepiece for your viewing pleasure, there is the flower cost involved and not to mention time cost too. Unless this is already accounted for in the budget agreed, it is not fair to make the vendor pay for the sample cost. Simply because this is your wedding. It is your investment to make. Not theirs.

And when it comes to wine-tasting, sure, most vendors would offer a free tasting session for their clients who have ALREADY agreed upon a certain budget to spend on wines or champagnes. However, during the tasting session - understand one thing - every opened bottle is cost to the wine supplier. Even if only one sip had been taken from the bottle, there is no way for him or her to sell that bottle. So next time, you go for a wine-tasting session, be reasonable. Do you really need to taste that $8 bottle of champagne or that $25 bottle of wine? (What do you really expect from the champagne or wine at that price??) If you feel you must, then offer to pay for the opened bottles. Just as you, a client do not wish for vendors to take you for a ride, vendors feel the same way. It's not a free happy hour session where you bring 3 or 4 friends to the tasting session, you know.

3) Samples from overseas
Undeniably, resources in Cambodia can be a tad challenging and sometimes, some of the materials are sourced from overseas. But when you request for overseas vendors to send you samples, exercise reason again - offer to pay for the cost of sending the samples, whether it is via courier or other forms. Can you imagine if you request first batch of sample (courier costing $100) and you don't like them. And you require a second batch or third batch of sample even. The courier costs add up. So, again, be reasonable.

4) Cheapskate Vendors?
Just because the cost of 1 sample is $5 and the vendor is claiming this back from you, don't accuse the vendor of being a calculative cheapskate (likewise, the vendor can say the same thing of you!). Again, be reasonable - he or she is running a business. Every cent counts especially when they are only operating on an SME level and not that of an MNC. As mentioned, vendors will practise their own descretion as to whether investing in samples for you is a worthy cause or not.

Most of the time, vendors are more agreeable to free samples / free sampling for clients of wedding planners. This is because we bring repeat businesses to them. But as wedding planners, whilst we strive to negotiate the best deal possible for our clients, we are reasonable and understanding with our fellow compatriates as well. And sometimes, when clients "misbehave", like bringing a group of friends to a wine-tasting session and thereafter, not confirming a single bottle with the vendor, - we get .... really embarassed for introducing the client to the vendor. Not only did the vendor not make any profit, they made losses instead!

I mean, in this world, everywhere and anywhere you might go - when it comes to doing business, it is better to go for a win-win situation. As long as we all communicate logically and listen to reasons, your dream wedding can be very beautiful with vendors going the extra mile for you.

Catching the BS

In the world of wedding planning, stress levels are high, immune systems are low and the number of victims keep increasing by the year, there is no cure. Its been dubbed various clinical names: Multiple Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, Temporary Insanity, but in my world, this "illness" is more commonly termed "Bridezilla Syndrome" or 'BS" .

So how do you avoid "catching" the bug ?

I tried reciting a mantra "Zen! Zen! Zen!" (it didn't work), friends tried taking me on spa trips, food trips and shopping trips (enjoyed every bit of it, but it still didn't work). Here's some tips I hope will work for you :

1. Bridezillas are made, not born. Wedding planning is like taking on a part time job (sometimes its full time), the stress of deadlines, demands of the family, the content decision making, managing vendors and the emotional roller coaster you go through, its no wonder you catch the BS bug.

Antidote : Chill out ! Remember the wedding is about two people who are in love who want to be together forever and THAT is what matters. Not the shade of red you want your roses to grow into. Take time off from the wedding, catch a movie, go for a manicure, do something un-wedding and you'll come back with a fresh perspective and in a much better mood. You might even be inspired by what you see in the non wedding world.

2. Everyone has something to say about everything. Among congratulatory wishes, you will get unsolicited advice, bombarded with horror stories and negative vibes from friends and family who think their helping (but their not)

Antidote : Decide what the both (yes both of you, include the groom in the process – please) want and stay centered. Set clear boundaries about what you want and stick to it. Some weddings are for the sake of other people (sad to say) but the marriage is for the two of you , focus on what it means to you. Who cares that your distant cousin has the same flowers for her bouquet.

3. Getting married can stir up a lot of emotions. You'll be surprise at how emotional you can get on and before the wedding day (I told myself that I will not shed a tear, but Nigara falls came climbing down and for a -some would say- stupid reason). The process itself sets forth a period of growth and change that can be nerve wracking.

Antidote : You can embrace this as the next chapter in your journey and realize that it can only get better from here. Try to stay on top of your emotions and be honest with yourself during this time, resolve any unresolved issues and you'll see everything in a much better light. Believe that there is a happily ever after.

