Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Designer Wedding Gowns

I think it is every girl's dream to wear a couture wedding gown. I'm not one of those girls who have dreamt of their wedding day since they were little girls but even I know.. wedding gown = Vera Wang. Now that I am older and have been a recent bride, I have found so many other deliciously gorgeous couture wedding gowns. The kind that cost more than an arm and a leg. Still, it is nice to browse to get an idea of the type of gown you eventually want to get and if you can actually get one of these beauties, more kudos to you.

(Pictures of gowns from respective websites or from The Knot)

Vera Wang

Available at:
The Link Wedding
Lower Lobby, Shangri-La Hotel
Orange Grove Road
Singapore 258350
Tel: 65-6235-4648

Monique Lhuillier
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

Available at:
Helen Rodrigues
7211 Ben Boyd Rd.
Neutral Bay NSW
Tel: 612-9904-5700

Hong Kong
Harvey Nichols
The Landmark

Hong Kong
Tel: 852-3695-3388


Central Weddings
The Landmark
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2869-8666

Tel: 813-3573-3417


Hatsuko Endo Weddings
Ginza, Tokyo
Tel: 813-3563-1411

Also available in Korea, Taiwan, UAE etc

Carolina Herrera
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

Available at:
Hong Kong
Central Weddings and Occasions
Shop B31A The Landmark
15 Queen's Road Central, Central
Hong Kong
Tel 852-2869-8666

Hatsuko Endo
Tel: 03-3567-9358

6-16 Reisenmachi, Hakata-ku
Tel: 812-003-(092)263-6073

Jim Hjelm
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

No store information

Melissa Sweet
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

Available at:
Hong Kong
White Bridal Couture
14/F, 1 Lan Kwai Fong
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-25213288

Reem Acra

Available at:
The Link Wedding
Lower Lobby, Shangri-La Hotel
Orange Grove Road
Singapore 258350
Tel: 65-6235-4648

Oscar de la Renta
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

Available at:
Hong Kong
Joyce Boutique
18 Queen's Road
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2810-1120

Justina McCaffrey
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

No store details

Badgley Mischka
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

No store details

(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

No store details

Jenny Lee
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

Available at:
Hong Kong
Central Weddings and Occasions

Shop B31A, The Landmark

Central, Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2869-8666

Brilliant Bride

4-8-4 Yamato-dori, Chuo-ku
Tel: 81-78-261-2015

Maggie Sottero
(Not available in Singapore or Malaysia)

Available at:
90 Karimbla Road

Miranda, NSW 2228
Tel: 02-9540-5433

Bridal Secrets
Level 1 60 Macquarie Street
Parramatta, NSW 2150
Tel: 02-9635-3311

Jenny & Gerry's Bridal House
1st Floor 54-58 Payneham Road
Stepney, S.A. 5069
Tel: 08-8362-1049

Abbey Bridal
2nd Floor, Dymocks Building
428 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000
Tel: 02-9233-5106

Bride's Selection
142 Northwood St.
West Leederville, W.A. 6007
Tel: 08-9381-9600

Dion for Brides
109 Cambridge St.
West Leederville, W.A. 6007
Tel: 08-9388-8222

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hotel Banquet Checklist

I am a big fan of checklists. It helps me organize my thoughts besides acting as a reminder.

I think the 3 main determining factors are:
1. Cost
2. Type of event
3. Number of guests (most hotel venues required you to have a minimum number of confirmed guests to use their ballroom and this can differ quite greatly)

This is my checklist (modified) for when we were scouting for the venue for our wedding banquet:

1. Location
1.1. Within city?
1.2. Accessibility?

2. Banquet room
2.1. Size of room (width, depth, ceiling height)
2.2. Obstructions in room?
2.3. Position of stage versus route of bridal march-in
2.4. Windows?

3. Food/Beverages
3.1. Review of food? Quality/Quantity/Menu
3.2. Menu
3.3. Drinks included? (Free-flow softdrinks and mixers/ beer/ wine/ cocktails/ corkage)
3.4. Drinks menu
3.5. Pre-dinner tid-bits (canapes, fondue, breads, chips, nuts...)
3.6. Desserts/ Cake

4. Service
4.1. Number of service staff
4.2. Plated service?
4.3. Frequency of plate change

5. Decorations
5.1. Themes?
5.2. Centrepieces and other decoration
5.3. Stage backdrop?
5.4. Linen
5.5. China/silverware
5.6. Seat covers?

