I’ve been keeping this post for a while because I have been trying to find an opportune time to share it with you guys. I’m doing my year-end reflections as we’re wrapping up 2017 in two months. Looking back on the past year, there have been so many amazing moments that are forever etched in my heart, one of them being my wedding dinner, and I thought I’d share some of my highlights here.
How wonderful is it to have celebrated our union being surrounded by family, friends and those that matter? And having a ton of photos so preciously captured by Multifolds Photography and his team for us to keep, share and look back on?
I’ve shared many photos of our wedding on my Instagram (#mrandmrsbabschen), with our official media partner, Bridestory, Benjamin Barker’s blog and through the eyes of all vendors and friends but I wanted to do it here too, on my very own space, and hope to answer some of your questions about my wedding dinner banquet.
about: JAMES AND I
Who determined how the wedding should be? Who had the bigger say?
James and I find happiness in simplicity and intimacy but we find even greater happiness when we can share our joy with people who matter most, especially our parents, who mean the world to us. Hence, we decided on a banquet that would not only cater to our fancies but took our parents’ preferences into consideration and decided on a grand banquet. Afterall, our parents only get to witness their child marrying once in a lifetime, right?
For instance, we initially wanted to do away with the Yum Seng toast and consumption of any alcohol as neither James nor I are big drinkers and we thought that the alternative beverages (TWG tea and cocktails at the reception) would suffice. However, we changed our minds and decided to stick to tradition after speaking to our family and friends.
Decision-making can be challenging when many parties are involved. While our families voluntarily took the back seat as they wanted to give us full reign on our celebration, we valued their opinions and always tried to include them.
Are you both the only child?
No, we have siblings but both James and I are the first child in our families to get married.
How was the overall planning?
Planning was very hectic and crazy. We must admit that it was not an easy feat. We had our share of sleepless nights, even on the night before the banquet – we were up late trying to compile photos to finish our childhood album montage. Or maybe we were bursting with so much excitement that we could not go to bed.
There are so many different parts in planning a wedding and I’d say that it is very important to delegate roles.
How long did you take to plan for your dinner banquet?
If you have been following my wedding journey, I shared about my wedding venue site recee and food tasting at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. We knew the big picture of what we wanted for our wedding a year beforehand but we only got down to planning it around 4 months prior (talk about procrastination, haha).
All thanks to the very capable team that we entrusted our big day to; I honestly think everything went on very smoothly without a single hiccup.
People usually warn that “something will go wrong on the actual day” and that it is normal that this happens. Well, I was all prepared and looking out for it but I could not find anything. Is that normal?
I’m extremely grateful to Sharon from The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore who took care of every nitty-gritty detail in the banquet menu planning, table and plating arrangements. With styling direction from Phillane from Med Karlek and the wedding planning expertise from my chief planner, Clare, they worked as a team to turn my dream wedding into reality.
How many guests were invited?
We eventually had 500 guests for the dinner banquet.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore has one of the biggest and most-elegant looking ballrooms in Singapore, so when we knew that our estimated guest list would be around 500 pax, we immediately shortlisted that venue as an option.
Towards our big day, our parents kept expanding the guest list so we had to constantly change the ballroom layout to accommodate extra guests. Their Grand Ballroom can accommodate up to 1,000 guests but we limited our guest list as we requested for long tables instead of the typical round ones (as we planned to have individually plated dishes served during the dinner), and needed extra space for the dance floor and a side stage for the live band.
Last words of advice for planning?
My advice is if you’re planning a wedding to a grand scale like mine, the best decision you can make is to off-load all these tasks to the experts. They know best and they handle it best. I felt extremely at ease when I met Sharon, my wedding consultant, and Clare, my wedding planner, who has worked with The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore numerous times for other weddings and events on a similar scale.
What did you spend on and what was sponsored?
This is a loaded question and I believe it would be quite inappropriate for me to share my individual bills here.
My two cents is that it is important to sit as a couple and set a budget before all the planning. Our planner, Clare and our stylist, Phillane, sat down to discuss with us our budget so that they could determine how and where to spend the money.
