Tuesday, October 23, 2012

5 ways to cut your wedding budget

Weddings are expensive!
If your budget is becoming a nightmare, there are a few ways to trim the costs without sacrificing your dreams or the comfort of your guest.  

Trim your wedding guest list
Everytime you add a name to your guest list, you are increasing your budget significantly. Its not just the catering costs (i.e. hotel, restaurant, venue) but also the extra favors, centerpiece, invitations, cake, etc. Don't invite anyone you haven’t talked to in five years. Don't feel obligated to let single people bring a date unless it's a long-term partner or a fiancé and avoid feeling pressured to invite all your work colleagues. You can also decide to eliminate categories like “relatives more distant than first cousins” or casual friends, by not inviting anyone from these groups, you’ll help avoid hurt feelings.

 Have your cake and eat it
Wedding cakes can be a luxury, especially for a large guest list and if you have heart set on serving it as a dessert. Using the venue’s mock cake and dressing up the table or the cake with fresh flowers would be an option or think about having a smaller cake in your design and ordering less costly sheet cakes for serving.  

THE Dress 
Your wedding gown is often the easiest place to overspend – but also on the easiest area to trim costs. Take the time to shop around, look at bridal sales, rent from bridal shops or think about tailor making a simpler dress and use accessories and flowers to dress it up.  

Get Crafty- Do It Yourself
Throw a “pitch-in party” where you enlist the help of your bridal party and family to help you assemble favors; make invitations, centerpieces and other homemade inexpensive touches. From designing your own email save-the dates to self printed thank you cards, from hand written addresses to tying ribbons to your program booklets, the sky’s the limit to your D-I-Y session. Be sure to put out delicious snacks and inspiring tunes so that your friends feel like they’re at a party, not just part of an assembly line!  

Streamline your bar 
Instead of having a fully stocked bar, be imaginative and create a signature cocktail and serve 1-2 other alcoholic options for the dinner. This will drastically reduce alcohol cost and look chic at the same time. Negotiate with the venue for free corkage and opt to bring your own liquor, beer or wine from a supplier that would offer a consignment option. If you and your fiancé don't drink, consider having a dry wedding!

Don't ever forget the purpose of your wedding day: To Get Married! 

If you spend RM 5,000, you will be just as married as the couple that has spent RM 500,000. With the help of your wedding planner, you'll be surprised how planners can help you trim off the "fat" and keep you in-check with your budget.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Traditional Wedding Portraits in Myanmar

Traditional wedding portraits may be a thing of the past for most modern couples now, however, having been through one myself, I have to say, it is actually a lot of fun. Especially when you do it outside of your home country comfort zone.

Locals usually get pretty excited and proud when a foreign couple wishes to embrace their culture by donning traditional costumes and gear.

I'd particular encourage couples to do so - it's just 2 hour of photo studio fun :)

Read my personal account of the portraiture shoot in Myanmar here : http://www.midnitemessages.blogspot.com/

Meanwhile, enjoy these fun / funny photos :)



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

21 Steps to a Picture Perfect Wedding

Congratulations, you are getting married! You've told your parents, emailed your friends and screamed at the top of your lungs. Now we've got to start planning your picture perfect wedding. Here is a 21-Step guide to help you along.

Step 1 Guest List & Budget Discuss with your fiancé what do you both envision for your wedding, do you want a destination wedding for just 50 friends or a grand ballroom dinner for 1000 or both. Sit down and realistically work out the guest list, don't forget the “plus-one guests” and the size of your wedding will form. Decide how much you want to spend on the wedding and who is paying for what. This will help you in your planning, right from the start. The number of people and budget plays a vital role in your planning as it shapes the complexity and overall atmosphere you will have.

Step 2 Theme & Concept Now that we’ve gotten the guest list and budgets, let’s talk about theme & concept. Have you always wanted a fairy tale wedding complete with a horse carriage or you a swanky modern wedding at a posh ballroom or did you want a laid back fun for all beach wedding. Go back to your roots, your history together and what you both are like. The wedding should be a representation of the both of you and what you like, if you can’t stand mosquitoes and sun then perhaps a ballroom is the way to go. Research online, check with friends who have gotten married, you will see photos of similar themed weddings. The first impression you get from that particular theme should shout out to you, trust your instincts. If you are planning to get a wedding planner, this is the time so that the wedding planner can help you “bring out the drawing board” and conceptualize your ideas.