4. Wedding planning can be a crisis . There is so much focus on how to make the wedding look beautiful, making the wedding be the talk of town and providing the guests with a party of a lifetime, the bridezilla loses herself and the reason she is getting married in the first place.

Antidote : Remember that the wedding although its the most important party you will throw, it is exactly only that – a party. The reason you are getting married in the first place is because you love each other and want to start a new chapter of your life together. Guests are inspired by the love they feel in the room, who cares whether you had 28 cupcakes which had exactly 28 hearts that are 100% identical.

5. Perfect Wedding = Perfect Life (NOT!), some bride's give the wedding day too much power. They believe that the perfect wedding will mean the perfect marriage and the perfect life. There is an underlying fear that if something goes wrong with the wedding, it is a sign that will make or break the marriage.

Antidote : Step back, breathe. Now look at it from a fresh set of eyes, the wedding day, while important, is only one of the many experiences and memories you will share together. The most important part is when you walked down the aisle into the arms of the person you love (so don't stare at your bridesmaids if they are not standing in a perfect formation)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Minutes with Wedding Cake Designer | Ruth Larwill from Bloom

The ever bubbly Ruth with her team
In a country where we don't get to see modernized cake designs, Bloom have been a very welcoming addition to the pastry scene in Cambodia. Bloom exists to provide jobs for Cambodian women and they operate as a social enterprise where all profits are sown back into training more Cambodian women.

We spend some time with the bubbly and cheerful Ruth Larwill - Director at Bloom Training and Cafe to talk about wedding cakes and all that jazz :)

Hi Ruth! Thanks for your time. So..... how long have you been in the business of creating and designing beautiful cakes for parties and weddings?

Bloom started training our highly specialised Cake Artists in October 2009.  We opened our doors in February 2010 and business just took off!! We now employ 34 staffs and can only just keep up with demand for our original WOW factor Bloom cakes!

Nice. Do tell us more about Bloom’s. Anything. Everything *smile*

We LOVE making your event special!!! We recently heard from a client that it’s not a party unless you’ve got a Bloom cake! *laugh*  
Since Bloom operates as a social enterprise where all profits are used to train more Cambodian women, we just love that Cambodians themselves have embraced Bloom Cakes so enthusiastically

What about future plans for Bloom’s?

Yes we are hoping to duplicate Bloom – we are researching viability in Siem Reap and Toul Kork at the moment! We’d be happy to hear from bleaders (blog readers!) what place they’d like to see the next Bloom!

Ahhh.... Cool. Let's hear from them then! Err.. hopefully *grin* You’re surrounded by all these flavours everyday. What is your absolute favourite?   

Oohhhh that’s a hard one! Our top seller is the Chocolate Hazelnut Sacher Torte filled with Belgium Chocolate and Nutella!  But my personal favourite is White Chocolate and Macadamia cake, or wait...  Coconut Cake with Passionfruit Cream Cheese or now you’ve got me thinking... maybe it’s actually our soft Coffee Cake with Bailey’s Cream! Oh this is way too hard since Bloom has 48 flavours!!!!!

Oh dear. You've got me so tempted!! But back to more serious questions... In your opinion, what is the learning curve for you as someone in the wedding industry in this country? 

Cambodia is entering an exciting time where our elite customers have been to weddings in the west and they now know that cake can taste good!! In fact it is plated and served as dessert at most weddings in the west. Whereas here in Cambodia, the wedding cake is not even eaten. Cambodians who say they hate cake just haven’t experienced delicious moist good quality cake –  It no longer has to be cheap sponge made of flour, egg, sugar and palm oil!
We love our customers at Bloom, because they want the BEST of the BEST – both in quality and design! We work with our clients to come up with amazing incredible fashion forward  designs that will have their guests gasping in awe!

Aye to that, Ruth! 
Before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips for the couple when choosing their Wedding Cake?

The wedding cake is often a design centrepiece for the whole wedding reception.  It should create an exciting ‘vibe’ for the event! We often see guests go and stand next to Bloom wedding cakes and have their photo taken. If you choose an original, personal design, it creates WOW factor and makes for a memorable day both for you and your guests.  

Choose your colors first and bring a color palette to your Wedding Cake design consultation. (It really does make a difference if everything looks co-ordinated... That’s why we LOVE Eileen and The Wedding Planner Team!)

It is much more modern to have a sugar-covered cake rather than the plastic tasting cream cakes of the past decade. It allows for so many more design options. If you don’t like the sugar covering – just don’t eat it! But many people prefer it to the fake plastic cream of the past... 

