Thursday, November 29, 2012

What to splurge on in a wedding

An interesting discussion here on whether brides regret spending so much on the wedding.

Well, a wedding is still, after all, kind of like throwing the bash of your life.. Some expenses gonna be involved.. Here are the things that fiance and I discussed we'll get the most out of:

How to cut wedding cost (spend on the things that really matter!!)

In the previous post I wrote about wedding cost coming from superfluous things, so here's my tip on focusing on what really matters in a wedding =)

To cut : (yeah baby yeah!)
1. Studio wedding photos

The Cost of Getting Married in Singapore

....a topic that, unfortunately, is very close to my heart these days.

Technically, couples need $26 for the Registry of Marriage and ta-dah, you're husband and wife! Of course, that's not usually the case. There's the wedding party, the flowers, the gown, the studio photoshoot, the wedding favors... etc etc etc.. The way things are usually done in Singapore.

I'm not saying, Singaporean wedding culture has so many superfluous things. Heck, Indonesian Chinese wedding extravaganzas are in a class of their own, complete with overseas photoshoots, tables at posh hotels, even a hired transvestite thrown in as entertainment. (and they're damn talented!) It's just that, man, these superfluous things cost so much more in Singapore!

Book recommendation - Things I Wish I'd Known..

... Before Getting Married

I'll let the index speak for itself (sorry for the bad shot!), but suffice to say I do recommend this for people who are rather clueless about what getting married involves (me! me!). Though the author is a Christian speaker, he has written a lot on family (and the 5 Love Languages, if you are familiar with that). Am reading it to take my mind off wedding planning and focused on the actual marriage after that!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Venue Hunt: Hotel Re!

Yep, the name of the hotel comes with an exclamation mark.

Found out about Hotel Re! as it's listed in wedding venue directories as one of the hotels with more affordable food, and they have international /Asian buffet option just like we want!

So, after confirming that they can accommodate 250 pax, Fiance and I came down to take a look.

Gotta say, I'm impressed. Some pics of the venue:

Rich Bride Poor Bride

New show to watch! Browsing Youtube for David Tutera wedding decoration tips and the title of this video just caught my eye: "Rich Bride Poor Bride". It's about how bride-to-bes must match the expectations to the budget.. way easier said than done! Check out this episode where the bride is helped by two bitchy MALE neighbors. Heh.

Watch it here

"When you let Dominique meet Erik and Jimmy and plan a wedding, you are running into a black hole that will swallow your wallet and never let go."

Venue Hunt : Grand Banquet at Hotel Royal @ Queens

Accidentally spotted this venue in Bras Basah when I went with a friend to eat at Standing Sushi Bar nearby. What attracted me was how it's just across the church of St. Peter and St. Paul. Can just ask guests to cross over after solemnization!

Anyway, the next day went to enquire with Fiance. Turns out their wedding venue is the Grand Banquet / Fu Lin Men restaurant.

1. Packages quite affordable starting at $498 per 10 persons table (without GST). Still I think this price is unmatched for a central area banquet
2. Location right beside Bras Basah MRT very easy to get to
3. From internet reviews, the food is not bad

1. We don't want very Chinese style sit-down banquet, prefer international buffet
2. The hotel facade and restaurant does look a bit 'old-fashioned'.. not sure if they can customize decorations according to request

Keeping it in the list for now mainly for the price and location.
The hunt continues!

The Headaches of Venue Hunting

To get married, a woman needs a groom, yes, but the next important thing is the venue. And here in Singapore, it's this venue problem that means you have to plan your wedding at least a year beforehand. Enquiring here and there, some venues do get booked up fast! (e.g Serangoon CC is very popular for Malay weddings, St. Francis Xavier church very popular for solemnization)

My wish is to get married at a venue like this:

Since that does not seem to be possible, well, let's forget the wish and get on with actual venue hunting!

Our wedding is going to have 2 parts, church wedding and lunch reception, me and Fiance originally thought Toa Payoh CC will be the perfect as the church and CC (for lunch reception) is just side-by-side.

The fiance even very excitedly told me, "To show my sincerity, I will carry you with my own hands from the church to the CC!" (Originally was supposed to be from my house to the church.. but after a test run.. well.. anyway he still has 8 months to train his biceps ;p )

So, we went to enquire on the availability.

Me: "Hello, we would like to ask if the multi purpose hall is available for hire for wedding reception on Saturday, 27 July next year, for wedding reception?"
CC staff: "Oh sure, let me check for you... hmm.. sorry but on that day we have a line-dancing event.."