6. Giveaway/Others
6.1. Hotel room
6.2. Cake
6.3. Champagne
6.4. Giveaway items
6.5. Invitations
6.6. Parking
6.7. Rooms for helpers
6.8. Rooms for out of town guests
6.9. AV equipment (projector, technician, microphone, amplifiers...)
6.10. Bridal march-in ideas
6.11. Food presentation
6.12. Room for tea ceremony (including tea set?)
6.13. Others


The package standard would most likely include:
- One (or two) nights stay at the hotel with breakfast
- Supper for 2 after the ceremony
- Wedding invitation cards (not inclusive of printing) for 60 - 70% of confirmed number
- Free-flow soft drinks and mixes
- Centerpiece and floral stands
- Seat covers
- Dummy cake with real top tier
- Champagne or sparkling wine for "champagne pouring"
- Door gift item
- Chocolates or fruit cake
- Complimentary car park vouchers for 20 - 30% of confirmed number of guests
- Complimentary food tasting of selected menu for 8 - 10 persons

Slightly better deals also comes with
- 1-barrel of beer
- Waiver of corkage for wine and/or hard liquor
- Complimentary wine depending of number of tables confirmed

You can try to negotiate for:
1. Free flow beer/wine
2. More hotel nights stay (especially if they are only offering 1)
3. 100% invitation cards
4. Better giveaway item
5. Waiver of corkage
6. Free-table (especially if you are signing at a bridal show) if you are booking a lot of tables
7. Room for helpers
8. Change some items in the menu for a slightly more expensive option
9. Better/more flowers in the decor
10. Some tidbit items for your pre-dinner drinks

Another word of advice, contact the hotels yourself to get a quote. Often, if you get the quotes second hand, you cannot really be sure it is the most updated. You should also go and view the venues you have shortlisted (bearing in mind that most venues have a minimum number of guests prior to confirmation). It is sometimes the small things that matter like, how you are treated by the wedding coordinator or how the room smelt like the first time you enter (I've viewed a room where they hadn't aired it after an event and it stanked of stale beer/wine). Of course, it also boils down to your budget. But that's another post.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Outdoor Weddings

I personally think that an outdoor solemnization ceremony is the most beautiful (worrying about the possibility of rain and combating the heat not withstanding).

Because of the two reasons mentioned, outdoor weddings/solemnizations are not very popular but with these venues you might just change your mind.

I've already mentioned this before but it's worth repeating. The Lawn at Raffles Hotel is elegant, sophisticated. Oh so lovely (and posh too). The downside, it's the lawn so not the best place to be wearing high heels.

Although technically not an outdoor venue, the Art Museum (formerly St Joseph's Institution) has a lovely glassed in venue (The Glass Hall) that has an outdoor-ish feel even though you enjoy the comforts of conditioned air. They also have another beautiful beautiful venue for weddings - The Auditorium. But that's not on the list because it is not an outdoor venue or even close to it.

I think when people say "park" or "garden" in Singapore, the only thing that comes to mind is Singapore Botanical Gardens. And they have a pretty wedding venue to boot.

On top of being a favourite for pre-wedding photography, Fort Canning Park is also a lovely wedding solemnization venue. There are plenty of "venues" within the park that you can choose from. Of course, you can also "cheat" and go for The Legends at Fort Canning.

I found this when I was trying to look for photos of the Orchid Garden. I think although it is beautiful, the location would put some people off. Still, compared to hotel solemnizations, the cost of having such a lovely outdoor venue is lower and you can use the "extra" to rent transport to the venue.

There are so many to choose from. Take your pick.

Nature also equals animal? Exotic, unique? Animal prints as well as actual animals. A definitely wow-er. You also don't have to do it outdoors per se. They also have other "indoor" venues like the Forest Lodge.

Fantastic views. I think Faber Rock is a great outdoor wedding with a view.
A beautiful sunset would be a fantastic backdrop for a wedding. In Singapore, my choice of the best beach would be in Sentosa. If you don't want the hassle of arranging for a tent etc. You can also choose to have it on the beach at any of the hotels in Sentosa. Rasa Sentosa seems to be a popular venue for beach weddings.
There are of course, many other venues such as public beaches, marinas/yacht clubs, chalets (my opinion on this would be ew but it is a cheap option and if you are good at decorating, it might be a good idea), at home in your own garden (if you are lucky enough to have a large garden), hotel poolsides... Outdoor venues are only limited by your imagination. A friend of mine (not in Singapore) got married in a public park and it was beautiful. There were people who were at the park who just joined in the celebration - one even provided impromptu music for the bridal march. Lovely!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Magical Moments Captured

I personally think that couples in Singapore and Malaysia too often neglect their wedding photography and concentrate too much on their pre-wedding photography.

Although pre-wedding photography is great and all, but to truly feel that your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, you surely would need to capture all those magical moments in video and photographs to savour in the years to come.

I personally love photojournalistic shots taken during the actual wedding be it a religioius, civil, customary ceremony or a celebrational reception, banquet.

I admit I am a wedding-photo-holic. It's because from a good photographer's eyes, you can feel the joy of the occasion captured in the photograph. (And that is why I don't really like pre-wedding photos because it is all staged and I can't truly feel the occasion based on the photos).