Step 3 Venue Now let’s look at venues, think about locations, logistics and price. Location: If it's a destination wedding, think about a locale that your friends and family can easily get to. See if it can accommodate the number of people comfortably, check on their previous track record and recommendations. Logistics: If you have disabled guests at a venue full of steps or if it's a long drive or in a remote area. Think also about the facilities of the venue from parking, lavatories, electricity, water, linens, furniture and even mosquitoes. Price: Check the inclusions, whether there is a time limit or any other surcharges. Some venues may even have a corkage fee not only on alcohol brought in but also on external vendors brought in.

Step 4 Your Dream Team Venue sorted, we need to start on your dream team. Your dream team is the vendors that will be working with you for your big day, from the florist to the photographer; they will help make your (as cheesy at it may sound, its quite literal) dreams come true. Check out websites, speak with friends and family, get recommendations and see their work for yourself. You need to gather a dream team that shares the same vision with you, so that you can be rest assured that once you have put your trust in them, you could relax and have a good time.

Step 5 Gown & Attire We need to make you beautiful, think about the different events you will be having and what type of attire you will need to acquire for you, your fiancé and the bridal party. Some bride’s are blessed with already having a design in mind; some need some inspirations thru fashion shows and magazine. Whichever type of bride you are we are here to help. Keep an ear out for wedding gown sales, check out local designer fashion shows and be inspired by designs you see on the web and in magazines. From there make appointment to meet with the designers and be honest about what you like and dislike, if possible try on some gowns just to get an idea of what shapes suit you. When you go gown shopping, go with someone that can give you an honest opinion and don't bring an entire football team along, the final decision should be yours and not everyone else’s.

Step 6 Invitation Cards The first impression to your guests is an important one, the invitations set the formality of the events and guests can gauge what to expect from the wedding festivities. Decide whether you want couture invitation cards or run of the mill type. Start on this early in your planning because there are many details related to invites that you need to decide on (e.g. fonts, paper, color, envelopes, text). While working on the invitation cards, you can start cleaning up your guest list with addresses and proper names. You will then realize how many of your friends you don't actually have the address to.

Step 7 Wedding Cake Have your cake and eat it! Literally! Traditionally wedding cakes were suppose to bring good luck to the couple and their wedding guests, but in recent times most wedding cakes are just there as a centerpiece and is not even served. So, decide if you want to serve your wedding cake, let guest take home or whether its just there for decoration. This will determine the size and complexity of the cake. Think about designs to suit your theme and concept, then meet some bakers and try the cakes. If you are planning to serve the cake make sure it blends in with the dinner menu. If your menu is already very heavy, you might want to think of a lighter fruity cake.

Step 8 Entertainment The size of your wedding normally dictates how elaborate an entertainment you need to have. For a small cozy wedding, even an I-pod will do but for a grand ballroom a live band will do the trick. Try to find a balance between the music genre’s you like and what is generally accepted (not everyone like’s heavy metal music). Then visit the band when they are playing at an event or check out their demo DVD.

Step 9 Legalities Find out what are the procedures for the legal portion of getting married; prepare the forms, photos and information way in advance to avoid being stressed out at the last minute. Some locations will allow assist with the applications but most countries the couple themselves need to submit and apply personally.

Step 10 Details, details, details You’re almost there, fit in the little details that make the wedding you. If you caught the “Bride-zilla” bug you will probably be way ahead of this step. But if you are the carefree bride, think about special touches that you may want to include in your celebrations. From a special gesture to include a grandparent who may not be able to attend or a welcome basket for guests who have travelled from a far. Not every detail is difficult to undertake nor expensive, it just requires a little bit of imagination. Phew … half way through You've done your research; you've booked your vendors, now its time for action, getting your planning in order so that proper execution can be carried out. If you've got a wedding planner, sit down and run thru the scheme and flow of things.

Step 11 Program Work out your program in detail, plan the timing, and plan who will do speeches to who will help receive presents. After you’ve planned your program, take a step back and check to see if the program is overwhelming for the guests or too empty, you want to have a nice balance of entertainment and good company.

Step 12 To Do List Work out a to do list for your helpers (if you don't have a wedding planner) and brief everyone concern so that everyone knows their duties.

Step 13 Vows, Speeches, Readers, Announcements Start preparing your vows and speeches, remind the other speakers to do the same so that you will have plenty of time to run thru what you want to say and not leave anything out.