What about the week after, 3 August? There's a CC event. The week before, 21 July? Some racial harmony event. The week before that? Another line dancing. In fact, the CC has very limited availability and even if we book that, there's no guarantee everything will go smoothly as, if some minister chooses to hold an event on that exact day, it will be given priority.

Haih. Scrap the idea of getting married in CC if you are eyeing a central one. As far as my enquiries go, less centralized CCs like Punggol, Anchorvale, Serangoon are still okay though they also will prioritize community events. (Leave a comment if would like to know prices) A small discussion ensues with Fiance.. "Wha, like that, no wonder Sg getting less babies! Aunties and uncles line dancing more important letting people get married and make babies!"

Oh well, in the end we decided to use restaurants or hotels, with the advantage that we don't have to worry about table set up, caterers, decorations and waiters. (FYI it costs $17 to rent a table with table cloth, $1 for plastic chairs, $6 for cushion chairs).

The hunt continues, with our criterias being:
1. A space that allows 250 - 270 pax
2. Space and stage allowing capoeira performance and activities
3. Cost not more than $650 per table (This instantly narrows down the search a lot!)
4. Location not too 'ulu', near a Catholic church if possible

Some info and good links on wedding venus in sg:
7 ways to cut your wedding venue cost in Singapore
Singapore wedding venue directory
Singapore wedding banquet price list 
(For the last one, you have to be a member but I find it very easy and worth it as the discussions have a lot of recommendations and info. Even grooms-to-be register!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Something old, something new

Seeing myself as a modern young adult who's more 'banana' (yellow outside, white inside) than not, I thought I would never succumb when the elders force me to comply with traditions, or at the very least, I'll put up a good, long fight. A wedding being more a communal than personal event, well, the 'rules and regulations' start coming in..

To my surprise, I find myself meekly complying and quite eager to please, in the process learning about why certain things are the way they are.

Take the saga of my wedding date, for example. Originally, we wanted to get married in September, but the venue we want to book is full. So we moved the date to August, which also means that coincidentally a few mutual friends & relatives will be in town to attend. Awesome, problem solved.

The moment we present the August date to my side of the family though, several relatives protested. "It's the Chinese ghost month!"they say. "People won't attend your party, or they will think bad about your marriage." Now, one side of me feels, "Oh screw that, my family and I are Christian, we don't care about those superstitious Chinese beliefs."(Surprisingly, though, my mom is also vehement about not having it in the ghost month.. even being a devout Christian, it's difficult to shake off cultural beliefs huh..)

What made me change my mind was when one auntie said, "You know, we also want it to be convenient for you, and frankly we will still attend and rejoice be it ghost month or not.. but think about it, every year you're going to celebrate your wedding anniversary in that ghost month atmosphere that people associate with negativity... once off it might be okay, but year in and year out? why give people something negative to talk about?"

Hufh.. I saw the logic of the argument there and then.. To have the perception of 'inauspicious' and 'rebellious' attached to my marriage year in and year out, long after the wedding has passed, is just not worth it. A marriage should not, cannot, stand alone and the more positively people look at your marriage, the better it is for you. Not sure how to explain it.. but after all, we are what we believe, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, so why waste willpower battling people's negative beliefs? Better to have them believe positive things along with us.

Maybe it's a bit like the experiment where teachers were told certain members of the class have higher IQ than the rest of the class (though this is actually not true). The teachers believed it and started treating those supposedly 'high IQ' students differently, and at the end of the year, those students got tested and indeed had higher improvements in IQ!
(Read the article here )

Oh well, good thing we got a new date fixed (much earlier than original ><) that everyone's happy about. Interestingly, dear fiance also just got told by his army friend, not to hold the wedding in august, so these perceptions don't just affect the elderly, after all.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

He's The One

When I told my good friends I am engaged (excuse for multiple eat-out-good-food sessions!), more than one asked, "Hey.. you've been with Bryan for some time.. and both very happy/have a great relationship/looks sweet together,etc.. but still, how do you know he's 'THE ONE'?"

Hm... truthfully, I don't actually believe in the concept of 'The One' as a soulmate (see my writing here, long long ago!).. then again, I think in Singapore where a nosedive-ing birth rate clearly corresponds to much less people getting married, my friends' question is more like, "How do you know he's the one person you wanna spend THE REST OF YOUR LIFE with???"