Order your wedding cake as soon as you can.  Bloom only takes a certain number of custom orders as we often need 10 sugar artists working on your order for 1-2 weeks.

Have fun with your wedding!   Bring your partner into Bloom and try all the different flavours of cake!  For most Grooms, this is their favourite part of planning a wedding! 

*Laugh* Take your wedding planner along for the tasting too! *grin*. Great, Ruth! Thanks for sharing! And here's to better weddings and wedding cakes!

For a peep at some of Bloom's creativity and creation........ see below!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two Minutes with Wedding Stationeries Provider | Debra Char from Acadia Cards

Established since 2002, Acadia specializes in producing simple, elegant and stylish personalized wedding invitation to match your event themes and colour. Inline with their corporate strategy to streamline and focus their businesses by division, they re-branded their wedding stationery business to Acadia Card in January 2009. Other than personalized invitations, they also cater for other wedding stationeries such as ceremony booklets, reply cards, dinner menus, escort and place cards, save-the-dates, wedding wishes and thank you cards. Acadia expands its services to Cambodia via The Wedding Planners - for clients who are looking at more unique, personalized and customized wedding stationeries.

We take time speaking to Debra Char about her thoughts and creativity behind
Acadia Cards.

The beautiful Ms Debra Char....
How long have you been in the business of making pretty stationeries for bride and grooms?

We started in 2002 and it was by coincidence that one of our corporate clients was not able to find someone to customize her wedding invitation cards so we offered our services. Since then, we started making personalized wedding invitations and it slowly expanded to other wedding stationeries.

Do share with us, what is your area of stationeries specialty?

We do provide consultation to our clients, discussing their requirements, from colour theme, design concept, material selection right to the finishing treatment of the stationeries.
What do you think are the current wedding invitations / stationeries trends for wedding clients?

Every couple wants to have a unique and personalized wedding invitation. So, we do provide suggestions to meet their requirements and at the same time, we also provide advise regarding tradition and custom. Currently bright coloured cards are back in demand and besides that, the warm and earthy toned coloured cards are still popular.

We’ve heard that you do sometimes provide stationeries for brides who are based overseas.  How does this work actually? All through email?

Yes! If a couple have engaged a wedding planner, we will liaise with the wedding planner. But if not, generally we would deal with them through emails. It's all very convenient actually.
Do you think culture and tradition play a big role in how the wedding couple wants their wedding stationeries done?

Absolutely! As most Asian couples are brought up in such a way where they will need to consult parents and/or family before deciding on their wedding invitation design and wordings. As you may well know, in Asia, a wedding is not just about the couple. It is a family matter too. But then again, sometimes, it all boils down to who is paying for the wedding. That would be the decision-maker, really. You see a lot of the couples in Malaysia and Singapore are now paying for their own weddings so the style of the cards are becoming more modernized.

You have traveled to Cambodia. What is your perception of this country?
Cambodia is a really a new market for us and most of the couples that I met during the two bridal fairs that we attended would like to have unique and personalized wedding invitations as compared to their traditional stationeries. However, the colours / colour themes of the cards are still their main concern. For example the stationeries set that we customized for Chris & Pisey's wedding, despite it being a modernized design, there is still bright colours used for it.

Oh yes. I agree. So do you think wedding stationeries like yours will have a market here in Cambodia?
I think so, of course but as our products are still new to the Cambodian couple, it will take sometime for them to explore and understand how personalized invitations or wedding stationeries can be part of their wedding themes.

I agree. But this trend is slowly changing already as we speak. You can see some couples asking for personalized designs for the wedding stationeries too. Anyway, before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips for the bride and groom when choosing their Wedding Stationeries?
An invitation is the first impression of your wedding arrangements to your guests, so make it impressionable!

Order your cards at least 6 months in advance to your big day to avoid last minute rushing
Know what you want and what you need

Always make provision for additional cards
Do consult parents or family members on appropriate invitation wordings as these things can be rather sensitive

Thank you so much Debra for your time!

Meanwhile - have a look at some of the personalized stationeries for weddings courtesy of Acadia Cards below!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Regional Network of Alliances To Bring You The Best In Destination Wedding Planning

Folks! Do check out our recent regional cooperation between Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia!

Read more HERE

Two Minutes with Wedding Planner | Swan Xuan from Confetti Vietnam

In our bid to expand our regional network and joint-alliances, we've had the opportunity to touch base with an established wedding planning company in Vietnam and met with the lovely wedding planners of Confetti. Today, Xuan or Swan as she is known, spend some time talking to us about weddings in Vietnam.

