It has finally happened! The love of your life has proposed, you did him the grand honour of accepting, and now comes the exciting and daunting task of actually planning the wedding.
THE beautiful wedding you have been dreaming of since you were little girl now has to be translated to reality. All you need to do is plan it. Eek!
Everybody starts the same way—search on Google, and then look at wedding websites, and then narrow it down to individual service providers. There are so many of them, with a multitude of ideas, photographs, checklists, questionnaires, events, stories, advertisements, etc. But what should you focus on? What is truly important about planning the wedding you’ve always wanted?
We asked recent brides on the most important lessons they learned from planning their Singapore and KL weddings—and the answers surprised us!
1. Decide on the ONE thing you want your wedding guests to always remember – by Janice Loh
Think back to the last five weddings you attended. What do you remember about them? Our guess is – probably not much, apart from the friends you met there and how drunk the Groom got at the end.
It’s one of the most important days in your life, so you want it to be just PERFECT. That’s why brides get completely overwhelmed with the many facets of wedding planning—the venue, invite list, dress, shoes, hair, food, speeches, videos, music band, entertainment, gift table, flowers, cake, alcohol…the list goes on and on.
But the truth is, your guests are unlikely to remember all the details, unless you focus on something truly special or heart-moving. So decide what this will be, and put your effort on making it happen.
“Pick one thing each to splurge on for the wedding then find ways to make everything else work within your budget. For some it may be the dress, for others, a real cake or customised wedding favours.” – Janice Loh.
Above: Janice Loh and Ernest Liew with their 5-tier, really amazing wedding cake from My Sugar Creations
“We spent hours and hours figuring out the many aspects of our wedding, meeting and interviewing tons of service providers,” reminisces Jes Min Lua, who got married in late 2012.
“But, one year down the line, no one remembers what shoes I wore. However, people still remember two things; “Our Story” video shot by Grace’s team at Stories.my, and my beautiful lace wedding dress created by Louisa at Pretty in White. I shouldn’t have spent so much time on the other bits that people don’t even remember”, she adds.
2. Get organized early – by Cass Mah
Most brides only have up to 12 months to plan a wedding, so you need to start early, get organised, and get to making wise choices and trade-offs. Make these decisions with your fiancée as early as possible:
How much you will spend in total, and how to spread the budget
The biggest cost items are usually venue, food, dress, photography, decoration and entertainment. Deciding on a rough budget will help you narrow down the types of service providers you should shortlist
The areas you will outsource to professionals
Think about the areas you will DIY or get some friends or relatives to help, and what to leave to the experts. “Get recommendations from friends and relatives who got married recently, so you can leverage off their advice and short-listed service providers. If you spend your time interviewing random service providers, all you’ll get are random results,” says Jes Min.
The timeline and checklist
Make a list of what decisions need to be made, by when, and what decisions are dependent on other decisions. “Get a planning template from the most detailed bride / friend you know, and you will have a good base to work off right away,” says Cass.
“Get a planning template from the most detailed bride / friend you know, and you will have a good base to work off right away.” – Cass Mah
3. Till Debt Do Us Part…Not – by Callista Seow, Lydia Law-Goh
It is becoming trendy to go all the way when planning a wedding. A Visa survey indicates 88% of couples over-spend on their weddings. However, getting deep in debt is not a great way to start your marriage, as it puts unnecessary pressure on a young family.
Recent bride Callista Seow and husband Joseph Goh advises young couples to exercise careful financial planning. “Plan for your wedding by controlling the size of the guest list. And be thoughtful about who you invite, because this determines how your finances will turn out”.
Lydia Law-Goh advocates feeling free to plan your wedding the way you want it, and not succumb (too much) to family and peer pressure for a big bash.
“It’s YOUR day so do it your way! We went with a champagne luncheon with only close family and friends and had a blast!” – Lydia Law-Goh
Above: Lydia Law-Goh and husband having an amazing time at her wedding Champagne Luncheon at the Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Having a budget doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible. For instance, if you found a wonderful videographer that you really MUST have, but he charges more than your initial budget, find out if he can give you photography services as well. You never know, he may have a package that suits you.
4. Differentiate between important and urgent decisions – Joanne Kua
So you’ve downloaded that checklist from a wedding website with about 200 different things you need to do. Great. What do you do now, and what can you leave for later?
