Planning for a perfect union
Traditionally, planning that first step to the altar - the marriage proposal - is the job of the husband-to-be. A romantic setting, the perfect ring and the right words usually work.
The bride-to-be is normally expected to organise the wedding; but this was not the case for newlywed Kelvin Teo.
'Charlene [now his wife] was in the midst of strategic planning for her new business and with time running down, we had to be pragmatic with regards who had the most productive input towards pushing the project management of the wedding planning,' Teo says.
With Teo from Singapore and his wife from Hong Kong, they both realised that the most important first step would be to secure venues and ensure that the Singapore celebrations would be one week after the Hong Kong wedding.
As Christians, the most important first task was to secure a church for the vows. 'Once we had the church sorted out, everything else just came together, probably two to three months prior to the wedding date, including photographer, videographer, floral arrangements, transportation and flight arrangements to Singapore for the second wedding celebrations,' Teo says.
He says it wasn't a cakewalk. 'There were moments where it got a little frustrating due to the amount of planning and organisation that was required.' But he did receive a lot of help from his friends.
'Our friends came to help with things like worship and music [for the ceremony], as we were focused on the key items that were important to us - the church ceremony, the vows and prayer.
'We met our worship/music director at another friend's wedding and thought of him only three weeks prior to our wedding. We had two other friends who agreed to help and they all met only once for a [music] rehearsal two days before the wedding.'
Friends also helped with essential details, such as two dresses for the bride, pre-wedding photos, floral arrangements and transport.
In the throes of planning his wedding, which takes place later this year, is personal trainer Marc Rimmer. 'We gave ourselves 12 months to organise the wedding,' says British-born Rimmer, who moved to Hong Kong several years ago. 'Mainly because we have family flying to Hong Kong, so they need time to plan their holiday.'
Rimmer admits that his fiancee, Hong Kong-born Bella, is doing most of the planning. 'Bella has been pretty much organising everything and being able to speak Cantonese is very useful for saving a bit of money,' he says.
Like Teo, Rimmer says booking venues were the first items on their to-do list.
'The planning started with the venue, a restaurant in Murray House in Stanley. The location was important as we wanted it near water,' Rimmer says. 'From there, we sorted a wedding date and then we informed all guests.'
That was when the plans started to unravel. 'We pretty much left it alone for three months to wait for replies. It was quite difficult to get definite answers and there was a lot of chasing up. It became quite chaotic and the amount of guests was changing weekly due to people not finding suitable flights and then they found one. In retrospect we should have set a deadline.'
Once they knew the exact guest list, it was already six months into the planning.
'We then organised the smaller stuff like the dress, suit, cake and flowers,' Rimmer says. 'Bella chose the dress which I have not seen yet, but it is white and a Western-style dress. She then chose flowers to match it. We used the flowers as the colour theme - soft yellow and purple.
'The cake is a four-tier cupcake design with a large cake for cutting on top. The cupcakes are a mix of yellow and purple and white.' Rimmer points out that with endless choices in all aspects of planning a wedding, having the base colours makes decisions easier.
Being on a budget is fine as Rimmer says there are many set packages for flowers and set menus for food, but choosing the cake was the most difficult as options are limitless. 'We picked the style we wanted rather than picking one at the right price or within budget,' Rimmer says. 'We decided to splash a little bit on the cake although again it was not a bad price.'
Teo, who works in the finance industry, says that he didn't work from the basis of an overall budget, but from what was required, 'and from there, we were more conscious of the items which were less important to us'.
When giving advice to couples embarking on planning their wedding day themselves, Teo recommends having both sets of parents involved from the early stages so that all expectations are made known and handled appropriately. 'I think the key stress came when we realised we needed to structure the process of providing a dowry. The typical arrangement is to have a neutral third party to act as the go-between for the two families due to the potential sensitivities involved,' Teo says. 'However, due to time constraints, we had to go ahead with this ourselves. This required more careful planning than we had thought, but at the end of the day, what we came away with was a stronger relationship with the respective parents and the ability to have more open, honest communication [with them].'
Rimmer agrees that communication from the early stages with respective Chinese and Western parents has helped in the process.
'We decided it would be a Western wedding, but with a lot of Chinese traditions - a fusion wedding if you like,' he says . 'We were clear from the start with our families, so I think it's been pretty easy. The key was communication and keeping them in the process.
'Both families have been very supportive. Of course they have had their own ideas and opinions [about the wedding], but at the end of the day it's our wedding and I think everyone recognises that.'