Step 14 Religious Details
Confirm with your religious representative’s on the documentation they may require and the logistic arrangements on the day itself.

Step 15 Honeymoon Confirmed One of the most important event - the honeymoon. Don't forget to plan a getaway that the both of you will enjoy, relax and unwind. It a holiday you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Step 16 Seating Arrangements As RSVP’s come in, start planning your seating arrangement. Try to group guests who have similar interest together so that there will be conversation during dining.

Step 17 Pack your Emergency Kit Pack an emergency kit for last minute hiccups, just so that you know you are prepared. An emergency kit generally has: - For Clothing 1. Sewing kit with needles, thread, buttons, and safety pins 2. Toupee tape (for keeping clothes in place) 3. Scissors 4. Stick-on instant hemming tape 5. Clear nail polish (for runs) 6. White chalk (for masking stains) From the Pharmacy 1. Breath mints 2. Bandages 3. Blister protection 4. Antacid 5. Pain reliever For Touch-Ups 1. Blotting papers 2. Cotton swabs 3. Tweezers 4. Emery board 5. Lip balm 6. Tissues 7. Hand lotion 8. Bobby pins 9. Comb 10. Lipstick 11. Powder 12. Small mirror 13. Nail polish in the shade you're wearing

Step 18 Delivery, pick-ups and logistics Reconfirm delivery, pick-ups and arrangements. Don't forget you need a driver for your wedding car and someone to carry the gifts to the car.

Step 19 Hen's / Bachelor Party Handover the planning of your last wild night to your maid of honor/ best man and enjoy the moment. Party on!

Step 20 Spa Day Plan a day of massages and pampering just for you and your fiancé, with the entire planning you may have been stressed out but trust me, you’ve also stressed out your fiancé. So enjoy a day of relaxation together.

Step 21 Relax, why don't you Relax, you have done your very best to ensure you have a picture perfect day. Now to complete the perfect picture we need a smiling and relaxed bride. Enjoy every moment because time flies by and you know you deserve it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Two Minutes with Wedding Venue | Ms Nguyen Hoang Cam Tu, the Sales & Marketing Support for the Palm Garden Resort in Hoi An, Vietnam

One of our most favourite location in Vietnam – Hoi An, which is recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage site. Hoi An Ancient Town’s buildings and street plans is an example of exceptionally well-preserved history and heritage influences dating back to the 15th century when Hoi An was one of the important trading harbour for South-East Asia. Today, visiting the Old City of Hoi An brings about a nostalgia of sorts, transporting you back to the days of street peddlers, quaint shops selling antiquities and curios and the non-existence of motorized vehicles (for the latter, there are certain times of the day where motorized vehicles are not permitted to enter the town, which adds to the old world charm this city still exudes).

To help you get more acquainted with venues in Hoi An for weddings, we speak to Ms Nguyen Hoang Cam Tu, the Sales & Marketing Support for the PalmGarden Resort in Hoi An, Vietnam about the resort, about weddings, Vietnamese culture & heritage and wedding clients.  

How long have you been with Palm Garden Resort?

I have been with the Palm Garden Resort for 5 years

Can you give us some background about the Palm Garden Resort to familiarize our readers who may not be acquainted with your property?

Influenced by Vietnam’s remarkable local culture and people, Palm Garden Beach Resort & Spa is the first five star resort offering a touch of Hoi An’s traditional architectural design combined with a taste of modern luxury. Set on five hectares of gorgeous tropical gardens, Palm Garden boasts over 400 palm trees and plants right along a 220-metre stretch of Cua Dai Beach near Hoi An Ancient Town, an UNESCO World Heritage site.

Elegant and spacious guest rooms which comprise 188 wooden-designed rooms and beachfront bungalows, have been constructed from and furnished with natural materials and all feature a private balcony and modern amenities. Resort facilities encompass a deluxe spa offering a new line of Pevonia Botanica spa products, a fitness centre complete with sauna, state of the art meeting facilities, water sports activities, a private beach with fine sand and a cozy 45-metre outdoor swimming pool surrounded by lush gardens. Guests are sure to enjoy the resort’s selection of cuisine, ranging from traditional Vietnamese to international specialties at the restaurants

The Palm Garden Beach Resort & Spa has been awarded The Green Hotel Standard 2010-2011 by ASEAN and for The Excellent Performance by Vietnam Economic Times and The Guide Magazine for the past six consecutive years since 2006. The resort takes great pride in serving international events such as APEC Summit in 2006, ASEAN Summit in 2007, Miss Universe in 2008, ASEAN Meeting in 2010 and Miss Earth in 2010.

