Hello everyone, today marks the start for a series of wedding posts entitled Our Wedding Notes.
In this series of entries, I wish to share our wedding journey from the beginning to the actual day. Look at it like a bride’s diary so to speak as I will be the one writing it with Mak’s contribution every now and then.
I hope you will enjoy this new series and I am getting really excited as the big day is getting closer.
In this post, I will be talking about the very first steps of our journey – from getting started, choosing a date, setting a budget, picking a theme, finding the venue to hiring a planner.
Let’s back date a little to mid 2012 when it all started.
Mak and I have discussed about getting married on several occasions many times. I guess it has always been in our minds – we want to set up our own family together, some day. But getting started and planning for a wedding seems like “a lot of work” and I believe it is.
Last year, I attended many, many weddings and each time, I get questioned “when is your turn?” – well, my answer is always “after you!”
My family asks me every year during Chinese New Year, I guess it’s a never-ending story huh? After I get married, people will ask “when are you planning for kids?” and when I have my first baby, people will ask “planning for a second one?”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get annoyed or pressured with these questions at all. I don’t see the point of getting married and having kids just because people around me have.
For me, there’s really no rush. I truly enjoy single-hood (well, not exactly single but you know what I mean). I enjoy the freedom and carefree lifestyle we are having. I enjoy spending quality time with Mak and I enjoy the flexibility I have together with the vast amount of me-time I get.
With all that mentioned above, getting started seems even harder and the topic “marriage” became silence for a while. Until beginning of this year, we had a serious discussion with both our families.
CHOOSING A DATE
Like most people in the Chinese culture do, we believe in choosing an auspicious wedding date. For those who are new to this culture, read this article to learn more if you are interested.
Together with our birth date, time of birth and year of birth – we obtained our wedding date from a fortune-teller.
Things are beginning to seem more real now that we have a date. Having a date is one of the first steps and is crucial because that’s the date you are working towards – when you send inquiries to interested venues, they need a date to work with, as well as sourcing for vendors or hiring a planner.
Sit down with the elders to discuss which months or time of the year they prefer. From there, narrow down to either a weekday or a weekend (this will affect the cost of banquet at most hotels/restaurants).
After having a rough idea and some guidelines, tell the fortune-teller to calculate/find a date that fits your criteria best. If possible, get a few dates and timings from the fortune-teller. Discuss with the elders again to make sure they are comfortable with the date.
SETTING A BUDGET
Alright, here comes the tricky part – setting a budget. I am sure we all have our own dream wedding and dream weddings usually come with a hefty price tag. And people I have met often say “it happens once in a lifetime”, yes, hopefully. Mak says “do it once, do it well!” And I say “let’s do it!”
From my experiences up to date, don’t let your budget crush your ideas. But of course, be realistic.
There are always ways to fine tune the little details of a wedding whether the budget is $30,000 or $80,000. Be comfortable with what you have and what you are willing to spend on your wedding because other than the wedding itself, there are still other things like pre-wedding photography and honeymoon.
Try to DIY if possible, you will be amazed by how much you can save. You can also consider renting a gown instead of purchasing one or source for materials online (seems to be a popular choice for brides-to-be in recent years), you can practically find anything from shoes to decorations.
Mak and I did our invitations ourselves, we are very proud of our work.
PICKING THE THEME
Having a themed wedding is fantastic and it will be so much fun. But be prepared that not everyone will participate in getting dressed – unless you have a bunch of super cool family members and friends. Imagine a superhero or a safari themed wedding.
For us, picking a theme helped tremendously. The theme helped us conceptualize our invitations, gowns and suits, decorations, ambient and choices of food as well as entertainment.
The theme can be as elaborate or as simple like having a colour theme. Pick a main colour, say purple and pair it with creams and mauves. With a colour scheme in mind, it’s easier for you to plan your table decorations, flower arrangements and bridesmaids dresses etc.
FINDING THE VENUE
With a date, a rough budget at this point and a theme, finding the venue is much easier.
Mak and I will be having our Chinese customary, tea ceremony and dinner in Malaysia because majority of our families are there. And so, we need two venues – one in Malaysia and one in Singapore. Good and bad because we have to go through this twice but we get to do two different themed weddings.
The one coming up in Malaysia will be for family. And our wedding in Singapore end of this year will be more for friends with a semi-outdoor venue.
The venue should compliment the chosen theme. If you are planning for a garden wedding, picking a venue with lush greeneries will help enhance the theme – and with that being said, you don’t have to worry about dressing the venue up – it’s cost effective too.
The venue also affects how open or how exclusive your wedding will be. Imagine having the entire restaurant for your big day.
Food is one of our main priorities. Good food never fails to impress – although Mak and I may not be able to fully enjoy the dinner that night, our families can. And because we will be traveling back to Malaysia, including some overseas family members, having the venue at a hotel seems to be a wise choice.
Research online and source for reviews on blogs and forums. Find as much information as possible and from there, narrow your choices to about 5 locations.
Send emails to the venues with your date (good if you can include an alternative date as well), estimated number of guests and requirements. Ask them for menus and the packages they have. Ask as many questions as possible and if you can, schedule a meet up with the events manager.
The events manager can show you around and let you know what you can do or cannot do to the space. He/She may be able to provide advice on how you can customise your wedding according to your theme, crowd and budget – and they will probably show you some pictures of past events too.
Bring a camera along, ask if you can take pictures of the venue. Pictures come in very handy when you need to compare the spaces or when you want to decorate the place. Or when you are choosing your gowns.
HIRING A PLANNER
Hiring a planner can either make or break you.
Because our wedding is based overseas, we have hired a planner to be our eyes and ears in Malaysia. It’s impossible to visit Kuala Lumpur so often to check on things, not to mention it’s extremely taxing to do that. I am glad we have a planner to do all the coordination so all we have to do is, liaise with one person.
Why do I say hiring a planner can either make or break you? I am not trying to scare any brides-to-be if you are reading this. It’s true and I will tell you why.
As the host on our big day, I am sure you and I want everything to be near perfect and nothing beats handling every single detail personally. I am a perfectionist so when it comes to handing over such an important occasion to someone else, I need to trust that person 110 percent.
Browse online or magazines for planners. Check out their website/facebook etc. and view their portfolios. See if you can connect with their past works. If their portfolios don’t interest you, there’s no point scheduling a meet up because most likely, you won’t like their work.
Select a few planners whom you think are on the same level – email or call them, share with them exactly what you have in mind.
They will probably ask you when is the date, estimated number of guests (some planners charge differently depending on the scale), what sort of services you need from them, what’s your theme and your budget.
Get them to propose some ideas and provide a quote. Have a think about which planner you are more comfortable with and move on from there.
A good planner can not only help you handle all bits and bobs and make you a peaceful bride but can also help you save some extra dough. Experienced planners have an existing list of vendors and locations – some planners are even good friends with them and can provide extra perks.
That’s about all for the first entry of this series. I hope some of you have found it helpful. If you have any questions, pop them below and I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge.
Some of the images above do not belong to me, I found them via Google Image Search. If you are the owner(s) of any of them and would like me to remove them, please let me know and I will see it done. Otherwise, very beautiful pictures, I feel very inspired by them.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Our Wedding Notes next Friday.
Thank you for reading.