The Confetti Ladies
How long have you been in the business of planning the bride and groom’s big day?

Confetti Vietnam was born when I made the decision to leave Unilever. We started in December 2009 and is one of the pioneers in terms of wedding planning for Vietnam. Going into our second year now, we are adamant to work with other wedding planners to tap the market potentials in Vietnam as well as educate potential clients about the benefits of using a wedding planner.  

We certainly look forward to working with you too. So, tell us more about wedding planning in Vietnam. When did it start, how did it grow, etc.. ?

For the wedding industry in Vietnam, since 2007, most of the other related wedding services like photography, florists, gowns were already popular amongst the clients. Moving on to 2008, some of these vendors offered "full-package wedding services" but it stopped at planning for traditional ceremonies. However, the term of "wedding planner" was loosely used and it did not symbolize the true meaning of the profession and the job scope it entails. As such, a lot of misunderstanding were created. However, every country develops and the people's mentality, perception and mindset changes too. In 2009, the true concept of wedding planning emerged and when Confetti started, we were all about educating and promoting wedding planning services. As a halo effect, people got to know and understood wedding planning.

Now, we believe that the wedding planning business in Vietnam is on the right track and we expect more of the medium and upper class clients to engage the services of a wedding planner. Hopefully, we could reach a status where we are a necessity rather than a luxury - much like in Malaysia or Singapore.

That's a long way to come and we have the same hope for Cambodia too. Do share with us more about your working style. What is your working process from A-Z?

Confetti is not so much a style, but it is the differentiation our the wedding concepts we offer. We believe that weddings are personal and as such, each wedding concept has its own story, a different look and is unique. This is our aim - to create this concepts for our clients.

When a client comes to Confetti, we will do an initial consultation to find out what they truly need.
Secondly, we propose the wedding concept based on their love story, their personality and other relevant factors. And finally, it is all about implementation - that is bringing the approved wedding concept to live.

I'm curious again...Do you think there is a difference between wedding planning now and 5 years ago?  

More and more of the younger generation are returning to Vietnam after spending some time abroad and they bring with them new knowledge, new needs because many have been exposed to the Westernized version of a romantic, personalized wedding. These new generation is what is making the changes here for the wedding industry in Vietnam. Their demands are different and we strive to cater to these demands of a personalized, unique and well-coordinated wedding concept.

What is your hope for the wedding industry in Vietnam? What do you wish to see more of?

One of the biggest concerns for all wedding planners here is when it comes to customs and tradition. It is the traditions, the strong yet conservative traditions that sometimes leave the bride and groom in a dilemma. They want a modernized wedding but their families may want them to stick to tradition. As such, getting the right balance to meet the clients' needs is a tough job for weddding planners here. I know it's completely the same as other Asian countries. I'm pretty sure you guys go through that in Malaysia and Cambodia too.

Half a year ago, secremony (secret-ceremony and destination weddings) seem to be a new trend here in Vietnam, where a different destination and landscape offers the bride and groom a chance to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city and exchange their vows in front of their closest friends & parents only. I do hope this trend will be continue to grow in the future. I believe this is what makes weddings romantic and meaningful. They are touching and beautiful.  

Oh, I totally agree. Usually, what we do in Malaysia is that we carry out the traditional wedding ceremonies as per normal and then the couple may have another wedding ceremony, more westernized and modern. It is a trend now in Malaysia for couples to have 2 or 3 receptions just to please everyone including themselves. In Cambodia, it is a whole new different story though. Think Cambodia as being Vietnam, 5 years ago *smile*. 

So, in a market where middle-class segment is growing and people are becoming more open-minded, where do you see your creativity and styles coming in? How?    

I don't quite care much about classifying my target clients in terms of economic status. Wealth doesn't mean open-minded, middle-class doesn't mean willing to afford a modern wedding style. We offer our service as creators of wedding concepts - a chance for them to personalize their weddings and make it unique and memorable. If they are open to this concept and this idea of personalizing their wedding, then we can work together. The first rule is that they must accept, otherwise, it will be difficult for us to plan anything.

Again, totally agree with you. Before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips for the couple when choosing their Wedding Planner?

For the bride and groom in Vietnam, when choosing a wedding planner, we would advise them on the following 5 tips : 

Check out the wedding planner’s own style  & differentiation

Gauge first impressions about the planner via a face-to-face meeting. This is important to see the chemistry between planner and client.  

Request to see past portfolios to get an idea of the type of work they have done before

Ask what is the wedding planner's principles and workstyles.