These regional recognitions position the resort as one of the most glamorous retreat in Vietnam. Definitely ideal and appealing for soon-to-be-weds too!

I’m sure you would agree that Vietnam is becoming an increasingly popular destination for weddings despite the competition from Bali. Of course, I’m only referring to the potential clients from Malasia and Singapore. Can you elaborate more on this?    

Bali is definitely known for being a wedding paradise but if you would be surprise that Vietnam is also a wedding paradise. Vietnam has a long coast, stretching from the North to the South and naturally, there are many absolutely beautiful beaches along this coast. And then we have the highland areas as well with the luscious nature and cool weather. The hospitality, warmth and friendliness of the Vietnamese people and our culture are also the highlights. It all adds to a very unique experience for wedding couples looking to do destination weddings in Vietnam.  

Can you please share more information about Hoi An as the perfect wedding destination for couples?  

Hoi An is a thriving living museum that reflects the different cultures that have crossed path in the bustling trading port over the centuries. The town maintains a complex of architectural structures in excellent condition with the streets laid out in a chessboard pattern, a popular model of oriental mercantile cities in medieval times. This charming city is a sweet spot for wedding portraitures, for sure. A lot of local Vietnamese do take their pre-wedding photos here.

Hoi An is small enough that it can easily be explored on foot, which makes it a delight for visitors to wander aimlessly soaking up the old town atmosphere. You can explore the historic landmarks, laze away the hours in one of  many cafes, sample the local cuisine or take in a spot of tailoring or two in one of the towns many silk and tailor boutiques. Needless to say – for those wishing to have a simple wedding dress made at a very reasonable price, you have come to the perfect place. Although, I don’t believe many brides would take this option as they would prefer to have this made and well-ready before the big day! *smiles*

Geographically, Hoi An is blessed with both a river and the beach. So take your pick – as to whether you’d like the serene river view as your ceremony backdrop or do you prefer the romantic soft-sand beach which skyline is backed by stunning mountain ranges?  

Like most of our Asian cities, the climate in Hoi An is tropical. This means that the temperatures are warm throughout the year, and the year is distinctively broken up by the wet and dry seasons. So it’d be good to check out when is the non-raining season for your wedding to take place!

Celebrations and festivals are a unique custom of most Asian countries and Vietnam is no exception. The ancient town of Hoi An is deeply rooted in culture and tradition. And one of the prettiest sight to behold is during the Mooncake / Lantern Festivals in the 8th Month of the Lunar Calendar whereby the entire ancient town is transformed into pretty, blinking lights of all colours and shapes. For those who plan their wedding during this time period – this is an experience not to be missed. 

And lastly, if we talk about convenience, domestic flights operate to /from all major Vietnamese cities and currently international flights from Singapore on Silk Air are available. It is definitely convenient for weddings from overseas. Hoi An caters to a growing tourism industry and great accommodation options are available from small budget hotels to 5 star resorts. Any weddings will be a remarkable experience and memory – not just for the couple but for their guests as well.

I’m sure you have done many weddings at Palm Garden Resort. Share one which has been truly memorable for you.

It was a wedding back in 2007 and celebrated at the resort’s pool.  The couples ordered red rose petals to the amount of VND 100,000,000 (equivalent to USD 6,500) to be placed into the swimming pool.  The entire pool was transformed into the colour red. Now, red a lucky colour in Vietnam and roses for Vietnamese also symbolizes love. It was memorable because aside from the “red” swimming pool, the entire affair was very romantic, all celebrated around the love that the couple has for each other.

Oh….. that is really nice indeed. Well, how about difficult clients? Experienced any that are particularly trying?

At the resort, our wedding team understands that weddings are very special moments in life and we do expect high demands from our clients.

Well said *grins* Can you tell us a bit more about the Vietnamese culture and how these translates to how the resort is run, how the Vietnamese people are and how does this affect wedding tourism for Vietnam.

Vietnam is still mysterious and may not be all that known to most people globally. Vietnam is a country with a long history dating back thousands of years and there are many ethnic groups living together. As such, Vietnamese culture is very diverse. Each group, each region from the north to the south, from the east to the west has different cultures and traditions.

