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Expert Tips from Top Wedding Planners - Part 2

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We hope you enjoyed Part I of our two-part series, Expert Tips from Wedding Planners! In today's feature we bring you more insight into wedding planning, as some of the brightest and most talented wedding planners in Singapore share what they think are key considerations for couples planning their weddings.

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Photos by Brody Tan and planning by Beautiful Gatherings via Beautiful Traditions: A Styled Shoot at Emily Hill.

Budgeting realistically

Renee, The Wedding Butler

It's important to be realistic about budgets. Everyone wants a magical wedding with the best of everything: lots of flowers, a top band playing, fabulous invites that convert into jewelry boxes, etc. But in the real world we don't have deep pockets to spare on mega-weddings. Prioritize your top desires for your wedding - is it lots of flowers, entertainment, good food, or is it something else? List them down from highest-to-lowest priority. This will help you decide where to put most of your budget and helps you identify areas which can take a back seat, or which are not even needed. We had a client whose priority was innovative, creative and luxurious invitation cards. We helped them budget $150 per card, and their invitations oozed luxury. So everyone's desires are different - what're yours?

Weiwei, Chere: Weddings and Parties

Always prioritise. Include a buffer so that you won't be surprised by unexpected costs that you may have missed at an earlier planning stage.

Cindy, Ode To Joy Wedding Concepts

Sit down with your other half to discuss how much both of you are willing and able to contribute to the wedding. Having a realistic budget in mind will certainly facilitate the decision making process when it comes to selecting your vendors. Before determining a budget, you should start drafting a preliminary guest list because many expenditures will be proportional to the size of your wedding – for example, food and alcohol, venue rental, decorations and wedding stationery.

Hannah, Heaven's Gift

List down what you really want. Are the decorations the most important piece in your wedding, or is it the music, the mood that matters most to you? Ask yourself which artists do you really need to hire - photographer or videographer, or both? What do you want as final deliverables in your wedding - moments captured in a photo album or a wedding video that captures the speeches, the mood, etc.? Don't compare with what your friends had for their wedding. What really matters at the end of the day is what you desire. When you list down your priorities then you begin to discover what you really want for your wedding. Once that is done, start asking for quotes - that will give you a good idea of the market rate. The smaller your wedding is, the greater proportion your cost of details will be compared to your F&B expenses. The bigger your wedding, the greater proportion your cost of F&B will be compared to the cost of the details. But generally, a 50/50 split between F&B and other wedding expenses is pretty safe. For Singapore weddings, a wedding of 20 tables will generally range from $2,500 to $3500 per table, including the hiring fees for your photographers, videographers, makeup artists, your gowns, suit, F&B, flowers, musicians, etc.

Angela, The Wedding Stylist

Setting your wedding budget should be one of the first things you do in your planning process. There are many budgeting tools available online nowadays which can come in handy. Not only should you decide on the total budget, it is very important to allocate the budget into different categories such as venue hire, food and beverage, flowers, entertainment, attire, gifts for helpers, etc. It is also helpful to indicate which items are "Must-Haves" and which are "Good-to-Haves". It will make your decision-making easier should you be caught in a dilemma over what to forgo. Most importantly, stick as closely as possible to the budget. It can be difficult, we know, so do give yourself a 10% buffer for over-spending.

Caroline, The Wedding Stylist

It is really important to be honest with yourself and also with the people involved in your wedding. For example, if a particular vendor that you like is out of your budget range, discuss with them honestly your limitations and see if they are able to provide an alternative to meet your budget such as giving a discount, shortening assignment hours or a reduction in scope, etc. You will be surprised how willing some vendors are to try to work within the budget and if it's not possible, at least you asked!

Another tip is learning to say no, especially to vendors who try to up-sell services which you do not need. Know what you want and stick by it. It is your wedding after all.

Zen, Walk Down The Aisle

It is normal for friends and family to add their two cents' worth, especially when they feel you may not have a direction. Listen to their comments with a pinch of salt and don't get too stressed out by it. It is your wedding at the end of the day, so don't be too easily influenced and have a mind of your own. Prioritize what is important and where your budget should be focused on. You want to have some say in the most special day of your life and make it your own to remember.

Take advantage of the high cost of the wedding and sign up for a credit card with rewards points if you don't already have one. Consolidating wedding-related purchases to this card will help you accumulate lots of rewards points which you can in-turn utilize for your honeymoon.

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Photos by Bryan Jean Photography and planning by Heaven's Gift via Desmond and Charlotte’s Winter Wonderland Wedding at Shangri-La Hotel.

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Photos by Feldberyl and planning by Heaven's Gift via Magical Marquee Wedding at Alkaff Mansion: Eu Ming and Marlene.

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Photos by 5degreeshift and planning by Heaven's Gift via A Garden Wedding at Hort Park: Aston and Celest.

Relying on the right people

Bryan, Beautiful Gatherings

Be picky about the help you choose to receive. Yes, it your wedding day and everyone is volunteering to help with your wedding - the friend who is a budding photographer, a cousin who does great make-up and a distant relative who runs a bakery. I have witnessed couples that accepted help too early in their wedding planning and ended up with no choice but to have a croquembouche instead of their favorite strawberry shortcake. When accepting help, be specific with what you need and make sure they can provide the help you want. There is no shame in declining offers and allowing them to enjoy the wedding as your guests instead.