And lastly, it is always good if there is a word of mouth recommendation from a friend who have use the planner before!
Thank you so much, Swan for your time! I am looking forward to working together with you in Vietnam soon :)
Meanwhile - here are some of the weddings that the Confetti team has done over the years in Vietnam!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two Minutes with Wedding Planner | Shirlyn Peh from Elysium Weddings

Shirlyn Peh from Elysium Weddings
This week, we spend some time with Malaysian wedding planners for some insights into wedding planning outside of Cambodia. Shirlyn Peh, director of Elysium Weddings have been planning weddings for the past five years and today, she shares with us her candid take on weddings and brides and all things nice.

Tell us more about wedding planning in Malaysia. When did it start, how did it grow, etc.. ?

There's always been people planning weddings but for professional wedding planners, this trend probably started about 15 - 20 years ago. Weddings in Malaysia have steadily been growing more creative, more westernized, more modern and wedding planners as a necessity rather than a luxury probably gained foothold in the market in the last 7 years.

Share with us more about your working style. What is your working process from A-Z?

It's actually very simple step-by-step process.

1) Getting started : Discuss, Develop, Design
2) Wedding vendors : Source, Compare, Build ideas
3) The nitty gritty : Coordinate, Assist 
4) Bridal party : Coordinate, Assist, Guide
5) D-Day : Coordinate, Liaise, Organize 

So, to date, what has been your most challenging wedding?

I will never forget - the wedding at Pulau Mabul. We had to transfer everything from the small town off-island including tables, chairs, table linens, wedding cake, flowers, cutleries, plates and a CHEF to the island. It's funny, thinking back now, but not so funny then!  

Haha! I heard about that wedding *smile*. So, tell us, what do you think about the Malaysian’s acceptance of wedding planners these days as compared to, say, 10 years ago? 

As I mentioned earlier, planners are more a necessity these days than a luxury. People are aware of the importance of engaging a wedding planner to ensure that their wedding day is perfect. Also, a lot of the modern couples and families now realize that a hassle-free wedding where they can enjoy the planning process as well as the wedding day itself is important.
Why do you think there is a difference between now and 10 years ago? 

Well, for starters, people's mindset changes as everyday, we are exposed to new things and we are exposed to the TV, to news, to magazines, etc. As such, couples these days are more willing to spend for their wedding in order to get the wedding of their dreams. They are also more knowledgeable about styles, trends and gone are the days of cookie-cutter weddings. People want a wedding that is unique and personalized.

The other thing is that we are in Asia - it is important for the wedding to look good and as such, couples these days also place very high importance on quality. They are willing to pay for the quality - quality of flowers, quality of fabric, linens, photography, gowns, etc.

 What is your hope for the wedding industry in Malaysia? What do you wish to see more of?

I'd surely like to see there being more options for creativity and style and I hope Malaysian vendors will look at creating their own styles, designs, products and not just copy them from overseas.  

In a market where the consumers are becoming more and more affluent and exposed, where do you see your creativity and styles coming in? How? 

Based on past experiences, we learn, change and create. We need to have a willingness to listen - listen to the couple's request, to opinions, to new ideas, new ways of doing something....  

So then, what is your idea of the perfect wedding couple?

Oh. A couple who knows what they need and want. A couple who makes decisions without second-guessing their own decision. A couple who is realistic - meaning understands quality comes with a price.  

Everyone wants every client to be the perfect client, right? Wishful thinking! Ok, before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips for the couple when choosing their Wedding Planner?
Good Knowledge.  A good planner is knowledgeable about putting together every detail of a wedding from the invitations down to the flowers. 

Comes highly recommended. This is key to finding the best wedding planner. If a planner doesn’t have a track record, previous satisfied clients and a fair amount of experience, the person may not possess  the skills to take care of all the details from A-Z. Be careful  of wedding planners without good references.
Willing to take on as much or as little as asked. Some couples ask wedding planners to take care  every step in the process, from selection of  music to booking the reception hall. Other couples only want their planners to handle a few major details. Good planners, however, can accept as many or as few of the details as you want them to take care.

A person you can work with. If you and your partner are not comfortable with the person, find someone else. It is most likely you will need to work closely with the wedding planner in the months, weeks and especially days leading up to the ceremony. If the person does not feel right to you, do not sign a contract!
Aye to that! And thank you for your time, Shirlyn! _______
Remember, a planner is someone you need to be able to work with
for the months, weeks and days leading up to YOUR big day.
So, you need to feel comfortable with her and TRUST her !

