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