- Posted on Tuesday, 07 July 2015
Hsin Yao and Jing Li’s nuptials at The Ritz-Carlton, Singapore, planned by The Wedding Entourage and snapped by Wansheng of Feldberyl Images, was a rich and striking recreation of their courtship in the United States.
“Our vision for the wedding was for every guest to get to know us better as a couple and to have an insight into our personalities, hobbies and experiences. It was of critical importance that each and every guest felt fully engaged during the entire wedding event and we aimed to share our personal story with them through the food and decor.”
How did you meet?
“We met as undergraduates at the University of Chicago about eight years ago. Both of us majored in Economics, and I moved on to pursue a Masters in Hotel Management at Cornell University, while Hsin Yao completed his minor in Classical History. We were introduced through college friends and grew close through a mutual love for delicious food, intrepid travel and spontaneous adventure.” ~ Jing Li
What was the proposal like?
“The proposal was a low-key affair that celebrated the defining qualities of our relationship. We cooked a private meal of our favourite dishes, opened a prized bottle of wine that we purchased on a road trip to Oregon, and he proposed with a handmade, self-illustrated pop-up book detailing the most important chapters and memories of our courtship.” ~ Jing Li
Please tell us a bit about your wedding.
“Outside the main ballroom, the reception area décor was inspired by the University of Chicago, where we first met. It was modeled after the green spaces of the main quadrangle at the University, where students spent their time outdoors in springtime, surrounded by the ivy-covered stone facades of the lecture halls. This was where we had our solemnization ceremony - a symbolic consummation at the birthplace of our relationship. This area was later converted into a photo backdrop for guests at the reception.
Inside the ballroom, we divided the room into 4 zones where we recreated 4 of our favourite places in the US for our guests to relive our favourite memories of our courtship. Each zone had customized stationery, cutlery and decorations to reflect its theme. For example, the menu cards in the National Parks area were designed as vintage National Park postcards while the Napa Valley wine bar was decorated in the rustic style of the American vineyards.
Each zone was anchored by a key highlight that gave it its thematic essence:
1. Chicago (Main Stage): The beautiful Chicago skyline highlighted the main stage, accompanied by a big band playing brass tunes and Chicago blues all night long.
2. Napa Valley (The Wine Bar): We’ve always enjoyed the wine country and decorated this zone to mimic the great vineyards of Napa Valley in California and Willamette Valley in Oregon, complete with a wine bar serving specially selected wines for the night.
3. Portland (Dessert Buffet): Portland is one of our favourite cities in the US for its great food, coffee and drinks scene and laid-back vibe. We had our dessert buffet set up in this zone as Portland takes her desserts very seriously.
4. National Parks (Main photo booth): We love the American National Parks for the respite that they offer from the bustle of city life and for their raw, natural beauty. We used this zone to recreate some fall foliage that provided a gorgeous backdrop for our photo booth inside the ballroom.” ~ Jing Li
What sort of wedding favours did you opt for, and why?
“We put in quite a lot of effort in getting a variety of wedding favors for our guests which represented special memories from unique places that we encountered in our travels as a couple. These ranged from Frank Lloyd Wright calendars highlighting the signature Prairie-style architecture in Chicago, Alaskan Glacier Silt Soaps made from real glacial silt that we purchased in Juneau, Alaska, Louisiana Seasoning Salts from our favourite Cajun restaurant in New Orleans, craft beers which we discovered in Oregon, postcards from all the National Parks we visited, as well as Mini Disney Tsum Tsum Plushies representing our happy memories in Disneyworld, MOMA Art History Coasters and Trader Joe’s Ginger Snaps.
Each favour was accompanied by a note telling the story of how we came by this particular trinket and the importance it played in our lives. The procurement of these favours took over 3 months but was phenomenally well-received by our guests who all remarked that they loved the favours and learnt a lot about our interests and lives together through them.” ~ Jing Li
Do you have any other special stories to share with us?
“After the wedding, we had many people telling us how much they enjoyed the speeches at our wedding - we had speeches by both our fathers, the groom’s brother, two bridesmaids and us, in a mixture of languages from English & Mandarin to Cantonese and Hainanese. There were many speeches, but each of these were heartfelt recollections of friendship and growing up years contained plenty of advice on how to keep a marriage going. They were a great tribute to the importance of our family and friends.
We wanted to share the night with our parents, so instead of the traditional march-in by the bride and groom at the start of the dinner, we had both our parents walk into the ballroom so they could share some of the limelight and feel special on this night as well.
The gatecrashing in the morning had its funny moments as most of the groomsmen were not from Singapore (they were Hsin Yao’s schoolmates from University of Chicago). Hence they were not familiar with the custom of gatecrashing and had heard horror stories about what groomsmen were usually made to do. Fortunately, they got off easy by having to perform a dance, playing a ball toss game to determine the price they would have to pay (“oh, just like beer pong!”) and doing some push-ups, caterpillar-style. We thought we shouldn’t scar them on their first visit to Singapore.” ~ Jing Li
“It was important to Jing Li and I that our wedding be infused with our own personalities and that our guests would really get to know us better as individuals and as a couple. Caroline, Chelsea and The Wedding Entourage fully embraced our vision and helped identify and articulate our key personality quirks that made us unique. Caroline’s extensive network with the Ritz-Carlton management was crucial in pushing for a customized, high quality dinner menu and her execution know-how transformed the Ritz-Carlton ballroom into a real-life recreation of our favourite American cities. Particularly impressive was her recreation of The Morton Arboretum, a fall foliage backdrop that was so real we could hardly distinguish it from the actual park in Chicago! Beyond their experience and expertise, what stuck with us the most was the passion and genuine care that Caroline, Chelsea and their entire team put into our wedding preparations. By the end of it, we had not only been gifted the wedding of our dreams, but also some brand new family friends to cherish it with. Cheers to The Wedding Entourage!” ~ Hsin Yao
Congratulations on your marriage, Hsin Yao and Jing Li! May it be every bit as beautiful as your wedding!
Venue: The Ritz-Carlton, Singapore
Photography: Wansheng, Feldberyl Images
Wedding Dress: Vaughn Tan
Evening gowns: Alice + Olivia
Kua: House of Etiquette
Bride’s Shoes: Ferragamo, Enzo Angiolini
Groom’s Outfit: Tony Tang, Anson Tailor
Groom’s Shoes: Raoul
Jewellery: Wedding bands from Carrie K., Larry Jewellery
Hair & Makeup: Sam Ong and Jerry Tan, Next Hair Salon
Wedding Cake: The Ritz-Carlton, Singapore
Wedding Planning: The Wedding Entourage
Photo Booth: Hello Forever
Videography: Samuel, Simplemotion