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two Minutes with Wedding Venue | Gregory Tugendhat from Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra

The magnificent facade of The Sofitel PP Phokeethra
Set amongst landscaped gardens in the old quarter of the city lies the colonial-styled Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra. With the Grand Ballroom that can fit up to 1,100 pax for banquet events and weddings, perhaps, it is time to consider this luxurious hotel for your indoor weddings - come rain, sun or shine!

We catch up with the new Director of Sales and Marketing, Mr. Gregory Tugendhat to talk about all things weddings at The Sofitel, who is part of the Accor Hotels Group.

Good Morning, Greg! With only 2 minutes to spare, we'll just launch into it! *grin* Do tell us more about the weddings at Sofitel, Phnom Penh.

Sofitel Luxury Hotels are all about ‘Magnifique moments’ Wedding celebrations are all about memorable moments and the combination of the two with Sofitel at the helm make for a sensational experience.

So then, what makes the weddings at Sofitel unique?

When you come to Sofitel Luxury Hotels for wedding celebrations, you are entering into a world of luxury hospitality that is recreated but never repeated. All of our events are unique and guided under the watchful eye of our InspiredEvents planner. The venue that is offered in the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra is the largest in Phnom Penh and the most opulent in Cambodia and therefore in itself, it is unique. There are silk lined walls, magnificent chandeliers and the capacity to hold and entertain over 1000 people.  Every detail is considered and presented to ensure expectations are exceeded and the happy couple’s day is as perfect as it can be.

What do you think are the challenges faced by the hotel, maybe not just at Sofitel, but all hotels when it comes to hosting weddings for clients?

Creating a feeling of intimacy and conviviality amongst what is otherwise a rather imposing location. At the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, every  attention and detail whether it be the lighting, the music or simply the manner in which the tables are decorated come together to ensure an intimate surrounding and a presentation that cannot be replicated elsewhere.

Is Sofitel aiming to change the wedding trends in this market and lift the wedding standards for Cambodians?

When the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra hosted the ‘Wedding Fair’earlier this year the bar was raised regionally in terms of what should be expected from the more discerning couples looking to create an event for their guests will talk about for months after and the memories of which will last decades. The Sofitel Phnom Penh approaches every request with a fresh eye and an experienced manner to ensure that the day is not only a success but also completely in line with what was hoping to be achieved.

What is your opinion about the wedding industry in Cambodia? Do you think there is a great potential for the wedding industry in Cambodia to grow?  

Cambodia has a very conservative approach to weddings and as such there is still great demand for the community, family and friends to come together to celebrate a happy union between families. Traditionally, weddings were held in the winter months to get away from the risk of rain but with the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, it is possible to get married at any time of year. The possibilities are endless in terms of designs and choreography and so I see a very bright future for this most wonderful of traditions.

What is the biggest hurdle the industry has to cross? How can we work towards crossing that?

I see no hurdles to the industry but then again, I would prefer to use the word ‘institution’ as opposed to industry. Providing quality and value to the guests is one aspect but the main purpose and goal of a wedding is to show to the world the choices made and with a venue like Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, there is no doubt that a statement about the couple is also that they are discerning and have exceptional taste.

Before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips for the couple when choosing their Wedding Venue?

I feel I should address myself directly to the couple having had the wonderful experience of getting married myself.

Firstly, the venue has to be large enough to cater for the number you wish to have. If the venue is too large for the number you were thinking, invite more people!

With so many people, where are they going to park their cars? There need to be sufficient parking areas and with over a hectare of parking as well as covered parking the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra can certainly meet the demands of a large number of guests.

When imagining all of your friends, family and guests arriving at the venue, is it going to be possible to move around without having to mingle with people who are not part of the gathering for example in the lobby of a hotel (the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra has its own entrance to the wedding venue ensuring privacy and an added sense of prestige and enabling personalized decoration

When you have finished the wedding ceremony, where are you going to go? The suites of the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra are some of the smartest, comfortable and newest in South East Asia. Where better to spend the first night of honeymoon than in a rose petal covered bed over looking Phnom Penh at night with luxury Hermes bathroom amenities to relax, soak and enjoy your first night of married life together.

Finally and most importantly, the venue speaks of you as a couple. What do you want your guests to say about your choice of venue ? With a wedding at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, you are guaranteed to have your guests speaking of your wedding for months on end and ultimately, you yourselves will never forget the occasion.
Wow, Greg! Thanks for the very detailed tips! And definitely thank you for your time! Here's looking forward to a great wedding season ahead!