Jessica, Wedrock Weddings

To make all the months of wedding planning worthwhile, invest in a coordination team to be the backbone of your wedding day. Allow this team to take care of the programme, timings, logistics, multimedia arrangements, inspections and guidance, so that you may truly be present for every moment of your wedding and spend time with your loved ones. In addition, your wedding helpers should be given support too. Ideally, hire a wedding planner.

Cindy, Ode To Joy Wedding Concepts

Be practical when it comes to selecting your wedding entourage. Choose people that you can count on and trust. There will be a lot of pre-wedding preparation, as well as responsibilities on the actual wedding day to be carried out, so pick friends who are reliable and who will stay committed to these responsibilities to be part of your wedding entourage.

Caroline, The Wedding Entourage

Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends or professionals if necessary, but it is important to find people you feel comfortable working with and whom you trust. Selecting your bridal party while honouring your long term friendships and relationships can often be a tricky decision, but it is important to allocate official roles from the very beginning. Be clear about what you would like each of your close friends and relatives to help with by playing to their strengths, so as to make sure the entire process from wedding planning to the actual day runs as smoothly and wonderfully as possible.

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Photos by Feldberyl and planning by Ode To Joy Wedding Concepts via Adrien and Renyung's Festive Wedding at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.

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Photo by Lightedpixels Pixies and planning by Chere: Weddings and Parties via Ara and Yoko’s Green and White Garden Wedding at Burkill Hall.

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Photo by Nathan Wu and planning by Chere: Weddings and Parties via A Charming Wedding at MASONS: Lu and Kat.

Deciding on the wedding style

Anna, Spellbound Weddings

Its hard to sometimes merge the parents' and couple's style, and this is when both parties have to come to a "win-win" situation. The main thing all must agree on is the colour, then the mood (ambience). After that, details can normally be worked out such as fonts and stationery. The couple should confine their visuals to two styles, and from there, consult their wedding planner or stylist to see which suits the venue and their personality best because the wedding should reflect the couple's personalities and idiosyncrasies.

Weiwei, Chere: Weddings and Parties

Look for ideas outside of weddings. This will make your wedding more refreshing and personalised. Look into architectural forms to find patterns you like. Look into your occupations and lifestyles to spot and pick out important habits, hobbies and details that characterise you as a couple.

Cindy, Ode To Joy Wedding Concepts

You can do your research online or browse through established wedding magazines. Take pictures or keep a wedding inspiration board of the ideas you fancy - this will help you to communicate the ideas to your decorator or wedding planner at a later stage.

Caroline, The Wedding Entourage

Don't be afraid to be different! Pinterest is a great place to start when looking for wedding inspiration, but there are other ways to inject your personality into your wedding. Think out of the box – try identifying elements of your love story that can make your wedding more personal and meaningful, it can be your common love of sports or music, countries you've travelled together to, or meaningful gifts that remind you of each other.

Hannah, Heaven's Gift

Share your love story with your planner and the wedding experts you have hired so that they can express your unique love story when providing their services or products. For example, whenever we meet with our couples, we ask questions to get to know you better, like: What's your dream wedding? What is one thing you must have in your wedding? Why did you choose the venue you have? As you share your thoughts, we begin to internalize your dream and use our experience and creativity to suggest how it can be expressed through details such as gown design, pre-wedding videos, the overall look and feel of your venue, and even the detailing of your stationery.

Zen, Walk Down The Aisle

If you aren't really sure what style of wedding gown suits you, find a bridal studio that has options for you to try on. You never know, and the outcome could surprise you! But start early as customizations can take up to six months depending on the schedule of the studio.

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Photos by Samuel Goh Photography and Ksana and planning by Spellbound Weddings via Paul and Charissa’s Wedding at Burkill Hall Filled with Old-School Delights.

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Photo by Trouve and planning by Spellbound Weddings via Conan and Facqueline’s Intimate Garden Wedding at Suburbia.

Working with vendors

Anna, Spellbound Weddings

If you're getting a planner, get one that you can trust. If a planner tells you their services will be cheap because you said you wanted a simple wedding, then this planner is not experienced because (i) simple doesn't mean cheap; (ii) simple doesn't mean you want bad photographs, flowers or dresses, and (iii) if it's that simple then you probably wouldn't need a planner in the first place! Hence, although a couple may think what they want is simple, it's actually unlikely to be. Online reviews are good but we always highly recommend meeting the vendors personally because sometimes the "connection" is just not there. I recommend you choose a vendor that you can click with and most importantly trust. Normally reputable vendors do their best work when you give them your criteria and just trust the vendors to do their own thing. Personally, these usually become Spellbound's signature works. Ask the vendor about worst-case scenarios and see how they react. If they seem uneasy, they may not be prepared for situations like that. The reality is that Murphy's Law applies to weddings in multitudes! So its much better to hire a planner that is well-prepared.

