Stairway to heaven

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 June, 2012, 12:00am


Once the initial excitement of the proposal settles down, planning for the big day begins. Landmark views and expansive ballrooms make hotels the venue of choice for many couples, and some offer a full wedding-planning service with in-house experts to pull together every detail and turn dreams into reality.

Eva Kwan, director of catering and events at The Mira Hong Kong, says it acts as a one-stop-shop for everything from ideas to execution. 'Everything that happens inside the hotel, we can take care of,' Kwan says, adding that services can include things such as organising RSVPs to helping a bride source the right shoes to pair with her gown.

The hotel's collaboration with Hollywood event planner and designer Colin Cowie gives it a unique edge, according to Kwan, who says the pillar-free ballroom, Cowie's six signature looks and state-of-the-art technology make it stand out in set-up and in style.

The colour-coded themes come with their own accessories, including tableware and centrepieces. A lighting system offers 25,000 variations so that a couple can change the ambience at every stage of their wedding.

Little more than 12 months since it opened, the Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong, is already the venue of choice for couples who want to wow. Boasting its position as the highest hotel in the world with panoramic skyline views, it can also lay claim to some serious budget-busting wedding packages. It has hosted several HK$1-million-plus weddings and a celebrity wedding with performances by Hollywood stars.

The hotel has a dedicated wedding showroom comprising a mock-up of a ballroom where a couple can look at options from soft furnishings to flowers and discuss their plans with the catering and event teams.

The hotel can arrange everything from pre-wedding spa treatments and stag/hen parties to the marriage ceremony, banquet, after-party and honeymoon accommodation at a sister hotel.

'Our team will be able to make the guests' dream come true and it will be hassle-free,' says Lucia Shum, director of catering and events.

Couples can opt for a bespoke package that includes head-table settings with tableware, glassware, silverware and crystal from Baccarat or Heather & March. The hotel has also collaborated with event designer Preston Bailey, who has worked with the likes of Liza Minnelli, Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey. For a cool HK$10 million, a couple can have a storyboard wedding of their dreams, designed by Bailey.

The package includes details down to the carpet and drapery used to decorate the venue. Pre-wedding spa treatments, a menu created by leading chef Paul Lau and wedding-night and honeymoon accommodation are included in the package. It also includes first-class flights to New York to meet Bailey at his studio.

For a more intimate gathering with plenty of romance, the Ritz-Carlton's Ozone bar can be booked for up to 50 guests with alfresco dining and giddy views looking down on Hong Kong.

Sky-high celebrations can also be arranged at the Peninsula, Hong Kong. As the only hotel in the territory with a helipad, a helicopter ride over the city for the bride and groom, and even guests, can make for a memorable day. The hotel can even arrange for a couple to say 'I do' hovering hundreds of feet over the harbour.

Couples with vertigo can still make an entrance on their big day. The hotel has a fleet of 14 bespoke Rolls-Royce vehicles and one or more can be incorporated into the special event.

Venues include the 192-capacity Salisbury Room, the open-air harbourside terrace or The Garden Suite. The hotel's restaurants can also be hired. Its wedding consultant, planning services and catering team will spearhead arrangements with a detailed to-do calendar ticked off week by week as the day approaches. Packages include custom-made menus and entertainment with a pianist or trio.

The white marble staircase at the InterContinental Hong Kong is a big attraction for the bride who wants to make a sweeping entrance. Stella Wong, senior director of events, says the staircase is iconic 'as the city's most glamorous and celebrated grand entrance for weddings and as a prized venue for wedding portraits'.

The hotel's newly renovated ballroom is one of the largest in the city without pillars, offering flexible configurations. Planning assistance includes a bridal butler service with a female member of staff assigned to the bride and her party throughout the banquet.

The hotel is often approached to host second-generation wedding banquets, with one client requesting the same style, decor and menu she had at her wedding 30 years before. 'She showed us photos of the set-up and decoration and our team tried to fulfil all her requests,' Wong says.

The Heritage Hotel in the sleepy village of Tai O on Lantau Island offers a tranquil alternative to a city wedding. The hotel opened in March and is yet to host a wedding, but packages will be available later this year.

Crowne Plaza Hong Kong Kowloon will offer one of the largest facilities when it opens later this year, with a ballroom able to cater for banquets of 1,000 guests.

Macau offers plenty of options for couples looking for a large venue.

The Venetian Macao-Resort-Hotel offers packages that include menu, venue set-up and decoration and wedding-night accommodation for the bride and groom, plus quirks such as a gondola ride.

Planners at the Galaxy Macau will put together the details of a wedding at the hotel, which can accommodate small or large gatherings and incorporate details from banquet and overnight bride and groom accommodation to personalised table menus.

The Grand Lisboa Hotel has a grand ballroom of more than 1,000 square metres and can easily accommodate a banquet for hundreds. Packages for a minimum of 20 tables include extras such as one night's accommodation, limousine service and use of a bridal room.

The Conrad Macao, Cotai Central, can accommodate parties of varying sizes, thanks to its six junior ballrooms, with a contemporary Himalayan and Chinese setting that prevails throughout the hotel.