The couple Ng Yie Lin, 29, is a manager in an accounting firm, and Ooi Thien Yao, 30, is an associate director in a company dealing with energy investments. Both Malaysians are based in London.

Yie Lin & Thien Yao's wedding: Overseas photo shoots Yie Lin & Thien Yao's wedding: Overseas photo shoots in Penang Yie Lin & Thien Yao's wedding: photo shoot in Penang
London-based couple Yie Lin and Thien Yao took their lovely pre-wedding photos in London and Penang

The couple met through a mutual friend who thought they’d be perfect for each other. As it turned out, the friend was right. The couple’s passion for food, wine and music drew them together and they began dating. Even though Thien Yao was working in Europe and Yie Lin in Malaysia. Three years of dating long- distance later, Yie Lin relocated to London to be closer to Thien Yao. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Our families and friends were in Malaysia, so we decided to celebrate our wedding there,” says Yie Lin. That meant planning had to be done from London, which wasn’t easy. “I’d spent the past three years pursuing a career in the UK so when I began planning my wedding, it was a bit of a struggle sourcing for reliable and reputable vendors,” she shares.

However, the gungho bride persevered, and her hard work paid off. “Initially, I relied on recommendations from friends but gradually, I built my own pool of knowledge,” says Yie Lin. “I interviewed vendors and spent hours researching on the Internet“Eventually, I chose my vendors based on merit, reliability and commitment, and I’m so proud to say they all did a great job!”

She also made it a point to communicate creatively with them via e-mail or telephone, since she couldn’t show them samples physically. Her suggestion: build a collage of pictures from magazines to illustrate colours, lighting and decoration. Then scan the collage and send it to vendors so they can have a better idea of the style of the wedding and the mood you want to project. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Besides thorough research and effective communication with vendors, the couple were also careful with their wedding budget. Yie Lin’s tip: make sure you include the cost of flights in your budget if you intend to fly home to meet with vendors. “An unplanned trip can seriously hinder the budget and it’s easy to let it slide, treating it as a ‘holiday cost’ rather than a wedding cost,” she explains.

By being mindful of such wedding costs, a couple can then have a more realistic accounting of their wedding budget, as every bride knows, hidden costs are often “the killers”. The astute couple only flew home once, and they made sure they got the most out of it!

In a two-week trip made at the start of the planning process (six months prior to the wedding date), the couple managed to attend a friend’s wedding, meet with vendors, even hold their solemnisation! “We felt there wouldn’t be enough time to hold our solemnisation during our wedding dinner. So we had the ceremony separately instead,” says Yie Lin.

The couple also had two pre-wedding photo shoots – one in Penang, which was where Thien Yao grew up, and one in London. “We love Penang’s rich cultural heritage, and have always wanted to take our wedding pictures there,” says Yie Lin. The result? Beautiful pictures exuding vintage Chinese charm, while the London shots provided a nice contrast with its breathtaking classical architecture.

The couple flew to Kuala Lumpur – where the wedding was held – a week before the actual day, with little cause for worry. “Although we did most of the planning, we still hired a planner to help us with the actual-day coordination. She got in touch with the vendors a month before the big day so that by the time we arrived, she was in a good position to run the whole show,” says Yie Lin. “On the actual day she arrived early and helped to get the preparations going.”

The wedding day started with the groom picking the bride up, followed by a tea ceremony at her house. The couple then adjourned to the hotel for a short photo shoot before the dinner reception.

Dinner was a lively affair, with 270 guests. What stood out were photos of the couple, which were featured prominently as personal touches to the decor. There were even pictures of the couple holding up number cards, which were later turned into table number cards. “We created a series of four poses with us holding up a placard – and these were taken in our living room!” laughs Yie Lin.

Instead of the usual guestbook, the couple opted for something that they could hang on the wall in their home, after their big day. They printed a picture of themselves, replicated four times – a la Andy Warhol – onto a canvas which was then mounted and placed on an easel in the foyer for guests to sign.

The couple also hired a separate photographer to manage a photo booth, within the foyer, for their guests. Here, another, bigger canvas (with the same picture as the guestbook) served as a backdrop for guests who wanted to have their pictures taken. During cocktails, guests posed for pictures which were printed on the spot, and then inserted into their invite cards, which were designed to double as photo frames. “We thought it made a nice memento for guests,” says Yie Lin.

The couple’s first dance was the highlight of the evening’s programme. It was to be the famous final dance sequence from the movie Dirty Dancing, played to the signature song, The Time of My Life. The couple had practised hard for two months, taking lessons for a combination of rhumba and salsa steps. “The song pretty much sums up how we felt about the wedding,” Yie Lin says.

Since they had practised so hard for the dance, Yie Lin was very specific when it came to the dress she was going to wear for it. “My evening gown was specially designed with the first dance in mind. I sent pictures of the actress in the movie, and even Youtube links to the designer!” she laughs, “so that the dress would turn out perfectly the way I’d envisioned it – the dress had to ‘swirl and swish’ as I danced.”

And so it did – fabulously, it would seem, if guests’ reactions were any indication. For right after the thunderous applause, guests immediately got up and joined the couple on the dance floor! The vibes were good, the energy was high and guests certainly had a good time. “Seeing all our plans over the last six months come together so nicely was great, and having loved ones surround us and celebrate with us was amazing,” says Yie Lin with a smile.


Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur 2 Jalan Stesen Sentral, Kuala Lumpur Sentral Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

GOWN: Priscilla of Boston 154 Mineola Avenue, Roslyn Heights New York, US. Website:

SUIT: Gieves & Hawkes 1 Savile Row London, England. Website:

BRIDESMAID’S DRESSES: Bridal Suite 95 Bedford Street, Stamford, Connecticut, US, Tel: +203 964 1404

HAIR & MAKEUP: Joey Yap, Tel: +60 1 6220 1232, email:

FLOWERS: Wishing Tree F10 & G6 Faber Imperial Court Jalan Sultan Ismail Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tel: +60 3 2732 5501,

WEDDING PLANNER: Tres Beau Momento, Tel: +60 12 387 6202 (Jovita Lo), website:

Wondrous Vision, Tel: +60 1 2288 3631, website:; Whizarts Wedding Photography, Tel: +60 1 2233 8626; website:

VIDEOGRAPHY: Matthew Chia, Tel: +60 1 2936 9805 website:

BAND: MDT Music Enterprise, email:

Precious Hearts 15A Jalan Teluk Panglima Garang Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tel: +60 3 7980 8421, website:

This article was originally published in Her World Brides December 2009-February 2010.