Weiwei, Chere: Weddings and Parties

Schedule some time for your photographer / videographer to take shots of décor, DIY items, etc. You want to remember all the effort you've put into the wedding. You might wish to consider hiring a second photographer or even a third if you have a big wedding. Allow the other photographers to follow your parents or family and take photos for them. Remember to feed your vendors, especially those who work through lunch or dinner timings.

Cindy, Ode To Joy Wedding Concepts

Hiring a planner can make your wedding planning journey stress free and even enjoyable! Not only can she create a realistic budget for you, she can also suggest professional vendors who can work within it. A good planner should also be someone who takes time to understand your needs and preferences, and provide inspiration and concepts for you to consider along with shortlists of vendors who can deliver your expectations. Chemistry is important especially with someone who will journey with you for months right up to your wedding day. Don't rush into deciding who you want to engage - take time to meet a few wedding planners so that you can compare their service offerings and rates, as well as have a sense of whom you connect with better.

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Photos by Ivan Tan Photography and planning by The Wedding Stylist via Classically Beautiful Wedding at Capella: Gunawan and Marki. 

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Photo by 39 East Photography and planning by The Wedding Stylist via Gerald and ZieZie’s Romantic Wedding at Capella and W Singapore.

Managing guests

Weiwei, Chere: Weddings and Parties

Spice up the cocktail reception and let guests know that there are interesting activities going on during cocktail so they'll make an extra effort to come earlier, if not on time. Plan some activities for guests so they don't feel bored. Boredom will make the wait for the dinner feel even longer. You want to treat guests right, especially if they are punctual. For example, we have planned lawn games for some outdoor weddings. Choose tasteful activities and nothing that will get your guests sweaty and hot. Have a voting booth for guests to vote on various components of the wedding. We had a couple asked their guests to vote for their first march-in song because they couldn't decide which song to use. Inform the hotel not to open up the ballroom too early. The earlier guests go in, the longer they will feel that they are being kept waiting.

Jessica, Wedrock Weddings

Share something personal and unique with your guests. Allow your guests to be acquainted with your identity as a couple through the things they can see and listen to at the wedding. Be your story's best storyteller. Examples: Showcase your story by video (pre-wedding video) through an enactment, an interview, a documentary, etc. Display some of your personal collectibles and knick-knacks as part of the decorative props. Use wedding stationery to share a personal liking - e.g. postcard table numbers of the couple's favourite travel destinations. Showcase your talent (e.g. singing, dancing, playing an instrument, etc). Make sure that your cocktail reception duration is sufficient to take into account late-coming guests, and ensure the wedding reception does not commence too late. One hour is recommended for the cocktail reception and the wedding reception should commence no later than fifteen minutes after the time stated on the invitation.

Zen, Walk Down The Aisle

It's always good to start with your guestlist early as you will already need some initial numbers when selecting your venue. Prioritize your guestlist according to tiers starting with immediate family, the bridal party, and best friends, followed by relatives and closer friends you couldn't imagine not being there. Don't feel obliged to invite plus-ones if you have not met them before. Below that, list down your parents' friends, neighbors, co-workers and so on. If you need to make cuts, start from the bottom of the list until you reach the ideal number. Typically around 30 percent of your guests will not attend and this depend on the location of your wedding, whether it is a destination wedding or not, how many out-of-towners and the timing of the event (if it's during the holiday season, you can expect a higher drop-out rate, even at the last minute).

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Photos by Plush Photography and planning by Walk Down The Aisle via Muzahir and Danielle's Navy and Gold Wedding at Sri Panwa Phuket.

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Photos by Leo Patrone and planning by Walk Down The Aisle via Burkill Hall Wedding with a Touch of Rustic Elegance: Ju Quan and Lauryn.

Going with the flow

Weiwei, Chere: Weddings and Parties

Go with the flow. Guests won't know what's missing or wrong unless you show it. Make sure the AV team knows the programme flow and always test equipment a few days prior to the wedding day.

Jessica, Wedrock Weddings

Don't get too caught up in "perfection". Some of the best moments are moments which are honest and unscripted. Don't let any unattainable ideal sour the joyfulness of your big day.

Wenxin, The Wedding Stylist

When it finally comes to your big day, don't sweat the small stuff. Get some friends or relatives to help you take charge of different tasks on the day itself so that you won't have to run around managing every detail. If something turns out to be different from what you expected, don't be overly bothered by it. It's the happiest day of your life, so make the best of it and enjoy yourself to the fullest!

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Photos by Mango Studios and planning by The Wedding Entourage via Nishan and Mandy’s Exquisite and Exotic Wedding at The Fullerton Hotel Singapore.

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Photos by Ivan Tan Photography and planning by Wedrock Weddings via A Floral Magic Wedding: Alan + Jo.

 

That's it, Wedding Scoopers! A big heartfelt Thank You to all our lovely and experienced wedding vendors who shared their advice and insight on wedding planning.

We hope you found this series useful, Wedding Scoopers. Have tips and tricks of your own to share? Drop us a private message on Facebook, and if we get enough messages, we may turn it into a feature with contributions by you!

 

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