For all those taking the time to consider a great photographer for your wedding, check out WPJA (Wedding Photo-Journalist Association).

In Singapore, I truly love the work of Plush Photography's Eadwine Lay and Lighted Pixel's Kelvin Koh. Check out their website and drool.

In Malaysia, my personal favourite is Louis Pang. It might cost a lot of fly him down to KL (cos he is based in Sabah but look at his portfolio and you'll know it will be worth it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

My Favourite Wedding Sites

For the busy bride (or groom), nothing beats the internet as a guide to all things wedding. Sure, not all information would be online and seeing thing in person is a lot different to seeing it online. But to be efficient, doing research online first and then shortlisting has helped me save a whole bunch of time.

My absolute favourite resources online are:
1. The knot
Tons of ideas, advice, vendors (maybe not so relevant for this part of the world). I can spend hours looking at the photo gallery of real weddings. Great for inspiration.

2. Bridal Magazines Online
A. Female Brides Singapore
B. StyleWeddings

3. Singaporebrides.com and Malaysiabrides.com
Although the website are full of good vendors. I mostly trawl their forum pages. Since I can't review all the vendors myself, I read through the forum entries on the particular vendor I am interested in. I also love forum pages because it is amazing how so many brides have similar issues, aspirations/dreams.

4. Martha Steward Weddings
Again, American but oh so many ideas especially for dresses and some DIY ideas too.

5. Something Old, Something New
My friend who is an October bride has gotten me hooked to this site. They have so many oh so pretty items featured. Curses... it's also based in the US. Still, some of them do have websites. Can anyone say web shopping?

6. I do
Similar to Singaporebrides.com

7. ROM (Singapore) and Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (Malaysia)
A must. I recommend going through the details provided at least once so that you would be familiar with the official procedures for getting your marriage registered in Singapore and/or Malaysia.

8. Archdiocese of Singapore and Archiocese of Kuala Lumpur
Not strictly for wedding and is definitely only relevant for Catholics but I found it useful so I am including this in my list of favourite wedding sites.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wedding Receptions- Hotels (Singapore)

I think hotel receptions for weddings are fantastic because:
1. The have wedding packages. It makes things so much easier to coordinate because they do everything for you, they usually provide the wedding invitation cards, flowers and other decor, dummy cake, champagne, favours and if you are not preparing music, they would have background music on hand. Also extremely convenient, they will provide at least 1 night stay at the hotel's bridal suite.
2. Grand. If you don't have the money to rent a fantastic venue and a caterer to suit, the best option for a grand wedding reception is at a hotel ballroom.
3. They do weddings all the timeand so they probably can give you loads of wedding advise and give you plenty of contacts for vendors.
My favourite hotels (in Singapore) for wedding receptions:

1. Four Seasons Singapore - best hotel for small reception

Their ballroom is beautiful with large windows (not much of a view) and a great reception area. Their smaller ballroom is perfect for those looking for a grand venue for a small reception of less than 150 guests. Their Windows room on the 20th floor is another fantastic venue for ROM and very small receptions with its breathtaking views. Of course, the venue comes with great service and good food. The downside is, they don't offer many complimentary items and of course, not the cheapest on the list. Still, all things considered, this is my personal choice of the ultimate wedding hotel in Singapore.
(Photo taken from Four Seasons website)

2. Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore - best hotel for large weddings with impeccable service
Their ballroom can accomodate up to 100 tables in banquet round tables. Their service is impeccable and the food is pretty good too. Of course, the bridal suite comes with the fantastic bathroom with a view. Loves it! If you want a venue for ROM, try the Chihuly Room or the Pool Garden. If you get it, the Snappers is a lovely indoor venue with an outdoor feel. The downside, the function rooms (Millenia roooms) for smaller weddings are the usual function room types with relatively low ceilings. I'm also not a huge fan of their Chinese wedding food.
(Photo taken from Ritz-Carlton Millenia's website)

3. Raffles Hotel - most impressive name and best garden wedding
I love the old-world feel to Raffles Hotel. If romantic/princess/classic is the theme/mood for your wedding, this is the hotel for it. Their ballrooms are spacious. I especially like the smaller East India Rooms because it leads out to a beautiful courtyard with a fountain. Perfect for pre-dinner drinks. The Lawn is my favourite for English style garden wedding. I would have loved it for my own wedding had I not gotten married in church and been brave enough for an outdoor wedding. Downside, it is starting to get a little shabby and worn in certain areas and if you are looking for a modern hotel with broadban internet connectivity and plasma TVs, this isn't the right venue for you. Of course, it is also on the high side in terms of cost. Still, I think the old-world feel and the name Raffles Hotel does justice to it.