There are always alternatives if you’re not willing to spend on a certain thing. For example, if photos or videos aren’t important to you, you can always appoint someone from your bridal party to stand in as a photographer or videographer. Some brides place high sentimental value on their wedding gowns so they set aside a huge sum to purchase it but for others who would rather channel the money elsewhere, they have it rented instead.
For us, we agreed that the experience of our guests was the most important. It was our BIG night and we knew deep down that nothing could take that experience away from us, so we focused on planning what we felt will make our wedding a memorable experience for our family and friends who were attending.
We wanted them to leave the ballroom feeling appreciated, loved, pampered and spoilt. I wanted to share my blessings with them in a way that I can thank them for their dear friendship over the years.
We also wanted our guests to have a sense of our preferences through our choice of decor, wedding favours and the various little perks and surprises we provided throughout the night.
For instance, our dinner menu was customised to reflect our favourite cuisines from around the world – each dish was crafted from a story we shared with the chefs from The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.
How was the food at your wedding banquet like?
Food is important to James and I as we both have a common love for eating. Some say that the best way to one’s heart is through the stomach and I think this applies to us both. We initially asked for a fusion menu as we wanted to create a dining experience that reflects our travels and experiences from tasting cuisines around the world. However, I vividly recall a funny moment during our food tasting session when the Executive Chef, Massimo, pointed out that it was wrong of us to call it “fusion” as the term only serves to confuse.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore takes huge pride in their culinary expertise. We worked with Chef Massimo to handcraft a menu that was interactive and of course, delicious. That being said, we also stuck to tradition by incorporating a few key traditional wedding dishes like the double-boiled herbal soup, and following the order of dishes.
My favourite dish was definitely the lobster noodles as the noodles were made from fish meat as opposed to typical flour. I fell in love with it when we attended The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore’s wedding show and had to ask for it to be incorporated into our dinner menu.
We ended the night with a bang by surprising our guests with a chocolate dome dessert that melted when hot dark chocolate sauce was poured over it. I believe I saw this on practically everyone’s IG stories that night!
What was your theme and how was it determined?
This was probably one of the hardest decisions in our wedding planning and also a bottleneck when our stylist had to confirm the colour palette.
We found a lot of inspiration and cool ideas on wedding blogs and Pinterest, such as a Greek-themed wedding, a floral party, or a wedding with a Bohemian rustic vibe but nothing really resonated with us. We wanted something simple, minimal and timeless. In the end, I took inspiration from one of my favourite fashion icons, Audrey Hepburn, and we decided on an off-white/black colour scheme with a touch of royal blue.
It was extremely helpful working with a stylist who kept throwing us ideas and helping us with the overall conceptualisation.
Hence, the theme determined the dress code, style of invites, wedding gown designs and cake designs and of course, flowers and decor.
What were your gowns for the night?
My first march in gown was a bespoke piece by Jessica Cindy.
My second gown was done by Vaughn Tan in collaboration with Swarovski.
How about shoes?
I wore the same pair of shoes throughout the night. It was a bespoke pair by Gianvitto Rossi.
Where were James’ suit(s) from?
Typically, guys stay in the same suit throughout the night but I thought it’d be nice for James to change when I get changed too. So we got him 2 outfits! His first tux was from Benjamin Barker and the second was a bespoke tux made by Common Suits.
How about James’ shoes?
We got James’ tux shoes from Suit Supply last year before our first photoshoot in Paris.
Your bridesmaid’s looked coordinated, did you dress them?
Yes I did. I wanted to remove the pressure of them having to hunt for their own gowns. I really wanted them to look their prettiest and best for the night, so I had their make-up arranged at the make-up booth in the foyer before the party. Their dresses were designed by Juillet.
How about James’ groomsmen?
His groomsmen made their suits at a local tailor in Chinatown and we bought them each a red bow tie and pocket squares which we customised with their initials sewn on.
about: HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NIGHT
What were the overall highlights of the night?