Here's my answer to my friends:

I'm pretty sure he's the one I wanna spend the rest of my life with, because:
1. We communicate well. I hate it when people shout during arguments, so does he. Through the arguments we've had, I find he has the 'cool head' and loads of patience, while I have the penchant for analysing things and laying out clearly what's the problem (granted, sometimes this stage only happens after crying in front of him, but at least, it does happen). I think we are able to keep focus that it is not about blaming the other person, but resolving the problem. We worked out a system where we'll ask, "So, on the scale of 1 to 10, how much do I screw up?" "On the scale of 1 to 10, how much are you hurt?" When he thought he'd hurt me at '4' and I say '7', that's an eye opener and a start point. And believe it or not, our most effective method is to 'talk' by email haha.. that way, I can organize my thoughts succinctly and he doesn't have to see me cry a river! This compatibility makes me feel, whatever comes our way we have a chance to work it out well and learn.

2. He has character traits I really respect, and a personality I love. Honesty, down-to-earthness, purpose (Including telling me day one of the relationship that he has marriage in mind.. he's got guts!) .  I can see him as a husband and dad I will respect (On his side, he once told me that I'm someone he can see himself coming home to). Cliche, but oh so true.

3. He has a positive "no-attitude" kind of attitude that I really appreciate, for example during our backpacking trips when things go wrong. Being stuck hours on a steaming hot train was a chance to play word games. Getting lost in the Tokyo metro was an adventure. Having to sleep in the airport felt like a camping outing. Maybe it's the 'can-do' spirit his Filipina mom imparted on him, but I can see myself facing the worst life has to offer with this guy by my side. (Incidentally, travelling rough 'n cheap is a great way to test a mate, I feel. If he/she is a complain machine when the sun's too hot or the hostel room's rather dirty, what will his/her reaction be when you lose your job? Can you imagine that partner standing by you and comforting you?)

4. We have quite some similar interests, and lots of mutual friends. Eating. Watching Running Man. Sleeping late on Saturdays. Joking around. Exploring the city. Trekking. Capoeira.  When we spend time doing those things, both of us feel very happy and enjoy each other's company. Here's a another oh-so-true cliche, I can't imagine marrying someone who doesn't feel like a best friend, or at the very least, a great friend. Mutual friends, meanwhile, allow us both to hang out with great people without feeling, "Ah these are his friends, not mine," vice versa. That's really lucky, in my view.

5. He treats me well. By this, I don't mean pearls and diamonds (though, my boyfriend does flowers and chocolates quite well ;p ), but that he's proven time and again he accepts me the way I am, (Action more important than words!) and he was there during difficult moments - waiting to see me 11pm outside my office to hug me during crazy periods at work, comforting me during disappointments, showing concern for cramps during 'that time of the month'. He  was there even when the difficult moments were between us. (Girls, appreciate it BIG TIME if you're being upset with your boyfriend but he still provides his shoulders for you to cry on. It's ego-crushingly painful for a guy to see you cry when he feel he's at fault, so if he's still there seeing you cry and even comforts you, he cares more about you than his ego. Go and marry him ). He also consistently texts me and always reply my texts, which makes me feel he is responsible and dependable.

So you have it, my basic 'criterias' to determine if he's the one hahaha.. Well there are lots of other things - his creative romanticism, his *ahem* tan bod, his cute sulking face - but let the main things, be the main things, y'know?


Monday, November 5, 2012

Great Expectations

"The best things in life are unexpected- because there were no expectations."
-Eli Khamarov

These days of wedding planning blues, 'expectation' is the byword...

Fiance and I had a conversation with FDIL and FMIL a few days past,  going over the big picture of the wedding, and everyone was in good cheer. However, at the end of the conversation, we discovered that FMIL's expectations of the wedding ceremony are:
1. Procession in Filipino way - Groom accompanied by his mother, ring-bearers must be a pair of children, 3 bridesmaids in matching dresses, 3 groomsmen
2. 'Proper' long wedding dress
3. Rings put on heart-shaped pillows
4. Bride (that's me >< ) must wear fake eyelashes

Hmmm... Actually the conversation went rather funny,
FMIL: "You need bridesmaid! Who's gonna help you with the dress..."
Me: "Ah? But Auntie, I think I'm just gonna wear a short dress.. no need the train.."
FMIL: "HHAAA? But it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing!"

Few hours later, Fiance could see I was a bit quiet, and asked, in his particular gentle way, "Dear, what's wrong? Wanna tell me?"