4. Shangri-La Singapore - overall best for weddings
With the large selection of venues in one hotel, brand name, good food and the partnership with The Link, Shangri-La really is the venue for the "Perfect Wedding". I personally think that Shangri-La service doesn't come close to Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton but it seems the venue of choice for "it" weddings (by celebrities, government officials etc). I love the Stateroom for small receptions/ROM, the Pavilion and Garden Terrace/Waterfall Terrace also for small receptions. It is such a pity that the Pavilion is such a long narrow room. I love that it is hidden away and has its own courtyard far away from the hotel buildings. Also a pity about the partitions at the Garden and Waterfall Terrace. Otherwise it is ideal for that outdoor feel indoors. Still, it is lovely for standing receptions. I also think that the Island Ballroom is a nicer venue than the Ritz-Carlton's Grand ballroom (for huge weddings) and the huge private foyer with private entrance is definitely a plus. The downside, it's definitely expensive and like I said, I always seem to have problems with their service whenever I have events there. Also, because they are so used to big time government VIPs, I think that they can be rather snobbish. Also, for those who don't drive, it is a hassle to get to. Still, overall, it is a great place. ps. I LOVE Valley Wing rooms. \('o')/

5. Sheraton Towers - great Chinese food
If food is a priority but you don't want to have your wedding at a restaurant, Sheraton Towers is it. It doesn't cost as much as the last 4 hotels I mentioned but I have had lots and lots of people tell me the best wedding dinner they have ever attended is at Sheraton because of the food. The Chinese menu is from the chefs at the fantastic Li Bai (one of my favourite Chinese restaurants). But, there are 2 downsides, they use 12-pax tables when calculating their package (I really hate that) and their Ballroom (if you use the entire Ballroom) is an L-shape. Also, if you are having a wedding at the Topaz Room, your guest would definitely get mixed up with those heading to the Ballroom and vice-versa.
(Photo taken from The Regent Singapore's website)

6. Carlton Hotel - great Chinese food at reasonable prices
For their rates, I think Carlton Hotel's Chinese Wedding Banquet package is hard to beat. It is also in a relatively convenient location.

7. Hyatt Hotel - great Muslim menus
If you are looking for a hotel that serves halal menus in Singapore, I think you are down to a small selection. Of the few, I think Hyatt Hotel is definitely the top. They also do quite good themed weddings. Hey, even the Sultan of Johor and the Tengku Mahkota Johor love this place (I always see their car at the front). Downside, their service can often be found lacking and I personally find that they are difficult to negotiate with. I also hate that they don't allow you to change items on their menus.

8. Regent Singapore - great themes
If you like the hotel to do themed weddings for you, I think Regent has a great selection. They also change them often. I deal with them a lot for work and think Sunil from the sales team is great to work with. The downside, their rooms are kinda run-down and a little drab. Another downside is, it is at a rather inconvenient location. Still, it's Four Seasons service at a competitive price.

I'm sure there are tons of other great hotels and this is just a selection based on my own views. My advice is, don't ask another bride to be for the hotel package because the packages change every year (or in some cases more often). Also don't be afraid of negotiating for what you want. You really don't have to take the package wholesale and often, the coordinator would be willing to work with you to create the wedding of your dreams.

A note of caution for the un-itiated. There is usually a minimum number of guests/tables you have to confirm to take the ballroom. If you don't meet the minimum, it is likely you will either get relegated to a smaller function room or if you are unlucky enough to have a party that is too small for the ballroom and too large for function rooms, you need to be that much earlier in securing the ones that do cater for that size.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Wedding Venues

The wedding process in Singapore and Malaysia often begins with choosing a venue for the banquet. When I began my own search, everyone I knew told me that I was really late in selecting a venue because often, really good venues get snapped up a year or 2 in advance for good/auspicious dates. Double digit dates (1 January, 2 February, 3 March, 4 April... etc) are obvious favourites especially if they fall on weekends. This year, the magical date of 7 July 2007 falls on a Saturday and know there are venues that have been booked for this date 2 or 3 years in advance.

Apart from auspicious dates, the thing that bugged me the most was the problem of minimum number of tables. I really wanted a nice room in a nice hotel for my wedding banquet but since I was having such a small wedding, most hotels just wouldn't allow us to have the ballroom. I know of people who have the problem the other way around, that is most rooms cannot accomodate wedding parties that size.

Obviously the choice of venue would depend heavily on the type of wedding you want:
Formal or Simple?
Religious/Customary, Civil or both?
With or without reception immediately following?
Together with the ROM signing ceremony, Ceremony only or Banquet/Reception only?
Outdoor or Indoor?
Lunch or Dinner?
Sit-down, Buffet or Butler Pass/Cocktail Reception?
Chinese, Indian, Malay, Western/International?

After that, there is the choice of type of venue:
Hotel Function Room/ Ballroom/ Poolside/ Restaurant
Community Centre
Private Property
HDB Flats Void-deck
... it's endless.