The Grand Ballroom

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Press Release : The 14th Asian Wedding Cultural Festival in Haiyang, Qingdao, China

Malaysia in the 14th Asian Bridal Summit represented by AWP
The 14th Asian Bridal Summit : Asian Wedding Cultural Festival took place in the new city of Haiyang in Qingdao, China from 25th August 2011, ending with a grand closing ceremony organized by host country China on the 28th August 2011.

The annual Asian Bridal Summit is an event hosted alternately by member countries of the Federation of Asia Pacific Bridal Association to promote greater working relationships within the region and help each other grow the wedding industry in their respective countries. This year, the summit was hosted by China. Participating members at the 14th Asian Bridal Summit for this year included China-HK, China-Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Myanmar and Malaysia. Malaysia was represented by the Association of Wedding Professionals (AWP) Malaysia’s President, Leticia Hsu and Vice President, Eileen Lui from Elysium Weddings and Nupts & Such Malaysia respectively.

This year’s bridal summit theme focused on the preservation of culture and traditions in weddings in a continuously progressive and modernized society. Besides a presentation and forum on how each country’s wedding industry is working towards preserving culture & heritage, they were also invited to showcase their country’s main cultural wedding fanfare and traditional costumes in a live performance and fashion show session during the 4-day summit.

“We were a little disappointed that Malaysia was under-represented at the summit,” says Hsu. Myanmar’s delegation came in a 26-member strong team which included make-up artists, photographers and dancers. Japan’s delegation was the largest, with a 75-member participation. Each participating country also had a tourism representative to showcase the country’s tourism attractions. “We hope that for future summit, we would get the support of Malaysia’s Tourism Ministry so that we are a bigger representation,” continues Hsu.

The Forum Session of the Asian Bridal Summit 2011
Despite the “underdog” status, the gutsy duo presented a comprehensive paper about “Preservation of Culture & Tradition in Today’s Modernized Malaysia” during the forum session with the Chinese wedding industry and the local and foreign media who attended the summit. The presentation sparked great interests amongst the Chinese wedding industry as well as members of the other countries’ delegations who participated in the summit. “We hope to foster greater ties with members of the Federation (of Asia Pacific Bridal Association) and help each other preserve our culture & heritage despite everything going fusion,” says Hsu.
The gutsy duo making their introductory speech of the video
In the true spirit of Malaysia Boleh, the duo, armed with only a DVD to present Malaysia’s myriad of multi-cultural weddings instead of a live performance, braved the 600-pax crowd in the second session of the summit and sashayed down the catwalk, showcasing their traditional Kebaya and modernized Cheongsam costumes to the crowd. “In our introduction of the video, we said that it was impossible to showcase only one cultural wedding from Malaysia because Malaysia will not be Malaysia without the melting pot of different cultures such as Malays, Chinese, Indians and others,” says Lui. Wowing the crowd with her Mandarin greetings, Lui was surprised how little people knew about the different cultures in Malaysia. “When our video presentation was shown, you could literally see the 600-pax crowd sitting at the edge of their seats!” she continues. Both Hsu and Lui were pleased with the outcome and were relieved that they did not let their country down. During the press conference session, the Malaysian duo were clearly the ‘darlings of the media’ – both foreign and local alike. “They were all so interested in the different cultures we had in Malaysia! And I was also surprised that they did not realize that most of the Chinese customs and traditions are still being practised by the Malaysian Chinese in Malaysia!” says Lui. They both felt that it would have been great if they could’ve showcased a saree during the mini-fashion show that they did too. Later, the Mayor of Haiyang, Miss Xinzi Chen commended the duo on their “courageous” performance up on stage.
With the Mayor of Haiyang, Ms Xinzi Chen

The duo expresses hope for the wedding industry in Malaysia as well as Tourism Malaysia to continue supporting the Association of Wedding Professionals and help grow the wedding industry together. On the wedding side of things, they believe that Malaysia is a great country for destination weddings. “We hope that with the support of Tourism Malaysia, we will be able to host the summit in 2013 and showcase Malaysia positively to the world,” says Hsu.

The 15th Asian Bridal Summit will be hosted by Myanmar, who went to China with the intention of bidding for the hosting privileges. The President of the Federation of Asia Pacific Bridal Association, Ms Yumi Katsura, the renowed Asian queen of wedding fashion designs handed over the Federation’s flag to the Myanmar delegation during the closing ceremony.

Malaysia last hosted the summit in 2001 (7th Asian Bridal Summit). Last year, it was held in Seoul, Korea and garnered a lot of international media’s attention.