Other than the food, I’d say that in people’s minds, it would definitely be the wedding gowns and our first dance with a surprise confetti finale.
To me, it would be the heartfelt speeches and surprise song & dance by my bridesmaids, as well as the first song that James and I sang. It was NOT my decision to sing LIVE and this was pretty much unplanned but I have to credit James’ spontaneity.
Of course, our first dance was a very warm moment for the both of us.
What went on in the foyer that people were talking about?
The surprises at the foyer included a cocktail mix from The Botanist; live music played by Sparkle Live Music; a make-up booth by One Eleven with some of my favourite Dior products courtesy of make-up artists’ from The Make Up Room, including a portrait drawing of me for make-up looks/references; a flower & calligraphy bar where guests could handpick a bouquet of flowers and get their name calligraphed by Trudy from Poptsie Paper Co for the tag attached to the bouquet; a walk down memory lane with photos of our pre-wedding shoot at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, printed by Fujifilm; a wishing tree with hanging Swarovski crystals and Instax prints of our church wedding highlights where guests can leave notes and well-wishes; a fun photo booth by Hello Stranger; a photo backdrop/hang out area done by Scene Stealer and other decor like lamp posts and bicycles put together and styled by Med Karlek to tie in the overall theme of 1920’s glam.
What were the wedding favours?
As mentioned earlier, we were out to spoil our guests. We had personalised macarons painstakingly done by Winifred Kriste Cakes; handmade soap from Sandome – a local start up that I support; a flower bar just because I really love flowers and am always happy to receive them; tea from TWG with our favourite tea flavour; and lastly, a thank-you note designed by Phillane from Med Karlek. I really hope our guests left the wedding feeling our love.
What was most memorable about the wedding?
A key moment that I vividly recall were moments before entering the ball room, holding on James’ hand really tight and my heart was so full and bursting.
And another favourite moment was when we gave both our mom’s and grandmother’s a huge bouquet of flowers and the mega-watt smiles on their faces were priceless.
Other moments worth mentioning were of James and I desperately trying to write our thank you speeches in the hotel room while doing hair & make up moments before going down (I know- last minute again. We highly do not recommend this). Well, we hardly followed the script in the end but I guess it served as a good pointer. That was funny.
It was a joyous occasion where many family and friends who gathered in the ball room came to celebrate our beginning as husband and wife.
Honestly, the night went by in a blink but all the smiling faces and teary eyes are what I recall most. I felt so touched that my friends like the Bridestory team, Tara, Damian and Toni flew in from half way round the world just to be there and their presence amongst so many others meant so much to us.
My family and friends were so forthcoming in lending a hand to us in the planning and that really made us feel so cared for and loved. A big thank you to our family (immediate & extended), bridal party, our emcee Jemma, Ben Tan, Clare, Philly, Trudy and everyone that has contributed in big and small ways. Check out my wedding banquet video below.
Photographer: Multifolds Photography / Videographer: Substance Films / Bride’s Gown: Jessicacindy & Vaughn Tan x Swarovski / Bride’s Shoes: Gianvitto Rossi / Bridesmaid Dresses: Soiree by Juillet / Groom’s Attire: Benjamin Barker & Commonsuits / Hairstylist and Makeup Artist: The Make Up Room / Make Up: Dior Beauty / Calligraphy & Stationery: Poptsie Paper Co (Design) / Wedding Albums & Canvases: Artisan Prints / Wedding Planner/Coordinator: Bliss Pact / Wedding Stylist & Decor: Med Kärlek Inc / Dinner Venue: The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore / Flowers: CC Lee / Carpentry: Scene Stealer / Balloons: Looney Bloons / Photos and Prints: Fujifilm / First Dance Choreography: Step Dance / Dancer gowns: Covetella / Band: Sparkle Live Music / Cake: Winifred Kriste Cakes / Cocktails: The Botanist / Wine: Asher Beer Wines & Spirits / Childhood Montage Video: Aww Media / Official Media Partner: Bride Story