Palm Garden Resort has a distinctive style in terms of its unique architecture inspired by a stylized Hoi An, the design reflecting the characteristics of the the native culture, combined with green spaces that covers the entire resort. This unique architectural ensemble served to create harmony between resort and nature.

Vietnamese people are warm, friendly, casual but detailed and elaborate. This is actually observed from the traditional Vietnamese weddings which are often very elaborate, merry-boisterous and bold in colours and intricate Vietnamese details as shown in the traditional bridal wear.

I think as more and more people learn about Vietnam, our country, our people, our beauty and charms, then more people would seek to get to know us better. If you do any internet searches for Vietnam these days, you will see that many high-end resorts are in Vietnam and we truly boast of some of the most beautiful locations in the world.

Well, I’ve lived in Vietnam and I can vouch for what you just said. So besides Hoi An, what other locations would you recommend for destination weddings?

Besides Hoi An, there are a lot of locations in Vietnam that you can consider for the weddings such as beach destinations: Phu Quoc Island, Nha Trang, Danang, Phan Thiet, Ha Long Bay or highlands destinations: Dalat and Sapa. All are truly beautiful in their own manner.

Before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips when choosing a wedding venue for destination weddings?

Weddings are one of the biggest most important steps in our lives, so careful considerations need to be given to the choices we make.  In terms of venues, 

Think about the type of wedding you’d like to do :
There are many different destination wedding types to choose from – enjoying the blue ocean with the glimmering sun as your backdrop or opting for the cool highland weather or even choosing a historical site because it holds meaning for you……  once you decide on this, then you can start shortlisting your venues.  

Consider the weather at your  wedding destination :
You have to check carefully about the weather during the time you plan for your wedding because whilst rain may be seen as blessings from the skies, it could ruin a perfectly beautiful outdoor setting.

Check on your wedding budget :
Your wedding plans have be consistent with your budget. You should consider carefully the cost of the wedding in order to make sure that it is feasible. No point starting your marriage in debt!

Consider the convenience of the venue and location for your guests :  
Besides the wedding venue, you may have to look at other accommodation options for your guests with different budgets. And then you would also want to consider the convenience of transportation as well as if guests would like to travel a little to see the place, etc. You’d want to make this a great experience for your guests too.  

Finally, check several venues at the location to get the best choice and options :
There could be plenty of venue options at your selected location and as such, do your due research in order to get the best choices and options. Better yet – go for a site recce before making your decision.

Really good tips, Ms Tu! Thank you so much for your time! And of course, hope you guys have enjoyed the insights as much as we did ! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Two Minutes with Wedding Venue | Ms Nguyen Hiep Thai Hoa, PR & Marketing Supervisor for the Six Senses Group Vietnam

If you’re planning a beach wedding, THIS is definitely a great place to start your journey as man and wife. The ambiance of the Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is not just romantic but the privacy and secluded resort is also one where "Green Is In" - additional value for couples who are serious about conservation and the environment.

To help you get more acquainted with the two resorts and about general weddings in Vietnam, we speak to Ms Nguyen Hiep Thai Hoa, the PR & Marketing Supervisor for the Six Senses Group Vietnam.

How long have you been with the Six Senses Group?

5 years now

Can you give us some background about the Evason & Six Senses properties? This is for our readers who may not be acquainted with your properties.

Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang

The Infinity Pool at Evason Ana Mandara - great for Pre-Dinner Cocktails

Ana Mandara means beautiful home for guests—a sentiment that is reflected at the resort with its warm, Vietnamese hospitality combined with peaceful surroundings. It is Nha Trang’s only beachfront resort with 600m of private beach, offering simplicity, serenity and refinement, together with spectacular views of Nha Trang Bay. Cam Ranh, the airport serving Nha Trang, is just thirty-minutes away. There are 74 semi-detached garden villas and these villas combine traditional Vietnamese touches with locally-inspired architecture and modern conveniences. Rooms are either situated at the lush, tropical gardens or with breathtaking, sea views across the bay.

