On 19 Sep 2011, we began our journey together. And on 29 Oct 2016, we possessed our possessions, taking a step of faith into a new season as one. After 2 years of running a social enterprise and working in a start-up, our finances ran low; so when J proposed, it came as a surprise.

Faith is not knowing what lies ahead of us, but knowing God holds our future in His hands. We know that Daddy God's heart for us is that of extravagant love, and thankful for those who journeyed with us in the new season.

When #weddingplanning came into the picture, I went through a phase of being unsure if I should believe Daddy God for a miracle (I mean He is God right? He has unlimited resources) or be practical about things (I mean we should not treat God like a genie right?). J assured me that God knew the desires of my heart, yet the Creator Himself would grant us the creativity with the limitations we had.

I wanted to share 7 areas of considerations and tips from our journey of planning for an alternative #wedding.

1. Intention //the heart behind it all

To be honest, having a garden wedding was just a dream that I always had. Simply because it's pretty, I love the ambience etc. etc. I remember reading Pastor Bobbie Houston's book "Sisterhood" and being inspired by the ladies who used the gift to create that God has given them to set the ambience for ladies attending Colour Conference, allowing them to experience the touch of God. It was there and then that I realised to stop condemning myself for dreaming about pretty things, ambience...

However, life is simply not just about self. It is important to communicate ideas and expectations with one another as a couple - after all this is the very first major project you would embark on together! There is really no absolute right or wrong. Consider and also communicate the expectations of others such as parents. Expressing your intention/heart behind your decisions as a couple would help. Obviously, life is not a bed of roses and we cannot have everyone agree with us for everything, so some compromise is needed.

Eventually, we decided to design and plan our wedding with the "#garden" theme (think lots of foliage because a friend told me foliage would be cheaper than flowers haha!) and our programme/decisions would center around blessing others, appreciating and celebrating our loved ones. We also hope to share our journey and how God has impacted us, also through the people He has placed in our lives.

2. Venue

There were 2 things that we agreed was important for our garden wedding venue -

(i) Air-conditioned - hot or rainy weather are both not what we would want for our guests to feel really uncomfortable in
(ii) All our guests should not be segregated, i.e. some outside the cafe and some inside as key part of our dinner would be lots of talking and sharing

I used wedever.co to look for "unique places to say I do". It was really useful and helped in shortlisting the venues to the following -

Changi Cove

I was super mesmerised by the Command House which we wanted to rent for church solemnisation. It was so pretty I told the sales team I could immediately book the venue with them. The auditorium for dinner banquet also had wooden flooring which was what we liked, as compared to the carpets used at hotel banquet venues. However, the sales team was really unresponsive - we figured they were more interested in a potential corporate deal (a company wanted to book the venue for extended period of time but was undecided at that point of time). Due to the poor service, we decided to strike this venue off our list.


The Chapel @ Imaginarium

Another super pretty venue for our church solemnisation that had potential to be turned around for dinner banquet thereafter. Peck Lian was super helpful and friendly. Though the venue does not fit exactly into "garden" theme, we thought the clean chapel look could be turned around with foliage, gold tiffany chairs and white tables. Unfortunately, **update as of late 2019** The Chapel @ Imaginarium is no longer available for wedding.

Armenian Church of St. Gregory

The famous church everyone is familiar with! Unfortunately, they are unable to rent out the venue for dinner so it was out too. We intended to conduct our church solemnisation, followed by dinner at a tentage setup outside the church. They work with tentage supplier (Nanyang Inc if I'm not wrong) too. Do consider if you are looking for a morning church solemnisation venue, followed by lunch reception!

Marquee @ Hotel Fort Canning

Also another popular marquee garden wedding venue. Unfortunately, the dinner banquet cost was around $190+/pax on Saturday (2017 price), which was way above our budget. Also, I did not really like the white cloth look for the marquee. However, going with this option would save a lot of hassle!

Fort Canning Park

We were really hoping for the best for Changi Cove as it was the most ideal in terms of look and price point. However, when it did not turn out well, I explored the option of having a transparent tentage at Fort Gate Lawn @ #FortCanningPark. It would also be meaningful as J proposed at Fort Canning Park.

Raffles House @ Fort Canning Park has a similar colonial look and feel to Command House @ Changi Cove. We visited the venue and fell in love with it immediately for our church solemnisation.

At the back of my mind, I was uncertain if it would meet our budget as building air-conditioned tentage in Singapore seemed expensive to me. Nanyang Inc has a wedding arm Outdoor Wedding Specialist that is known to organise outdoor weddings with their tentage setups. Their quotation was way out of our budget, even though they have an experienced team, so that would mean less hassle.

Eventually, after getting quotations from several suppliers, we settled with Coreen from Dekko Tentage. Coreen was very patient in working with us to exclude and include items in order to achieve the feel and look of the set-up, yet keeping within budget. Though there were some hiccups along the way as they are not experienced in weddings, the wedding set-up received lots of compliments on our wedding day and it felt surreal to celebrate our union with our loved ones "under the stars".

3. Say "I Do" to good cause

I came from a low-income family myself. During my junior college days, my form teacher and my friend actually helped pay off my school fees. In 2008 during my university days, I was in impoverished Tala, Philippines on an overseas volunteer trip. What left the deepest impression on me was a group of women who were relatives of lepers making very beautiful and unique reversible dolls, but could not do much to help as there was a lack of market access and hence no demand for the dolls.

I felt thankful to be born in a nation that provided me with opportunities to be where I am today. It has thus been my desire to use my skill sets to empower the less advantaged to have a sustainable livelihood.