A woman being a woman, at first it was, "Nah, nothing..." ... but then, "Dear, I'm afraid.. I mean.. we do really want to make our parents happy, but I dread things going out of control.. On my wedding day.. I'm standing there.. Wearing make-up I can't stand, wearing a dress I don't like.. and going through rituals I don't understand..."
Fiance: "Yeah... what if they make you up then I don't recognize you and I say 'eh, who's that standing at the end of the aisle?"


Anyway, I actually lost sleep that night as I truly was afraid of the parents' expectations..whether his or mine (like my dad suddenly insisted on walking me down the aisle, wearing a suit, which fortunately I have no problem with). Only after Fiance said, "Hey, don't worry about it, we'll go through this together, we're a team.." and talked to his mom that everything has to go through our consent, did I calm down.

Hufh. Luckily, in our case I can see they really meant well, moms and dads.. they want our wedding day to be as 'proper' and nice and beautiful as possible so we will also look good in front of our guests..("I'm gonna give my daughter the wedding of her dreams, whether she likes it or not!", quipped a mom I read about >< ) Also, there are plenty of horror stories where family members throw a hissy fit at not getting what they want, or thinking that the day is purely 'their' day, not even shared with the couple.

Well, I did some reading on how to manage parents & relatives' expectations, and here are some tips:

1.  Remember that how you work with your parents & future in-laws in planning your wedding influence future relationships. Don't ruin a lifelong relationship for one event.

2. Compromise. Pick several 'no-compromise' items (five, maybe?) and well, relax on the rest. E.g, I'm fine with my FMIL wanting a church wedding, but I'm picking out the dress. Leaving the flowers on her capable hands also (she's a freelance florist), but will not include children in the wedding procession (Seriously, enough work without including children >< )

3. When parents start throwing in expectations and getting into nitty-gritty details, especially if it's too early in the process, just say, "We'll think about it" and get back to them later on with careful explanation, if you disagree. Otherwise, you might end up agreeing on the spot to make them happy (I'm prone to this >< ),and then later on feeling miserable, or apologizing to them for changing your mind and making them miserable. Worse, you might feel defensive on the spot and react explosively, behaving in a way you'll regret later

4. In your wedding, have a thank-you speech sincerely thanking you loved ones for all their help and suggestions. Hopefully, everyone can put the past behind and move on =D

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A journey of a thousand miles (but hopefully much shorter!) begins with a single step..

Just to lay out the practical steps we have taken for this monstrous undertaking called 'wedding planning', here are the things that Fiance and I did (reference for future brides-to-be!) :

1. Sit down together (we did it over Italian pizza 'n beer to bring some lightheartedness to it haha...) & discuss our expectations - it helps that both of us have the same wish: keeping it simple while making it a fun-filled celebration for our family and friends. Also, it helps to be in sync when we talk to our parents.. appearing as a strong team who has things under control helps manage parents' expectations too, and boy am I glad he's on my team!

2. Discuss what we think will be parents' expectations and how we can fulfill/ manage them

3. BEFORE talking to parents, consolidate how we want the receptions to be, make sure we know the procedures to be done (ROM etc). (This, I did research thoroughly) For brides, good to research a bit on the kind of wedding you want, theme, gown etc... I neglected to do it at first, mistake!

4. Research a bit about preparations & cost, e.g for us to get married in Catholic church, we have to attend a Catholic marriage preparation course, how much does it cost to rent the church, venues like community club (and yes they do have to be booked 6 months to a year beforehand, so planning now is not too early)

5. Talk to parents about their expectations and ask each of them to provide us a guest list - Everything else afterwards - venue, catering, cost etc etc - will depend on the guest lists! Furthermore... parents will start throwing in their expectations..especially the moms, I guess, this is where your research of the 'girly stuff' will come in handy.. if you can show you already have something in mind and it's meaningful and important to you, easier to manage others' expectations

6. Open a joint account to  start saving for the wedding cost. We chose OCBC, as they have flexi-deposit account giving us (slightly) better interest but the deposit term in counted per month, not yearly. Plus, they are open on Sundays.

That's all for now.. Many more to come!

Clash of the 'Titans'

Movie title: The Wedding
Tentative Date of Release: 21st Sep 2013, Sat
Tentative set: Nativity Church, Singapore
Cast:  FG (Future Groom a.k.a The Fiance)
          FB (Future Bride a.k.a yours truly)
          FMIL (Future Mom-in-Law)
Supporting Cast: Dad
                            FDIL (Future Dad-in-Law)
Soundtrack: 'It's Complicated' by Avril Lavigne
Alternative title: Clash of the 'Titans' ><
Coming soon provided the FG and FB is unsuccessful in their eloping attempt. (Heck, I've even given him my house key so it should be really easy!)        