The Six Senses Spa at Evason Ana Mandara presents a Vietnamese experience of specialty treatments and programmes, in addition to the traditional menu of holistic rejuvenation and pampering. Offering guests a variety of activities, the resort also offers tennis, beach volleyball, a water-activity centre, plus a PADI Scuba Diving Centre. In terms of wedding locations, there are plenty to choose from – be it on the beach front, at the private floating jetty or at one of the numerous F&B outlets that we have.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay sits on a dramatic bay, taking full advantage of the superb setting. Impressive rock formations, white sand beach, a playful stream and the towering mountains behind, all add to the senses of being luxuriously at one with nature here. Ninh Van Bay is accessible only by water. It is a 20-minute boat trip from the Six Senses private jetty in Nha Trang.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Beach Villa

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay comprises 58 pool villas situated on the beach front, on the hillside, and over water amongst rock formations into which private swimming pools have been crafted. Several hilltop villas located near the Six Senses Spa have personal Spa Suites with massage champas and steam showers.
The Six Senses Spa is blended into the rocks beside a gentle waterfall. It provides signature treatments together with individual rejuvenation specialties of the region. Other activities include tennis, watersports and snorkeling and diving facilities, a gym, and nature trails that take advantage of the resort’s unique location. There is also a unique wine-cellar cave in which special “Cave Dining” can be created for an experience of a lifetime.
For weddings, there is a wedding chapel right at the hilltop overlooking the entire Ninh Van Bay which is very popular for our wedding clients. Other locations that are great for having your wedding ceremony would be the Floating Deck or on the beach itself. The entire island is private so, take your pick!

Ah, yes. I’ve seen the stunningly gorgeous vista of the Ninh Van Bay from the Wedding Chapel. Breath-taking indeed! Chi Hoa, you see, for Malaysians, very often, when it comes to beach destination weddings outside of Malaysia, the first location that pops to mind is Bali. But I’m pretty sure Nha Trang here is also a popular destination for weddings. Can you elaborate more on this?

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Water Villa - with direct access to the sea!

Well, to start with, Nha Trang is one of the 29 most beautiful bays in the world. And there are plenty of world-class hotels and resorts along the beaches that can accommodate your wedding celebrations. I would say that the wedding packages offered at these resorts are very reasonable as well and the Vietnamese people are warm, friendly and helpful. What’s more – you get to enjoy and relish authentic Vietnamese cuisine that is prepared fresh from local ingredients by well-trained Vietnamese chefs.

Amongst your resorts in Vietnam, which property is the most popular one for weddings? Why?

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay is very popular for weddings because of the beautiful views and the privacy, exclusivity and the service.

In all the years, what has been the most memorable wedding that you have done at the Evason or Six Senses properties?

This was for a wedding at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay. It was a very touching wedding for our team to witness. The couple and their families had all traveled a long way for the wedding so it was a really close group and very intimate as well. During the ceremony, the groom was really nervous. He was shaking so badly and couldn’t really put the ring on the bride’s finger! *grin* and as for the couple, they were shedding so much tears of joy, especially when they declared their love for each other. Truly a very romantic and touching love story. Very memorable.

Encountered any particularly difficult clients? If so, share the experience with us!

Well, we do have some difficult clients, but we are happy to assist them in every way to help arrange a perfect wedding. Most of our clients are from abroad and we can understand how stressful it must be to plan a wedding from afar.

Six Senses Ninh Van Bay Wedding Chapel

Oh, for sure! I agree. Do share with us more on the Vietnamese culture and how these translates to how the resort is run, how the Vietnamese people are and how does this affect wedding tourism for Vietnam.

The Vietnamese people are very warm and friendly and at our resorts – both Six Senses and Evason, we believe in ensuring guests feel very welcomed and at home when they stay with us. As much as we possibly can, we see to their every need – be it big or small. Of course, there are sometimes certain things that we just cannot help, but if we can, we will. I think in terms of service and destination, Vietnam does not lag behind other countries, you agree?

Yes, yes, I do agree. I think your tourism authorities are pretty serious when it comes to wooing tourists. Anyway, as a Vietnamese yourself, are there any beautiful and exotic locations in Vietnam that you would recommend for destination weddings besides Nha Trang and Ninh Van Bay? It doesn’t necessarily have to be a location that has Evason / Six Senses properties.

The charming World Heritage sites of Halong Bay and Hoi An is definitely perfect for weddings. Otherwise, there are also the beautiful beach resorts in Phu Quoc and Mui Ne (Phan Thiet). We also have a Six Senses in Con Dao and ever since Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie took a trip here, Con Dao is seeing an increase of tourists!

Ooooh! I must visit Con Dao one of these days! Chi Hoa, with the convenience of low-cost airlines, do you see Vietnam getting increasingly popular for destination weddings? Is this a lucrative market for your country’s tourism ministry?

Yes, even on our properties, we are noticing the increasing trend. Last year, on the average, we recorded about 1 to 2 weddings per month. This year, since January till now, we are already averaging 2 to 3 weddings per month.