Media Interviews with both local and foreign media

With the Japanese delegation's traditional instrument musicians

Monday, August 29, 2011

Two Minutes with Wedding Florist | Mr. Pangha from Udaya Decorations Cambodia

Pretty ladies : The team heading Udaya Decoration....
A local florist and decoration company borne from the passion of a group of talented young Khmers, Udaya Decorations serves up floral arrangements and light decorations for all sorts of events, ranging from weddings to birthday parties. They are not short of ideas for your wedding and would certainly help you personalize your wedding in many-a-ways!

We catch up with Mr. Pangha, partner and co-founder at Udaya for a 2-minute chat to talk about flowers, weddings and Cambodia.

How long have you been in the business of designing flowers for weddings and special occasions?

We have been established for close to 3 years in the wedding industry in Cambodia.

Tell us more about your area of specialty in terms of your floral arrangement styles. 

Our style is simple, sweet and attractive. We always try our best to create new styles for every client using our own accessories

What are usually the standard arrangements that are requested by clients for their wedding decoration?

When clients request for flowers & decoration for their weddings, generally it'll be set-up for the traditional ceremonies at the bride's house and the standard items here would be the backdrop. For the evening reception, the standard requests that we get would be the stage decoration, aisle and table arrangements.

Share with us more about your working style. What is your working process from A-Z?

As an independent & innovative event decorator, our process is specifically tailored for each client. However, generally it entails the following steps :
First, we would describe our services in detail to the client and understanding the client's full requirements for their event. This will also include showing the portfolio of our previous work to clients to let them have a feel of what they can do with their theme colours, styles, type of flowers, etc.

We will always ask for a budget from the clients and then from here, we will work out a proposal and the quotation. After the quotation is approved and deposit paid, we will lock in the date of the client's event and start our own internal planning, for example, purchase orders of flowers, accessories, etc.

Being in Cambodia, we understand that sometimes, flower stock is a major problem and certain types of flowers are not easily obtainable. Why do you think this happens?

This is a major problem that we face here in Cambodia. Cambodia doesn’t grow much of our own flowers  so the wholesalers need to import from neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam to meet market demands. But you see, the wholesalers only import the most popular types of flower so for most of us in the flower business, we just have to rely on the wholesaler in terms of what they can offer. When clients request for a specific kind of flower, we need to make a special order with the wholesaler, but the worse part is that they cannot guarantee if they can get it in for us or not. That's when we would have to go Thailand or Vietnam to get the specific flowers requested.

In y
our opinion, what do you think about the wedding industry of Cambodia in general? Do you think there is a great potential for the wedding industry in Cambodia to grow?

The wedding industry in Cambodia is definitely growing. Nowadays, we see more and more modern styles and creativity being requested as compared to previous years. Most of the clients are willing to spend their budget when it comes to flowers and decoration because they want to create something that is "wow" and memorable to their guests as well. 

So, strictly from a point-of-view of a florist and decorator, yes, the potential is huge in Cambodia. It is just really about giving time for the Cambodian people to accept new concepts, new styles, new trends, new designs. Even concept like a wedding planner is rare right now. But soon, the Cambodians will start using wedding planners and trusting them to plan their weddings as well.

Very soon, Cambodia will be just like any of the modernized countries, like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand *smile* It'll happen once there is market demand for modernized and personalized weddings. Of course, on our part, we need to educate the market too !

Oh, I definitely agree with you! We need to let the market know that there are other styles to consider, other colours, other materials, other flowers. Right? Anyway, what do you think is the biggest hurdle for the local wedding industry to overcome?

The biggest hurdle for local wedding industry to overcome is the sourcing of flowers. When flowers need to be imported they may not arrive fresh because sometimes, the suppliers do not know how to handle the flowers. When we use these flowers that don't look too fresh, our clients complain.
I just hope that in the future, Cambodia will start growing our own flowers to satisfy the market demands.

I wish and hope for the same thing too *smile*
Before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips for the couple when choosing their Wedding Flowers?

- Allocate the correct budget for your expectations
- Think about personalizing your styles for your wedding. What is your favourite colours?
 - Share with your chosen florist what you really dream of but be mindful that sometimes, resources may be limited but work with your florist to achieve the best desired outcome
- Think of colour combos that complement one another.
- Again - budget planning! So important!

Yes, yes. Budget planning is so important! Well, thank you so much for your time, Mr Pangha! Orkun Charan and here's looking forward to working more with you for future!

Some of Udaya's work....
Creative Backdrop for the stage - certainly a step into more
unique designs and creations for wedding decorations

Pretty Table Centrepieces : Wedding Planning by
The Wedding Planners

Table Centrepieces doesn't have to be uniformed. Wedding Planning
by The Wedding Planners. Photography by 1am Studio Malaysia