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

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Two Minutes with Wedding Videographer | Ratha Peng from iFriends Studio Cambodia

Mr. Ratha Peng doing what he does best....
i-Friend Studio is a multimedia and video production company based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Founded by the mild-mannered Mr. Ratha Peng, their services include film & music production, post-production and of course, wedding videography work. They also provide live feeds for their wedding videography during filming. Putting together a band of Remote Production staff which are highly experienced camera crea, audio techs and sound engineers in the business, Mr. Ratha is set for bigger things in Phnom Penh.

We of course catch hold of the busy man for two minutes to dig into his thoughts about weddings in Cambodia.

How long have you been in the business of producing wedding videography for bride & groom?

I started iFriend Studio since 2007 so... it would be 4 years now.

Tell us more about your area of specialty in terms of your wedding video styles. 

I think our styles are are slightly more modernized in terms of the creativity. We feel that sometimes, we need to capture the essence and the moment of the wedding and not just setting the video into aut0-mode. There is angling involved, but mostly for a video, the most important part is the editing. How you edit the video tells a different story.

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

Because there is only 2 minutes for you, I will make my answer short *laugh*

Once a client confirms the project with us and upon payment of deposit, usually a 50% deposit payment, we will block off the wedding date in our work calendar. We would also usually discuss with the clients if there are any special requirements they want, what would they like to have exactly, how much creative freedom do we have, etc... so that we ensure that we deliver what the client wants and sometimes more.

One the day of the wedding, we would usually follow the wedding planner's itinerary. Usually it will be 3 hours ahead to set-up equipments and co-ordinate ourselves as a team. If there are no planners, we just inform the client that we will show up at X time to do our set-up. Of course, even before the wedding day, we would have done a site recce so that we are familiar with the lay of the ground prior.

Do you think technology in Cambodia is sometimes and issue for local vendors to produce work that is of better quality? How do you overcome this for yourself?

We know that  Cambodia is the least developed country in terms of both of human resources and technology. For a photographer, example, a simple matter of buying the newest technology or equipment for their business can become very complicated. This is due to the fact that number 1, it is not easy to access the latest technology in my country. Number 2, local photographers here do not earn very much. So the income that they are earning from doing a photoshoot job sometimes does not justify buying a say, USD5,000 lens. Do you know what I mean?

But for me, I'm luckier. I already have a large network and connection and to get technological equipments and supplies is not that much of a problem for me. I also work with a lot of consultants and have both local and foreign partners to assist us.

For me, the real problem is market demand. Like I said, weddings in Cambodia, it is not like Malaysia or Singapore or Thailand even.  The clients haven't yet evolved that way. They are still keeping to their old traditions, old habits and some are too afraid to try new styles or creativity and these affect their decision-making. So sometimes, using the newest or latest technology may not be of a demand by these types of clients. In order for us to survive, we succumb to the client's demands. 
Of course, I definitely understand where you are coming from! I feel the same way! *smile* In your opinion, what do you think about the wedding industry of Cambodia in general?

For Cambodians, our old civilization, tradition and culture are deeply rooted into our hearts. For weddings, it is a lot of these old traditions and culture that seems to make all weddings appear the same. But of course, over the last couple of years, there is a strange change of pace in Cambodia. The Western influence and modern styles are slowly being introduced to weddings. Also because of technology such as iPhone and 3G, it has opened up the country to a score of online information via information sharing on social media. This is a new trend. Maybe strange to a lot of people for now, but it is certainly taking shape and people start changing their mindset. So this should be the direction we look into. We hope that people like you will help the local industry keep up with the trends as well because you have done it before. People like us would need to constantly upgrade ourselves and our knowledge as well. Correct?

Correct! So you think there is a great potential for the wedding industry in Cambodia to grow then?

Yes, I definitely think so. Every country has to grow. I think this is the time for local and international investors to consider investing into the wedding business because only with a group of like-minded people can we move forward to grow the industry. BUT, they need to keep in mind, especially for the foreign investors that they should not forget our Khmer culture & traditions. 

I totally agree with you. I think it is not so much about changing the culture but uplifting it. What then do you think is the biggest hurdle for the local wedding industry to overcome?