Oh, that’s nice to hear. Before we part – can you share 5 Top Tips when choosing a wedding venue for destination weddings?

Do avoid high or peak season at the resort. It just doesn’t seem as intimate when there are a hundred other guests walking around the resort.

Choose a spectacular resort not just for the views, but for the great cuisine they serve. Food is part of the experience for you and your guests.

Choose a resort that is also convenient for family and guests to walk-about – not with too many steps, and if the resort is huge, be sure they have great buggy services.

Do also check on weather in the area of your choice. You don’t want to plan your wedding right in the middle of monsoon season.

Do hire a wedding planner and have them plan everything for you so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the day!

Thank you Thai Hoa for your time! And to our readers, please enjoy some of the resort photos of Six Senses Ninh Van Bay as well as for Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang!

Private Dinner on the Floating Jetty at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

Presidential Villa at Six Senses Ninh Van Bay

The glorious view of Ninh Van Bay

The white-sand beach of Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang

Romantic Dinner for Two on the beach at Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang

Destination Weddings Feature on Vanity Shack : Discovering Vietnam

Hi all !!

Happy Monday to you - and for those thinking of beginning the walk down marital bliss and celebrating via destination weddings....... let the charms of Vietnam lure you into her crevices :)

Enjoy the read below!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

How much is you SANITY worth ?

Engagements always start out exciting and new, but that feeling often wears off when the reality of all the responsibilities sets in. A wedding can be a logistic nightmare; between setting a budget, sticking to it, arranging for the venue, and catering, guests’ accommodation and gifts, etc. It’s not surprising that 40% of couple “can’t wait for the wedding to be over and done with”.
Many couples, especially those on a tight budget, never think about hiring a wedding planner, assuming it’s a luxury service they don’t need or could never afford. What they don’t realize is that having outside help can save you time, aggravation, and even money. Sure, wedding planners charge you a service fee, but the discounts and expertise they can provide during the planning process, usually more than pay for itself.

If you’re on the fence as to whether you should hire a professional wedding planner, some important questions you can ask yourself to help you decide.

• Are you way behind on your checklist and schedule? (If you’re trying to plan your wedding without a checklist or schedule, just skip to down below, because you are definitely in need of help!)
• Have you set a budget but are unsure if you can stay within that budget while hiring vendors that gel with your personality? (If you haven’t set a budget, again, just skip down, you definitely can’t do this on your own! Or, you are lucky enough to an unlimited budget, where you’ll definitely want help coordinating all of the expensive details.)
• Do you and your fiancée both work full-time jobs that will prevent you from meeting or corresponding with vendors on weekdays?
• Can you envision your wedding, but have no idea how to achieve it?
• Are you just looking in wedding magazines and big-name wedding websites for vendor recommendations? (Hint – most of these “recommended” vendors pay for that title, which means they have a big marketing budget, but doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best.)
• Do you want to avoid having to ask your bridesmaids to spend hours setting up important details like table cards, centerpieces, etc. on your wedding day?
• Are you having a short engagement (anything less than 9 months)?
• Are you having a destination wedding?
• Are you feeling overwhelmed and wishing you had decided to elope?
• Do you actually want to enjoy your wedding and not worry that something might go wrong that you can’t fix?

If you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, you should at least meet with a wedding planner for a free consultation. It’s easy to assume that if you’re looking to cut your budget, this is an expense to avoid, but keep in mind that hiring someone with experience can help you avoid common, and costly, mistakes that add stress.

One major advantage of hiring a professional wedding planner is that they usually have an established list of local vendors. More specifically, most wedding planners have a network of resources to recommend who are truly allies to the community; this can work to your benefit because you get reputable services without having to go through the trouble of testing several different companies and risk having some awkward moments.
The average bride spends 250 hours on wedding planning without the help of a professional.

The amount of time you spend planning your wedding can be cut dramatically with the help of a wedding planner and the time you do spend planning will be more efficient and not wasted with indecision and inexperience.

Like the yarn tree in the photo above, the responsibilities keep piling on until you don't even see the tree anymore.

What is your time, not to mention your sanity, worth to you?

Monday, March 5, 2012

How to Avoid Being a Bridezilla

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)


The bridezilla; is not a mystical creature or even related to the movie icon Godzilla, but beware the bridezilla is a very real and terrifying creature. The sweetest and most understanding girl can turn out to be a bridezilla overnight.