Hufh. Nah, it's not that bad, but as with everything in Life, we gotta take it with a pinch of humor, right? Humor aside, wedding plans really are starting to be consolidated.. and phew, let me tell you my friend, it has not been an easy ride >< (oh, wait, this is just the beginning of the ride.. huhu..)

First, we both come from diverse families.. He, a Singaporean-Chinese-Filipino. Me, Indonesian-Chinese-with-parents-from-different-provinces. And, we both agreed that our wedding will really be something to make our loved ones happy, since both of us don't actually feel that it's a big deal. (For me, the 'big day' was when he sweetly and so privately and so funnily.. that's the one moment that I will tell my daughters and grand-daughters =D )

So, if we want to please both parents it will be something like this:
1. ROM + grand church wedding + wedding march in Filipino tradition (for FMIL - devout Filipina Catholic)
2. Chinese lunch/ dinner reception (for FDIL relatives' and colleagues who are more traditional, also for FG & FB friends and colleagues)
3. Pekanbaru (Mom's hometown) wedding banquet  (Mom relatives, friends & extended family)
4. Jakarta wedding banquet (Dad relatives, friends, business associates..he has made it known that relatives alone will number around 200.. I don't know where he will procure them from >< )
5. Philippines eating & karaoke session (for FMIL relatives)

...Truly a nightmare in cost and logistics >< The thing is, we do want to make both parents happy.. They mean a lot to us, and I do really like my FMIL & FDIL, just as my Fiance get along very well with my folks. Originally, our plan was to ROM in 2013, and everything else in 2014 so we have time to plan for the logistics and save for the cost.. but complications soon arise...

FMIL: "No lah, the ROM should straight away be followed by church wedding! You should be married in the eyes of God."
(ok then, ROM + church wedding in 2013)
Dad: "Yeah, good, I support! Not right to just ROM quietly.. If Bryan wants to marry my daughter, he better be prepared to admit it to God, right? Must tie him down in HOLY MATRIMONY! That's why it's called HOLY, so he won't take a mistress! Oh by the way, you better record the vow ya.. Make sure he remember what he says to you..'
(Errrr... ok, note to self: prepare tape recorder for FG)
"By the way, daughter... since your Mom and I are more than willing to bear the cost for the Pekanbaru and Jakarta wedding... can't we have it right after the church wedding? In 2013? I mean, it's like to announce it to friends and relatives here right.. Not good for you & Bryan to live together before people know, right..."
Me: "Errr......"
That would mean my poor FDIL and his relatives will be left out until 2014! (He's a kind, more quiet man that does not want to make things complicated for us.. precisely why we really want to fulfill his wish!)

In the end, I cried on the phone and sort of threatened my Dad to just get married n everything in 2014, the key phrase being "...and then you'd have to wait longer for grandchildren..."
Dad:"Alright, alright, don't cry.. it should be a happy occassion for you.. ok, ok 2014..."

After that, my Mom called and told me about the perfect garden party she has envisioned for the Pekanbaru segment..
Mom: "Daughter! It's gonna be so cool! In Singapore you can't have this sort of thing, right? In Indonesia, we can, because we have LAND! LAND! What? You want to have it in September? Why?? Why not November??? In September our new house is not finished yet! Must finish construction of our new house to receive guest! What? It's September next year? Not this year? Ohhh.. Why so long??? Can't you ROM earlier in the year????"

>< yeah, they are in the middle of moving house...but man.. to think that my wedding date would depend on the speed of the construction!

Oh well, eventually, FMIL said it's enough to have a lunch reception after the wedding, inviting FDIL's relatives.. no need Chinese dinner. And no need to think about the Philippines. Dad & Mom said, okay, no need so grand a wedding.

Phhhhheeeeeewwwwwwww. Thing is, I've always thought as our both set of parents as quite down-to-earth and happy-go-lucky. I used to hear bits here and there about weddings nearly cancelled because one set of parents feel insulted about the other parents' action, or relatives grumbling and gossiping because they weren't given 'face'.. but I thought, "Nah, both our parents are cool and modern enough..."

Well readers, if there is one event designed to bring out the 'Titans' inside our usually easy-going parents, a wedding it is!

Wish us luck!