Joanne Kua gives a checklist of what she considers urgent:
Wedding date, location, and number of guests
These three parameters represent the three-legged stool for any wedding. Each one depends on the other two, so you must confirm them early.
For example, if you have a 500-long guest list, there are only a few hotels in Malaysia and Singapore that can accommodate it.
Want a garden wedding instead? You may not find a patch of grass that can hold more than 200.
Or, if you have a specific auspicious date in mind, other couples may be aiming for it too, making it hard to find an available venue.
Booking your makeup artist
Good makeup artists are few and far between, so they get snapped up quickly.
“Engaging your make-up artist should be one of the first three things you do once you’ve nailed down your wedding date,” says Joanne adamantly.
“I remember scrambling for a make-up artist for my wedding and ended up with one recommended by a friend. The problem was, she happened to be planning for her wedding too – two weeks after mine. I ended up looking exactly like my friend—both our hairstyles and make-up colours were identical! I cringe every time I look at my wedding pics.”
“These are memories that stay with you after that big great event. The last thing you want is to be reminded of how awful you felt on your wedding day!”
Send your invites out early
People’s schedules get booked out as early as nine months in advance. So if you really want certain people at your wedding, tell them early!
Some couples even send out save-the-date invites much earlier than the actual card, and set up Facebook events pages. But, a simple email to say “We’re getting hitched! We would love for you to be there so please keep that weekend free,” could be enough.
5. Delegate, delegate, delegate – Teh Bee Lian, Xandria Ooi, Joanne Kua, Rebecca Chim
Weddings have traditionally been a community event—and for good reason. There are just so many things to do and as you approach your wedding day, sometimes it seems that you need to delegate to an army of helpers just to get it all done in time!
Xandria Ooi advises brides “Delegating does not mean leaving everything to all your friends and family and not planning anything. Delegating means doing in the prep work in advance. If you know what you want, you need to write it all down and simply let them know, and ask if they’re okay with it (friends are usually happy to know how they can help).
“Delegating does not mean leaving everything to all your friends and family and not planning anything. Delegating means doing in the prep work in advance.” – Xandria Ooi
Our advice on delegation:
Assign the right job to the right personality
- For the traditional Chinese “Gatecrashing” ceremony, choose a funny, outgoing friend to take care of the “Chip San Leong” torture session with the Groom’s friends (it’s best if she can speak Hokkien, as it always turns out funnier in the videos)
- Ask your mum to own the night-before-the-wedding preparations.
- Ask a creative friend to take care of the themes and card designs. Get a reliable aunt to work-out the reception table logistics.
- But never, never get a young frisky cousin to take care of the alcohol tab, as you will struggle to find him (and the extra 20 bottles of wine) at the end of the evening.
Give guidance, but don’t micro-manage
When asking family and friends to help you with things, give them high level guidance. For example:
- If you are inviting many stiff-upper-lipped uncles to the tea ceremony, tell your “chee muis” (sisters) to keep the ‘sucking-milk-bottle-in-bra’ torture games for later.
- If your ex-boyfriend is going to be attending the wedding dinner, ask your Dad to not tell too many jokes about how he background-checked every single guy you went out with.
Find one experienced person to be the project manager / central coordinator
“One MUST invest in an effective wedding coordinator,” says Joanne. “Do not pick a coordinator because he/she is your best friend or is a family member. Pick one that has proven track record in managing difficult situations and is able to solve problems independently.”
“Do not pick a coordinator because he/she is your best friend or is a family member. Pick one that has proven track record in managing difficult situations and is able to solve problems independently.” – Joanne Kua
“If you think ‘It’s OK, I will handle it’ you are probably wrong because on your big day, there will be so many things going on at once and the last thing you want is to be bogged down by things like, ‘there is technical fault with the laptop, what should we do?’”
“You really want to appoint someone who can manage that big day for you and make the best decisions for you – coordinating between hotel staff, bridesmaids, programs, photographers, etc—so you are free to enjoy with family and friends” advised Joanne.
“Delegate all the tasks on the actual day to family and friends. You shouldn’t be the one having to run around on that day because you are the VIP.” – Teh Bee Lian
Xandria thinks that the wedding party plays a huge role. “I had six bridesmaids, and my husband had six groomsmen, so between the 12 of them, we didn’t have to worry about anything on the day / weekend of our wedding.” she laughs.
Above: Xandria Ooi and Yuri Wong with their bridal entourage of 12