I should know , I was definitely one. Ask any of my wedding vendors, my bridal party, my friends and family they will all agree I was a 100% bridezilla on a rampage during my wedding plans. They shivered whenever I called to ask a question.

The bridezillas natural habitat is the ballroom of a grand hotel, she eats bridesmaids for breakfast and if you tell her that you won't be able to get the right shade of red roses she wants, her icy stare will turn you to stone.

Here are some tell tale signs :

- She wants a shade of "happy" green that only she knows and feels, when you've shown her the 100th shade of green and she still screams that its not "happy" enough, you, by sheer luck show her the very first green shade and she loves it.

- She makes her bridesmaids agree to lose weight for her wedding and then weighs them periodically

- Bridezilla makes you wear gloves to protect the invitations you are stuffing them into envelopes

- She chooses the ugliest bridesmaid dresses in history so that she'll look extra beautiful by comparison

- The wedding ceremony is at noon, but the reception doesn't start until 6pm. Whatever. Its her special day, so everyone else can just deal with it

- Bridezilla gets mad if guests don't dress up to her standard on her wedding day

- Bridezillas were born the day the first bride-to-be asked for the reception venue to be painted to match her colors, the chandeliers to be more cheery and the carpets to match her eyes.

- She demands to have 3 types of nuts in her wedding cake, even though the poor groom is allergic to nuts

- She tried 6 makeup artist (no matter the cost) before deciding on one for the morning and one for the evening.

- Although no one else can see that 1mm discrepancy in the way the branch on her tree is tilted more to the left than the other branch (on her invitation card), she spots it and reprints the entire batch of cards

- She bought, customized and shipped every little detail you can think of from all over the world. From faux diamonds to strew on the tables, to a customized parasol that costs USD 250 just to use for photos, to handmade candies for her candy bar, to even flying the right scent of essential oil just for the restrooms.

- The last but not least easiest way to spot a bridezilla (super fast too), they tell you, “I’m getting married!” – This is the best and quickest way to figure out if you’re dealing with a bridezilla. When they tell you they are getting married, if they never mention their husband, it’s a good sign that she’s a bridezilla. First of all, “she” isn’t getting married,“they’re” getting married. Second of all, “I’m getting married!” is almost always followed by, “I’ve got so much work to do now.” There’s goes that “I” word again. Remember, “Never I, never me, always us, always we” … wait, I mean, “Our marriage, their wedding” … wait, well you know what I mean.

The bridezilla's main aim is (in her terms) to have a flawless wedding, perfect (according to her) to the tee. As a friend, just stand back so that you won't get burnt, as the groom, this is a true test of whether you love her or not, if you can survive this, you can survive anything.

If you have any of these traits you're a BRIDEZILLA - Bless us all ..

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guest Hospitality Management

We just completed our first full-scale Guest Hospitality Management assignment over in Siem Reap, Cambodia. And much like our associate partner Nupts & Such, GHM is something we offer to our clients - especially clients who are doing destination weddings over in Indochina.

Do CLICK HERE for more information about what GHM entails. But in a nutshell :

GHM Workscope includes :

- Handling guest RSVPs after your invitations have been sent out
- Sorting out guests’ accommodation at the destination
- Organising guests’ transportation and logistics – this could be their flights to and from the destination, including airport transfers, as well as transfers from accommodation to wedding venue for guests who aren’t staying at the wedding venue
- Answering any guests’ enquiries regarding the wedding in terms of itinerary/schedule, dress code, do’s and don’ts
- Managing any other guests’ requirements eg. travel and tour bookings, hair and make-up arrangements for guests, obtaining local SIM cards, etc.

We have to say that whilst GHM entails logistics (and managing these logistics in the most effective and efficient manner), the end objective of GHM is to ensure that all your guests are happy campers. The GHM team is on board to ensure that all your guests' needs are taken care of and help is extended to them in every ways possible.

Over in Siem Reap, we had the nicest guests ever and some of them were such darlings that on the day we departed, they came to say Thank You to us, bearing gifts and pressies. Awww.... that's so sweet. And that just makes our day!

If you'd like to enquire about GHM with us, do drop us a line!

The TWP GHM Team in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Expatriates On The Team eases communication barriers

Sorting out Guest Welcome Notes

Airport Pick-Ups for All Guests

Organizing Tours for Guests

GHM Desk to assist in Guests Enquiries