Ideas & Advice

"Our timelines flew out the window" - How a former Her World Brides writer survived wedding planning

When it came down to former Her World Brides writer Felicia Tan's own nuptials, it was far from what she'd expected. She shares how she survived it, and her top tips.
 

It’s always easier to give advice to others, especially when you’re not personally involved. I found that out the hard way when I was planning for my own wedding in July 2019.

Mind you, this is after years of dishing out tips for brides-to-be on an almost daily basis. And yet, the lack of know-how and organisation when it comes to planning mine is rather embarrassing.

Well, what can I say? It IS difficult. Things didn’t head south that quickly though. I followed my own advice up to the part when I knew my then-boyfriend had the intention of buying a ring (without me, as he wanted to keep it a surprise). I sent him a Pinterest board that was filled with designs I liked so he could have a clear reference, and he did a fantastic job in selecting the eventual bauble.

When it came to planning the actual affair though, I was a mess. All our timelines flew out of the window.

Photo: Caline Ng Photography

 

Mistake #1 Lack of communication

When word got out that we were newly engaged, my fiancé and I were lucky to receive no pressure from our friends and family when it came to settling upon a wedding date and other details.

Plus, we already had the solemnisation venue settled already – my fiance’s church – and that took a huge load off our shoulders.

So for a good nine months, we enjoyed our new status without having to prepare “set” answers like a rough wedding date and plans for the celebrations quickly.

And I think we let that get to our heads. Or rather, me. You see, as a former wedding writer, the responsibility of planning for our wedding understandably fell onto me. Even when I wanted us to be equals when it came to planning our big day, it was inevitable that I’d have to take charge.

Yet somehow, I managed to get it mostly wrong. For a start, I didn’t have a clear vision in mind. We didn’t discuss our budget, date, type of wedding we wanted, and theme (if there was going to be any).

Also read: TIRED OF QUARRELLING? HERE'S HOW YOU CAN MANAGE YOUR WEDDING PLANNING WOES

 

Mistake #2 No clear vision

Even though our solemnisation was more or less confirmed, we still had the banquet for relatives to worry about. We cobbled up a rough guest list, but didn’t have a fixed number of guests or tables, so we could start looking for suitable venues.

Even our wedding date was up in the air. August 2019, was all we could agree upon, until we realised that it was during the seventh month of the lunar calendar. At first, we didn’t mind, as we thought we could save money on the venues and vendors by choosing a date that fell in the off-peak period… until my parents found out (and said no to that).

When we finally agreed upon the last Saturday of July 2019, we still had not settled on our final guest list (or as final as you can have without proper RSVPs), but it was almost a year to the day of, and we had to find a banquet venue quickly.

 

Photo: Caline Ng Photography

Mistake #3 Lack of organisation

When planning your wedding, I used to always say – confirm your budget and wedding venue before buying anything else. That “tip” went out of the window the minute I saw an Instagram post for a sample sale at a bridal salon. That was mistake number three. Looking at dresses before deciding on anything. Actually, make that mistake number four. I read somewhere online that you shouldn’t be trying on dresses at sample sales if it’s your first time looking at dresses.

 

Mistake #4 Low-balling it

I know I’ve mentioned several times that when you’re planning for your wedding budget, check the market rates and don’t low-ball it. Again, I’m ashamed to report that I did low-ball it. While I was familiar with how much hotel or restaurant weddings would cost us, I wasn’t as familiar with costs for other miscellaneous items like flowers, photographers, and hair and makeup. We got a slight sticker shock when browsing photography packages, but as getting a good photographer was high on our list of priorities, my fiancé and I decided to go for one whose style we loved.

 

 A month to go... 

I am writing this about a month before our big day, and I am happy to report that we made it!

We eventually found an intimate wedding dinner venue that was slightly over our initial budget, but the package perks made up for them. We also found a gown rental place (that came recommended by my fiance’s cousin) that rented gorgeous designs at very affordable rates.

We have also confirmed our photographer, makeup artist, and florist, and we are about to have our guo da li ceremony within a week, and a month before the big day!

 

Photo: Caline Ng Photography

 

Cop these tips!

If you’re newly-engaged, don’t make the mistakes we did! Here are some pointers that may help.

 

#1 Look to your parents

Whether you’re having a small wedding or not, your parents’ input is still important. This was one of the things I definitely would have done differently, if I had the chance. I would have asked my parents if they had any requests in terms of venue, how the wedding was done, and suggested dates if any.

Also, because we didn’t really discuss any expectations, our signals got mixed, especially when it came to the more traditional aspects of our wedding, like the guo da li. My mum ended up buying her own cakes and cans of pig trotters to send out to the relatives, which meant that instead of the usual 12 cans of pig trotters and cakes, my fiancé only had to give two cans and two boxes (which we didn’t have to return half of).

My mum was also an invaluable source of help, as she came on board at the last minute to help do the flower arrangements for the aisle!

 

#2 Spread the word the minute you have your date confirmed

I used to think sending save the dates were unnecessary. But after learning my cousin was going to be married on the same day as I was, it IS important, guys! Even if you don’t want to send physical cards (and I still think cards are not necessary), you will still have to send a text or e-vite to inform your relatives that you will be married at a certain time.

For us, we only told our overseas guests a year in advance, and informed our local guests about two months before.

 

#3 Set a very clear budget

I cannot stress this enough. It’s easy to get excited about gowns, venues, and photographers, but set a hard budget so you know where your price point is. Weddings can get expensive – everything adds up, even the fake flowers from Taobao! Chart your expenses in an excel sheet so you can do your sums quickly.

Photo: Caline Ng Photography

 

#4 Know your priorities

This will help you plan your budget better. As I mentioned earlier, getting a good photographer was important to us, as we wanted quality pictures that’ll serve as memories of our big day. A centrally-located wedding venue was important too, which is why we only looked at two to three venues around the city.

From the get-go, I was clear that I did not want to spend too much on my wedding dress. Which is why I looked to Taobao and Carousell for the perfect outfit. Even though that didn’t work out (because I decided I didn’t want to spend money on a gown that may not fit), I was glad I found our gown when I did.

We also weren’t going to spend much on invitations, since most of our guests can be reached via Whatsapp, Facebook, and email. So we ended up designing e-vites for church on a free web programme, and sent cards (that came with our wedding dinner package) to our relatives.

Also read: HOW THIS SINGAPORE BRIDE SNAGGED WEDDING DRESSES UNDER $80 EACH FROM TAOBAO

 

#5 Join bridal groups

I was lucky to have been invited to a Facebook closed group by a friend who got married the year before, where Singapore brides share their tips, reviews, and contacts. This group has been very useful in helping me make decisions on vendors, and even helping me when I needed things like wine suppliers for the banquet.

 

#6 Make your expectations clear

We are considered a modern couple who can do without traditions like the gatecrashing. And technically, if I didn’t have relatives flying in from overseas, we would have done away with the dinner banquet too. But I insisted upon the tea ceremony and guo da li to honour our elders.

Also read: 7 MODERN ALTERNATIVES TO WEDDING TRADITIONS

 

#7 Give yourself time

We were engaged for almost a year and a half, and it allowed us to take our time in planning the wedding. Even when we thought we were behind on certain things like our wedding venue and outfits, we were still relatively on schedule.

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