When I graduated from university, I ventured into FMCG retail market research, business development and corporate strategy in the first 4 years of my career life. While analysing the state of the world and the underlying stories that play out on the big picture level, a part of me was searching for the places my personal strengths and passions could bring about an impact to the poor. matcha5 became the intersection point for me which kept me alive and allowed me to contribute to society in a meaningful manner. However, the social enterprise was unsustainable and I began working closely with a dear friend I have made friends with - Mitzi from The Philippines who runs social enterprise Mori.

Naturally, our wedding had wedding favours handmade by mori urban poor mothers in Manila who used to sew rags for a living. They now work with Mitzi and are the hands behind these social-conscious wedding favours. We also wanted our wedding favours to be useful, hence, worked with Mitzi to create vegan leather small pouch and luggage tags with our wedding verse "above all, love" engraved on them.

If you are looking for alternative wedding favours, apart from considering mori's, there are several other social enterprises like MINDS, Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN) who have bakery items for wedding favours that you can consider (I received one at my ex-colleague's wedding awhile back and they were yummy!).

Upon introduction by our friend, we decided to engage Annie from helloflowers for our floral arc, chandelier and my floral crown. Her creations are super gorgeous and so we had no qualms about going with her. We felt that she embodied the true spirit of social entrepreneurship - creating true value with her excellent florist work for her customers, rather than selling from a charitable angle.

4. Involving loved ones

While top-rated live bands are a rave now, we decided to involve our own friends for programmes and performances (okay, FRIENDS - without you guys we would not even have much programme to begin with! lol as we did not have the budget to hire live bands). We really believe God has placed unique gifts and talents in each of us and enjoyed seeing them shine with their talents at our wedding! I have come a pretty long way from the very first speech I did at my friend's wedding in 2014 to the emcee role I did at a wedding last year. The journey of growing together and seeing each other shine in his/her own skin far surpass having a perfect wedding programme implemented on actual day.

We also decided to engage my ex-intern Kristel (@floraascent) to craft my bridal bouquet and our moms' bouquet. I first met Kristel when she was working at VGYstore and liaising with me to feature matcha5 products in the store. I have always felt that she is a promising talented young lady whose heart is for God. Working with young people like her never fail to energise me.

5. First dance

I know some people think people who insist on having first dance are "posers", "trying to act western" lol. Okay... again to be honest - that was part of the initial motivation ha ha. However, J and I had gone on waltz dance class with my mum at a community centre a few years back as she had insisted that dancing together as a couple creates stronger bond. During the waltz dance classes, we enjoyed ourselves and learnt how to flow with one another. I remember our dance teacher lecturing me about how I need to follow the lead of J, yet take ownership of my own dance steps and poses and not be totally dependent on him. It was an interesting experience for me - I felt I had the first taste of learning to "submit to my husband" which does not mean becoming someone without my own thoughts and voice.

My mum was still lecturing me about being too stiff and unnatural the night before our wedding when we did our final rehearsal! Lol. Nonetheless, we told ourselves to just enjoy the moment on our wedding night since we are not dance professionals anyway... We did enjoy it very much on our wedding night! It felt really surreal!

6. Opt for live Instagram feed instead of express highlights

Express highlights can be expensive. We came up with a hashtag for our wedding #XingFuLe and used Hashslider on our actual day dinner reception to stream #XingFuLe photos live on the screen. We had our friends help be live photographers, updating and uploading photos through a new Instagram account @joshrachfu and hashtagging all the photos. They also collected photos from our bridesmaids and groomsmen team, curating them. We also invited our guests to share theirs and 2 guests stood a chance to win a prize from us.

7. DIY

If you enjoy crafting things with your friends, try DIY-ing some of the decor items to also add a personal touch. Some of the styling service prices can be quite crazy, i.e. $1k for a backdrop. Just ensure that you have a fixed colour theme and mood-board to maintain consistency across various elements of the wedding.

We were very keen to engage helloflowers and floraascent for our floral decor and bridal and moms bouquets. However, our talented friend C helped with our VIP table flower vase. A day before the wedding, we went to Far East Flora to get the fresh flowers. It's quite a fun experience in the freezing room, going through the variety of flowers! We got our stuff from Taobao (just check reviews! use ezbuy Prime to save on shipping) and spent a day before wedding prepping for the items and another half day (on the day before wedding) to put up all the stuff.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. {1 Peter 4:8}

If you would like to support the work of Mori mothers who handmade the above lovely wedding favours, check out our Wedding page and contact us to enquire! They can also be considered as bridesmaids gifts, amongst other items such as our World's 1st Pursebook and Organisers

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Special thanks to the following for our wedding
Photography: Synchronal Photography
Florist: helloflowers
Bridal and moms bouquet: floraascent
Make-up and hair artist: Christine Chia Makeup
Wedding favours: mori
Gown: Kelly's Bridal
Suit: The Prestigious
Tentage setup provider: Dekko Tentage

 

Comments

  • Mori Official said:

    Hi Mandy! A friend of mine whose wedding was in Jan 2020 enquired in 2019 and Chapel @ Imaginarium mentioned at that point of time that they are no longer available for weddings. Google search also shows that they are permanently closed. I haven’t been following their news in 2021 though! Hope this helps clarify… :) – R

    April 14, 2021

  • Mandy said:

    Hi! I was just wondering cos you said that Chapel@Imaginarium is no longer available for wedding. Is it like for good, they will no longer be open for wedding, or temporary? Where do you get the info?

    April 14, 2021


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