First of all, we all need to keep an open-mind. Second of all, I think one of the biggest hurdle will be professional services. Right now, every company compete based on price. Nobody competes based on professional service. I mean, like I explain above, everytime I need to do something cheap, I cannot improve my technology. And as such, the quality is to the best that I can deliver based on the fee that I am getting. This is a two-way thing. Clients need to also be involved in the process same with us to learn and to grow and to ask for the best only.

Wow, Mr. Ratha, I love your points. Anyway, before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips for the couple when choosing their Wedding Videographer?

Make sure you have good communications with the videographer and the team
Make sure you check their contract and what they will deliver to you at the end of the day
Make sure you give them as much information as possible about what you want
Make sure you trust that they are creative people with creative inputs too
Be adventurous - try something new and creative and stylish

I had really enjoyed the interview with you, Mr Ratha! Thank you again for all the superb points you gave. Here's to working together more for the future of the wedding industry in Cambodia!

Some of iFriend Studio Behind The Scene photo

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Two Minutes with Wedding Photographer | Hilarion Goh from Hil & Jas Foto Concept Vietnam

Founder & Photographer - Hilarion Goh
Hil & Jas Foto Concept is a foreign-owned commercial photography house based in Saigon. Renowned for their wedding photography services, their clienteles include many celebrities, well-known personalities and dignitaries. Their team of photographers in Singapore are qualified photographers from the Master Photographers Association in the United Kingdom and Wedding Photographers Association in Singapore. Part of their mission and vision is also photography education and they have trained many Vietnamese photograhers to see beauty beyond the lenses. 

This week, we speak to Hilarion Goh, founder and photographer of Hil & Jas Foto Concept and we have a 2-minute discussion on weddings in Vietnam and Cambodia.

How long have you been in the business of capturing the bride & groom’s moments?

25 years

Oh, wow! That is a long time indeed. Should call you 'sifu'. Understand that you’re Singaporean but you are based in Vietnam – for how long now?

About 2 years

Why Vietnam?

Emerging countries are where we like our business to be as it offers more challenges as well as opportunities.

Tell us more about your area of specialty in terms of your photography styles

Fashion would be an area of expertise for us, followed by weddings and commercials photography.  

You have been to Cambodia a fair few times now and you have also participated in a wedding fair held earlier this year. What is your perception of the country?

It’s actually a great place with huge potential in terms of the wedding industry. Of course, it will take some time to grow this industry, but I believe it will grow.

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

Yes, yes. Definitely a great potential here in Cambodia.

So do you think you plan to grow your roots here in Cambodia too? *smile*

Certainly, yes! We are seriously considering expanding our business base to cover Cambodia as well.

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

a) Compare the difference in style
b) Communication - make sure you can communicate with the photographer 
c) Compare the packages offered and evaluate what is being offered 
d) Check to see if the photographer is qualified or accredited
e) Confirm that the portfolio is taken by the photographer you signed with and not by any other photographers

Thanks for the tips, Hil and definitely thanks for your time too! Welcoming you to Cambodia soooon. For those who might be interested, Hilarion will be in Phnom Penh for a wedding photography workshop by Canon this October. Stay tuned to find out more!

Some of Hilarion's wedding portraitures....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

2 Minutes with Wedding Venue | Ms Janet Chan from Hotel De La Paix, Siem Reap

The famed romantic swing beds at Meric
The award-winning Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap has recently joined the ranks as one of the world’s Top Ten locations in which to propose to your other half, underlying its position as one of the world’s most romantic hotels. The unique exterior and the chic, exquisitely designed rooms make perfect backdrops for your wedding portraitures and intimate wedding ceremony. You can choose from The Courtyard Garden or the Fountain Garden which makes for a splendid outdoor venue amidst the contemporary art-d├ęcor architecture. For a more private and unique pre-dinner cocktail for an intimate group, nothing can beat the experience of the hotel’s private countryside farm. Just a short ride away from the hotel, you will arrive at the scene of a romantically picturesque paddy field with the scent of lemongrass in the air. It could also be L-O-V-E :)

We speak to the Sales and Marketing Manager for Hotel De La Paix about weddings, love and all things romantic.

Being in a tourist spot that sees more Westerners, do tell us more about the weddings at Hotel De La Paix.

Most guests choose Cambodia as a destination as it offers a truly unique experience.  Therefore the weddings are often a blend of ‘East meets West’ with strong Khmer cultural influences. 

What is the most unique wedding that you have done at the HDLP?

Each wedding to us is unique as every wedding couple is different.  We have done many memorable weddings within HDLP in the tranquility of our Fountain Garden, as well as in the beautiful surroundings of Siem Reap. 

We have done wedding ceremonies with traditional Apsara dances at pagodas, monk blessings on top of a hill during sunrise, temple weddings with the amazing Angkor ruins as the backdrop and also exchanging your vows over sunset in a countryside gazebo….  You will be surprised with the endless choices available in Siem Reap.

Endless indeed. And I'm sure we can be surprised by what HDLP can do too! *smile* The Cambodian weddings at the temples are by far, extremely unique and definitely much sought-after by the Western couples wishing to get married in Siem Reap. Does this apply to the local Cambodians too?

For local weddings, it is greatly a family affair! Traditional ceremony with monk blessing, along with the wedding banquet are often held at the bride’s house instead of a temple or pagoda. It usually starts from early morning until late at night, and often involves thousands of people throughout the day! 

HDLP has won a fair few accolades in the tourism industry. Share with us please and what makes you the romance venue master of Cambodia?

Beside being recognised as the no.1 hotel in Cambodia by publications such as Travel & Living and TATLER, we have been named as one of the top hotels to pop the  "Will you marry me?" question *smile*.  Our team can arrange a variety of romantic encounters for couples within the hotel, where many has proposed to their future husband/wife, celebrated anniversaries, and weddings of course!  The swingbeds at Meric restaurant are highly sought after by couples for a romantic and intimate dinner…

Our country farm dining experience offers yet another unique experience where couples are transferred to the country side by tuk tuk during sunset, and is served champagne upon arrival against a backdrop of picturesque and serene paddyfields and the setting sun. As the stars come out, they will enjoy an authentic Khmer dinner to complete the whole experience in a truly unique setting.

Oooh. Remind me to try that when I am next in Sieam Reap! Getting back, 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 – especially hand-in-hand with the tourism industry?

The wedding industry is growing and many have chosen Cambodia for the mystical and spiritual setting of the famed Angkor temples. There are also new developments in other parts of Cambodia which will complete Cambodia as a destination for both weddings and honeymoons, and ultimately benefiting the local tourism industry and economy. I believe there are great potentials, as long as the local culture and customs are respected. 

How can we work towards that?

We believe Cambodia and its people are truly amazing and we have been promoting the country to the world. By working closely with local operators and their partners internationally, we hope to educate and change the mindset of most visitors who only think of Angkor Wat, to also explore the other beauties our country has to offer.

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

Location, location, location! That should count as three tips! *grin* For a wedding in a country where most haven’t visited, you would want your guests to be able to enjoy at leisure without the difficulty of locating everything.  Essentially, one should choose a location which is central and close and convenient to places like markets, tourist sites, etc... to do their own self-exploration.  

Beside that it would be the ‘people’ and ‘service’ at the said wedding venue because with weddings especially, you need to be flexible and to be able to think outside the box. 

I also personally think that the unique attributes and aesthetics of the venue is important to ensure a beautiful wedding that is captured on film forever.

Lastly, a venue which offers very high quality of food & wine plays an important part as well. The last thing you need is for guests to leave and head straight for supper !

Thanks for the tips, Janet! And thank you for your time too!

Hotel De La Paix is currently running a contest in the hardcopy magazine of Journeys For Two. To participate and stand a chance to win a romantic stay for two at the famed romantic hotel, grab a copy of the magazine now! (Sold in major bookstores in Malaysia & Singapore and distributed in the rest of Southeast Asia).
Monk Blessings ceremony at the temples.
Photography by Vincent Rufo

Still, the Angkor Wat beckons soon-to-be-weds.
Photography by Vincent Rufo